Original E Hits North Shore Ha-waii-eeee!

Hawaii. No, it’s not the first time one of my t-shirts has hit the 50th state in the Union. Stephen R. Davis rocked (I don’t usually use this expression- fits with Steve) one or two of my designs, and, if I remember correctly, shared one with Cap. Not sure. Anyway, the Erwin Original shirts have been there before Chris Eardley, ripper on the North Shore of the contiguous US, showed up there.

Chris was nice enough to send me a photo. Here’s how the text exchange went:

Whoa! Is this, like the Volcom House? Florence residence? JOB’s pad? Wait, is that wave even rideable?

Chris: “Got my lucky shirt here at Pipe. Got some good waves at Sunset Point this morning before it got huge. The shirt keeps its lucky streak!”

Erwin: “Holy fuck, Chris, you hangin’ wit’ day (sp. I meant ‘da’) boys AND resenting (meant ‘representing’) OWWW! And I don’t use !!!!s without cause. Hopefully the slab work here helped you conquer. I have watched so many north shore videos I feel like I know the crew. Good luck!!!! Yeah, more of those, writer shakas.”

Yes, that is exactly how I wrote it; not that I actually talk like that.

More Erwin: “If you would send shot to __________ (email address, not really secret- we do get lots of unsolicited stuff). I would be proud and stoked to put it on my site. It’s just another north shore.”

Chris (next day): “I just got back, scored some great surf. Lots of positive comments on your shirt and, as usual, it brought good luck. It’s usually my shirt of choice when I hit the Strait because I’m on a streak with it!”

OKAY, so Chris followed local etiquette by not telling me about surfing in Hawaii until it was too late for me to show up. Good.

Erwin (while about to change lanes on freeway en route to job in Gig Harbor: “Great” (third attempt at completing this particular verbal text- no period or explanation point- or … I hate it when it shows up as something like- “. dot dot” or “Great” comma).

Because I wasn’t sure Chris would send the photo to my e-mail address, and because I wanted to share the shot with the few (seriously, few) surfers I have phone numbers for, I sent the photo to Stephen R. Davis with a request to send it back to me. I have a problem transferring photos from my phone to the e-mail. It could, possibly, be remedied if I allowed some sort of hookup that might mean every email would ping on my phone. Steve did send it, but Chris also came through.

Chris (via e-mail, and there may be a slight amount of redundancy, not that it bothers me): “Here’s a shot of me at Pipeline sporting an E. Dence original. I got quite a few compliments on the shirt in Hawaii, stayed up on the (other) north shore and scored some great surf. Did NOT surf pipeline, of course, but as you can see, had a pretty good view from the safety of the deck. Aaron’s coaching at some local slabs paid off as I pulled into some challenging ones elsewhere, though. For my next Erwin shirt, I think I’ll seek a lighter color as black got a little toasty in the Hawaiian sun.”

Chris Eardly is a guy who runs for fun, travels to the East Coast for Hurricane Season, hits the slopes and… yeah, he qualifies as a real surfer (skateboarding and snow stuff are optional, perhaps- but helpful). He is part of the PT Crew if there is such a thing, and, if there is, it would be so loosely connected and… really, how would I know? As far as scoring on the Strait- yeah, I thought that was pretty funny. Chris’s reference to Aaron might be the elusive and well-traveled “Short Board Aaron.” Slabs? It’s a matter of definition and proportion. And location; as in, somewhere else. So much for the disclaimer.

As far as Original Erwin t-shirts- If you have one, hang on to it, don’t spill paint on it. I haven’t made any in several years. I have no stockpile of them. I have done some drawings that could be shirts, I do plan on getting some more printed up, but… right now… collector’s items. Am I trying to hype up the value? Yes.

Not available… yet
For light colored t-shirt, perfect for tropical climes… coming soon.

Searching for One Thing…

…finding another.

Not what I was looking for, what I found

We’re here, the Solstice, the official start of the bleak dark season, jump-started a bit more than usual, right after Halloween. I’m not nearly far enough into the third full-on rewrite of “Swamis,” cutting and chopping and polishing and tightening and (I would love to say) perfecting the plot, honing-in on what is just way too important to me, the dialogue.

There are so many scenes/encounters that I have already cut; some of which I have posted here. There is a certain interplay that I wanted to include, a meeting between RUTH DeFREINES, wife of the recently deceased detective, and the detective’s longtime partner, LARRY WENDELL.

The occasion for this encounter between these two is this: CHULO was murdered, set alight at Swamis. Chulo was a witness to the highway accident, a month earlier, in which JOSEPH DeFREINES died. Ruth and JOSEPH (aka Jody/Joey) DeFREINES, Junior, were involved in the accident. Joey was responsible for his father going off the road. Chulo, at Ruth’s request, lied about Joey being present at the accident scene. Larry, recently separated, has feelings for Ruth, believes she was in the vehicle his partner went off the highway to avoid, and is attempting to cover up what he believes to be the truth.

Not complicated at all. BUT, when Chulo is murdered, Ruth wants to find out what Wendall knows. My dilemma is this: Joey is the narrator, and I am trying to not include scenes he is not witness to. So, I have Larry telling Joey about Ruth attacking him about what he knows about Chulo’s death, or I write that actual scene.

Or I write both and drop one. No, probably both.

All of the characters in “Swamis,” are fictional composites of several real people. My mother would be the obvious model for Ruth. How my mother would react to situations helps, but the real fun is imagining the many ways Ruth, and each of the characters, is different; fictional, but realistic enough that, if you ask me the backstory of even incidental players, I have answers.

I am, clearly, not going to take the time to write the above scene right now. Later. BUT here’s what I was looking for when I did an image search: My real mother worked at the Base Photo Lab at Camp Pendleton in the late 1960s. She worked with Marines who had photographed war and all its aspects, in World War II and/or Korea, and some, no doubt, were taking photographs in Vietnam. My brothers and sisters and I (some portion of 7) went to my mom’s work for at least one Christmas party. Not a fun group, the photographers. Many, including a neighbor we had for a while, had seen too much. If I asked my mom why Scott’s father was so… solemn, she answered, “He was at Iwo Jimo, other places.” These men were damaged- some more than others.

Or so I still believe. Okay, so Ruth works at… yes, the photo lab. It works. Orphaned in World War II Japan, married to an Ex-Marine (if there is such a person), ex hired thug, ex patrol officer… yeah; damaged individuals with a damaged son who either has brain damage or is kind of… dangerous… sure; building blocks for a novel that a reader of the second unexpurgated version described as “Cutsie.”

I can’t leave that at that. He also said, “I see what you were going for here- a slice of life kind of thing.”

Oh? Like… real? I hope so. Without going into the overly-psychedelic or cliched way in which the late 1960s might be and have been portrayed, the setting is mostly bright if not sunny. Joey is, in some ways, like Alice in a different wonderland. Surfers in a time of board revolution, cops with aspirations, marijuana marketeers in a period of rapid and dangerous growth. Do we really remember as much about Alice as we do the characters she meets?

Still, no Mad Hatters or Cheshire Cats, but a logical chain of events in a crazy, real-as-I-can-get-it world.

I am obviously getting too far into whatever writing process I have been muddling/working through, but, if “Swamis” is the last novel I ever write… it is going to, eventually, be tight.

Not that this piece is. BUT while I was looking for some image connected to the Base Photo Lab, I came across the photograph, above. A Marine on a phone, another one behind him. That is what my father did in World War II and Korea. He ran phone lines. The enemy tore them down. They ran them again. He was at Guadalcanal, he interacted with the Navajo Code Talkers (as Trisha’s father, he from the supply side), and I’m not sure where else he served. He didn’t talk to me about it. Saying my father was at Guadalcanal is usually enough.

My actual father; some percentage of the fictional Joey’s fictional father.

That’s actually what the scene I haven’t written and might not write hinges on: Detective DeFreines did tell stories from work to Ruth; the guys she worked with did not. Saying someone was at Iwo Jimo is enough. Probably.

Happy Solstice! Peace.

I HAVE TO add that Joey is not me. I do steal some experiences from my life, but no. Not me. Characteristics from several other people are included; Joey’s reactions are imagined. Here’s a line I will eventually cut. It is between Joey and JUMPER, probably the most fictional character in “Swamis.” They are in a critical and dangerous situation. Joey- “We are not friends; but we are… close.”

Legends and the Rest of Us

Here’s what, before I actually start writing it, this piece is meant to include: A remembrance of a local surfing/boatbuilding legend; something nice about a local living legend; and something not too whiny or snarky about how many asterisks are attached to my own advanced-age surfing.

Okay, we’ll see how it turns out.

The first thing Clint Thompson, temporarily back on the Olympic Peninsula to do what he does (extremely fine carpentry on expensive boats) reported seeing (to Adam Wipeout) was, when he got a view of the lineup, me burning Tim Nolan. Not the first time, and I did, as I did the last time, apologize to Tim for shoulder-hopping, with the excuse/explanation, “I didn’t think you would have made the wave.” True, I believe, this time, probably not true of the previous infraction.

Yes, guilty with no credible explanation. Place that asterisk next to my name. *Greedy wavehog.

Michael “Miguel” Clay Winterburn is a name I have heard for many years, though, to my knowledge, I never met him. A pioneer of Northwest surfing, held in the highest esteem in the world of boat building, he passed on late last month. His obituary is online in the “Port Townsend Leader” and the “Peninsula Daily News.” I took the photo I am using and more information from the Port Townsend Marine Trades Association.

I recommend checking the testimonials out. Particularly interesting to me was the Leader article mentioning he left behind five children, numerous grandchildren, several siblings, and “Three beautiful wives.” Obviously Miguel also left behind hours of stories from the Santa Cruz surfing and shaping scene, to the boat-building/sailing days, to his life as an instructor for others. Highly regarded. Legend. True.

May be an image of 1 person, beard and outdoors

If this man is not familiar, the pose is. A moment, perhaps, of contentment, a view of the water.

I have seen surfboards Miguel made, some still in use. Rico, better hang on to that one.

Here’s a photo of Tim Nolan receiving an award for his boat designing achievements from his contemporaries. High praise, indeed. I found this while researching Miguel Winterburn.

Maybe it’s coincidental, but Tim, Miguel, and Clint are all part of a world I bump up against but have very little knowledge of. Boatbuilding. As surfers, they are not, of course, alone in this. In fact, I know several other local surfers who have a connection (“Boatyard” Mike, Lacy the sailmaker, for example) to the industry.

What we seek, as surfers, is some closer connection to the water. Since I also mentioned Adam James of HamaHama Oysters here; yeah, with his time out on the tide flats and in the water, Adam does have a chance to keep tabs on where what is happening, combo-ing checking oyster beds with a rising swell. The closest I come is painting houses on waterfront. No, haven’t painted any at a potential surf spot in a while.

Because I collect all the little bits and pieces and irritations and joys of life, then try to assemble the random parts, attempt to transform the mundane into some sort of story, and because… okay, mostly I’m full of shit. What I was thinking about on my way out to search for waves and hopefully find and ride some was this: Anticipation, I decided, is a mixture of considering just how excited it would be if the waves were glassy, uncrowded, lined-up; and the mental preparation for having to accept that the surf might be blown out, totally overcrowded, crappy, or just not there.

I figured my chances were about 60/40. Yet, there I was, speeding, only vaguely letting the truth set in that anyone who would be competing for waves was either ahead of me or already there, and there was no way anyone was going to pass me.

No, this didn’t slow me down.

Okay, I have other things on my ‘must do’ list. I’ll get into my other faults next time, or the time after that. What I had planned on writing about was ‘harshing one’s paradigm,’ a phrase I heard a few years ago, one that didn’t catch on enough to be overused. The context here is that I believed I was surfing well the last time I paddled out, felt that combination of contentment and exhaustion, actually got a few compliments.

It took a day or two for the head-swelling to go down and the asterisks to start kicking in. *I have a big-ass board (actually 10’6″), *use a paddle, *surf almost entirely on my knees. *Add in the previously mentioned wave hogging and *lack of etiquette (I actually, even with earplugs, heard a guy in the lineup tell a woman, ‘No, there’s no rotation here’), *factor in that the surf spot is not, like, super critical, that *I’m fat and *old, and you get… shit, I suck.

Fine. Okay. The thing is, and I told several people this: “I am totally aware of the asterisks next to my name, and I don’t give a fuck.”

But, of course, I do. Probably 65% don’t care, 35% care too much.

So much of surfing is so connected to the ego, our self-image. The session before last, I was at a difficult, critical spot. I caught, maybe, twenty waves, got thrashed by four or five, got pitched, got rag-dolled, got three or four decent rides, got one really good ride (in my own judgment), and freely admitted I was eighth best out of seven surfers. *With asterisks.

I still count it, as I do almost every session, as totally worth it. Enjoyable.

What we do, too often, is harsh other surfer’s paradigm. My friend (apologies for ranting on) told his girlfriend, Sierra, both of them watching two young girls having a ball in tiny, blown out waves, that that is what surfing is supposed to be. Maybe I’ll get into more apologies next time, but I would like to apologize to Concrete Pete for kind of wrecking his story of a young surfer who was so impressed by some of the older folks out there in the water going for it.

Meanwhile, surf in peace, live in peace. For those who pass on, rest in peace.

What Thought has to do with It

I’ve spent too much time on Youtube lately, what with the big ass swell hitting Hawaii, and now California; and with at least one part of the latest national nightmare closer and closer to some undoubtedly (by which I mean hopefully and peacefully) anti-climatic conclusion; guy loses, won’t concede, wants a military sendoff after coup failed, sneaks out of town at dawn… yeah, yeah, yeah; feels like we saw that one already, seems derivative. And, though we try to forget it, there’s the ongoing omni-demic, can’t count fast enough to keep up with the cases and deaths. One, one thousand, two, two thousand, three, three thousand…

If I could just concentrate on surf videos, raw footage from Big Rock and Waimea Bay and Jaws and Mavericks, I would. And I can, for a while, before my mind wanders. And Youtube offers such delightful options: Politics from whatever side you’d consider risking your life to support; exposes on pretty much anything, new folks grabbing video and hoping to build enough followers to, maybe, make a living. Not sure how many that would take, but… wait, I’m still waiting for a list of who is getting pardoned, who might get executed in the final push; and I’m just not all that patient.

For God’s sake, it’s almost 9:30 pm, eastern time, and the outgoing president has to be at the airport at dawn. So, yes, still some suspense in what someone must have imagined as an ultimate reality show. Waiting.

Thinking. Okay, so, because I have some history of checking out things other than “If I drive ten miles with the emergency brake on, will I have any brakes when it all cools down?” and “How to replace brake pads,” I sometimes get things related to Bob Dylan. And so it was that I got onto a little video with Dylan and Joan Baez. Trish and I have seen both of them in concert, though not together, and I have followed their… okay, I might be enough of a romantic to believe they could have been happy together.

So, here’s the scene: Bob says Joan went off and got married. Joan says Bob got married first, without telling her, and he could have told her. Bob hims and hahs and says yeah, but he got married to someone he loved. Joan says, yeah, and she married someone she thought she loved. Then Bob, after sufficient pauses, says, “See, that’s what thought has to do with it.” Pause. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan from Rolling Thunder tour. Photo from Vanity Fair

And it will, and it can; and it does.

Or maybe I just imagine that there’s such a thing as blissful ignorance.

Wait, here’s an admission: Because I have stated, publicly, my belief that any and all relationships between two people are fragile, tentative, and have the distinct possibility of ending at any given moment, I didn’t actually consider that the relationship between these two, on and off and on and off again; that whatever level of understanding and appreciation of each other, of love for each other they have now; that might be about as good a relationship, over time one can hope to have with another human being.

I won’t admit to being a romantic, hopeless or otherwise, but I do plead the fifth on thinking too much. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Incidentally, quick mention of “Swamis,” my ever more polished, still too long and too complicated novel; there may be a bit of an underlying romantic-ness in there.

NEXT TIME, I swear, I will write about ADAM WIPEOUT’S big wipeout. I have never spent so much time discussing one wave in my lifetime of talking surf story; and, I promise, I will spend some more, including (note the suspense) a guest visit by BIG DAVE.

Of course, first we have to get through tomorrow. I

UPDATE – It seems like the slimiest and least surprising pardon traded was for the slime ball who collected money from maga folks and kept a cool million or so to work on his tan. Who loves ya’ baby? OH, can’t help mentioning that, while the helicopter was lifting off, “I did it my way” was playing.

“Outside in the distance, a wildcat did growl, two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.”

Mike’s Handmade Surf Vessels

AND “SWAMIS” FOR SALE… SOON.

(360) 775-8789- Port Townsend, Wa.

This is, actually, the first drawing I’ve done in quite a while. I have been pretty much consumed with trying to, one, survive, two, keep chopping and cutting and shaping and sanding and polishing my manuscript for “Swamis” into what I will call, eventually, and with a sincere humility, a ‘classic surf-centric novel.’ Three, try to not get skunked totally when I go searching for waves.

It’s been almost a year since I got to ‘the end,’ the end of the unexpurgated version of “Swamis,” got all excited, handed out a few thumbdrives, e-mailed word documents to some other folks, waited for the praise.

There is no profit in giving or receiving unwarranted or undeserved praise. I believe honesty is… no, I’m okay with undeserved praise; and yet, because I knew “Swamis” wasn’t done, I started re-editing, reorganizing, and, most painfully, cutting out words, my words; dialogue, description well before I got the feedback, most of which centered around reorganizing, shaping the manuscript into something… readable, with less jumping around in time… with actual chapters and stuff; something more… MAINSTREAM.

I have taken all the feedback to heart, and have thanked those who read part or all (deserved praise to those who managed that feat), and I have worked my fool ass off on building (almost said creating) a book worth the time one would spend reading.

OKAY, let’s relate it to my connection to MIKE NORMAN. He’s a part of the ever-enlarging, ever-frustrated Port Townsend surf crew; he works at the boatyard on, I don’t really know, boats. Mike has been repairing boards for himself and others for awhile, the combination of big rocks and small waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca causing more damage per board, more lost or broken fins, than bigger waves and friendlier shorelines would. Personal testimony here. AND Mike has been shaping and glassing complete boards; AND, because he has a background in foam and fiberglass, his boards are professional grade; HANDCRAFTED SURF VESSELS.

Without scrolling back, I believe I did write about how I ripped the glass off my first SUP, sawed off about a foot and a half of what I thought was a twelve foot board, discovering it was, nope, eleven feet; so my new scarred and partially waterlogged blank was now seven foot six and not as floaty as I had hoped. After trying to get some evenness in the rail-lines, put some lift in the nose, give the board some rocker, some down rails, somewhere in there I decided, with some input from surfers who hadn’t actually seen my progress but have seen how I thrash and don’t repair my equipment, I turned the project over to MIKE.

Part of the deal on my end is I give Mike a 5’9″ Bic fish I thought I might ride but haven’t, and providing a logo to put on my and other people’s boards. This is my second, or third, perhaps, attempt. No, not perfect; but if I go back, move this, change that, cut this, add that… then it would be… classic.

NOW, trying not to use my lack of board building skills as a metaphor, I do realize that, at some point, since I would prefer to have an actual publisher, “Swamis” will require an outside editor with an objective eye. I want the manuscript to be as tight as I can get it before that happens. YEAH, it’s scary. The book has to stand on its own merits. ALMOST THERE.

GOOD LUCK to all at this darkest time of the year; sometimes there are, I’ve heard, waves, breaking, just off shore. Waves are a gift (not necessarily worth sharing). I will be trying to sell “Swamis” soon. If you can help, I did check out my gmail account recently, one I rarely use. It works. realsurfersdotnet@gmail.com

Happy Merry Solstice Christmas Whatever; and I mean it.

My Surf-Friends Phone List

I am still compiling it, didn’t realize the list of surfers in my phone was quite as extensive as it is; and I had to leave before completing which of the various categories I place these surf-friends in. BUT, let me add a list here: Surfers I don’t have a phone number for, but would love to have that access; not that I would abuse it.

NUMBER ONE on that list is Big Dave. Not a really talkative guy, but we have several connections including that we both surfed Pacific Beach at the same time, me a newlywed, twenty years old, he a self-described “Pier Rat,” somewhere around fourteen or fifteen, attacking Crystal Pier with his contemporaries. I did ask Dave (and I do know his last name, probably shouldn’t include it here) for his cell number. He said he’d give me one digit at a time. “Okay, so… three.” “Yeah.” He’s never given me another digit.

I would guess… six.

ANYWAY, not to be mean. Far be it for me to ever even consider fat-shaming anyone, but, maybe it isn’t just me who has noticed that, since he lost the election in a landslide, since he stopped doing anything positive connected to being a working president, it just seems like the guy who, you know, lost the popular vote and the electoral college, it seems like he has kind of, I don’t know, let himself go.

GO being the operative word. As in, please go.

Oh, jeez; look at the time. I have to go. I’ll get back to you on the list of who I might call if I thought there might ever be waves out on the Strait. It won’t be Big Dave. He would already know.

Stay safe, avoid crowds. Staying home is an option.

The Size of Your Circle is…

…not necessarily proportionate to the size of your, um, surfing prowess.

It is related to your willingness to reach out to others. OKAY, what got me thinking about this is, well, several things. BUT FIRST, you should consider how many phone numbers of actual (could say real) surfers are in the ‘contact’ area of your phone? SECOND, ask yourself, ONE, how many of these contacts you would call from the beach if you knew it was firing and they didn’t? TWO, how many would you only call after your session to brag and/or gloat? THREE, how many would you call to see what they know about the possibility of rideable surf? FOUR, how many would you almost never call because there is an etiquette in place in which surfers don’t call other surfers and/or you would, out of respect, not just call them to chat? We can throw in FIVE, surfers you are quite willing to chat with, but have not surfed with in years, and may not surf with again.

For a sense of perspective, FOUR should be the longest list.

HERE’S MINE. Checking. SO, there’s RAY HICKS, friend since 6th grade, surfed with him extensively in our teens, major influence in my getting back in the water in our fifties. He’s in California, as is STEPHEN PENN. We surfed together when we were newlyweds in 1971 in San Diego. If that needs explaining, TRISH and I, yesterday, sort of celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary yesterday, so Steve and Drucilla (who our daughter is named after) are almost there, anniversary-wise.

SORRY, I will have to get back to this; I have to go, OH, BUT, what got me thinking about the whole social-ness thing is that I got a phone call from Darrell Wood, pathfinder of surfing in the Northwest, the other day. I had his number three or four dead phones ago, lost it. Now I have it again. AND, chatting all things surfing, including who is or is not a true wave hog, with my friend KEITH, he said he has a birthday, like, today, tomorrow, some time in here, and, of course, being, definitely, a self-described SOUL REBEL, he would like a present of waves.

THERE WILL BE MORE. REGGIE and his instagram-ing… more. Maybe tomorrow.

“Swamis” Too Big

Stuck inside because the winds that blew smoke from fires in California and Oregon out to sea has shifted. The smoke has moved up and come in full strength (thickness might be a better word) with the onshore flow, that push not enough to offer any real surf. There is enough stagnant air, probably about a pack and a half a day’s worth (not sure how to quantify this for vapers, those who inhale vapors, on purpose), that makes even the non-running-type work of painting seems hazardous.

Or maybe it’s an excuse to stay inside and write.

I worked on tightening several chapters of “Swamis,” and then wrote the following. This will most likely not make it to the completed manuscript, but, partially (mostly) because feedback pushed me toward more fully covering the death of Joseph DeFreines, Senior; which I have, mostly gotten out of the way, I have been forced to consider that “Swamis” is just too fucking much for one book.

The characters have been established, the storyline set in motion. In the original, unexpurgated version, there were more references to how the events from 1969 affect the future lives of Jody and Ginny and Baadal and Jumper and Portia, and others. If I cut the story off somewhere before the mystery of who killed Chulo is resolved, possibly, that could be the second part of a trilogy, a book centering on the (fully) adult characters could provide a wraparound that would… yeah, I could do this.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing. And, not to be too political, I feel compelled to add that… okay, I have a story, true life, featuring gun-toting, non-mask-wearing non-surfers and their interaction with a heavily-tattooed surfer outside a Port Angeles Safeway. OH, and, still, no surf on the Strait, no place to surf if there were waves. Not political. Here’s the excerpt:

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE- SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2020

I am currently 198 (pages out of 291) through a full manuscript rewrite, this triggered by the feedback from bloated, confusing unexpurgated draft containing somewhere in excess of 123,000 words.  With a hundred pages left to go, having deleted somewhere around 64,000 words, “Swamis,” right now, is back up to 121,725 words, and, with as much as I plan to cut out some of what remains in the story, I am increasingly aware that I can’t (partially as in, I am not willing to) eliminate enough.

The manuscript in which I actually got to ‘the end’ was saved, one copy printed, several copies sent out, somewhere before the pandemic, before the shutdowns and the election meddling and the rest, before the smoke from the way-worse-than-usual fires. 

“Swamis,” the story, it too big.  Trilogy?  Maybe.  I’m looking for a place to cut it off, a place to pull out.   All I can give you is words, and as Ginny Cole said about a black and white photo of a sunset, a person’s mind fills in the colors.

June Submission- Greenness

My submission was late for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter. It’s now June 12 and I never got one over the electronic network. Because I post these pieces here, usually, I probably should apologize for it taking this long. There is some surf news to report; I did just recently surf with Nick, nicknamed, probably only by me (and because I got it from him) God.

He took off in front of me; twice; but said I deserved it. I will explain next time. Meanwhile, and partially to help the financially struggling United States Post Office, which, out here in the boonies, I particularly appreciate; I am considering preparing and sending a number of postcards to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20500. No manifestos, just brief notes, like, um, maybe, “Which voices are you listening to right now?”

First Amendment, folks. Still, because of the omni-demic and all, I am considering wearing gloves in the process. That I am also considering sending them anonymously and from a different zip code; well, the farther-out folks on both ends of the conservative/liberal spectrum do agree that, as Americans, we always have to worry about our rights, alienable and otherwise.

Again, only positive messages. Like, uh, “Considering building a bunker: any ideas?” “Juneteenth? Really?”

Surf Route 101; somewhere in Washington State

                        OBVIOUSLY READY TO FROLIC

It’s Saturday, May 30, 2020, and, here in Quilcene, Washington, Spring’s last push toward the eminent arrival of Summer, is, other than the bright yellow blooms on the non-indigenous Scotch Broom, the changing of the landscape from grays and browns and more grays, to green. 

Maybe it just seems like it was a massive invasion, a sudden and overwhelming onslaught of green.

Everything is green.  The north side of the car you parked because you really had nowhere to go.  Green.  That patch of dirt where you had the car parked.  Green.  And all the trees, shrubs, hayfields; green and growing, unchecked, undeterred by the intermittent dry days, pushed forward by the rainy days, greens in shades from almost yellow to almost blue. 

Greenness, everywhere, and so crazily active you can see grass grow, leaves spread, plants crawling out of their pots before you can get them in the ground.  Blackberry vines are winding their way through your flowerbeds, dandelions outgrowing your lawn, thistles and nettles competing for the chance to sting you, you out in your Summer clothes… Ow!

Okay, I could have gotten all lyrical here, but the truth is, I’m a day past the deadline and I’m racked with guilt.  Racked?  Is that a word derived from THE Rack, medieval torture devise?  Maybe.  I won’t Google it.  YES, if you are receiving this a day later than you anticipated, it is my fault.

I won’t make excuses.  I hate excuses.  The guiltiest people have the best excuses.

So, here’s mine: I went surfing.  Friday.  Dawn.  Yeah.  Could have been writing.  The first two vehicles I passed while heading north on Surf Route 101 very close to Lake Leland, were towing boats.  No, not those big boats that loom over the truck hauling them.  Those boats are headed to or from ocean waters.  The next car had one of those very plastic kayaks on top of it.  Again, it was a Friday, and I don’t know what these folks, were supposed to be doing, but they were obviously ready to frolic.

Obviously.  Not me.  I was going stealth.  I had my board hidden inside my work van, with six ladders on the roof.  Incognito.  BUT first, in order to go surfing on Friday, one day ahead of what might just be a weekend rush from people cooped up anywhere east of the Olympic Peninsula, I had to try to use the best scientific data available to divine that there might be waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  BUT, first, I had to finish a job in Bremerton on Thursday. 

Quite late on Thursday, and it’s an hour home; so tough to get up early enough to drive an hour and twenty-two minutes (on average) and be in the water before the sun comes up at… checking… 5:21 am.  Didn’t make that.  Got there at 7:10, surfed two hours, took a nap in my wetsuit, on a towel, in the reclining passenger seat, went back out in the very small waves for another hour or so, then went shopping at Costco, then Walmart, then QFC.

I do have an explanation for why it is necessary to shop at each of these stores.  I did skip Home Depot and Office Depot, and might have gone into Michael’s if they let people in.  Not yet.

With groceries to put away, and quite tired (not, you say, that it takes maximum energy to tap on a keyboard), and having passed so many recreational vehicles, other surfers, cars and trucks towing boats and trailers with motorcycles, and, of course, motorcycles, and all the folks who come over on a Friday in an attempt to beat those who foolishly wait until Saturday, I got home around 4:20. 

“…foolishly wait until Saturday…”

Okay, you’re right; I could have taken a nap and written a piece on… wait a minute; I did actually write a piece on how people are afraid to dream due to anxiety connected with the whole Covid omni-demic.  I do dream; and I did write about it. 

Although the piece didn’t seem totally appropriate for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter; here’s a bit of it.  “If dreams are meant to make some sense out of chaos, writing is dreaming; and I write.”

Not necessarily ahead of a deadline.  Be safe, be well, dream fearlessly, and definitely frolic when you get the chance.

Oh, maybe that’s a good message for the White House; “Are we having fun yet?”

“Even the President of the United States…

…sometimes must have to stand naked.” Bob Dylan

This isn’t about the president, really, it’s about writers and artists, and, no, really, it’s about all of us. I’ve often said all of us are in sales; we’re all selling something, whether it’s a service or something we *created, designed, built; or something we’re promoting.

As sales people, we’re all being judged. I’ve been working on the manuscript for “Swamis” for quite a while now, and this morning, for the first time in that same quite a while, I woke up without wanting, feeling as if I had to work on it, whether I could or not.

I spent some time yesterday insuring that I have an actual Library of Congress copyright on the story that I *designed and built (rather than saying I created it- it’s a remembering and a remix and a projection and a compilation and a fitting of character to setting) trying to fit all that into some sort of structure; chiseling here, hammering there.

NOW I’m at the naked stage, sending out the product to be judged. I can’t put a value on it, can’t grade it, can’t say your reading “Swamis” will be a worthwhile experience for you.

I think it’s genius, of course.

If one doesn’t have to be crazy to consider him or herself to be a writer, sending your work (and don’t be fooled, writing is pure pleasure, editing is work) out, naked, to be judged; the necessary part of selling the thing, and waiting, waiting, waiting for judgement… that will make you crazy(ier).

I should also mention that preparing myself to ask someone to do me the honor of reading my work tends to make me a bit nauseated. It’s like that feeling you might get (I mean, probably have had), headed for your favorite surf spot because you just believe the waves will be soooo good, then knowing that way too many other surfers will have the same idea, and you, being a sociopathic wave hog, might just have to get all scrappy and…see?

Crazy.

The unexpurgated version, all 298 pages, all 23,345 words, is being put into a book version, one copy, a ‘galley proof’ by one of my clients in the real world (in which I paint houses), Mike Kenna, owner of The Printery in Port Townsend. Thanks, Mike. I have sent electronic versions to several other people, people I know will be honest in their assessment.

There’s no profit in not being honest.

MEANWHILE, while I’m waiting, I do have the opportunity, through my connection with the (currently closed) Port Townsend Library, soul rebel stealth surf ripper Keith Darrock, to do some sort of electronic reading of “Swamis.” We’ll see. I’ll let you know. I did a test video this morning, me in the living room.

No, I wasn’t naked, but I did put a shirt on; and that was with just me watching.