Streaming and Screaming like a Toddler

                                “Whoa! Ow! Ewwww! Ye-aaaaaay-yah!”

Oh, and “Cowabunga!”

SATURDAY, JUNE 22ND

I had to drop my earphones to try to figure out why Trish was yelling at me.  It was tough because the Super Heat was ‘ON!’ Kelly Slater and Felipe Toledo trading excellent scores. 9.1 topped by a 9.5; two more excellent scores, one each, and Kelly needed another wave to win.  Scary barrels, final turns into whitewater head and a half high. 

Great heat.  A minute and a half to go.

“What?”

“What? You were screaming.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, you; if I hadn’t been awake I might have had a heart attack.’

“Fine, fine; can I just… I want to watch the last… thirty seconds.”

“Sure. Cowabunga!”

I’m sure I didn’t say ‘cowabunga.’ I never say cowabunga.  Dude. Then again, I wasn’t aware I was screaming.  Earphones.  And me, to borrow a phrase one of the WSL commentators used to describe what Wade Carmichael did when he saw the waves at the Brazilian Pro contest, “screaming like a toddler.”

kellysltr

Next time…

That might be tomorrow.  Early. With earphones and the door closed.

SUNDAY, JUNE 23RD

I was feeling like I was coming down with a cold for a couple of days.  I was right. It seems like, when I have a day where I don’t absolutely have to be somewhere, a day where I can sort of chill out… sniffle…

I didn’t manage to get up early enough for the start of competition in Brazil, got streaming when the second women’s semifinal was on.  Stephanie and Carissa.  It was a bit of a shoot-out, or tube/air-out, with the scores going back and forth, and, with a minute and a half left and Stephanie needing a good score to win, Dru called me.  Admittedly, I wasn’t super into the competition, but I was kind of rooting for Steph (and I’m not sure why I root for competitors like Gilmore and Slater who have certainly won their fair share of competitions- but I do- with some room in my fan-head for underdogs Silvana Lima and Sebastian Zietz), but, again, it’s not an interruption unless you care about what is being interrupted.

At least now I was awake.

toledo

Eventually Sally Fitzgibbons and Felipe Toledo would win.  I de-streamed when the final buzzer went off.

I might have screamed if I hadn’t been sick.  Next time for the WSL, Jeffry’s Bay.  Oh, yeAH; UH HUH!

Advertisements

Four Days Strait

OKAY, If I choose to write about surfing, surf culture, real surfers along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I can, because it’s America (one day from Memorial Day, and the official start to outdoor grilling season), I can say pretty much whatever I want.  Freedom.  YEAH, well; then there’s popular sentiment and, I must admit, some self-centered reasons for not writing EVERYTHING.

HERE’S what I can’t write about: CAN’T name spots, even those pretty much everyone who has ever surfed the Strait knows; CAN’T publish photos of any waves over one foot (should these photos even exist); CAN’T divulge tide/wind/swell direction formulas (mine or any one else’s) for determining best chances to avoid getting skunked (even if not getting skunked means, merely, getting some of those previously-mentioned one footers); CAN’T besmirch or demean any local surfers by name or, even, by giving away clues as to the identity of said locals (and I’m not defining or arguing your definition of locals here).

In the non-writing category, the main no-no is calling up your buddy from some spot with one footers sloppily lapping on rocky shores (and, hopefully, you’re being charged Canadian roaming fees, with tariffs), with a ‘Hey, Hipster-Bud, High-Bank is just f’ing firing. Calf-high sets. No, really. How long it might take you to get here from Gold Bar? No, I don’t know about the ferry backup or if the Hood Canal Bridge is closed, or if 101 is closed due to an accident, or if downed trees are blocking 112. Sheet, man; I’m just trying to get you some waves.”

It is kind of okay to tell surf stories and reveal surf secrets to people who have no real interest in ever challenging you for a set wave; and it’s kind of okay to brag about your latest surf exploits to a few friends, AFTER THE FACT.

Most of these ‘can’ts’ are, admittedly, self-serving.  Surfing is just sooooo cool.  I don’t mind (or fear) saying that.  I don’t want MORE SURFERS in the water; some of them, undoubtedly, ready to get pissed-off because someone might be getting more tiny tubes than they are.  Or many more.

ANOTHER ARGUMENT for not sharing is that it takes away from the joy one will feel when discovering these things for him or herself.  YEP, there’s nothing like the thrill of hiking through the woods, down a slippery trail, only to find… nothing.  NEXT TIME.

ANYWAY, I will reveal two of my secrets: If Keith goes camping or Adam makes a stealth run; there will be something.  A problem there is, they might not (probably won’t) let me know until it’s over, or, at best, when that small window is closing.

SO, one (non-specific) day last week, checking the buoy readings and tea leaves frequently; I decided to go (mostly because my painting project get shut down due to the client not happy with the color she chose).  I talked my friend, Stephen Davis, into going with me, promising waves based on the hope that the angle would improve, and that Keith was out there somewhere, no doubt, scoring  AND, SURE ENOUGH, it was big enough to ride if one didn’t worry about losing another fin.

SIDEBAR: Tyler Meeks had a bunch of fins for sale at the DISCO BAY OUTDOOR EXCHANGE, sold them all.  ADVICE: If you go, bring extras.

20190522_205422

Okay, if you recognize the spot, one, don’t tell anyone; and, if you do, be sure to say this is a big day.

BUT, since I’m not the only one willing to be fooled by buoy reading that should mean waves, there’s always the enjoyment of hanging out.

20190522_182419I keep forgetting to take photos of real surfers, but here’s Tugboat Bill, ready to rip.

This is Gavin, originally from South Africa (once sat next to Jordy Smith at a restaurant at Jeffry’s Bay), an electrician and Whistler ski instructor; cooking lamb (smells good, not willing to taste it- did once) after his wife, Char, invited Steve and I to tour his Sprinter van. Though Steve is planning on going to Baja soon, Gavin is “through with Baja.”20190522_182550

So, yeah; one learns a lot while hanging around and waiting. NOT PICTURED is this other guy who was sitting on a five gallon bucket when we got there, quite willing to talk about how, possibly because he disrespected some Hawaiians, he suffered… (I don’t want to get into it, and, because he kept talking about it, I decided to risk my last unbroken fin).

AND, I MUST ADD, others pulled into the parking area, drawn by the hope and the anticipation.  DARREN was lured into the water, possibly, noting that SEAN, teacher from P.A., and I were rock-skimming.

STEPHEN took a nap.

SO, THREE DAYS LATER, Adam having made at least one stealth strike, Keith extending his camping trip, Steve and I risked skunking again.  And, now, finally something I can’t write about.  I have at least one photo, though I should have taken more that I can’t publish; more of real surfers.

 

Here’s my daughter, Drucilla’s, new van and the woman she bought it from. Le (pronounced Lee, but, she told me, ‘with just one e’), originally from Vietnam, but of Chinese ancestry, and… things you learn in parking lots. This one is outside the Quilcene Post Office, down on Surf Route 101.  The second photo is of the Deli section in the Poulsbo WalMart, taken because, there, partially because Dru only has a learner’s permit, and I was the duty instructor; but, mostly, because, Trish (at home on the phone) didn’t believe that there was no longer a place where one could get non-pre-packaged macaroni salad.

YEAH, not a surf story.  Not that I don’t have some.  SO, to all folks in the many many vehicles with multiple surfboards on them, with hopes and anticipation of overhead bombs; GOOD LUCK; hope you have some great stories you can’t tell.

Except, maybe, in some distant, out of cell range parking area.

Slow Down, No ThrowDown at the BroDown

“I always try to compete to be the best,” I said.

Now, I can, and do, edit what I write.  What I say in real time, however, is out there, it’s gone, in the time zone of ‘past,’ mostly ‘past imperfect’ tense.

Tense. Yeah. Five more minutes, I figured, and the guy who had been all “Aloha” was going to, possibly, want to throw down.  He had, he said, a history.  He had, he said, given a well-known Westport enforcer a beatdown years ago.  Cops were called.  Westside Oahu. Makaha. He knows Sunny, calls Buffalo ‘Uncle;’ said he did some enforcing.  Despite my being seventeen years older than him, he didn’t call me Uncle.

Now, after I went over the story with a couple of friends via cellular device, I began to believe I had, perhaps, over-reacted.  Maybe it was because the thought of someone actually throwing punches over some imagined (or even real) affront in the waves just seems like over-reacting.

Then I called Trish. “You have to think about what you say.” “Uh huh.” “What exactly did you say?”

Oh. So, again, let me rethink:

 

 

Discussions on who has priority.

It’s all about the windows.  The tide was going to drop off, the swell was supposed to drop, the wind was forecast to increase, and not at a good angle, not offshore.  There’s always the chance that you’ll get skunked; especially when the buoy readings, at the last place where my phone works, had already dropped to a size where, in my memory of collected skunking/scoring, the numbers favored flatness.

So, when I rolled up and saw waves… um, maybe I kind of over-amped. Pretty much a record time for me to get a suit on, booties, earplugs… and only two guys out. Guys I didn’t know.  Three surfers, three wave sets; shouldn’t be a problem.

The one surfer had just finished a ride and was lying on his very large standup paddle board. “You guys are probably exhausted from catching so many waves,” I said, paddling past him toward my lineup spot.

WAIT: Etiquette check. Perhaps I should have followed him, making sure to sit ‘outside’ of whatever position he decided to take.

THEN, scrapping around to catch waves that showed up on an outside reef, them, mostly, backed-off, regrouping on the main reef, I did, and I admit it, take off on the same wave as the other SUPer.

WAIT: Even if the guy closer to the peak, farther outside, missed a couple of waves, I probably should just let the wave go unridden rather than go for it.  Probably.

THEN, because I lost one of my earplugs, and didn’t want another three days of one-ear hearing, I went in, hung out with a couple of guys who were waiting for the incoming tide; giving the two other guys free rein.  So, nice.

THEN, MORE SURFING, more jockeying for position, but no more take-off-in-front-ofs by me.  Three wave sets, shouldn’t be a problem.  When it looked like the big surfer was going in, I did comment, “Hey, I know boating season started yesterday, but, um, do you have a license for that boat?”  Joke, yes; but the board, I swear, almost filled the bed of his small-sized truck, side to side. Very wide.

THEN, with the wind coming up and the tide bottoming-out, with more folks starting to fill the parking area, Darren deciding to paddle out before it got worse, I was changing-out on the beach, next to the big guy with the big board.

WAIT: There were, in retrospect, a few things I said that I probably shouldn’t have.

AFTER the big guy, who was pretty (and rightly) proud that he’d dropped many pounds, but had gained some of the weight back, then downed another beer, I could have avoided saying he should switch to coffee.

AFTER he said he’s sticking with the custom board, and said maybe he’s kind of a pussy, I didn’t need to say I think anyone who rides an SUP under 60 years old MIGHT BE (here’s a can’t-backspace words example- I said IS) a pussy.  Probably a mistake.

AFTER he said that if he see’s someone paddling past other surfers, taking off in front of other surfers, he has to say something (Pretty sure he meant me), I did say, “Hey, I only took off in front of him once.”  He disagreed.  Okay.

WAIT: Maybe I really shouldn’t have said that I don’t really get the whole paddling past other surfers thing. I paddle to my spot, everyone else is entitled to move. If my lineup is the one they want to use, come sit next to me, even inside me.  Paddle.  Move.  Jockey.  “Back when I started surfing, the best surfer got the most waves.”

“OH,” he said, possibly moving a bit closer to me, “Do you think you were the best surfer out there?”  Out of three. This is where I said, “I always try to compete to be,” and he came back with, “You aren’t.  See that guy over there?” Now dressed, talking to Clint. “He rips!”

OKAY. This is when, exactly, I thought about the last time I ever was involved in serious fisticuffs.  I was about 13. Butch Standefor. I only cried because I was frustrated because, though I wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t either.  SO, I lost. CLEARLY.

THEN I thought about my father.  He would throw down up until he died.  At 92.

SOOOOO, I walked away from the BIG GUY, he re-suiting to go for another session, his last word to me, “Aloha,” walked over to the other guy, shook his hand, introduced myself, apologized for the ONE time I took off in front of him.  He was nice.

LESSON LEARNED.

No, you don’t have to believe me. But, if we’re out together, sit by me. We can discuss which wave is who’s. Aloha.

 

WATCH OUT! Going Paddle-less

In a CONVERSATION with my friend, media darling (I will continue to call him this- it’s true) ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES, me painting trim in a low-bank waterfront mansion (part of the greater Puget Sound, but many thousands of feet (because waterfront seems to be sold my the foot) from even the fickle, often-trickling (note the internal rhyme) waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca; Adam just about to miss a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle, where he would attend and cook oysters at an event held by ‘WARM CURRENTS,’ a group dedicated to getting kids who might not otherwise get the chance to enjoy the cold bliss of surfing, Adam, in response to my telling him that I was switching to surfing a TRADITIONAL LONGBOARD, and that he should definitely tell ‘Warm Currents’ official, ABIGAIL, who, if you read ‘Realsurfers’ religiously (as you should), you will recall that Abigail, who I, allegedly (accused, not convicted) once burned on a wave (in response to, again, allegedly, she pulled my leash), but who (still Abby/Abigail) did, nevertheless, purchase an ORIGINAL ERWIN t-shirt; and that this switch from the STANDUP PADDLEBOARD would, obviously and unavoidably make me far less DOMINATE in the lineup; in response to all that, Adam said, “WAIT! WAIT! you’re going to crawl on your belly, MAYBE jump up to your knees; maybe even (gulp) STAND UP?”

There was something in Adam’s TONE that just hit me wrong.  NO, not the tone, it was the WORDS.

“NO, man; I’m planning on RIPPING IT UP; dropping-in, back to the wall; swooping, climbing and dropping, tearing into a vicious cutback… all that.”

“YEAH?”

“YEAH.”

“WELL.”  It was a ‘well, we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’

archiepapt

Archie Endo, styling at LongLost Point. Photo by Stephen R. Davis

I would like to say the catalyst for my switch back to a longboard was that ‘Allboard’ (formerly ‘Shortboard’ to distinguish him from ‘Hippy’) Aaron’ said he has the perfect board for me, a ten-four Ricky Young; or that legendary longboard stylist Atsushi ‘Archie’ Endo offered me a ten-two Southcoast on a long-term loan basis- I would like to say that- but the truth is, if I want to surf some of the Strait’s less-accessible spots, or even, like, make the trek back from, say the beach at Westport to the parking lot, without, embarrassingly, dragging my board across the sand/gravel, and, sweating and red-faced, stopping every once in a while to readjust my grip on my SUP, I might just have to switch back to crawling onto my board, paddling for and into waves, hoping some dormant muscle memory might kick in and… we’ll see.

PA and PT 024

Archie Endo shot this one. It’s, like, waist-high, right?

ALSO, I switched the header back from the one drawn by my late sister, MELISSA, to one of me standing up on a surfboard.  Yes, I did make that wave.

YES, I am aware that I’ve been saying I have (already) given up my WAVE-HOGGING ways for a while.  Well.

That’s a ‘we’ll see’ kind of ‘well.’

Memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett’ Davis

While I do fancy myself a writer, and I have done some work (paid) as a newspaper reporter, it will soon become obvious that I am neither a photographer nor a photo/journalist.

The memorial for Emerson ‘Emmett; Davis, tragically killed in a fire in his apartment in Seattle, had been planned for a while.  His father, Stephen Davis, often mentioned in ‘realsurfers’, is a friend of mine, and, while this was an opportunity to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of someone taken away from those who loved him way too soon, it also afforded the many people whose paths in some way were touched by Emmett’s.  Including mine.

My connection was, originally, through surfing.  Emmett was, and Stephen is a part of the loosely-connected collection of surfers with a homebase in the unlikely corner of the country, the Olympic Peninsula.  Because Steve travelled, ‘posted-up’ (his term) in Baja and California and Hawaii and Costa Rica, and often included Emmett for parts of these adventures, because Steve put off work (occasionally) to go snowboarding with his son, met up with him in Oregon; the community of surfers with a connection to Emmett has grown.

Add in the fact that Emmett was raised in Port Townsend, went to college and worked in Seattle, it shouldn’t have been surprising that so many people met up at Fort Worden.

Though I knew many of the locals through working in Port Townsend for many years, I was probably more at ease among the surfers. Not saying I’m totally accepted; I’m tolerated.  I gave a ride to the memorial to a surfing buddy of Stephen’s and mine, Archie Endo. A stylish longboarder, whose daughter, Lillian, went to school with Emmett.

20190428_132222

Archie was in town from Thailand. He had a stroke a couple of years ago, and, though he recently surfed some small waves there, he fears his days of hitting the waves in the cold Strait of Juan de Fuca may be over.

Friends of Stephen actually came into the area early, and, because it’s what surfers do, they went looking for waves.  And they found some; glassy, long walls; one of those rare, brief, and magic windows on the fickle Strait.  Cap, here from the Big Island, credited Emmett for sending the waves.

I met Cap, who introduced himself as Brian, at a beach north of PT where Stephen was preparing to kitesurf. Not being a photo/journalist, I did not take any photos.  Supposedly, Stig, who, like Cap, I had heard stories about but had never met, a friend of Steve’s from Oahu, was in town but not there at this time.

cap with cap

Okay, let’s look at photos I did take.

20190428_132213

Local ripper/librarian Keith Darrock, left, media darling and local wherever he goes, Adam ‘Wipeout’ James.

 

People I don’t know, or didn’t know, and Stephanie Moran, who Steve and I have both done work for, and who Trish is great Facebook friends with, though they have never actually met (yet).

Top, then clockwise- Archie and Cody Caputo (who I haven’t taken off in front of in quite a few years); the same shot twice of Cody, Archie, and Keith (I’ve never, to my knowledge, burned Archie, though I did totally ding one of his boards once, I think Keith and I are about even on wave usurping); and a photo of kitesurfer/SUPer/long-or-shortboarder Derrick Vandersurfer (I swear, no one can really get through his real last name, Wipeout, All-board (formerly shortboard) Aaron Lennox, and Archie.

20190428_135333

Stephen R. Davis.  I heard one of Emmett’s friends say “He’s dressed up, looks like one of my professors.”  If it doesn’t show up, there’s a matching blue tie in this sartorial mashup.  If one gets strength from hugs, Steve should be powered-up for a long while.

20190428_140934

Bob. Not a surfer. Everyone seemed to know Bob except me. When I was introduced, he said, “Oh, you’re Erwin. Some people thought I was you.  Some woman in Town, every time she’d see me, she’d say, ‘Erwin… love your column. Erwin.’ (I had a column in the Port Townsend Leader for about ten years) Finally, I said, ‘Thanks. Where’s that forty dollars you owe me.’  She never called me Erwin again.”

I don’t really have a right to be offended, but I don’t really see the resemblance, and,  should add no one has ever said to me, “Hey, Bob; how’s it going?”

20190428_151101

Steve with Cosmo. Cosmo is a landscaper from Chicago and made leis for the paddleout.

People headed toward the lighthouse for the paddleout.  That’s Michael Morrow top right. Raised in Panama, he’s surfed all over, lived for a while in Hawaii.  Has some great stories.

20190428_151901

Emmett’s sister, Katrina. She took some of Emmett’s ashes out to the circle.  I had never met her, and her expression might be explained by saying I had just introduced myself.  “Oh, you’re Erwin.” I’m not sure what she heard about me, but I held back from saying, “Yeah, often confused with Bob.”  I actually considered asking, feeling somewhat guilty for not participating in the paddle out, if I could hop into the canoe.

20190428_152234

20190428_152606

20190428_152556

This isn’t the end of this. While working on this, and I apologize for not having a closer shot of the circle, Adam called me.  A tanker’s passing pushed some waves into the bay, described as ‘perfect little peelers’ by Mr. James.  He sent photos.

Later.  It was, for someone who avoids these things, so worthwhile.  Archie met a guy who married into a Japanese family, Adam, who claims not to be a fisherman, regaled Aaron with a well-told fishing story as well as asking Aaron if he had, indeed, been hiking in the hills down around HamaHama (he had), and gave him some pointers on climbing spots in that area.

At one point I asked a young man across the picnic table what his connection to Emmett is: It was more his wife, but he was from Seattle; he’d seen the local news coverage.  He started talking about another incident where a young person tragically lost his life in an accident.  That was the closest I came to breaking out the tissues Trish made me bring.

I still never met Stig.

Emmett, rest in peace.

 

Space Awareness

I guy I was painting with, and this was a few years ago, a possibly typical, happy hour loving (definitely appreciating) individual (meaning he started and left the job way earlier than I did), told me, enjoying reduced-price beverages at a lounge in Port Angeles, that two surfers were (annoyingly, he pointed out, to fellow lounger, him) talking surfing.

“Nonstop. And, two hours later (post happy hour)?”

” Um, uh, surfing? ”

Yes.

So it was, and so it is that yesterday, checking the buoy readings the average, 8 or 15 times per day, and, because I was working very close to a vantage point on the fickle Strait of Juan de Fuca, looking (in, as usual, vain) for any sign of waves three times, but then forced, because that job was finished, to drive 50 miles away to another job, I probably spent, between illegally talking on the cellphone-while -driving, legally talking on the cellphone while hanging out in a parking lot with a view of ripples going the wrong direction, and actually talking, in person to another frustrated  surfer – um, like, two hours.

So, like… Like happy hour. And I had my own coffee (black, no, you know, painterly extras). I would add more, about what I talked with Chimacum Timacum about (Seaside locals – hint) surfer stuff, like the last times there were waves, when the next time might be, but my fingers are getting numb from typing on this tablet, and, besides, it’s time to check the buoy readings

Tim took this photo of a fiercely –  defended  spot. We talked about it.

20190114_104044_resized

On Not Being Ernest

I’ll get to the circumstances in a moment, but the part that’s critical to this story is that, yesterday morning I told a former Hollywood producer (he’s legit) that I’ve used the three weeks-plus Trish and I have suffered (her more than me) without internet access, and without a land line, to work on my novel, “Swamis.”

“Four hours a day the past two days,” I said.

“Hemingway worked seven,” he said, “And standing up.”

“Oh,” I said, noticing that Bob was, himself, standing, scanning multiple images from the weekend’s football games on two computer screens (yeah, the internet worked at the Quilcene Community Center where he’s served- and I’ve never quite figured out why- as director for quite a few years); “Hemingway probably didn’t have a… regular job.”

hemingway

OKAY. I’m not Hemingway.

And, just in passing; I’m not standing up to write this.

NOW, the reason I was, on this Monday morning, patrolling Surf Route 101 from my house to downtown Quilcene, checking out the Century Link switching station (no one there), and then cruising farther south to the Community Center, is that, on the previous Friday, doing the same thing, hoping to see some line truck (none), to give myself (and Trish, forced to do Facebook on her phone- Frustrating- tiny type) some hope that the major corporation hadn’t just decided to write off our rural outpost; and, since I was cruising town (which includes going to the Post Office, going to the ATM at the only bank in town to see if we still have money in our accounts, something, along with buoy readings and surf forecast and tide charts, I check several times a day, if we had internet access); I decided to stop in, say ‘Happy New Year’ to Bob, tell him about my novel (“Swamis”); and, to convince Bob that, if he has one last big play to make in Hollywood, it should be to get the story (“Swamis”) produced as, at least, a Netflix, no, Amazon limited-series.

So, yeah, some hope.

SOMETHING ELSE I’ve been unable to do is post on this site (realsurfers.net). Yes, I did, one time, with about ten minutes to do it in, at our son’s house; but waves have been ridden, sessions have been missed, surfers on too-small-for-the-conditions boards have been frustrated by old guys on big (enough) boards. After one session, I ran into a writer, and, more importantly, a professional editor, whose house (former house, with former wife) I painted a few years ago.

Mark, in exchange for some extra painting, edited an overlong piece I was planning on reading (and did) at the FIRST SURF CULTURE ON THE STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA AND SALISH SEA event.  His editing was totally great.  There were parts where I ignored his advice, and read them as originally written. Mistake.

It turned out that two of my surfing friends (they may deny the friends part), Derrick and Stephen, were working on Mark’s new house, with his new wife.  When I told Mark I was writing a novel, and asked if he could, maybe, please, just read a bit of it, he said he would… BUT it would be better if it was complete.

“I just want to have someone tell me… the style, that’s what I’m…”

“Just let me know… when it’s complete. First draft.”

OH. GREAT. WAIT; WHAT? I’d already googled to discover a novel runs about 60,000 to 90,000 words. WHOA! Moby f’ing Dick! That’s a lot of words.

“It’s not like I’m writing it start-to-finish, then self-editing. I keep going back and…”

“No. I get it. When it’s done… call me.”

Well, winter; long nights (missed sessions), the fact that I can use the laptop as a word processor even without the internet; I’m up to thirty-two thousand words, plus; and I’m thinking about it constantly, getting close to figuring out who did it in my own mystery/surf novel.

TWO THINGS:

ONE: I also ran into Clayton last Friday. Clayton lives between our house and town, has a sort of Christmas tree farm, and, through Trish and Facebook, I knew his internet was, also, out. He was at the Community Center last Friday, using their computers. SO, I found out the outage had been on his property, with an electric line, during one of our more-than-usual number of windstorms, fell onto the phone/DSL lines, frying it, melting all the little lines that go to, well, us and some unknown (and, despite daily long calls to Century Link, they wouldn’t tell me) number of customers.

Still ONE: I was kind of hoping Clayton might be hanging out at the Center. Monday’s Century Link representative de jour (and they’re all over the country- I ask) told me the outage was fixed, and everyone was back on line; but, since our modem was still solid red on the DSL light, I did not believe her. Clayton wasn’t there, but Bob was, in his office.

TWO: I have worked with Bob in the past. In fact, he drafted me to write a column for the Center’s monthly newsletter. “Quite popular” he tells me. I met Bob, as I meet most people, by painting for him when he first retired to the area.  I was still writing a column for the “Port Townsend Leader” at the time, showed him the a copy of the manuscript of my second (the first was never quite finished, this one, “At That Moment” written on computer, word processor, long hand, the first 70 or so pages way more, um, edited than the last 70- or so) novel; and, some months later, I was writing, and he was changing, my first screenplay, “Near-Life.”

Still TWO: It’s a play on ‘near-death,’ and I had one vision; Bob another. He tried to shop it around Hollywood, and we came ‘this close’ to it being purchased by an outfit headed by John Travolta. Almost. Bob was waiting for a phone call. I was waiting (while working) for his phone call after that phone call. It was pretty exciting.  “Almost,” Bob said.

There is a huge difference between ‘almost’ and success.

The story of surf on the Strait is a story of ‘almost.’ Or, maybe it’s a story of ‘sometimes.’

I’m not Ernest Hemingway. Never claimed to be. I looked him up, last night, after I passed two line trucks on their way to Quilcene around eleven; I on my way to Bremerton to work; after I got home around 8pm, and Trish, not nearly caught up on emails and Facebook, let me use the laptop. Hemingway, successful writer, wasn’t writing seven hours a day at 67, standing up. He shot himself at the age of 61.

I wanted to text Bob, mention that to him; but Trish told me (info from Facebook) that yesterday was Bob’s birthday; 82, same age as Jack Nicholson (I got that from Bob).

So, happy birthday, Bob.

I’ve pretty much used up my writing time for this morning. At least it wasn’t used hanging on the automated phone-chase or chasing up and down Surf Route 101. I checked our bank account balances; I can check the buoy readings on my phone.

 

 

Jody’s Father’s Smith-Corona Portable

CLUES are the key in writing “Swamis,” the novel. It really seems that, as I continue with the process, the story is telling itself to me. It is a mystery novel, after all, but, though I know where I want it to go; I’m constantly surprised by clues that suddenly appear.

That is, though I’m trying to break the story into little pieces, keep it off a simply-linear path, dole out the clues, flesh out the characters, keep the plot plausible; I am attacked by some new thought.

Let me admit now that I haven’t decided who killed Chulo Lopez, Gingerbread Fred, and Jody’s father.

Here are a couple of ways it could go: Jesus Freaks, Pot Growers, Pot Traffickers, Sheriff’s Officers.  I’m about 13,000 words into the story, and I just looked up the average length of a novel- 60 to 90,000. I don’t want to pad the story*.

*This is amusing to me because I keep getting sidetracked; I’m writing about people who are my age, from a certain era; I’m including real people, and (variations on real) experiences, and personal knowledge from that era, 1969; all to make the story real.

Real-er.

Although the characters are all fictional, composites, they are becoming more real to me; from sketch to renderings; and I’m increasingly aware I can’t totally control them.

SO, I’m excited to see where they go.

THE LATEST clue/plot device/whatever that came to me is the typewriter. At first it was a typewriter that Jody is using to type up a paper for Jumper; but then I remembered a typewriter, belonging to my parents (Mom mostly) I was allowed to use. A portable Smith-Corona in a case.

il_570xN.1664784855_n7tg

NOW I’m imagining Jody, typewriter on the hood of his old station wagon, parked at Swamis… oh, and I’d better look up 60s era Falcon station wagons; see how the tailgate worked, if the windows were electric or had a crank; don’t want to misrepresent.

Real, realer, realistic.

All Respect on Veteran’s Day

NOTE: The day after I wrote and posted this piece, I received a comment from GP Cox. He has a site focused on paratroopers in the Pacific Theater in World War II. I did go to his site, pacificparatroopers.wordpress, and checked it out. What is somewhat, at least, ironic is that my father intended to enlist in the Army Air Corps, but, because he was only seventeen, he was not allowed. The family story is: He walked on down the hall.  There is a link to the paratroopers site with the comment. Check it out; and thank you to GP Cox.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Because it is Veteran’s Day I want to extend my respect and gratitude to those who are serving or have served our country in the military…

…particularly in times of war; and, it seems, it’s always a time of war.

War is a failure of diplomacy, of compromise, of any promise of advancing civilization beyond our ancient-but-constantly-renewed tribalism. War is a consequence of the fear-hatred-action model. Either we’re on the side of coveting and going after that which we can not merely bargain for; or we’re defending against those forces.

The history of human beings is a history of war. War defines us.

This is what I was taught; yet this thought that war is wrong comes directly up against the war movies, the Cowboy-and-Indian sagas; swarming and falling; heroes prevailing or sacrificing all for some noble cause.

This “Noble Cause” idea is always there; it has never been defeated.

My childhood friends and I played Army, played Cowboys-and-Indians. Occasionally play would turn to a fight. Not necessarily noble.

I’m working on a novel, “Swamis,” that takes place in 1969, the year I turned 18, required to sign up for the draft.  I had just graduated from high school in a town anchoring one point of the triangle of Camp Pendleton. My parents both worked there. Most of Camp Pendleton was in the Fallbrook school district.

Though my father went into the U.S. Marine Corps before Pearl Harbor, and was at Guadalcanal and other horrific battles; contracted malaria, was wounded numerous times between World War II and his time in Korea (which coincided with my birth and, while he was there, the birth of my next sister down); my mother served in Washington D.C. in the office where decisions on rationing were made.

When I was in my teens, while my father was a civilian cable splicer for the (separate) phone service on Camp Pendleton, my mother worked in the base photo lab alongside some of those who took now-iconic photos from previous and ongoing wars.

One of her coworkers was our neighbor, father of children whose ages lined up with the kids in our family. You couldn’t meet him and not see that he had been damaged by what he had been through, what he had seen, what he had photographed.

The Vietnam War and all its associated drama were covered almost live; campus protests and jungle patrols. And there were stories wherever one went. Parents of friends were over there, in the military. Older brothers of friends were there, sons of people from my church were there; at least one of whom died there.

Coming of age is, of course, always difficult. At almost eighteen (an age in which my father was at Guadalcanal) I had to sign up for the draft; but I was working in a sign shop, going surfing pretty much every morning, and deciding between a church-run college and the local community college. Either way I’d be registering as 2-S, a student deferment.  Though there was a lot of talk among my peers of which branch to sign up for, Coast Guard Reserve getting the nod in the surfing community; there was also the often-repeated rumor that this war was going to go on for years, and, once the student deferment no longer applied, it was Vietnam for sure.

This is where the novel comes in: The narrator, who is not me (though I am a resource), has to make a similar decision on the draft. On December 1, 1969, the first (supposedly fairer than the existing system) lottery draft was held. Every male born before 1951 was eligible. I was born in 1951; the next year would be the critical one for me.

I thought I could remember the exact numbers of my birth date for the first and second lottery drafts. 36 for the first year; 174 for the second. I looked it up. I had remembered correctly.

Somewhere between the first and second drawings I made (possibly- certainly seemed so at the time) the biggest gamble of my life; changed my status to 1-A.

They never called me, I never called them.

It’s way more complicated than that, of course. My church had training for those who could serve as medics. Some heroes of the Seventh Day Adventist Church had done so. It would be easiest, if drafted, to just go in the Army. Two years. “Cannon fodder,” was the word on it. My father told me that if I went in as an officer, he wouldn’t care which branch I went into, but if I went in enlisted, it had better be the Marine Corps.

But here’s what happened: A little over two years in a sign shop got me qualified, barely, to get a job as a journeyman painter with the Department of the Navy in San Diego at 20 years old; 1971. I went to work with veterans of World War II, Korea, and with returning vets (slightly older than I was) in the apprenticeship program.

All of these folks were affected, if not damaged by what they had seen, what they had participated in. Although veterans are not fond of talking to non-vets, they will talk among themselves, and most of the people I worked with were veterans.

I worked with a guy who (and his peers never guessed it) piloted a landing craft on D-Day, was issued a 45 and orders to kill anyone who wouldn’t disembark; I worked with a man who was on several ships that were sunk, who fought against Rommel’s forces in North Africa.

When I transferred to the shipyard in Bremerton in 1979, I worked with a guy who was on Navy river patrol boats in Vietnam. He was very quiet, didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. “Yeah, like the movie; only real.” Another Vietnam veteran, who, when I would see him talking to his real peers, seemed unable to get past his experiences. He died (and I can’t help think his Vietnam time contributed to this) in his mid-thirties. Another painter, who sported an ever-longer beard and hair, was willing to tell me how, on an off-station project in Spain, an American guard said something about his hair, and, if he was a Marine… “I am a ___-______ Marine,” he answered.

Grandpa

There are no ex-Marines. My father was a Marine when he died. “Very bad things happen,” he said, when the subject of Post Traumatic Stress disorder came up, “you just have to keep on going.”

I don’t know war. I have seen what war does to people. To ask someone to go to war is to ask them to go against what most of us are taught, to possibly die or possibly kill another human being for some noble cause. If the cause isn’t actually noble…

War is the tragedy of man.

To those who serve, who have served; all respect. I do mean all respect.