The Rush

Everything I know about surfing I learned from the 1991 movie Point Break*, which isn’t saying a lot. I live in one of the world’s most popular surf spots and I know nothing about it. I have never been on a board myself but I have always found surfing an intriguing sport, so I wasn’t surprised recently when I spent nearly an hour completely mesmerized by 55 surfers.I watched the tide go in and out dozens of times and I felt like somewhat of a voyeur.

My first observation was that surfers contort their bodies in the most peculiar ways getting in and out of their wet suits, carrying massive and very awkward shaped boards that they then attach to one of their feet. Bizarre. I sat at the water’s edge and thought, how can the ocean be so loud and rough, yet so calming and peaceful at the same time? I frequently walk on the beach and love to take in the sights and smells it offers, but my breath slowed and my body relaxed like it hadn’t in a long time as I positioned myself high on a rock with the beautiful view laid before me.

As the sun glistened on the water, anxious surfers paddled out to sea and there they waited.

And waited.

It was as if they were willing the perfect wave to propel them to shore. Not every wave has a crest capable of such a trip. Surfing is a lesson in patience. It’s a solitary sport.

Just you and the water.

So many factors play a role in providing the perfect wave; the wind, the swell direction and intensity, the time of the year, high or low tide, what’s underneath the water, etc.

Once the right wave appears, the ride and the movements the surfers made looked elegant and effortless from where I sat. Their bodies possessing a balance and ease that I found fascinating. Lyrical.

I didn’t need to question anyone as to why they do it. It’s obvious.

It’s the rush, being one with the water, escaping land and the pursuit of the perfect wave.

Maybe I’ll feel it for myself someday.

*A point break refers to the place where waves hit a point of land or rocks jutting out from the coastline.

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Take Me Out To The Ball Game

“If a man watches three football games in a row, he should be declared legally dead.” – Erma Bombeck

This is going to sound very strange, but I miss having sports in my life.

I didn’t realize it until I was at the gym last week and found myself on an treadmill, followed by an elliptical machine and then the StairMaster positioned in front of the TV broadcasting Sports Center on ESPN. It was only then that I thought to myself, “why am I watching this?”. And then it dawned on me that I always choose the exercise equipment in front of the television showing football, basketball, baseball or golf highlights. I’m not even listening because I usually have my iPod on, but I am watching it and enjoying it, too.

You see, your dad isn’t a sports fan. He doesn’t spend hours couching it all weekend because there is game after game after game on T.V. and I’m actually very grateful for this, but even so, it’s strange. After almost eight years together, I am still not used to it.

I grew up with a major sports fan for a father and depending on the season, learned to root for the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and Washington Redskins. I followed Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Fuzzy Zoeller on the PGA. Every guy I ever dated watched sports. All my male friends watch sports. Yet, I met, fell in love and married a non-sports watcher. Sure, he knows the basic rules (although he gets a kick out of saying “basketball contest”), played organized sports growing up and loves to run and cycle nowadays.

We tune into the World Series, Super Bowl, an occasional play off game and some University of Arizona (my alma matar) or Cal (your dad’s) games, but other than that, sports are seldom on in our house. What does he/we watch instead, you ask? A LOT of car auctions and car-related shows like Top Gear and Chasing Classic Cars and anything that Alain de Cadenet is hosting. Nice, quiet, civilized shows with no one to root for or against. In other words, no need to scream, yell or throw things at the television set (the part of sports fanhood that I don’t miss).

I wonder what sports you will be into watching and playing when you grow up. I hope at the very least, you enjoy watching them. It would be comforting to be around that noise again.

The best is yet to be.

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Dressed For Success

I have been told that I dress you in too much blue and too many stripes. I may be guilty of that, but I also love to put you in orange, green, red, jungle animals (especially monkeys!), spaceships, robots, cars, planes, trains, dinosaurs and monsters too.

As I’ve perused the baby departments at numerous stores, I have come to the conclusion that I like clothes made for boys better than I like clothes made for girls. It’s not that I don’t like frilly dresses and ruffles, it’s just that I prefer the bright primary colors that are more common in clothes marketed for infant and toddler boys and the themes used in both boy’s and gender neutral clothing.

The themes in baby boys clothing celebrate predominantly male (and mostly working class) occupations such as firemen, construction workers, mechanics, pilots, and soldiers. Activity themes seem to be popular as well; involving clothes the promote going on safari, hunting, fishing, eating and playing sports.

Even as infants, we start to socialize baby boys into occupations. You rarely find occupation themed clothes for girls. Little girls clothes have flowers, frills, and occasionally animals (i.e. butterflies, dragonflies and lady bugs), but they don’t have occupational themes. They also rarely have activity themes outside of shopping or cheer leading. In fact, to me the worst subset of little girls clothes are those that say “princess” or “diva”. Diva is often used in a derisive way to indicate that the girl is overly demanding, and unlike the fireman or construction worker a princess doesn’t earn her title – she’s born with it or marries into it. Princess themed clothes also seem to play up baby girls looks – looking like a princess means looking pretty. I’ve seen a few shirts that have messages about boys being handsome or cute, and then there’s the ever witty (dreadful) sayings: “Chick Magnet”, “I drink until I pass out” or “That’s how I roll”, but those are much less common in the boys department.

I believe that one of the reasons that baby clothes are so strongly gendered is that babies themselves are often androgynous. If you put them only in a diaper, it’s often hard to tell what sex the baby is, but that androgyny doesn’t fit well into our gender polarized society, so this is where the clothes come in. Those clothes have underlying and blatant messages. Baby boy clothes say: be active, be bold, enjoy the outdoors, and get a respectable paying job. It doesn’t seem that baby girls clothing have the same messages.

Today’s parents have a seemingly infinite choice of where to buy baby clothes and also the particular style they want, as long as you can find something that fits….the sizing of children’s clothes is still a mystery to me, but that’s the topic for an other post.

The best is yet to be.

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