Monday, December 22, 2008

9.45am



Best bacon and egg roll on the east coast - fo' real!

...

Home again.

Points.

Waves then breakfast.

My shoulders are so tired that I can barely lift my arms.

Hell, yes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tanlines

"Look at you! Look at your legs, Bec! You're so funny..."

Huh? I look down at my legs sticking out from under my skirt.

"What are you talking about?"

"Look at your tanlines! What's with your knees? And your HANDS!"

It's true, I can't deny it - my body is a mish-mash of white, gold and deep brown markings. My recent ocean forays have left me in a colourful state that has created a story across my body, most recently marked in by some irresponsible sunburn acquired during a particularly fun session last weekend...

My legs are dark brown from my knees to my hips, the part of my body that sits out of the water as I wait between waves - the tan stops across the middle of my knee as a marker of how deep my legs are submerged as I sit on my board. There is a band of brown that runs across my lower back showing the spot where my vest sits up over my hips, leaving it exposed to the sun. My hands look like they're swathed in brown gloves from where they stick out from under my sleeves, and I have faint marks on my shoulders and back from the sleeveless vest I sometimes wear. My bikini lines pull up in a halter around my neck and my breasts are creamy white from the little sun time that they manage to enjoy.

But the glowing glory is my arse! It shines like a milky beacon as I pull off my swimmers, beaming out at the world as I (shamelessly) change in the carpark. The clean line of brown running around the top of my thighs shows the recent preference I have for a particular swimmer bottom, indelibly inked in until I change favourites and create new lines.

I think it's funny.

When I get back to the city from weekends at the beach, I catch my colleague looking at my skin to find out how successful my trip was. He's been working hard lately and hasn't been away in weeks.

"You got waves" he accuses me as he looks at the thick white band around my ankle.

I smile at him.

Yes. Yes I did.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Surfing + war = Vietnam

Oh dear lord, I am petrified of what I mind find here...

Well, this to start with.


I'm sure it's an interesting story, full of tales of men being brave, being larrikins, drinking beer and chasing skirt, while overcoming fear in the face of adversity through the strength they found in their mates etc etc.

But, well, I mean, the fonts they've chosen for the cover tell me enough at this point.

If this book found it's way into my life, I'd read it, but I'm fairly certain I can guess the ending already.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This is what rad looks like

Ages ago, a friend described a photo to me that she had seen somewhere, sometime. She said it was of a Hawai'ian woman dropping her board through the air, with her arms spread wide, in front of a wave that was big and white and pitching over, and you couldn't be sure if she's make it or not. It sounded awesome, so imagine my delight to find it on this cover at the bargain, second-hand price of $4*!




The image is of Desiree DeSoto is from 1997/98 and I l.o.v.e. it. This image is small (but if you click on it, it will become enormous!!), so it's hard to see but she has the BIGGEST smile on her face.

Stoked.





*Disclaimer: I'm not necessarily saying that I l.o.v.e. Pacific Longboarder though. Not recently anyway. And while we're here, I might as well note that in all the years that Pacific Longboarder has been published (since about 1996), this cover is one of 3 that features a woman with one other group shot that has a woman included. That makes 4 covers in total that have a woman surfing, with the last one being about 4 years ago (give or take 6 months). Don't believe me? Their entire back-catalogue on their website - check it out.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Would you rather..?

A few months ago, my friend posed a hypothetical question to me, better known as a "would you rather..?" Jules is a well-known and experienced purveyor of such questions but none of them has ever stumped quite like this one:

"Would you rather... never kiss anyone again, or never go in the ocean again?"

At first, the answer seems obvious, but on closer thought, the challenge grows. The sensuality and physicality of both options is intoxicating.

To never go in the ocean again is unthinkable. To never feel the water on my body, to taste the salt in my mouth or to feel it sting my eyes and skin? To never look through the waves from underneath them? To never again scream, submerged and silent? To never feel myself tossed around in whitewash, tumbling and flailing? To never paddle into another wave?

But then, to never kiss again is also almost too much to bear! The warmth, the softness, the pressure, mouths, bodies, movement, skin, the teeth, and the way that it can move to include my neck, my arms, my fingers... There is no way that I can imagine giving that up either. No way at all.

Sigh.

The only answer I can reach is that I think about this question more than I probably should.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Text session

Texting is a funny business. Like emails, I am always careful not to read too much into the nuances of these immediate forms of contact, which can be hastily or thoughtlessly composed forms of communication that may also be affected by what is going around the sender.

And so I find delight in a well composed text that shares some kind of experience but in essence requires no response - especially when it comes to talking about surfing! Here are some I've received in the past few months:

Friend 1: Yesterday I surfed my mal on a perfect bank out the front of my house all day. I think I learned to surf again.

Friend 2: Fuck! It's pumping down here! Where are you? I spent the past 6 hours shredding and finally remember why I love surfing.

Friend 3: Arghhhhhhhhhhh! Yesterday was dingtown. Population me.

And then there is this, which is possibly the most wonderful invitation to surf that I could ever imagine:

Friend 3: Shall we meet in an hour and shred dear lady?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A woman in the waves

My friend sent me a little version of this painting via the post and I love her dearly for it. I think it's very beautiful.

Woman in the Waves (1889), Paul Gauguin (French, b. 1848)

Gauguin painted this canvas in April 1889 at Pont-Aven, a small village in northwest France. He left Paris for this remote, rugged area along the Atlantic coast in hopes of finding a more primitive, natural life. The painting shows a nude woman, one hand raised to her mouth, throwing herself into the sea. This mysterious image has been interpreted as symbolic of the soul abandoning itself to nature.

Thank you, Laura.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Newcastle

Last night I went and saw Newcastle at the cinema. I'll tell you about the filmic experience in two parts - the first has nothing to do with the actual film and the second probably won't either*...

Part I - I am a LOSER!
I live by myself in a city that I have only this year moved to. I don't really know anyone, and I'm not exactly a party girl, so mostly my nights are spent at home making dinners for one and counting the minutes until CSI: Las Vegas comes on. I'm pretty over it to be honest - I'm great company and everything but even I can get sick of my own jokes after a while!

So last night I thought I'd take myself out in public and watch a film at a big cinema and, basically, not be on my own. So I drove the 20 mins to the ENORMOUS cinema complex across town and lined up to buy a ticket. There were people everywhere.

Me: 'One ticket to Newcastle please'

Ticket nerd: 'Sure... oh! You're the only person to have bought a ticket to see that! Enjoy the film!'

And it was true. I sat, alone, at an early evening showing of the film without one other person even entering the cinema. Can you believe it!?



It's official - I'm a loser

Part II - The film
Beautifully shot, edited and clearly a labour of love, the film was great, but one thing struck me more than anything else...

What an amazing looking cast!

Umm, where did you find these people, because this is just insane. The four cookie-cutter blonde lead boys were all ridiculously fit, young, beautiful and healthy (and blonde! Apparently nice-guy surfers are blond and bad-guy surfers are brunette), and proved that Mattel really did get it right when they dumped Ken and re-fitted Barbie with a new Australian surfer boyfriend.



In fact, I just went through and did some research and I think that I have found some of the scenes from the film...

The male cast

Party scene

Awww, aren't they cute!

Yep, with someone for everyone, that was one insanely attractive group of boys and girls.

Ok, ok, the film was really great, even if it was more than a little formulaic - a coming of age film about a working class kid who is negotiating his individuality and masculinity through strained family relationships but he comes good and is supported by his mates after a fatal accident that happened on a sneaky trip away (where he got laid with a hot chick) and he blames himself for the whole thing but it ultimately brings him closer to his family and to his dreams. You know the score. And I don't know if it was the dimples, tanned skin or the bare arses, but I was sucked into the story, suspending my disbelief until the drive home.

The shots in the water were really beautiful and looked different than the usual surf film footage that I've seen. It made me realise that other underwater shots tend to use the water like a filter for the camera lens or another angle to shoot a surfer on a wave, while this film was really filming the water too, lingering under the surface and entering that other space and time. Maybe the water is something that we forget in filming surfing or that we take for granted? I don't know about you, but my friends and I are always discussing the water itself - it's clear, crystal, glass, soupy, dirty, sharky, soft, warm and cold. As I wait between sets I run my fingers through it and splash it and fall into it and lie under its weight. And that's what I saw in this film. The weight of the water, the movement and the importance of water to surfing.

And I liked that surfing was fun for these boys. It was fun and competitive and shared and dropped in on and argued and fought and not in any way simple, but it wasn't represented as man against nature or anything impressive or significant. It was just surfing. And a way to spend time with your friends.

So, let me wrap this up because it's no secret that I could go on all day! here's a few things that I learned last night...

1. Blondes are good, brunettes must always be approached with suspicion - they could be evil or gay!
2. Girls don't surf. They don't want to, nor should you offer to teach them. Teach the purple-haired, white-chested, gay boys before you teach the girls - bros before hos etc etc. Girls lie on the beach in bikinis and talk about how 'big' their last night's conquest was.
3. Surfer boys get nude. A lot. A LOT! It's the way they show they love each other.
4. All guys use the same lines to try get you to sleep with them - "but I want to... I really like you...I'll pull out".
5. On an empty island with kilometres of coast, newcomers will always find you and paddle out to the same peak.
6. You can have a 'surf-off' in the same way that breakdancers have those dance battles. Just make sure that there are some distinguishing features eg. Blondes vs Brunettes.

Mostly, I am just jealous. I'm jealous of their beauty, their easy sexualities, their homes near the beach and their trip away.

* For a much more informative discussion than mine - and for wonderful film reviews in general - go here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two in the hand

When you are a reader, you are constantly faced with offers of books to borrow that you might enjoy. I have currently been loaned two books and I must say that this book,



is a much more interesting and engaging read than this one;



I realise that one is written by a wordsmith, a lyrical genius, a literary icon while the other has been written for people who don't usually read, but I can usually overlook that! I mean, I've read the entire Harry Potter series, which is meant for children, and those books assume a greater level of intelligence and comprehension than Layne's (auto)biography.

Am I being too harsh?

I met a 93 year old lady once who told me that there are too many wonderful books in the world to waste time reading the bad ones. She has a formula to weed out the crap whereby you subtract your age from 100 and that's the amount of pages you give a book to hook you in. If it hasn't got you by then, you move on!

Anyhoo, I will persevere.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Flat day fun times

Some days are just inherently better than others. Some days everything seems better and brighter and more beautiful than it usually does. Some days, you're just simply and perfectly content and happy. This was one of those days.

This was for my mum when I was away away away and I sent it to her over the internets...

It's ridiculous piece of self-indulgence.

And it reveals, once again, my obsession with capturing my feet on film.


video

My Hero

Wow! This is who I want to be when I grow up.



As if you'd bother messing with her?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The race that stops a nation...

I don't know which horses are running, I haven't studied the form, and I don't intend on watching it. That's right, I am not excited by the Melbourne Cup.

It just annoys me that everyone in Australia is suddenly an expert on the form guide for that one day a year. Go on, admit it - like me, you bet on horses based on either their name or their colours.

My high school maths teacher, Mr Dean, was obsessed with the Melbourne Cup. He would spend weeks focusing on it in our classes and we would get extra marks for knowing the names of the winners for different years. One of my friends had a rhyme to remember some of the winners that I can still recall;

'81 was Just A Dash
'83 was Kiwi

I remember on one occasion being forced to get up in front of my class to demonstrate the difference between trotting and pacing. Yes, fond memories.

Maybe that's why I remain the only person I know who doesn't get excited about the Melbourne Cup. Stupid, creepy, Mr Dean...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cutbacks, airs, 360s, glide - this guy and gal can do it all!

I know that ballet is often is seen as something not-so-manly, but that's just clearly because you're working within a fairly limited definition. This clip shows how totally Rudolf Nurevey has maniless sewn up!! He's tough, soft, graceful and dynamic, AND he's all these things at the same time. Please take note of how freaking strong Nureyev's body is here and how completely in control he is at all times. It's insane!



And then there's the formidable Margot Fonteyn, who may be tiny and looks like she'd snap in the slightest breeze, but is in fact strong, muscular and more than able to hold her own against the power and presence of Nureyev. She is just so incredible - strong, controlled, committed yet at all times graceful. The gruelling training that she must have put her body through is beyond my comprehension. What a rockstar.

Hysteria be gone!

Sigh...

Oh what a difference two days, an offshore wind, crew, an organic doughnut and a meagre but clean foot of swell makes.

I can think again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ocean? What ocean?

I haven't been surfing in a month. Not even near the ocean.

And it's DRIVING ME MENTAL!!!!












Sooooo, that's about the state of play here...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Down on the farm



I just spent some time at one of my favourite places on earth - my friend's farm. It was nice to be surrounded by so much green and to take walks across the property and through the trees. It feels so good to move along something that's not made of concrete or that's a concession to humanity for the roads and pavements of the city. The ground here rolls and undulates and it's easy to walk through the spaces of grass, trees and dirt.

We didn't really do anything all day to be honest. We drank coffee, ate biscuits, laughed at the goats and chickens, went for walks and read books while it rained - a nothingness of activity which speaks volumes for how close our friendship is.

The farm is beautiful and amazing and my friends, who have no farming background whatsoever, have developed this place into something viable and beautiful with lots of hard work and a level of commitment that I can but marvel at!

Even better, there is no mobile phone reception...










Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Abort mission! Abort mission!

Dear New South Wales,

It's not looking good is it?

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time,

Rebecca

PS. The video gives greater effect.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What I learnt about myself from advertising

This ad drives me MENTAL!

This poor young woman is just trying to cope with a new baby, let alone make sure that her friends aren't going to judge her by her imperfectly cleaned toilet! Are they?

This ad annoys me because I understand her levels of anxiety about it. I do feel that the cleanliness of my house, even if I'm sharing, reflects on who I am as a woman.

I have been the only woman living in several sharehouses and always took on the role of the cleaner because I always felt that people would look to me if the place wasn't clean! Silly, or is there some truth to it?

How often do you go to a female friend's house and they immediately apologise for the state of the place? And then there is the quick performance by the visitor that absolves them of any shame for being so bad as to have not managed to put away the kid's toys or clean the shower that week? Judgement is accounted for before it is even doled out.

I try not to let these conversations take place. And I try not to start them when someone visits me.

I try...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obsession Sessions

My friend Dan reckons that these days the lineup can be like a massive pickup joint!

I don't know about that though.

I see more admiring from afar than actual move-making...



Action Sport and Music

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playing with fire

From Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance;

LADY STUTFIELD: Ah! The World was made for men and not for women.
MRS ALLONBY: Oh, don't say that, Lady Stutfield. We have a much better time than they have. There are far more things forbidden to us than are forbidden to them.
LADY STUTFIELD: Yes; that is quite, quite true. I had not thought of that.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ode to Emily!

My first car was a 1979 Toyota Corolla who was delivered to me with both a history and an identity – her name was Emily. I inherited her from my friend, Kate, who had inherited her from her first and only other owner, Kate’s nan.

Emily was a bit of a character and it didn’t take long until almost everyone in town seemed to know that she was mine. I would be tearing along the road and arms would be flying out of cars in salutation of the two of us. Most of the time, I didn’t know who it was that was waving so wildly, but it used to bring me no end of pleasure.

Hailing from 1979, my little car had a few, um, perks that made driving both exciting and terrifying. Although a manual, the gears were almost arbitrary and you could pretty much just take off in 4th! The front passenger floor would turn into a small pond when it rained and sometimes she just wouldn’t start! When this happened, you just had to get out, walk away for 20 minutes and come back, a technique that both forced my life to slow down and made me to develop a greater level of patience than I had previously borne. After a while, I could no longer unlock the doors from the inside (if at all – many was the time I had to climb out of the passenger side!) so I just stopped locking her and simply didn’t leave anything in there that I was prepared to lose.

But oh my, how I loved her. Even though I couldn’t drive her more than an hour from home (on a good day) she was my freedom. I would put my mal on the roof and zoom off to the beach AT WILL which was a new luxury that I took advantage of at every chance. My board was basically as long as the car and I must have looked a sight in my little car with the enormous board hanging over the bonnet!

Although in the end she was both a hazard and a danger to both myself and other motorists, and although I now enjoy driving a car that starts every time, I miss Emily very much. I miss her unpredictability and I miss her character and I miss driving around in the car that was voted the 33rd sexiest ever (in a poll that I never found but which Kate assures me exists!).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oi mate! Buy us a beer!

I’m lucky to have been able to develop some really intimate friendships with a few men in my life. These friendships are locked in the non-sexual and both sides work at keeping it that way. But it’s sometimes hard.

With my girlfriends, it’s easier because they’re simply friends. I’m a hetero lass, so my sexuality doesn’t confuse the way I experience the intimacy we share. When it comes to the guys however, it can get a little more complicated.

There are certain ways that men are able to include me in their lives in an intimate but non-sexual way, with the most common method making them into some kind of brother figure. These guys give me cheek and tease me but if they hear of anyone else disrespecting me, they threaten to get involved. They have made me into a sister that they love and have great affection for but who needs their help and protection - because you can’t want to have sex with your sister. And sometimes, to be honest, I play on this too, because it helps me set clear boundaries. I don’t need saving, or protecting, or my battles fought, but if that’s the way these guys feel about me and if that helps us define our relationship, then I’m good with that.

But then I have friends who wouldn’t dare protect me and who know that I don’t need nor want that. These ones can be a little more tricky and negotiated. We’re really good friends, so we’ll go out together, car-pool, know each other’s families, go surfing, share toothbrushes, text each other, collect each other when we’re drunk, listen when one of us has their heart-broken and sometimes stay in each others’ beds. What happens once the lights go out..? Nothing if we’re both sober and thinking straight, but the bottom line is that we care about each other deeply - we love each other - and that intimacy can be hard to put boundaries on.

One of my guy friends told me, in a most emotional and intimate moment, that I was his mate. I didn’t respond well. That word to me is full of misogyny, fraternity and exclusivity and it’s not a word that I have used to describe any relationship that I have ever had with anyone. And here was one of my dearest, most adored friends calling me his ‘mate’. I told him to shutup and that I wasn’t his mate, I was his friend. He laughed and grabbed my arm and said again in a low and serious voice;

“No, Bec, you don’t understand. You’re a mate.”

He’s right, I don’t understand, but as I think about it I can only surmise that his attempts to negotiate our very close, not-at-all-sexual bond are leading him to define me using words that he can relate to and which he has experience of. I’m a person that he trusts and relies on and hangs out with and annoys and winds up and loves. I’m his close and intimate friend that he doesn’t want to sleep with.

I’m a mate.

And so I accept the role, but it still feels like an uncomfortable fit. To me ‘mate’ has an uncomfortable and rigid physicality about it. It reeks of beer and morning-after breath, wears creased t-shirts and boardshorts and sounds like a football game or loud, bad rock music. ‘Mate’ is wounds bleeding from surfing or skating injuries and laughing at shared stories about getting laid. ‘Mate’ is talking about tits and arse rather than owing them. Mate is getting into a brawl and then sharing a beer. A mate is something that I’ve never been before but that I’ve heard and seen others – men - be. I thought friend was enough, but mate is something more for him.

To be honest, I still don't really get it, but it makes it easier to keep it simple.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Within me a lunatic sings

The sun is warm on my bare shoulders, my legs feel hot in black jeans and my feet are dirty in thongs. It’s Spring! I climb the stairs and push my library book in the return slot and turn to head across the grass towards my car and home…

My earphones squish into my ears and I flick the radio on in time to hear the end of a live set from N.E.R.D. touring Australia in 2002. I wish I’d been there to watch them perform this song – it sounds like it was fun. I think of Pharrell and his beautiful, arrogant cat-like face, his clothes than seem to leak self-confidence and his skinny legs that stick out of his always long shorts. I imagine him jumping around the stage to the delight of thousands of screaming women…

I jump with fright as a friend catches my arm as I walk – I hadn’t noticed him as he yelled out to me, but he just wanted to say hi. Nice.

He kisses my cheek and we part ways for the day, I push the earphones back in place in time to hear a Sigur Ros song begin. Their music starts so gently that it’s almost hard to hear, but I know this song and I know that in a few moments it will be exploding and wheeling. They are from Iceland and my friend told me that they sometimes sing in a made-up language that is called, without a hint of cynicism or irony, Hopelandish. I like to believe that and it makes me want to be their friend! I didn’t understand their sound until I saw them play a few months ago in a performance that I’ll never forget. It was music as I had never heard it before, never seen it played, never imagined it. It was music that played at a level that was more than sound, more than human. Or maybe not? Maybe it was just simply human – soft, loud, pain, stretch, movement, still, silence, sound, pluck, bend, sway, solo, together, moustaches, feathers, voices, fingers, hands, bodies, eyes, sad, sad, sad, but underneath it all love. Is that corny? Well, that’s what I saw. Heard. Felt. And here it is on an October afternoon, pulsing through my ears and connecting me back to that concert once more.

The music coming out of the radio moves through me, through my chest and down my arms. I’ve had a good day and the sun is out and this song is one of my favourites. My mind floats and there is nothing to do but feel. My cheeks strain with a smile half-repressed and the day begins to swell inside my chest until I feel my diaphragm push against my heart. That’s what joy feels like in my body. My mind feels light, but my chest feels full, so full that sometimes the feeling strains up into my throat until I have to open my mouth so I can breathe and I feel like I might burst… Oh no, another clichĂ©! But that’s how it is.

I must look funny as I stride along the road to the music, smiling, with my arms free and swinging, looking people in the eye and feeling, all alone, so buoyant.

And then the song ends and is replaced with Blue King Brown or Cat Empire or something else equally irritating and everything drains away. Happy, light, yes, but joyful? No. That’s gone. The fullness is replaced by whatever it is that I usually feel when I walk to my car in the sun, listening to music. Something less physical and much less consuming. And that’s not so bad either.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Cure as social commentators?

Before I go any further with this post, I need to admit something that will become quickly apparent anyway; I tend to become a little bit stuck on certain points, ideas, moments, conversations, songs...

That darn Cure song just will not move itself along and, try as I might, I can't seem to insert any other songs on that silent soundtrack in my mind and which has, thusly, led me to thinking about boys and men and crying. Or, more specifically, to thinking about which of my own male friends (of both the boy and man variety) I have actually seen cry. And it's not many.

Although it's something that I can't be specific about, I would say that in my life, I can recall less than 10 times that I've had male friends cry in front of me!! ALL of my female friends and family have been in tears in front of me on many occasions, and I certainly am not a stranger to shedding a tear myself, but when it comes to the guys - and no matter how close a friendship I share with them - these tears have tended to signify an emotional breaking point or major issue in their lives.

To be fair, I don't have brothers so I haven't spent significant family time with boy-types and that means my relationships are a little more time and place specific, but nonetheless, I do have many, many, many men in my life, some of them very intimate and loving friends and they just don't really cry. Well, not in front of me.

And I don't really get it. Ok, I understand that little boys are taught that it's not manly to cry ("don't be such a pussy/chick/wuss/blouse" etc etc), and that this lesson is ingrained over a long period of time, but is it not possible to move on from there? Surely these men are aware that I am used to seeing people cry. Some of these men have seen me cry, so they know I can cope. I don't sit in crying judgement if they tear up. I just listen or hold their hand or wrap them up in an enormous hug. The friends that I have seen cry don't ever seem to be embarrassed about it and nor should they be, so why not more often?

Maybe it's this desperate emotional association with their own experienced teariness that seems to make men so awkward when it's me that's crying in front of them? I cried the other day to a friend and while he was totally there for me, he kept his physical distance - I didn't even really get a stiff hand-pat or a back slap. I just sat with big, fat tears rolling down my cheeks into a cup of tea. And this is a man who's known me since I was THREE YEARS OLD and has, I am certain, seen me in all manner of states of emotion from joy to depression to fury to humiliating drunkeness. This is a man who uses a hair-straightener and is more comfortable with his own version of his masculinity than any other heterosexual guy I've ever met. This is a man who lies on his bed with me, trawling through Facebook and showing me profiles of the girls he's slept with that month while expressing shock that a girl he hasn't seen for years writes "let's play". This is a man I have NO romantic relationship to. This is a man I've known my entire life and I've never seen him cry. He's been through relationship breakdowns, health issues, romantic triangles of the daytime soap variety... we've talked about them all for hours on end with honesty and emotion, but, no tears. I'd be bawling and inconsolable, but not this man. Intriguing!

That has not always been the case. As a teenage girl I forced myself not to cry. I decided that I would be strong and tough and leave the tears for others, but as I get older, I can't be bothered with that restraint as much. So how can the guys? I don't know any woman who would sit in judgement of boys who do cry so what is the problem? Other boys and men? Well if that's the case then back off each other!!

Please don't take this as me wanting more men to come and cry to me on a whim, but it's just that it's still something that is unusual in my life and I'm wondering why?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Cure for a broken heart? or One for the tough boys

This song is on high rotation in my head...

I would say I'm sorry
If I thought that it would change your mind
But I know that this time
I have said too much
Been too unkind

I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try to laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
'Cause boys don't cry
Boys don't cry

I would break down at your feet
And beg forgiveness
Plead with you
But I know that
It's too late
And now there's nothing I can do

So I try to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I try to laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
'cause boys don't cry
Boys don't cry

I would tell you
That I loved you
If I thought that you would stay
But I know that it's no use
That you've already
Gone away

Misjudged your limits
Pushed you too far
Took you for granted
I thought that you needed me more

Now I would do most anything
To get you back by my side
But I just
Keep on laughing
Hiding the tears in my eyes
'cause boys don't cry
Boys don't cry
Boys don't cry

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rays of sunshine in gloomy days

I will admit a high level of disappointment that I cannot claim the following as my own, but I would still like to share with you a brand new word and a turn of phrase which have both given me cause for delight in the last few weeks;

1. Brisillusionment - my friend made up this word to describe the feelings that that are suffered on becoming a resident of the city of Brisbane. It is perfect.

2. The televangelical hour of the morning - a delightfully descriptive notion from Franklin Foer in 'How Soccer Explains the World'. I imagine it to be similar to, but slightly different from, the witching hour. More hysterical perhaps?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sun, sand and nappies

There are many times when I have been prioritised as being second (or third or fourth) to waves, and while I mostly understand it still really sucks.

From what I've witnessed, surfing and romantic relationships don't always fit together particularly smoothly. The total freedom that we have when we're single often needs to be negotiated and re-thought when we enter a relationship that holds responsibilities such as a partner, housework and children. Many of my (especially guy!) friends seem to think that there is some definable amount of effort that they can make in order to be free to go surfing whenever they want the rest of the time - especially when it comes to those usual points of friction, housework and childcare. But life doesn't operate on such predictable rhythms and often surfing can affect a partner or friend in selfish ways.

Surfing might be all about me, but the rest of my life isn't.


Action Sport and Music

Being the primary care-giver for children can be a full-time and tiring job when you are the one who is doing it all day. Partners come home from work and want to relax, but so does the carer;

"But you've been home all day! I've been at work, I need to chillout"

I know that friends of mine can find it hard to explain to their partner that being home all day isn't fun - it means chasing and entertaining their children, cooking, cleaning and all those other housekeeping tasks that most of us mortals find far from relaxing. When it comes time to go surfing, someone has to stay with the children on the beach to make sure they are safe and cared for and often this falls to the women-folk! This can easily make for feelings of isolation and resentment.

Instead of feeling isolated or reliant on their partners, women like Surfing Mums are forming friendships with other women that allow them a continuing relationship to surfing and to the beach both as women and as mothers. It allows them to continue to surf and to find new meanings that surfing has in their lives - as something that they increasingly share with other women, other mothers and with their children. It also changes the way that surfing can be generationally taught and 'handed down', which has been usually by fathers, uncles and brothers. Surfing Mums not only allows women to continue surfing and being surfers on their own terms and within their own time when they become mothers but also begins normalising women as having the skills and knowledge to share with their children and people wanting to learn to surf.

However, Surfing Mums is not exclusively female - there are many fathers, boyfriends and guy friends who are involved and I know that the local group in my town is supported by many of the male surfers around the place. While focused around mothers, this group encompasses men who are stay-at-home-dads and who, just like the women, want to find ways to keep surfing as an easily accessible part of their everyday. Surfing Mums has become a visible and interesting dynamic of my local surfing community and, while I am not a mother, I am proud to be a supporter!!

*On a more superficial note... did you see Dennis from Heartbreak High in there..? Oh yes he is!*

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I surf small waves

To quote vbs.tv, this little film is about "the maybe not-so-vital debate over Surfing as art vs. sport".

My favourite lines include (but are not limited to)

"Are you going for like, extreme functionality in a surfboard or an art piece?"

and

"It works, well it doesn't like not work"



"Extreme functionality"?!!

Youth these days!

*Chortles in manner of old man smoking a pipe*

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not drowning... waving!

If you're bored and need someone to laugh at/obsessively watch, then this is the web-cam for you!


It's set up in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue at Waikiki Beach and allows people to stand in front of it and organise for their loved ones to watch them do so. Intriguing to say the very least. When I was there, folk would stand in front of the camera while talking to their girlfriends on their mobile phones;

"Can you see me? I'm waving! No, no, I'm in a blue T-shirt..."

And if you get bored of this one, then go to the link that takes you to other Honolulu web-cams including the ever interesting 'Live City Council Meetings' camera and 'Traffic Hot Spots'.

Hours of fun for everyone!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Write on sister, write on.

A few weeks ago, I was in a busy (and expensive!) cafĂ© in Byron, waiting to meet friends for lunch. I was on my own, but I’d purposely arrived early to have a coffee and write down a couple of things I’d been thinking about. So I pulled out my slightly dog-eared notebook and, pen in hand, scrawled across the pages.

The waitress eventually came along with my coffee and, as she put it down on the table, had the unfortunate urge to speak…

“Is that ‘Dear Diary’ or are you doing work?”

I took a breath and slowly raised my eyes to give her a deeply patronising look over the rim of my glasses. I also raised one eyebrow and pursed my lips. She retreated.

The inference that dripped off her tongue (along with the sarcasm) was that one reason for my writing would have been acceptable and the other one, lame. Why exactly? Why would one be better than the other? Why is it ok to work in public but not to write for pleasure?

Work, I suppose (and this, I admit, is conjecture) has currency in its contribution back to the economic world. Even though I was sitting in one of the symbols of middle-class luxury and relaxation, as long as it is ‘work’ then it’s ok with her.

The other option, journal writing, is clearly lame in this context. It’s time-wasting, has no final goal and is the practice of travellers and romantics: silly, time-wasting and slightly pathetic, it should be hidden from view, carried out instead in the privacy of one’s dorm-bed or home. Why is this so? Writing isn’t a particularly noisy process. It doesn’t disturb those around you and it isn’t hazardous to anyone’s health (unless you are Perez Hilton).

Yes, yes I understand that I may just be taking this all a little seriously, but it’s not the first time that this scenario has arisen. I have always been a writer, whether it be stories, journals, letters or something with more substance, and often I write at restaurants, galleries, on buses and trains and ferries, and very often, I write while I sit on my own and drink a coffee. There is, funnily enough, little to distract me and I am left alone with my head, and these end up being the places where I find I am inspired. Is that so lame? I always carry at least one notebook in my bag and must admit I carry a variety of pens. I love it. And then sometimes I’m a full-blown nerd on my computer too. For years I didn’t have an internet connection at my house, so I became a familiar sight at the local restaurants that counted wireless connections amongst their assets. I would sit on my laptop and surf the net and spend happy hours writing and hanging out. Good times I tell you.

Writing, for me, isn’t necessarily such a privately conducted thing. Indeed, it depends on what I’m writing and where I’m writing from, but I find that being in a more public space frees me up somewhat. When I write around people, I don’t feel like there is so much importance on what I put down. The noise, chatter and movement around me becomes a part of the rhythm of the whole moment for me and often I find there is more music and life in my words that if they have been composed in the silent confines of a walled and solo space. When I sit in public places and write, it feels more like a conversation and less like a soliloquy, more engaged and less like a self-indulgent rumination. There is inspiration and colour and music and laughter and these are the things that move me. When I am in the world, I remember the bigger picture and that I am simply a small piece of this – don’t get too caught up in yourself Rebecca because you’re simply a girl in the world.

Because, I don’t know about you, but inspiration rarely floods me as I stare at a wall, or as I sit in an office chair for hours on end. Most usually, I feel most joyfully inspired as I walk around the city, or on the beach, look at art, listen to music, watch people go about their day or sit with my mind at ease and slowed down. When I can write in my very particular flowing (some would say, illegible) hand in passages that are meant only for me, or a loved one. Or I can scratch down an idea that I can build on later. The first words of this were drawn with pencil on scrap paper as the waitress in question turned and left me in peace (with the descriptive word, ‘bi-atch’, grandly filling in the bottom of the page).

So, if that silly, small-minded and rather rude waitress doesn’t approve of me scrawling out a half page of notes to myself, then what a dolt! She is missing out on something that is such a simple pleasure and which really is something that isn’t all that unusual.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A whale of a time...

Gracious me, I love books! And call me romantic, but I love them even more when they're old and scabby and need to be read again so that their purpose can once more be fulfilled and they can be brought back to life and you can remember why they spoke to you the first time around.


"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos gets such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it is high time to get to the sea as soon as I can."

Yo dat, Herman Melville. Yo dat.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One for the nay-sayers

I left my place early on Saturday morning, tied my board to the roof and headed towards the ocean. I was feeling shitty and tired and cranky and wanted, nay, needed to find a wave. Any wave.

I checked a couple of places on the way down and bumped into a friend who confirmed the tiny swell-status of the day and sent me off to the last bastion - into town...

I pulled up at Wategos and silently screamed - my last stop was small, lumpy and on-shore. I sat and stared and stared and decided to go out anyway because there wasn't a single person out there. That's right, empty Wategos, not a soul to be seen. It was crap, but at least I wouldn't be competing for crap.

I paddled out and (surprise, surprise) started to feel better. The water was clear and warm-ish, the sun was beating down and the wind wasn't too bad actually. There was a big pod of dolphins feeding and leaping about and a huge turtle was lurking about underneath me. And, as it happened, I got wave, after wave, after, wave. Indeed, they were small and messy, but they were fun and they were all mine.

Yeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwww!

After about half an hour, a couple of other people came out to partake in the mess-fest, so the moment passed. But the moment ruled while it lasted.

The best bit though was when I spoke to this chick who was catching the white-wash in by the shore and who I'd never met before. She called out to me and told me that she'd been watching me from the beach earlier on. She'd decided not to come out because she thought I looked like I was having so much fun and she wanted to leave it all to me! So she sat on the beach and waited until some other people joined me in the water before she did too. Generous much? She wasn't anywhere near where I was surfing, but she still left me to it. I can't say I would have done the same.

Magic happens? Practice random acts of kindness? The kindness of strangers? Witches do it in a cirlce? Whatever. That cat has been reading her Byron bumper-stickers.

And what a lady!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rock the one-piece

Some points to note pre-viewing:

1. Turn the sound down. This music makes me want to destroy my inner-ear.

2. Inspiration for swimwear options or what!! High waist, low cut leg... oooh yeah. I really shoulda been a lady in the 60s and 70s.

Friday, July 25, 2008

9021-ho ho ho!

So...

My has friend led me down the dark path of watching entire series (yes, plural) of Beverly Hills 90210 on DVD.

Don't judge me.

I have now dragged a few other friends along with me by feeding them small tid-bits that I have singled out as highlights and have since been spending many happy hours following the lives of Brenda, Brandon, Dylan, Kelly, Donna, Steve, Andrea (SUCKERman) and David Silver. It's rad.

How does this link? Well, first of all, if you have any sense of humour, you should go out and watch episode 2, season 1 - The Green Room. It's pretty much the best thing ever.

Ever.

Here are some indicators...


Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Dylan drives this AMAZING Porsche that gets him more chicks than any other car on earth and I know I shouldn't say that but my god... it's true. He also wears denim overalls with one shoulder undone and hanging down, coupled with a white t-shirt and 16-hole cherry Docs.

I'd hit it.




Small, but you get the idea.

Please note: People, he's wearing a poncho.























Although my personal focus is on Dylan, I must acknowledge that my Vouch bros are correct, Steve Sanders is the man. Lord knows, you can't really tell it from this picture - would someone please tell wardrobe they forgot the rest of Steve's SHORTS! - but this guy is killer!

(Unlike Brandon, who is LAME. The sunnies peak for themselves.)

And finally...





Back then...













And now...













Whatever! Sideshow Luke Perry or not, I'd still hit it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

De-flowering


The sense of relief I feel in knowing that I am not the only one who hates these things is immense. It's such a big issue (in my world) that it could almost be made into a 'two-types-of-people' category where never the twain shall meet. Families could be broken up and star-crossed love thwarted in a Romeo and Juliet style, family feud event.

Love the plant - truly, I do - but the sticker/car-seat cover/rear-vision mirror decoration/tattoo, they all have to go.

Lames-village.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ignorance is bliss

I’m staring to get the feeling that I might be one of the most privileged surfing women in Australia

I come from a town where surfing is a large part of the community identity and never questioned as being a worthwhile pursuit. I get to surf at some of the most beautiful point breaks around, which break long and clean and consistently, and most of the time there are any number of women out in the lineup. In fact, on occasion women almost equal the number of guys in the water. I am not saying I live in a surfing nirvana – there are problems and bullying and bastards - but I feel that I am in a privileged position where I am accepted and even encouraged at the breaks I frequent. Until recently, however, I didn’t really understand how privileged.

A friend recently challenged my blissful ignorance and slammed home the realisation that the surfing life that I enjoy is not the norm. In fact, it is not even real. In fact, I am rejected repressed, scorned, objectified and barely endured. I am an object of laughter and ridicule that must perform beyond any skill-set that the men need possess, just to be accepted as a surfer. On top of ripping in the water, I need to be physically beyond reprimand, a living version of one of the bikini models who adorn the mags and films guys pore over as a non-water-based part of their culture. My friend points out that to most men, I am merely a figure of ridicule and amusement that can only come to any use as someone(thing) to laugh at as she fails in her wave pursuits, to perve on as the opportunity arises and maybe to fuck her and talk about it with mates the next day – or at least to imagine doing so.

Cool. Now I feel awesome about myself. Thanks.

It’s true - I have sugar-coated many things so that I can keep surfing – and as I reflect on how I experience being a woman in the surf, I feel a little sad. There are few surfing times and places that I am not, most significantly, a piece of flesh, and these are the times which I choose to focus on. But it can’t be avoided. There in the carpark, eyes watch me as I strip out of my clothes and step into my bikini. I used to feel embarrassed by my consciousness of being watched, now I just try to ignore it. I have gone so far as to be purposely more naked than I used to, often forgoing the use of a towel to shield my nakedness from the boys and men in the carpark. I take off my knickers and pull on the swimmer bottoms in the open as an in-your-face response to the embarrassment and excitement that my body causes (even one of my girlfriends gets really embarrassed when she surfs with me. As we change near the car and my body is exposed – only for fleeting moments – she cringes and wishes I could be more modest. I am shameful even to the girls!). Then, on the beach, I can see the other surfers looking at me, reading me, just as I do to them. How is she holding her board? What is she wearing? What sort of board does she ride? Is she wearing a legrope..? As I paddle to the lineup, I try so hard to make it out easily and not get caught in the whitewash, which would be evidence of my inexperience and my lack of strength. As I reach the lineup and take my place (on the outside), I’m quickly aware of any other girls in the water. Sometimes men will paddle close to me to check me out and decide if they like what they see – my arse, my breasts, my stomach, my swimwear choices are all up for inspection and interpretation. I know that when I go for that first wave, eyes will be on me, checking to see if I make it, if I’m strong, if I can turn, if I can nose-ride. If I don’t make it..? Well, it’s just best to. If not, it can be hard to get waves after that.

Whether consciously or not, the guys seem to me to be much more liberal with their perspective on whose wave it is when there are women in the equation. Ladies are much more likely to be dropped in on, but also, I am slightly more tolerated if I drop in on someone. Sometimes. After all, how can you be angry at someone who doesn’t really know any better?

My friend, Julia, talks openly in the lineup about the guys hogging waves and snaking and dropping in. She’s been surfing this break for nearly 20 years and is well-known as being assertive.

“The guys seem to be dominating,” she’ll say to me. “Let’s go shake things up!”

She’ll paddle off to the rock and the main take off point, which I usually avoid as it’s too aggro. She takes waves from the guys and drops in, if she feels it’s her right and she certainly won’t let anyone snake her. I love Jules. She encourages me to be more assertive too,

“You’ve been sitting here for ages, Bec. Just take some waves.”

In her surfing world, she makes men the ‘Other’, referring to the guys as ‘them’,

“Sometimes I’ve had enough and just start to act like them.”

She sees herself as a strong one, a right one, an owner of the space. She doesn’t see why the lineup has to run the way the guys manipulate it to.

Being so aware of other people’s attitudes to your own identity is far from liberating - it makes you feel limited, self-conscious and small. You feel acutely that you are a sidelined figure of curiosity who is open for inspection by prying eyes of the (in this case) male, white, hetero majority. Awesome.

And I am so affected by it. My surfing world is defined by it.

I choose to surf the breaks I do because in these lineups, I am NOT an oddity. I feel more normal, like a person and a surfer. Yeah, I’m still a women/chick/girl/female surfer, but I am not ridiculed or made to feel like I don’t belong. In the water, in the carpark, and at parties and pubs after surfing, I am a part of this surfing community. These lineups are sites of safety and community that, perhaps, are a little bit utopian in their composition. And, so yeah - these are the places that, right now, I choose to surf. Other local breaks are not my scene. I have discussed with many friends how uncomfortable they make me feel, and there are some breaks that I simply refuse to surf at as I know that I would not be able to get waves at all. I am not proud to admit, I choose the easy option.

What the fuck! THIS is no way to think, to surf, to live. This is no way to feel. More importantly, this is no way to be treated. The little (and not so little) creeps who populate the town and the lineups that I avoid have done such a good job of making me feel unwelcome, that I have simply accepted it and acquiesced to their cultural dominance. I have allowed them to effect my choices and my feelings of safety, acceptance and confidence as a surfer. I have given in to their dominating definition of these spaces and places. I have let myself feel inadequate and small and limited the way I live my surfing life.

But is it going to be useful to hold onto this shame and anger? Nah. However, it’s certainly important to wake up and smell the dogshit, and to make efforts to move beyond the status quo, because that is the only real choice I have. To be honest though, I don’t really want to. I would have preferred to stay in my state of blissful ignorance. But where would that get me? It would keep me in exactly the same place, surfing the same waves and feeling the same, illusory sense of belonging and acceptance, looking no further than the end of my nose (pardon the pun).

So all this pain is actually freedom. The self-consciousness I feel in my surfing is an assurance that I am doing new things and moving beyond what is allowed and accepted and tolerated. It means that I am stronger and braver than I thought or hoped or believed. And that sucks too, because the only courage that is respected and admired in surfing is the kind that sees you put yourself in harms way - the kind of bravery that sees you risk your body and your life to take off on bigger more vicious waves (But then, even that’s only important if other people see you I suppose). The kind of courage that is defined by the monotonous, hyper-masculine narrative of surfing’s established history and myth. My surfing courage represents pushing myself beyond boundaries even such as those (physical danger, of course, being relative) and into emotional territory. It affects the way that I am seen not only as a surfer, but as a woman or a girl or a chick.

Scary.