Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For Stu

With a beam of sunlight burning across my chest, I wake up late. My alarm didn't go off and now I am an hour late to meet Sarah. She's going to be pissed.

Shit!

A quick check of my phone confirms this with one missed call and four texts sitting there waiting for me.

I pull on yesterday's clothes, clean my teeth and gulp a glass of water before lugging my board out and angling it into my car. Get in there!! Why is everything so hard when you're in a rush?

On the way to the beach I get stuck behind someone driving ten under the speed limit, which is simply frustrating. As we round the headland I can see the swell... if that's what you could call it. It's small and lumpy and the wind is already picking up.

Damn it!

I follow the slow driver all the way to the beach, where they take the last available parking space, leaving me to drive back up the top of the hill, to park and walk back down. Stupid morning joggers. I didn't even check to see if Sarah's car is there.

Shit!!

I decide to double check it first. I'm not going out if it's too shit. When I get there, Andy is sitting on a tree trunk, surveying the mess. He gives me his assessment as I walk up,

Don't bother. Turn around now and go back to bed!

Andy only goes out if it's particularly nice, and even then he usually complains about it so I don't put too much stock in his report. But he's right. It's shit. There's a few people out, but I can't see Sarah,

She left about 20 minutes ago. She was bitching about you sleeping in.

Shit.

Maybe around the corner?

I trudge back up the hill, sweating in the already hot morning. I jump back in the car and decide to check around the corner...

It's crap. And the wind is picking up. I don't even get out of my car. My phone rings and it's Bec,

Where are you? I'm looking at it now and I'm gonna go out. Come on!

Seriously? But it's shit!

I know, but it's hot and the water's nice and the wind is only going to get worse and it is supposed to blow like this for a few days so we might as well go out now!

But it's shit.


It'll be ok. We can just go for a paddle. And then coffee. Come ON!!


Pain in the arse. She's too positive. It shits me. Well, she's too positive til someone pisses her off, and then it's game on. Snake the girl and check the positivity then.

I drive back around to meet her and manage to find a park this time. She's already changed into some bright-coloured, frilly pair of swimmers that she owns. Smiling. It's too early for this. And I really don't want to go out.

We'll just go out for a little while. You'll be stoked you did it later.

She walks off, board on her head, smiling. I take my time and consider leaving for that coffee. This is lame. Bec is so lame. She'll pretty much go out in anything. Screw this, I'm out of here, I'll meet her after. I leave a note on her windscreen telling her to call me when she's done. She can tell me how 'great' it was over coffee...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saturday double-ups!!


I love home.

And I love that even when the waves are mediocre and the wind is onshore and the clouds are gathering and the BBQ cooks too slowly, my friends still get excited.

(Photos stolen from the lovely, Ms Rose Speers)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Daughters

I comfort myself with the knowledge that men like Derek Reilly - men who allow sex to be described as "consensual rape" in print - are destined to have daughters.

Independent, feisty, promiscuous daughters.

Life tends to work out like that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Board tree

Oh! So THAT'S where surfboards come from?

(I stole this photo from my friend, Isabelle Braly - nose-rider extraordinaire!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wax On - Hazelhurst Gallery

Hey!

You should go to this exhibition - Wax On. It opens on 5th December and it's going to be amazing!!

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre is proud to present Wax On: From Cronulla to Palm Beach and Beyond, an exhibition that showcases artworks about surfing and its significance within contemporary Australian visual culture.

For an example of some of the works that will be exhibited, you can check out the Wax On blog.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The sounds of my night

For the past few months, I've been staying in the bedroom that was mine as a child. My family has lived in this house, which they built, since I was 4 and sometimes it feels like it is my entire world. This is the room I first shared with my sister. This is the room where we used to play. This is the room that I vacated as a young woman leaving home. This is the room I come back to.

Always.

Of an evening, I look up and out of the windows above my bed. I can see the stars clear and unobscured by the small-town lights. The number of stars and the size of the night sky, never fail to dazzle me. When I'm in the city, I miss the stars and I have learnt to pay them due attention when I'm home. The view out of the the window is through fly screen and a security grill, which my mum had installed years ago to protect her three daughters from the evils of the world. It meant that we were allowed to keep our windows open through the sticky, humid summer months and it also meant that we could sleep to the sounds of the night.

I close my eyes so I can listen better. The best sound - the very best sound of all - is the sound of the Pacific Ocean, about 150 metres from where I lie. The rhythmic wash and roar that changes with the swells and weather, but which never fails to soothe me. When it storms the oceanic lullaby is lost and mixed within the sounds of the rain, the wind, and the leaves rattling together. Like variations of the same sound, they meld into their own symphony outside my window, leaving me safe and dry despite their best efforts.

In the morning, the light streams in across my bed and face, waking me up. In the summer the sunlight is full of too much heat to be comfortable and closes off the option of sleeping in. It's bright and relentless and reminds me to get out and about before it's too hot for me to cope with.

From the angle in my bed, I can see the fronds of the palms and the acacia trees on the eastern fence line. I use these trees to tell me about the wind each morning - where it's coming from, how strong, if it could change later. Years and years of the same trees from the same angle have taught me to know when to get up and go, and when to chill. That one view, that one window has created a sanctuary at the end of the house for me. It is a window to a place that I know, a view that I know and sounds that I know, and that all mean more than a good night's sleep.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

32 (again)

And a tile too!! How lucky am I today!

Thanks mum. I love you.

(and Gerry again too!)

32

Oh my!! Look what I got given today!

Tea time!


Art that you can use is the best kind of all.

It's my favourite new thing!

Thanks Kate, Carl and Miss Leelu.
And thanks Gerry!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A walking view

This is a view from the walk around the headland where I live.
It's a really special walk and ridiculously pretty.

When I take the time to walk this track, my day is always, always better.

One day I'll tell you more about it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Night

Last night, as I tied the boards on my car, I looked up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When is a compliment not a compliment?

Yesterday I went surfing with my friend, April. She just won a new board in a comp raffle and was excited to try it out. She rang to invite me to come along with her, so we met up in the carpark of a busy local break and I sat and chatted with her as she waxed it up and put in the fins. There was a guy a few cars down from us in a van.

I just asked that chick over there out, but she's got a boyfriend.

He pointed at a bikini-clad woman over by a car on the other side of the carpark, while staring at us and waiting for us to respond.

Oh, right. Um, well, at least you asked. Good for you.

I had no idea who this guy was. Nor why he was talking to us. I looked at April.

Yeah, you didn't have anything to lose!

We went back to our own conversation. But he wasn't done.

Would've been better to wake up tomorrow morning with her in my bed but.

Oh, OK. Ha ha.

It was weird. It's weird having a conversation with a stranger about him trying to pick up girls, while I'm just in my swimmers, sitting in the grass. I walked to the back of my car, and away from the guy...

Although late in the afternoon, the sun still holds its sting so April and I covered ourselves in sunscreen and April used tan coloured zinc on her face, like always - most people around here do. It sits thickly on her face but it means she doesn't get sunburned. After a lengthy discussion on whether I should wear a vest or not while we waited for the suncream to sink in a bit, we went to grab our boards off the grass in front of our cars, ready to get in the water.

As we walked away the guy from before stopped April.

Have fun on that board.

Yeah I will, thanks.

April is the type of person who is kind and polite, and generous with her conversation. I'm not. I walked faster, leaving him behind, still talking. The guy is a creep and I wanted to get away from him. But, again, he wasn't done. He calls out to April.

And even with that clay-face, I'd still do ya!

He actually said that to my friend. And he wasn't even drunk or high. April looked at me, incredulous, and laughed awkwardly. I walked faster, shocked and annoyed but not feeling the need to make a scene - I didn't think April would want me to.

Out in the water, it became an anecdote, something strange and slightly funny to tell our friends and wonder at. But quel dickhead! And what a proposition. Or was it meant to be a compliment? I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and what an arse he is.

And even with that clay-face, I'd still do ya!

Ugh!!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gerry Wedd - AGAIN!!

Ok, so as you already know I really, really like the work of Gerry Wedd. What I like about it is the texture, the lines, the colours and the ceramic forms, which always make me think of the shards of eroded and smoothed terracotta I have found on the beach over the years. There is something poetic about the way he works with pottery to tell stories and say things about oceanic experiences that makes sense.

One of his latest offerings particularly resonates with me, and I appreciate the thought and observations he presents in the images and structures. Wedd offers images and stories in places and contexts where they haven't yet been presented, and this seems to be especially sensual in the form he gives them in this case - as an urn.




As Wedd points out in the attendant blog post (click pictures to go there!), images of women surfing in Australia from the 50s to the 90s are minimal, and this is something I have thought about a lot too. So where were the ladies then? Even if they weren't surfing, surely they were around? Even if they were just being the guys' girlfriends or cooking them dinner or hanging out? I imagine there were women joining the men-folk on at least some of their trips? But then, maybe there weren't women on the kinds of trips that made it into the mainstream surfing imagination? Maybe not? Maybe they just weren't there!

Which, I must tell you, is hard to take. Really hard. The idea that there were no women involved in the cultural movement that surrounded surfing is just too difficult to believe. The idea that women weren't seen as central or important and therefore not recorded... well, that's easier to swallow.

And that's why a work like this urn of Wedd's is so interesting to me. It speaks to the same ideas and aspirations that I just wrote about in my review of Surf Ache - that diverse stories get represented and published in ways that speak to and within the culture itself. Because it makes it harder for people to keep justifying telling the same stories over and over while ignoring others. And when the representation is as beautiful as this urn is, it makes it easy to listen!

Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien - a review

The beach and the ocean are often the setting for Australian stories of teenage romance, reflection and sexuality. And understandably so! For many young Australians the coast is a place that is a central part of our world, our lives, our friendships, and can't really be separated from the ways we have grown up. My own teenage world was defined by the beach - I would walk home from school along its length, I would meet girlfriends for weekend sun-tanning sessions, I would retreat there when I was sad or confused, I would take afternoon walks to the headland with my mum, I would avoid the town beaches patrolled by the clubbies and their binoculars, I would go there for parties at night to play and explore and make mistakes (and jump in the salt water the next morning to clear my head of the hangover). I mapped my life by the sections along which my friends and I all lived - my beach, Kelly's beach, Lyn's beach, Joel's beach, the caravan park, Ren's beach, the creek, Jonah's beach - and over time I discovered my own boundaries of behaviour, risk and possibilities. My teenage years were spent in the sand and the water, and were a place and time of experience, emotion and discovery.


But surfing was never a part of this. I mean, it went on in the water as I lay on the sand and lots of my friends did it and my mum worked for the local surf company and I would read all the magazines and knew all the famous names and had access to boards and so on, but I never got around to actually going surfing. There’s a whole host of reasons for this, including being a self-conscious teenage girl and not having anyone close to me who was willing to help me, but the main reason I suppose I didn’t ever learn was because, at that time, girls just didn’t really surf. There were the odd local (and highly successful) exceptions to this rule, but they were exceptions. These girls were friends of mine and we hung out and socialised, but they just never really spoke about surfing with me and it remained something that they did with the boys. So it wasn't that I couldn't have surfed, it's just that I never would have.


And my experiences have been largely reflected in fictional literature and film about the coast and surfing in Australia in the 70s, 80s and 90s with books and films like Puberty Blues and Breath (and even last year’s Newcastle) clearly maintaining the line that boys surfed and girls didn’t, but with this situation obviously changing, so must the stories. And so they are.





The newly released Surf Ache by Gerry Bobsien is a stellar example of how things have changed, and continue to change, as more women and girls are surfing both in the water and in the corresponding literature. One of a growing number of teenage surf fictions aimed at young women, Bobsien's book is set in contemporary Newcastle, where the 14 year old heroine, Ella, has just relocated with her family from their home in Melbourne. Ella leaves behind a boyfriend, a life of ballet and a host of school friends to find herself in the middle of a very different cultural world that centres around the beach and waves. To sum it up, Ella starts surfing and through this learns a lot about her new home, her family and herself, and makes new friends along the way. The book has it all - romance, triumph-over-adversity, friendship, family reconnections and choices - and once I reminded myself that Surf Ache is a fictional book for teenagers, not for overly critical 30-something women, I really enjoyed it.


Ultimately though, what is great about this book (and what brings me back to my original point!) is that this book doesn’t speak about Ella’s surfing experiences as if they were separate from surfing experiences more broadly. In other words, Ella is simply a surfer, not a girl-who-surfs. She is included unproblematically in the water and Bobsien never writes any kind of negative event based around Ella feeling excluded or badly treated just because she’s a chick. Ella certainly gets teased and embarrassed as she learns, but it’s because she’s inexperienced, not because she’s a chick. Ella and her friends admire Layne Beachley and Steph Gilmore and Occy and Mark Richards and don’t demarcate between their styles (although the obvious generational differences are interesting anyway!). There is no boys’ club that she is trying to access and in fact, her biggest competition as far as surfing goes is other women – they are her harshest critics and her greatest inspiration. But that doesn’t mean it’s a story of ‘girl power’ or sisterhood either. It’s just a story about young people surfing together, and the network of relationships that circulate around that. Ella is surfing for herself – not to make a statement, not to say anything, not to rebel.


And I am not saying that what Surf Ache presents is representative of everyone’s surfing stories, but I am saying that it is a changing approach to how we write about surfing in Australia – as an inclusive practice. Whether this resonates with wider surfing experiences of teenage girls in Australia, I don’t know! But imagining and writing that change is a creative step to unleashing a new set of expectations and ideas. And publishing them!


In the end, that’s why I liked Surf Ache. Bobsien doesn't need to make an overarching critique or statement with this novel, because she writes the kind of contemporary surfing world and experiences that are in fact to be found in many surf breaks around Australia – urban, busy, complex and potential. Ella and her friends never question their participation as surfers, because they have no reason to. They are not confused about their access to the lineup.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Common, but Contrary, Comma.

As someone who enjoys words of the written variety, I take an interest in issues of grammar. Some might argue that I don't take quite enough of an interest much of the time and, to be fair, most of my working knowledge has come from a kind of osmosis through reading. While I can find fault in the punctuation of others, sometimes this radar is a little under-used on my own work. But I try.

Years ago when I was visiting a friend in the UK, she gave me a book that we both found tremendously informative AND hilarious (my favourite kind of book). It's called Punctuation by Graham King and it is genius!
For example, the main chapter on punctuation is called Devices for Separating and Joining and the sections within have names like Scree-e-e-eech! The Full Stop and The Common, but Contrary, Comma and The Serviceable Semicolon and The Seductive Embrace of Parenthesis (Brackets). Aren't they great names!

Anyway, I have been spending a nice half hour reading a little bit of it again and thought I'd include part of a section which is (and let's be honest here) quite pertinent to my own writing. Because as you may have noticed over time, I overuse commas to a fault! (And exclamation marks, but that's by-the-by.)


The comma is the most flexible, most versatile of all the punctuation marks. Because it is the least emphatic mark it is also the most subtle and complex. And contrary. Not surprisingly, many writers feel a nagging uncertainty about using commas.

While the full stop bring proceedings to a screeching halt, the comma, with its mortar-like ability to build complex sentences, enlarges upon thoughts, joins them to further thoughts and afterthoughts, binds in extra information, and generally has a good time. A writer with full command of the comma can have a ball.

See why I love commas so much? I mean what's not to love about a punctuation mark that "generally has a good time" and allows writers to "have a ball"?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flat Spell

Some days, it all just works. Some days it feels right. You have flow, inspiration, motivation, enthusiasm, energy and it all comes easily and without effort.


Your ideas, thoughts, excitement, heart, mind and body all spill out through your fingers, hands and feet. They move out through the things you create and easily become lines, sounds and shapes on a page or a canvas or in the water.


It all makes sense.


And then, some days, it’s not like that at all. You stall, and the lines and shapes are stilted and awkward. Ideas come to nothing, there is no motivation and everything feels heavy and cumbersome and badly drawn. Trying harder and pushing more makes little difference and the only thing you can do is…


stop.


Stop fighting and give yourself time to cool or warm, or time or change direction or whatever it is that moves you out of the creative doldrums.


You can stop looking for inspiration and instead allow yourself to just enjoy and feel, and have it sit with you in that moment only – stop trying to find any meaning in it, stop trying to translate it, stop trying to make it say anything.


But it’s good to find meaning and to translate ideas and experiences. And after all, the longer you stop, the more momentum you lose. The creativity begins to curdle inside as it mixes too completely with sadness and boredom so you need to search out points of connection again. Points where things matter and mean something – even if only to you – so you can start yourself up again.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to stuff a wild bikini

Oh. My. Lord!

This song is from the 1965 film, 'How to Stuff a Wild Bikini' and I could no longer endure it on my own.



Words cannot even begin to describe my responses to the lyrics of this spectacle, but here are a few choice ones; alarmed, confused, confounded, stumped, breathless, flummoxed, astounded, uncomfortable and yet... amused.

The bit that really gets me though is the line (delivered with all the personality of a post)

It ain't nothin' without the stuffin'!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kurungabaa

If it seems like a long time between posts (and it has been lately!), then you might like to look for me over at Kurungabaa as well.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Barney

Is it really so wrong to spend a Friday morning watching North Shore on YouTube?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Surfergrrrl

Surfergrrrl asks a good question...

Why weren't women invited to Mavericks?
The Mavericks Surf Contest recently announced the 2009 invitees, and all 26 are men. WTF?! Sarah Gerhardt, the focus of One Winter Story, has been surfing the big waves of Mavericks for more than 10 years. She was invited to the contest in 2001, but only as an alternate. Jenny Useldinger and Jamilah Star are also Mavs regulars.

The Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards aren't so sexist. Maya Gabiera, who charges with the guys on massive waves at spots like Dungeons, is up for XXL Monster Paddle. Women's surfing icon Layne Beachley is in the running for XXL Ride of the Year for taking on a big one at Ours.

I asked Keir Beadling, Mavericks CEO, why no women are on the invite list. His answer? "Hmm..." C'mon, we want to know why the contest is ignoring half the population. Are you afraid a woman might win?

I hope you don't mind me re-posting that here, Surfergrrrl? I just thought it was an interesting question.

Bringing the beach to work

This morning I was sitting listening to a talk, when I got distracted by the hem of my jeans. It was slightly turned up, which in the scheme of things means little, but when you are looking for something, anything to occupy you as you politely endure someone else's rant, it seems significant, so I reached to my ankle and turned it down. When I folded my hands back in my lap, they felt gritty and grainy and were covered in sand. I looked at the floor to see tiny grains of rock, crystal and shell spread like icing sugar across the floor beneath my feet.

Last Sunday morning I'd been wearing these jeans as I sat in the sun-drenched sand dunes checking the surf and waiting for Amy to meet me. The sand must have been from then. We had a fun surf that morning.

That memory and all the attendant feelings and warmth were alive in that tiny artefact - trapped in the fabric of my (unwashed) clothing and spilling out simply because I got bored. Its presence there on the floor of that room, so far out of context, made my whole morning.

I feel pretty

This Nike advertisement isn't new, but I'd never seen it before this morning when a friend used it to talk about gender performances and expectations in sport. I'm not going to delve into that particular discussion here, but I do like to think that Nike understood all the ideas and contradictions that weave their way all through this advertisement.

Then again, I am an optimist!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Look out the back! (el rolo)

I need to begrudgingly admit that I didn't find this myself - I snatched the link of someone else's Facebook post (thanks loom).

And look, I actually don't even know WHAT THE HELL THIS IS OR WHERE IT'S FROM and I'm much too busy to look into it today but it needed to go up here. And oh my lord has it made my day!

If you DO have further info, I would love you to share it with me. If there is more where this came from, it should be shared and broadcast!

Please, enjoy.

(P.S. the lyric "get up on your feet pretty baby" seems to get lost in translation!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Average

Last week I went for a surf and for the first time ever, got out of the water feeling absolutely worse than before I’d gone in!


It was awful.


Granted, we’d chosen to surf a particularly and notoriously popular, busy, crowded break, but I can usually cope with that. You accept your decision to surf that spot and accept that it’s going to be a bit chaotic. It’s a little like making a deal with the Devil. Fine. But this was different.


The crowd wasn’t too over-the-top as far as number go. And there were waves enough, even if they were only a kind of messy. But there was also this incredibly aggressive and macho vibe, which was both overwhelming and confronting. It wasn’t like there were any blow-ups or anything, but it was just that everyone was totally in it for themselves. And I’m not talking about some wave-sharing, ‘spirit of surfing’ crap that you hear about – I don’t expect such mythical behaviours – but there was no courtesy, no consideration, no care for each other. Like I said, a total free-for-all!


And it was just hideous.


At one point some guy I’ve never met before paddled up to me and pointed out that about 5 guys were snaking me with alarming regularity. They would just paddle straight past me and sit a couple of metres to my inside then get the next wave. Bastards.


Yeah, I noticed that too, but I can’t be bothered caring about it much.


It’s pretty bad though. It’s pretty blatant.


Yeah, I know. I know. If something comes that I want, I’ll go. It’s ok.


You need to learn to think like a man out here. You’ll get more waves.


Idiot. I almost felt sorry for him saying that to me. Almost. Until he snaked me. And claimed it.


Haha! This was your wave!


I wanted to throttle him.


And don’t think that I’m sitting here all self-righteous and looking down my nose at the self-interested behaviour of everyone else and not implicating myself. Especially not after that particular guys little stunt. I got right in there, tooth and nail. I placed myself further out and further to the inside, claiming whatever I felt like for myself, with little consideration for who was around me or what was really going on. I implicated myself heavily by through my choices and behaviours in the water that day. But I couldn’t do it for long. I started to feel tired and angry and frustrated the ways that I was allowing myself to buy into it all – to become complicit in that nasty, ill-conceived lineup. And I didn't like it.


I eventually lost all semblance of enthusiasm and stoke for the day, caught some broken wash in and dragged my board up the beach to where my friends were waiting for me.


I feel so flat after that. I’m just totally bummed out about that surf. It was horrible. I honestly wish we hadn’t gone out!


Oh, we were just saying the same thing!


Yeah, that was horrible. Everyone was being so mean. It’s shit.


We trudged back to the carpark where I bumped into another friend who’d been out there as well. She was flat too. And cranky.


God that was awful! Did you see that guy drop in on me? So shit. That crew out the back are being arseholes. What’s going on today? The surf’s not even good enough for that kind of attitude.


She’s right. When it’s good, you kind of expect a bit of a fight for waves here, but it was so average today. I don’t know what everyone was trying to prove? That they can get the most shitty, messy waves?


We drove back into town where we met up for some breakfast.


As we sat down we all just looked at each other.


Well, I proposed, at least the water was nice!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Premiere of "_" (finally!!)

Hey!

What are you doing next Friday? Come watch a film!!




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For kate

OK, so...

It's pretty clear that I'm not writing much at the moment. Which is massive. For me.

Truth be told, I'm not doing much of anything at the moment, so please don't think that my lack of inspiration/motivation/productivity is limited to this modest little blog, because it's not - I'm generally useless in every aspect of my life right now! Sigh.

But I am trying. I really am. I am looking everywhere to bust myself out of this lethargy, but it was a particular little comment on my last post that really kicked me into gear to post something today.

So this post is for Kate - who always manages to encourage and inspire me! xx

*****

I have a lot of wax on my board. From the nose to the tail and out to the rails, I've pretty much got the whole thing covered!

It rises up from the deck in piles, like little drip-castles that you build on the beach, letting the wet sand run between your fingers to form unstable, piled-up stacks. Most surfs, I add to these wax castles by running the soft, white, scented cake across the surface adding to their height and instability.

The other day someone looked at my board and told me that's a good wax job you've done there! They were serious and were genuinely impressed! I found it a bit odd, but who am I to shun such a particular comment? I just said Oh? Thanks.

The wax in the centre of the board is grey from contact with my wetsuit - it's kind of gross. Even under the bumps - throughout that thin coating across the deck that you barely notice - the wax is grey and dark. In some places, the bumps have come off and the red glass burns through bright and smooth. I like watching where the bumps stay and where they wear away under my feet, under my chest, near the rails. I like that I know where I need to replace it more often and the spots that I can ignore. I like the way my hands stall and catch on the grippy stickiness as I run them across the board.

This morning in the water, I was lying flat on my stomach along the length of the board between sets, stretching my arms, hands and fingers towards the nose, seeing how far I could reach. As I lay there and looked at the nose, I found bits of grass, dirt and a small stone sealed in amongst the bumps where it was pushed when I lay the board down in the grass near my car the days before. Long strands of green and brown curling and sticking up through the wax. I used the time to pull them out and watch them variously float and sink into the water around me.

After my surf this morning, my friend and I went and had coffee and toast in town. We sat for ages chatting and pouring through magazines, looking and commenting at the images. My car was parked in dappled shade, minimising the heat and protecting my board inside. When I got into my car, my nose was filled with the vanilla scent of the wax which had warmed and softened.

It was lovely.

The bumps in the middle of the board

I got new swimmers and somehow they make surfing more fun.
(You can just see the frill that goes right across the front!)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Magnifier

This morning I went up to visit my friend Kris. He lives on the escarpement overlooking Lennox Head and Seven Mile Beach.
It's beautiful.
We sat outside drinking coffee and chatting, looking at the view, watching the birds, the headland, the ocean.
Kris got the binoculars so we could check the surf better.

I wish every surf check was like this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What are you working on?

Kurungabaa: a journal of literature, history and ideas for surfers, is calling for submissions for the next issue. The issues will be framed around an over-riding theme of longing...

Longing for waves, lover, place, smell, healing, gods, goddesses, water … The December issue of Kurungabaa is on “Longing”. We are looking for submissions – poetry, art, photographs, writing, dreams, frustrations.

For more information, hit up the website.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wax-ist

Joe is zipping his wetsuit as I pull up.

I jump out of the car and rush because it's already 5pm and it's getting colder and darker by the second.

See you out there. Joe slams his boot shut and turns to go. And then stops.

Shit, do you reckon I need wax? he asks me, looking at his board.

I reckon if you're thinking about it then you probably do, Joe.

He considers.

Ugh, nah. I already locked my car, he decides and turns again to go.

I've got some if you want? I offer.

What is it?

Orange Sex Wax.

Ah, a connoisseur. He walks over and takes the dirty, white cake out of my hand. I didn't think you'd use this.

Huh? I look at him, confused.

Well, what type of wax did you think I'd use?

I dunno. Maybe Palmers or something.

Nope. No Palmers. I just get this.

Although I got the feeling it was throwaway line, I was instantly intrigued as to how I could be so particularly defined as a type of wax? And why it even matters?

I've known Joe for ages but I hadn't ever surfed with him til he recently began dabbling in longboards. He's a good surfer but usually surfs much different breaks than me, and I think he is kind of surprised to be in the water with me now.

I also think he had a host of assumptions about me and surfing before we first surfed together the other evening.

The next morning I bumped into him and some other friends down at the shops and we all got talking about surfing and longbording. Like quite a few people I know, the other guys don't EVER ride longboards (no, never, ever, not at all and don't even bring it up because they will shun you like you have the plague!) and they were wondering why Joe is longboarding more at the moment,

I dunno actually. It's fun. It feels different. A different experience.

The other guys look unconvinced and one of them, Rob, pipes up,

I'll never ride a mal. Not til I'm old and fat and can't ride anything else.

I roll my eyes at him, drink from my coffee and stay quiet. Why bother arguing? I don't care anyway. I don't care how or where or what he surfs, or why. He might as well surf on the moon for all it bothers me. He surfs his way and thinks it's the only way and doesn't really rate any other approach to surfing. Thruster, fast waves, barrels: that's Rob.

And that's fine. I have loads of friends who surf like that, but I don't and it doesn't mean I have to and it doesn't mean I want to. And it doesn't mean I have to be so close-minded about the ways that other people surf either.

Rob is looking at me, wanting me to bite. But I won't. I won't bite because despite all the shit he gives me, I've realised something that he doesn't know...

...we both use Orange Sex Wax.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A city for lovers

No matter how many times I see it, this ad for the 2007 Rugby Union World Cup in Paris just never gets less excellent.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Making friends with the water

A few years ago I was talking to a friend about surfing and why he loves it so much, and something that he said then has stuck with me and I often think about it when I'm in the water.

And although my memory fades and his precise words fail me, he said something like this,

Sometimes surfing feels like a friendship. It can be as deep as that, which sounds like a cliché. But when you need to, you can go out in the water and just be cool and not talk and you feel better. It's not like a sport, or a lifestyle or anything, but, well, the wave's a mate.

I think it's sweet.


Photo hijacked from The Endless Bummer



Monday, August 10, 2009

Whoa!

I don't even care if it's totally doctored (worst sound effects ever!). It's funny!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The last day of the winter sun.

"I'm sorry"

These are the words I don't ever want to hear again.

They are words that are used to express regret, apology, forgiveness, but it seems to me that they are actually connected to sadness, pain, hurt, exhaustion and anger. That they're just the words we say when there are no other words left.

They're words that I've heard both too much and not at all. They're the words that sometimes I ache to hear but that often just clang through my head like church bells, ringing through my thoughts and heart whether I want to hear them or not.

"It's my fault, I'm sorry"

"I'm sorry but that's not possible"

"I'm sorry, I lied"

"I'm so sorry to tell you this, but..."

They're words that bring you to your knees and push you down into a chair just so you can cope with hearing them. They're words that sting and punch.

They're words that break your heart.

They're the words you say when there are no other words left.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Some things just make life worth living!

Surf boot

The other day I was sitting in the water when I noticed one of the young, teenage crew that I haven't seen in a while. I waved at her and she paddled over to say hi and as she did, I noticed that she was wearing what looked like a massive, black, plastic ski-boot, but only one one leg! As she got near me, I laughed at her,

What's that all about?

Oh, I broke my leg! But I'm sick of not surfing so, yeah.

Jeez, are you serious? Is it ok to be out here on it?

Oh, I had to get this thing on because I walked on it too much and it didn't heal...

Ummm, surfing on it might not help either!? And doesn't it make that boot stink?

I'm not really standing up though! And yeah, it gets wet and won't dry, but, whatever.

And she wasn't either. She would paddle into a wave on an old, borrowed McCoy and when she got it she would kneel on one leg with the other one bent behind her.

She gets a full ten points for enthusiasm!

Monday, August 03, 2009

In the boot

I really love owning a car.

I don't know if I'm supposed to say that, but I do. It's not about status or anything, it's about access and freedom. If I didn't have a car, my life would become completely impossible and I would probably fall into a fairly significant pit of despair. I know that sounds melodramatic, but at this point in my life, my car enables my life to run the way I want it to, the way I need it to. Living between two different places that are a couple of hours apart and being a surfer of the longboarding variety, a car comes in handy.

This car, Agatha (Aggie), is my third car after Emily (white '79 Corolla) and Ruby (maroon '93 Excel), and while she is in no way my favourite (Em will forever claim that revered title), she is my most user friendly. The best thing about her is that my board fits INSIDE, and the worst thing is there's no cup holder - it really annoys me.

The boot has lots of room and I keep a roll call of items in there at all times. I have a plastic box that contains;
  • a selection of swimmers
  • vest
  • tie-downs
  • sunscreen
  • fin key
  • wax
  • 4 clothes pegs (!!?)
  • legropes
  • (I used to have moisturiser in there too, but somehow I've let that slide. I must fix that.)

I have two towels, a sleeping bag, and a rain jacket and I also keep a t-shirt, tights, socks and trainers to run in. There's also usually some skanky old bottle of water floating around as well.

If nothing else, I'm prepared.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

Social lines

I got the funniest wave I've ever caught yesterday...

Every evening that I've been home for the past few weeks has been spent at one of my favourite breaks, which also happens to be one of the busiest breaks IN THE WORLD*!! The waves haven't been anything mind-blowing, but they've been fun and so, so long and glassy, and even thought it's the middle of winter here, it's been incredibly warm and you can surf happily til well after sundown! Basically, it's not a bad way to end your day!

Anyway, last night Jules and I paddled out at about 5pm, hoping to get a couple of waves before it got too dark. It looked crowded, but no-one seemed to be dropping in much. We walked out through the shin-deep water to the rocks, and sat on our boards, waiting for something worth paddling for. I didn't wait long til something soft, glassy and fat came my way, so I paddled into it and set a little line (not much else to do on waves that fat!).

The wave seemed to go for ages and as I was gliding along it was like a massive catch up session, with smiles, hollers, waves and calls of 'Hey Bec!' flying at me from every direction. I saw more crew on that 10 second wave than I have seen all week! Jules, Brett, Ev, Hals, Erin, Raf, Sage, Paul, Tom, Adam, Ang, Drew... It was hilarious. As the wave faded, I fell laughing into the warm water, and paddled back out, surfing and laughing with friends til it became too dark to see...


*this may or may not be a slight exaggeration - mostly not.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dear & Yonder

Frustrated at my apparent inability to actually commit words to paper this morning, I went and looked for some inspiration at my some of my favourite blogs including one where I found this film poster (thanks!)...

Click the poster for a link to the trailer

Although perhaps a little cliche (water-colours, slow-motion shots, giggling), the surfing looks like its rad and this film looks pretty interesting. While seemingly full of the usual suspects, their blurb seems to point to exploring women who aren't professional or already well-known, which is exciting I think. Although they are amazing, I do get sick of seeing the same women surfers all the time, so it's good to see new surfers, styles and stories about women. Although there seem to be a growing number of examples coming out of the USA, these kinds of films are sadly lacking here in Australia!

I want to see it!

So now, instead of finding inspiration to write, I have simply found a reason to wish I was living in New York at the moment!

Music to glower to

Whenever I'm pissed off/have a seething rage/slightly cranky and find myself in need of a good 'angry' song, I always find that a Johnny Cash* moment does the trick...




And The Horrors aren't too bad for it either...




*Yes friends. I know it's a Depeche Mode song. But this version is so much better!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One surf

Seagulls

Terns

2 x Brahminy Kites (aka Red-backed Sea Eagles and the logo for my old hockey club)

3 x pelicans (all flying together)

lots of fish

a pod of dolphins feeding under my feet

a shark (apparently)

a Humpback whale (breathing not breaching)

bush turkeys

sunshine

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The time that 1980 got it so so right!

Please, try and describe something to me that is better than the heady combination of Olivia Newton-John, ELO (that's Electric Light Orchestra to the uninitiated), rollerskating, gold shoes and jumpsuits.

"Xanadu! Your neon lights will shine for you, Xanadu!

Xanadu indeed!



Although she could probably stand to lose that fluffy-haired guy.















(Is it Friday yet?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Gerry Wedd has an exhibition!!

If you are lucky enough to live in Sydney at the moment, then you might like to take the time to get on down to the Legge Gallery in Redfern and check out the Gerry Wedd exhibition on there. But it only runs til the 25th July so hurry!!

That's what I'd be doing anyway!!

I've written about him and his work before and I am a fan and I can assure you that if you go, you won't be disappointed!

And if you do go, can you please lust over it all on my behalf as well. Thanks.






P.S. And buy me something pretty while you're there..?!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dear 1989, what were you thinking?

Yes. Yes I did go and find this clip today.

You only have to watch it to the 1.30 mark, but dear lord is it worth it!



(Cringe factor? One billion!!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some days it pays to have a good sense of humour...

This morning I paddled out at Wategos - it was small, but it was a spectacularly sunny winter day and every so often a nice set would come through that made the whole exercise worth it.

So after some conversation and consultation with the old mal crew on the beach, I went out...

I got a few waves and it was nothing special, but it was fine. I was just cruising and enjoying the day, blah, blah, blah. The old guys would paddle past me and take waves, but whatever, it was fine.

Then a nice set came through. I decided they could kiss my arse and I was getting me some of that. There was a guy behind me, but he'd just come back out and he knew it was my wave so he backed off a bit. I turned and paddled harder and just as I felt the wave catch me, I also felt a "helping hand" on my foot, giving me a push into the wave.

Yes, that's right. THE GUY PUSHED ME INTO A WAVE THAT I WAS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF GETTING ON MY OWN THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SIR!!

I mean seriously. How many dude-strangers do you reckon he's pushed into waves? I'm guessing none.

I was enraged. Enraged! And embarrassed. And perplexed.

And all of this was going through my head as I jumped up. As I picked my bumpy, wind-blown line I was confused and ashamed and worried that I'd have to talk to him again and so I gave in and twisted my board off the wave and just sat there. A few guys were paddling towards me, heading back out to the lineup. Had they seen that? Is that what they were smiling about? No, of course not, but I was so humiliated!

And yeah, I know, I know - get over it Rebecca! And I have, but at the time...

I stayed wide and further down the line as I couldn't face that man. I know he was trying to be nice, but I was conflicted between that knowledge and my own embarrassment and outrage. Why did he think I needed help when I clearly didn't? Why? Am I that bad? No, no I'm not. I hold my own out there and it's not like they were even challenging waves either. Ugh!

So I stayed out there, semi-weirded out by the whole thing. And then it got worse... I got another wave and kooked it and as I tumbled in the whitewash, my vest broke.

So let me clarify a couple of points here to really paint the picture;

1. I wear a vest that zips up the front and it was the zip that broke. The whole thing split apart, all the way from my hips up to my throat, where it (bizarrely) stayed attached. So there I was lying in the water with the vest floating up around me, splaying out from my neck, totally exposing my chest and abandoning its task of offering me some protection from the cold water.

2. Those who know me know that I have, um, what some might refer to as, um, an ample bosom. So as I climbed back onto my board, vest flying open, I was further mortified to find one of my boobs had detached itself from my swimmers and sat proudly revealing itself to the entire lineup. Well, hey boys!

Wow.

So I sat, having been PUSHED INTO A WAVE by some stranger, enduring further humiliation by revealing myself to the all-dude lineup via a faulty zip.

And suddenly I started laughing. What else was there to do. And anyway, it was funny.

So I sorted out some form of dignity, paddled in and walked up the beach to my car looking like a total poser with her cleavage provocatively staring out from a weirdly (un)zipped vest.

"It's broken!" I explained to a couple of bug-eyed locals who promptly fell into fits of laughter.

Thanks.

Then I had a further comedy section of getting the thing off over my head before I could finally fix it.

And then, screw it, I went back out again. What did I have left to lose? And, after all, it was still sunny.

As I walked back down the beach the guy who had 'helped' me into that wave was walking up, smiling at me,

"Did you feel me give you that last little burst?"

I wanted to say 'yeah and there was no need you fool!' but I didn't. I did the polite, understanding and grown-up thing, and uncomfortably said,

"Yeah. I did."

"I was worried you'd think I was trying to pull you off?" he laughed.

"Nah, I knew..."

...and I walked away, knowing he was trying to be nice, but hating that sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.

(And checking that my vest wasn't creating a scene!)