All paths lead nowhere, choose with heart

lesson January 24, 2011

Filed under: Picture Taking,Waves — sendann @ 6:04 am


This dad was teaching his kid the elements of an effective paddle

Wooo hoooo!


so good right now

Filed under: Trips,Waves — sendann @ 5:34 am

I’ve been wanting to have a romantic sunset surf since I got here, but I’ve spent every day getting so wasted by the sun and the water, that I’m unable to move other than to raise food to my mouth after 5pm. But after Yoga Nidra konked me into deeper, longer sleep than I’ve had since I left the Mastadon, I slept in late this morning, read and worked all day, tried on dresses, studied, and vowed to stay off the beach for a change. But then I saw the sunset starting, and I could see that the ocean was calm, and I ran down. It would be stupid to pass a day in Hanalei with clean waves and the Roxy board and not go out.

I got out easily, felt super strong, and caught a few perfect greenies. The sets were short – just 2 steep, head-high waves close together, easy to paddle back through. As soon as I popped up on a set wave and started to drop in, I realized I was not in the right spot, and was not going to be able to slide down this face, and did that airborne tumbling through the air as the wave breaks thing. A perfect, totally worthy I think, wipe out. It was awesome! In retrospect, I think I sensed how high up I was on the face, got scared, looked down, went down.  I can chalk it up to experience I guess. Gotta look up, keep my head up. Trust that ride.

The smaller waves in between the sets were easy and fun, and they made it probably the session of my trip. A little fat, a little short, fast and curly (just how I like ’em!). I caught a few of them and managed to kick out behind them before I got caught up in the break, which has been a sort of goal of mine for a while. I think it will significantly cut down on the drama and full on face pummeling I experience trying to paddle out on the rowdier days. I wasn’t even trying to, actually. I just slid along the green face, saw the break coming closer, and pop. I was on the outside. I’m not sure how it happened. I think I just looked from the breaking part to the outside and there I went. That or I fell in a lucky direction.

Everyone says this, but I’m going there anyhow: I can’t believe I only have 3 more days in Hanalei. It is not enough! As always when I feel the end of a Hawaii experience looming, I’m envisioning how I’ll make it back here. The thought is always “next time, for a little longer.”  My parents aren’t sure if they’ll keep coming here to Kauai, since my dad is prone to sudden illness and they want to be closer to the medical center on Oahu. Luckily, there’s an awesome campground by the Hanalei Pier, and I know a great 1 room house in the beach ‘hood that rents for relatively cheap.

Of course, I caught myself checking movie times at the Alamo the other night, and I’m plotting how I can get home by the night of the 29th to catch my old high school soul brother Alan’s tour stop at Momo’s. It’s gonna be getting back to good times at home.


Yo yo Hanalei January 22, 2011

Filed under: Family,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 5:45 am
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My aunt Susie and I getting totally yogic on the Hanalei pier.

My aunt Susie introduced me to yoga when I was 17. Every time I visited her in Vermont we went to Sophie Dillof’s Jivamukti class at Burlington Yoga. Sophie is still teaching, and her’s is still my favorite class. She records a new class every month for her podcast, and also has a huge archive of 90 minute Jivemukti classes. I always imagine that Susie is in the class that I’m listening to, and it’s been so much fun to practice together again.


the awesomest day ever January 20, 2011

Filed under: Family,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 4:57 am

Man, I wish I had some pictures for this post. I’ll take some tomorrow and try to illustrate.

So I’ve spent every day since Saturday on a board in Hanalei Bay. I “learned” to surf here like, jeeze, 9 (!?) years ago with my cousin Ben, who fell completely in love that trip and became an amazing short board wild man surfer in the cold cold water of the pacific northwest. No interest ya. I just do it in Hawaii, and a half a dozen or so times over the years in Galveston and south Texas. I’m not, like, skilled. I get a big long board, destroy myself paddling, stand up, cruise around in the foam, fall in like, then go eat.

But this year has been way awesomer so far. Maybe I’m more fit than usual from so much climbing, or more brave, definitely less impatient and kind of relieved to do something I don’t have any ambition about. Either way, I’ve been having a blast, and today was the best day yet. This morning I traded in my ultra barge longboard that looked like a Sportiva Testarosa for a slightly shorter, narrower, lighter, thinner one. I was tired of hauling the fat one around the beach, and figured I was standing up and walking on it most of the time, so I could graduate. The new one is super rad and kind of beater, with lots of scratches and dings all over it. It has Kassia Meador’s signature on it, some hearts, a ROXY logo, and it’s pretty and blue. Sometimes, I have always maintained, it just takes the right outfit. My dad and I discussed it, and we weren’t sure if I could ride on the lighter, narrower board, but oh well. The water this morning, however, was perfect for me — medium sized waves breaking right then meeting up with their other half and rolling straight in. Not too terribly big, but, like, the face was up to my chest when I stood up. So not small, but the main thing was how clean they were, coming up from a calm green surface and taking time to form up nicely. The new board took a few runs to get balanced on, but once I got on I realized it was a great fit. Stable, but lighter to paddle and more responsive to my slow, epic turns.

Anyway, I stayed out all morning doing a little circuit: ride 5 waves, read 2 chapters of this annoying book I was stuck in (Jennifer Weiner yuck but I couldn’t put it down), go back out ride 5 more, read 2 more, repeat. That pretty much went on all day. There were two other people out there in the same zone, a guy on a shortboard and another tourist who was having a hard time standing up and was mostly practicing in the foam. Blah blah blah, having so much fun, sun is out, getting clobbered trying to paddle out, then cruising on the blue board, getting up earlier and earlier, feeling like holy zorgz I am TOTALLY not flailing right now!! My parents were dually impressed, which is, I suppose, the most important thing.

Then, I was sitting out on my board, singing to myself, mostly this song which is performed in this movie on and about the island that I’m on!

waiting for another little set of delicious rights when this larger, steeper wave came up. It had no angle, just a wall, a total “closeout” I think it’s called, and easily over my head if I had been standing. I have a very limited surfing vocabulary, but let me try to explain: I was waaayyyy back behind where the waves had been breaking. I was paddling into them when they were barely lumps. I was pretty far out at sea, considering. But this mother, I realized, was about to BREAK on me. So I did this thing that you’re nevAr suppose to do in surfing. I ditched my board and ducked under. I felt the wave pass over, and a few seconds later a tiny tug at my ankle. I came up in a mess of foam with the blue board right behind me. Sorry! I know that’s total chuffer behavior I just didn’t know what else to do. Dang. Maybe the rest of the set will be smaller. I mean, we had had some biggies here and there all day. No biggie, so to speak. I’m good. I’m a SURF GODDESS today.

But then I saw the next one coming, exactly the same tall closeout about to crash into me, and I realized this whole set was rowdy. I spun around and sat on the back of my board and let the wave lift me up and break underneath. It exploded in front of me. Ok shoot. These are definitely bigger than the others. I do not need to be comfortable with this right now. I am not a surf goddess. I have a gripping novel about fat rich Jewish neurotics and their neurotic pre-fat daughters waiting for me on the sand and that is most assuredly where I belong. I swung down onto my stomach, paddled towards the beach, and let the next 3 hugies crash into my back and shove me towards home. The last one caught me and I sat up on my knees and rode all the way to the sand. Jebus what was all that?

“Just in time!” Said this guy in a wetsuit sitting on a log.

“Huh? Yeah that got kinda big just then!”

“Ah, shyeah it did! You got out just in time! Turn around!”

Behind me, out in bay where I just was, an easily waaayyy overhead closeout wave was crashing, making a brown tunnel with the sand it had churned up. “Holy Moly!”

“See out there? That mountain moving toward us? This is the swell coming in! I think surfing is over for today.”

And dang, was it ever. I watched it for another half hour, the waves got bigger still, you could see the sand churning up underneath and getting dragged out father, huge brown and white waves crashing far past where I’d been floating around catching slow green rights ten minutes ago. It was quite a show. The tide came up ten feet onto the (already narrow) beach within another five minutes, and those mountains were just rolling in. It was so awesome.

Hopefully tomorrow morning will be calm again for a while.


funny January 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — sendann @ 8:10 pm

Here are the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Every few months I look at these things and laugh my face off. They just DO NOT get old. Don’t tell me about the things you think are the funniest, or things you think I think are the funniest but forgot to include, because I know my life, and I’m not looking to expand my horizons on this issue. Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.


why am i so mad? January 7, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Over-Shares,Trips,Waves — sendann @ 2:51 am
Tags: , ,

So Bishop is perfect so far. I’ve been here two days, but still, I love it. I’ve seen douchey remarks about the Happies and Sads on message boards before, but my first two days here I went to both and had a blast. Sort of. They’re awesome areas, the rock feels like Hueco, they’re both very easy to navigate and full of glorious problems. But when I went to the Sads, I got really…sad.

I gave up on getting wooblery or frustrated while bouldering this year, because it’s so unattractive when other people do it. I figure it must look pretty bad on me too, and it gets me nowhere. But yesterday I got on this problem called Molly, a pockety V5 with kind of a balance move at the top and some greasy holds, and I will be damned if I did not have to fight tears when I fell off the top for the 4th time. It was very strange. I walked away.

Then I got on this other thing, kind of the Bishop version of Fear of Flying called Strength in Numbers, also a V5, with a bad hold at the top and limited foot options but, come on, not impossible just a bit scary. Jeeze LOUISE, I fell of the top half a dozen times, then almost started crying, then THREW my chalkbag on the ground like some petulant child climber from Boulder or something. It was embarrassing.

In both instances I was with super nice people, everyone was projecting and being very supportive, lots of laughter, etc. I didn’t feel self conscious or like I was the weak person, and I actually climbed pretty strong on both lines, just chuffing off at the tops. But there I was, tripping out. I’m going to try to pinpoint why now. Join me, if you want to, on a journey into my internal experience:

By the end of my Strength in Numbers session my skin was on fire, and I suppose that might have darkened my experience. Two weeks of barely climbing at all on the wet road, then focusing on yoga, thrift stores and the beach in Los Angeles for a week cost me my Hueco tips (but earned me a marginally recovered wrist!). So that’s one thing. But I’ve never cried about my skin before.

It was less than 14 degrees the night before, and I’d spent most of the night getting cold, tucking into my sleeping bag, getting too hot, repeat. So I may have just been completely exhausted. This would be normal for me if I was 5 years old, but since I finished my second pass through second grade, I don’t get hysterical when I’m tired. I usually just curl up on a pad and sleep in the sun.

It’s also possible that I might have been in a somewhat emotional place. Leaving LA and being back by myself, I’ve gotten into a reflecting and planning mode. I’ve been thinking a lot about my next phase. I’m going back to Austin in February and committing to staying put (minus some weekends in Hueco and maybe a trip to Colorado in July like duh) until August.

I had this thought the other day, that I got off super easy in my divorce. My ex and I were never into talking about negative emotional experiences, and during our split we coped by being super nice to each other. The process was pretty easy for us on the surface that way. We kind of just went to separate corners and tucked in, packed up, and moved on. But I know that the whole time I was reeling hard on the inside. By the time we were actually separated I was pretty convinced that I was pretty much unlovable and a destructive force more than likely to hurt anyone who got into my orbit, and not worth anyone’s time or respect. At least not anyone smart. And I think I’ve been fighting those peculiar instincts my whole life, and that they’re the reason why me and alcohol have had such a passionate, destructive relationship. So even though my ex was super kind and respectful to me the whole time we were together (and still is), that underlying self-yuck I have didn’t evaporate or even degrade. In fact, I suspect that being with someone who was so easy on me let me ignore that aspect of my personality and not address it at all, and it just kind of grew. And if I were a different or more logical person, I might have lived the rest of my life with him, feeling pretty ok and ignoring that stormy zone in my heart.

But life or god or maybe just human psychology seem to have this way of, like, forcing confrontation with underlying pain over and over until you just, like, cope with it and weave it into your life in an honest way. And I wonder if the way that I was so suddenly so hot for el playa  (a very sore spot when I think about returning to the ATX) was that stormy pain shooting up out of my heart and into my life.

Because despite wanting something romantic with me, it sure felt like el playa considered me unlovable, potentially destructive, and totally unworthy of his time or respect. Whether or not that’s true, my storm was so strong that everything el playa did or said just fell into that mold. Whatever he did or didn’t do or said or didn’t say became evidence to support the “I am garbage” thesis.

I guess I thought if I could convince someone like that to love me, then maybe I had me all wrong after all! Maybe I’m not a horrible person! But that would not actually convince me. El playa, my ex, my parents, my friends, could all love me as much as they could stand to and it wouldn’t calm the storm a bit. In fact, I’d probably just think I had them fooled, and then I’d feel pressure to stay lovable and non-stormy. I’ve heard that It’s only the outgoing love that counts, and that without opening up for someone else and taking them into your life and your storming heart, all the dog kisses and snuggling in the world aren’t going to change you.

but they probably won't hurt :=)

I think the only thing you can do, or that I can do, is love someone who can see and acknowledge our storms for what they are, rather than pretend they don’t exist like with my ex, or mistake the storm for who we are, like I did with El playa. I read this Eckhart Tolle thing that kind of described it (he calls the storm a “pain body”):

When you recognize your own pain-body as it arises, you will also quickly learn what the most common triggers are that activate it, whether it be situations or certain things other people do or say. When those triggers occur, you will immediately see them for what they are and enter an hightened state of alertness. Within a second or two, you will also notice the emotional reaction that is the arising pain-body, but in that state of alert Presence, you won’t identify with it, which means the pain-body cannot take you over and become the voice in your head. … Have an agreement with your partner that whenever either of you says or does something that triggers the other persons pain body, you will immediately mention it. In this way, the pain body can no longer renew itself through drama in the relationship…

So as I’m sleeping alone in the Trooper in Bishop (a balmy 20 tonight ftw), I think I’m starting to understand some of that stuff a bit more. And it’s making me cry at the tops of boulder problems. I suppose because those are also vulnerable places to be.


wet westward ho’s January 3, 2011

Filed under: Climbing,Family,Trips,Uncategorized — sendann @ 12:43 am
Tags: , , , , ,

After climbing in Socorro, which feels like months ago now jeeze!, I stuck with the Kearney family and headed to Pie Town, NM. Prairie and her family get together every year on the 21st to observe a very sad anniversary, but she said it was totally cool if I came along. I wasn’t sure, though, since it sounded like a private family event. Prairie’s boyfriend David was with us, and I decided to just take my cues from him. Their mom, Nita, is a glorious hippie New Mexico lady who grew up on the beach and lives in a huge log house in Pie Town. It’s one of those super hippy family houses that I love, where every wall is crowded with framed snap shots and random postcards, there’s strange, interesting stuff everywhere, all the food is home grown or organic and there are lots of very comfortable sofas.  It was fun to sit in her living room and think of how organized and spare Prairie keeps her van-home. My best friend Lily also grew up in a house like Nita’s, and her apartments are always minimalist and hyper-organized. Must be a skipping-the-generation thing.


Prairie's mom and her awesome house!

After a few days in Pie Town, we headed to Las Vegas, and I got to visit Flagstaff for my first time on the way! I sometimes fantasize about moving to Flagstaff, because I have some very lovely friends there and the bouldering and sports action looks like endless, convenient fun. We got coffee with Carrie, which was a huge treat. Carrie is over 7 months pregnant and gorgeous. She gave me this adorable hat…


it's my 3rd pink gift hat this year! I LOVE the little button.

Vegas itself was a little weird. I had never been there before either. I thought I could get into it, and maybe I might have if the weather had cooperated, or if I’d gone in Vegas, Showgirls party city mode. We spent the first night there boondocked in a WalMart parking lot, which I had also never done before. It was really scary. I did not like it. At all. Give me a creepy rest stop in France where I’m crushed in the back of my rented hatch back Ibiza any night of the year, I don’t like sleeping in WalMart parking lots. Apparently, however, it’s a thing people do on the road. There were a few full on campers parked there also. Still.

We spent the next day at the Kraft boulders in Red Rocks, which were kind of wet but pretty impressive nonetheless. I fell in love with this mega classic v4 called the Pearl. Then I pulled on a jug doing something very easy and it moved, and I was officially freaked. We got on some more potentially delicious problems at the Kraft, but it was super wet and the sandstone there is pretty fragile. I was nervous about falling unexpectedly, or breaking some key hold and having an angry mob run me out of town. The locals at the gear shop had urged not bouldering until things dried out more.

Walker Kearney took this shot on a cool dyno problem called Snake Eyes, I think.

Christmas day I spent at Starbucks in Las Vegas, missing my family and Hueco and the Mastadon and Austin, and being kind of Christmas bummed. I talked to my parents and sisters on the phone for a long time. They were all hysterical over issues with Katie’s wedding dress (the bodice is way to small). Fortunately Katie had brought some nice whiskey home from the UK, and everyone was pleasantly mellowed and watching the Muppet Christmas Carol by noon.

Then I talked to my oldest and dearest friend Jessica, who was also somewhat hysterical on Christmas over a very difficult couple of weeks she’d spent in New Jersey dealing with her extended family and the very sad death of her grandma.

I suggested, since they’re all in Houston, that Jess and her husband Dave go over to my parents house and drink it off with the Raber’s. It was so comforting to catch up with everyone.

After that, I decided to take Prairie, Walker and David out for the Jewish Christmas tradition of Chinese food. We feasted and talked and laughed, and I’d say it was an awesome and memorable Las Vegas Christmas. That night we parked in a random parking lot, which was freaky, and got yelled at late at night by large scary men with flashlights. Feeling rather like a one-woman holy family, no room in the parking lot, I headed back to the pricey Red Rocks campground on my own.

no donkey, but the wise el trooper in the night

It rained most of the night out there, and I realized climbing was going to be minimal and explodey for a few more days at least. I had a look at the soaked boulders in the morning, and decided me and Vegas were over for now, and that I only had so much of the dirt bagger thing in me. I kind of suspected as much. I like adventures and trips and camping and epic hikes, but I’m not a lifer. I called Lily and asked if I could show up at her place in Los Angeles in a few hours. I said bai bai to the Kearney’s, we made plans to catch up in Malibu for New Years, and I hit the road.

And now I want to move to Venice. Which is an issue for a future post.