Eat, Play, Surf

Bali SuspensionSo what happens when you eat, play and surf too much?  You post a blank blog.  But you don’t even realize it until two days later.

I’ve always had a love affair with Bali.  Yet I had never been there until a month ago.  Like a school girl crush, I could fantasize about my Bali.  My Bali was pristine, tranquil – devoid of modern chaos.   My Bali was not the result of Eat, Pray, Love – the bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert. Or the Julia Roberts movie of the same name.

My Bali was prompted by my bucket list.  I wanted to surf in Bali, darnit.  So did my dear Hawaiian friend, Dyanne. And my husband and my son.

Four people, three different flights and one weary group of travelers later, we descended on Bali.  We shopped and dropped all our hard-earned money.  Yes, I had heard about great prices but spending is believing! We ordered silk suits; we ate amazing food; we ordered custom surfboard bags; and we ate more amazing food.

Then jet lag kicked in.  Yet all we had was instant coffee.  Instant coffee?

Yes, the Balinese need to work on their coffee.   They either have instant coffee or brewed coffee that is thicker than lava rocks.  And just about as crunchy.  By Day Three, I was having serious caffeine withdrawals, so Dyanne and I headed over to Deus Customs.  http://www.deuscustoms.com.  My son, Danny was floored that dear old Mom knew all about the coolest, hippest spot in Bali.  My husband, Rick was clueless as he drifted away during his daily massage.

Deus is a combo surf shop, motorcycle shop, art gallery, restaurant and music venue with locations in Venice Beach, California; Sydney, Australia and Canggu, Bali.  And Deus is also the only place in Bali that knows how to make a real cup of coffee and some serious French Fries.  I got my coffee fix. Dyanne got her French Fry fix.

We still had our appetite for a real surf session, though.

But first  we embraced the hustle and bustle of motor bikes loaded down with entire families whizzing past sacred grounds – a  sharp contrast of eastern traditions and western values.   Strip malls. Temples.  Monkeys. Expats. Kuta nightclubs.  Hordes of tourists.  Lots of booze.

And of course, the Balinese people.  And, their spirituality.   That was the best part.  The depth of their spirituality.  The worst part?  The barking dogs.  According to Hindus beliefs,  starving dogs were thieves from another life. No food, water or shelter for those thieves.   Well, that may very well be true but they were a real downer for this dog lover in this lifetime.   Equally sad?  Picturesque beaches plagued with piles of trash from neighboring storms in Jakarta and Java.  Plastic bottles overshadowed nearby ancient temples.  How do we stop this global insanity? How…

Danny dragged me off my soap box long enough to book a week over in Nusa Lembongan. After a 25 minute boat ride,  it was there that we would quench our Bali craving.  Serenity, tranquility, spirituality.

“It’s what Bali used to be like” was the mantra we heard from tourists and island natives.

We checked into an amazing villa up on the hillside with spectacular views of the Bali skyline and the magnificent volcano engulfed in turquoise waters.  And a refrigerator full of Bintang Beer.  Check it out at:  http://www.balivillanusa.com.

Shipwrecks, Lacerations and Playgrounds became our new vocabulary.  World renowned surf breaks hosting a hand full of locals and tourists.

Timing is everything.  And we timed it just right.

We headed over to Monkeys Surf Shop; rented boards and jumped on a local water taxi.  The handmade goods of Ubud and the plastic overload on windswept beaches became a dull memory.  Bali bliss was just a paddle away.

Our boat driver, Wayan, couldn’t believe that Dyanne and I would get wet.   Let alone, surf.  We dove in and surfed with local kids with grins the size of coconuts.  We surfed with Aussie surfer Karl and his girlfriend, Tasha.  And yes, we surfed until our bodies ached. Bali Surfer Girls Small

Wayan was impressed.  Dyanne and I were the two oldest female surfers he had ever seen.  I suppose some women would be offended.   Not us.

We came and we conquered.  Then we washed it down with a cold Bintang with our newfound friends.   This would be the Bali we came to know and love.

That night we celebrated our new Bali.  We all hopped on the motor bikes that were part of our villa rental package and headed to Sandy Bay Beach Club Restaurant.  We splurged on a giant fresh lobster that cost a whopping $9 USD.  Frequent Bali travellers had warned us that we’d feel like millionaires and for one fleeting moment, we did.

For a week, we embraced the spirit of Nusa Lembongan that was on hiatus in Bali.

The highlight of the trip?  Metals Holiday. It started out with a morning blessing of the refrigerator and microwave in the villa.   Of course, every motor bike on Lembongan was blessed that day.   Mind you, this is as normal to them as an Egg McMuffin is to McDonald’s.  We took a scenic drive over the suspension bridge to the other side of the island on our blessed motor bikes.  Holy moly, good things those bikes were blessed.  Half the wood slats were missing on the suspension bridge.  When Dyanne got to the other side of the bridge she vowed that she would never ever ride on a motor bike with my husband again.

Then she hopped back on his bike.

We followed that excitement with a snorkeling trip and an epiphany.  In my next life, I want to be one of the colorful fish I saw down under.  Disney and Pixar fishies never had it so good.  That night, I opted for an outdoor shower that was built into the indoor bathroom.  Shampooing my hair under a full moon to the chants from the nearby ceremony capped off the perfect day.  Sheer nirvana.  Until…

At exactly midnight, a loud bolt of lightning struck the utility box on the property that caused a blackout on this tiny island.  An ironic twist to a very heavy Metals Holiday, don’t you think?

As I boarded the plane home, I knew I would return.  Not for more custom board bags that cost less than a dinner in Laguna Beach.  No.  In fact, there will be no shopping when I return for Nyepi Holiday (pronounced nippy).

According to Wikipedia – Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

Donna, the villa owner explained it this way:  All flights are cancelled for 24 hours.  No incoming flights.  No outgoing flights. No tv.  No internet.  No cell phones. No commerce. No barking dogs.

Only the sounds of silence.

Imagine.

A real vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer of ’12

With each passing day, the humidity kicks in.  By August, there will be nowhere to cool off.  Particularly for those countless women that continue to dive into the runaway bestseller,  ‘ Fifty Shades of Grey’.   Forget summer romance, just give these women what they really crave:  some good old fashion S&M.

I can’t help but feel bad for all those poor guys that have been sending dozens of long stemmed roses to the women in their lives when they could have ducked into the local naughty shop for some heavy artillery.  From a practical standpoint, it certainly makes more sense.  Think about it:  roses don’t have nearly the same shelf  life as a couple of whips and chains.     Summer_of_42

 

As a former Catholic girl, it’s awkward to broach the subject on a blog.  Then again, total strangers are divulging their deepest fantasies in airports, grocery stores, H&M and Starbuck’s.  I didn’t even have to eavesdrop.  Have I read the book?   No, not yet.  But I bought the trilogy for my 88-year-old Mother-in-law and she read it faster than the LA Times on a Sunday morning.  Hopefully, she’ll loan it to me long enough to read it.  But I doubt it.  This is a woman who only wants three things in life:  wine, sex and a dance partner.

Meantime, the film version is in development over at Universal Pictures but that hasn’t stopped a national debate for the lead role Christian Grey.   And I suspect the debate will linger on long after the summer of 2012 has faded into Instagram history.

So I will continue one of my favorite summer indulgences:   film classics.   The roster includes Jaws, Cinema Paradiso and The Graduate – no brainers for any film lover.    And, of course, Body Heat.  Hey, I may be a former Catholic girl but I’m still human.  Holy moly.  Kathleen Turner makes Christian Grey look like an amateur.

Next up?  Summer of ’42.  For those of you who have been deprived of this film, it reigns as one of  the most poignant ‘coming of age’  films.  Maybe because it was based on a true story. Fun, funny, sad, breathtaking cinema and music.  All at the same time.    But the irony?  Unlike countless other best sellers that go onto the big screen, the script was written before the book.

The 1971 award winning drama is based on the memoirs of Herman Raucher.   And it was directed by Robert Mulligan after his success in other film classics including To Kill A Mockingbird.   However, the novel was released just prior to the film’s release.  As a result, film audiences didn’t realize that the bestseller was actually based on the film.

So when you get worn out with S&M, pour yourself a glass of wine and savor the Oscar winning soundtrack, comedy, drama and magic of summer love. The Summer of ’42.

You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

The Graduate

Mike Nichols directed one of my all-time favorites, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft and Katharine Ross.  It was written by the incomparable Buck Henry who penned the one liner that advised Dustin’s character (Benjamin) to get into this new field:  “Plastics.”

And do I even have to mention the music by Simon and Garfunkel?  I didn’t think so.

Freshman at Alcatraz on Mom's Day

The Freshman at Acatraz on Mom’s Day

The graduate in my life this year is my youngest son, Stevie.  Ironically,  he graduated  from San Francisco State University with a degree in Environmental Studies with aspirations to rid the world of plastics.   The entire family headed north to commemorate the monumental day.  Final score: four college graduates.   As the endless summer was starting, our tuition payments were ending.    And we have empty wallets to prove it.

My friend, Rose and I hit the road first.  I warned Rose,  aka Stevie’s Godmother, that I had watched Thelma and Louise the night before.  Another classic.   A Ridley Scott film based on Calli Khouri’s Oscar winning script  starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis; with a breakout role by some new guy named Brad.

Yes, a great film but a lousy choice  if you’re setting out on a seven hour drive through two of the busiest freeways in the world.  We had plenty of coffee so what could possibly go wrong?  Rose  let me drive her car which was a good idea as Rose was voted “Worst Mom Driver”  – by all three of her kids’ friends.   That’s almost an honor.  A Lifetime Achievement Award.  Isn’t it?   Think about it.   No carpool nominations.  No frantic calls from  neurotic Moms on overdrive to pick up their Einstein from their Physics for First Graders  course.    Brilliant, Rose.

As I was printing up directions, Rose called with big news.  She downloaded  “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James; and she would  read it aloud during our drive.

I thought to myself…”Then what?”

That night, I  mentioned it to my husband during pillow talk but he was clueless.  I explained that it is the latest, greatest,  naughtiest  S&M erotica book for women.  Once they start reading it, they can’t put it down; along with that glass of wine on their nightstand.

My husband perked up.  “Then what?”  No problem.  “It’s a trilogy!”

The next morning, I warned Rose that I watched the chic  flick of all time.  From here on out, she was Thelma and I was Louise.  She laughed lightly to which I replied rather abruptly ala Louise.   “I mean it!   No Grey matter ’til we hit the open highways, north of LA.”   As it was, my hair turned one ugly shade of gray as we crawled through the worst LA traffic I’ve seen in a decade.  So I  suggested my Thelma start reading  after our first pit stop.

My husband called as we passed by Magic Mountain:   “So, what page you on?”

“The ‘we need more coffee, it took two hours to get through LA and Louise isn’t in the mood right now’ page.”

One quick pit stop and two coffee refills later, we were armed and dangerous.  We  whipped by  the Madonna Inn, San Luis wineries and Stanford without even a mention of the book.  Instead, we swapped horror stories and cherished moments about parenting, sibling rivalry, report cards, team Moms and overbearing Dads; while juggling our respective careers.  This Thelma and Louise had survived.  We were still in the game of this thing called life.   One day we  would have time to take long, lazy vacations to read the entire Grey Trilogy in one week.

For now,  though, we had to navigate the Bay Bridge in  the thickest fog I’ve ever seen in San Francisco.  Good thing I packed that retro purple leather bomber jacket.

The rest of the family arrived the next morning.  For the next four days, we celebrated with the graduate. We dropped into Stevie’s  job at Doc Martens on Haight Street. We visited a winery in Napa Valley. We even rode across the Golden Gate Bridge on the open roof top seats of a 3-story bus; and my shades of gray never looked better – like a Brazillian blow out.   Later, this Thelma and Louise loaded up on every kind of  Trader Joe’s gourmet goody to go with our six bottle value pack of Chardonnay as the newest members of the Sterling Wine Club.  But we learned that we could have got the exclusive wine from TJ’s a whole lot cheaper.  Later on Uncle Paul would join us for the celebratory feast on Saturday night to toast our losses and our gains.

But first:  the big day.  By Saturday, the fog had lifted and the sun made a special appearance on the foggiest point in San Francisco.   Hence, we spent four hours on the field of SFSU on  the hottest day that I can ever remember in San Francisco.  Ever.    The purple leather bomber jacket stayed back at the condo.

Twenty-three years flashed before my eyes as I sweat in those bleachers.Stevie Pirate!

 Then, suddenly, it was all over.  Stevie was now Steven.

Was it worth it?

Preschool jitters; little league, middle school angst; high school pranks?

Homework wars, SAT scores?

Drivers license, prom night,  broken hearts?

College tuition, housing, Top Ramen, cheap coffee.

Blood, sweat and tears.

And more tears?

Worth every last shade of gray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Legend in Everyone’s Mind

In surfing there’s a saying:  ‘He’s a legend in his own mind”.  On May 12th, surfing lost a true legend in everyone’s mind in the surf community.  For those of us who spent time with him, legend doesn’t even begin to come close.

Two years ago, I was on my way for one last chaotic  Costco Christmas session.   My son, Daniel, was born on December 26th.  We celebrate Christmas, followed by a birthday bash the next day.   So I had serious shopping ahead of me.  As I zipped into my secret parking spot, I saw Santa Claus in a Hobie shirt – carrying the biggest burrito I’ve ever seen.   As he approached his sleigh disguised as an old white van, I slowed down and  saw that familiar dusty beard.  Yes, it was him.  This Santa was also putting in serious overtime for those awaiting the best gift a surfer can get under the tree:  A hand-shaped Terry Martin board.

Legend

Terry leaned into the window with the weathered face that actors can only dream about.  And a glint in his eye that any Santa would envy.   Terry was a Hobie shaper when I first started surfing but I couldn’t afford one of his boards with my measly babysitting funds.  But there he was, one career later,  standing before me.  A living legend.

I became the proud owner of a ‘magic’  Terry Martin board a few years ago by default.    My son, Dustin,  rode for Hobie and spent considerable time with Terry in the coveted shaping room.  Like everyone, he came to know and love the man,  as much as his boards. Which is why Dustin hovers over his Terry Martin boards like a woman fawns over an heirloom keepsake.  I had never owned a Terry Martin board.   Frankly,  I never understood the surfboard shaper mystique that surfers acquire for their Shaper Du Jour.  Let alone, the Shaper!    I just wrote it off to hero-worship.  So when my  board snapped on a big wave, I came home and told Dustin I needed to order a new board.   He leaned over to the board rack and pulled out  his favorite Terry Martin boards and casually said, “Here try this one.  You’ll love it.”

There she was.  Dustin’s favorite green board.  Ironically, it was the same color as my very first custom board.  A Wetzel that I bought  after countless hours, babysitting for Marines,   just back  from Viet  Nam.  Business was booming that summer.

I finally ventured out to my local break with the board.  Locals quickly noticed, “Is that a Terry Martin board?”  I nodded a ‘yes’ nonchalantly.  Suddenly, I got a whole new respect out in the line-up.  Darn, I would have gotten one of his boards years ago if that’s all it took to get any respect in any line-up.

And then it happened.  A set wave was taunting me.  I took off, dropped down and discovered what surfers talk about:   A magic board.  And yes, I’ve had more fun than I ever thought possible.   Thank God Dustin was feeling generous that day. 

So on that day in December, I rolled down the window to thank Terry for my magic board.  He leaned that long gray Santa beard inside, resting his Las Golondrinas  burrito on the window ledge.  But being painfully honest at times, I first confessed to him  that  I didn’t believe all the Terry Martin ‘magic board’ hoopla ’til I finally rode that board.  As he laughed, dust from his morning shaping session sprinkled like snow on his burrito, still wrapped in white like a newborn baby.

Terry opened the car door and sat down, armed with his  burrito and I, with my coffee.   We shared our sons’  triumphs and misfortunes.  His son’s successful racing career; and the motorcycle accident that paralyzed him.  Dustin’s  surfing career and a congenital heart problem that would last a lifetime.    For  two hours, we  talked about life, family, spirituality;  everything but surfing.   Finally, it dawned on me:  he probably had a string of  moms and dads waiting back at the shaping room for the magic Terry Martin board that would brighten their Christmas morning in two days.  Holy moly.

Yet, not once did Terry ever seem stressed or rushed in that two hours.  Ironically, neither did I.  Instead, the holiday rush took a back seat as  the real priorities of life moved front and center for me.   But if I didn’t nudge Terry, he’d be working ’til Christmas Day  to meet his looming deadlines.  And I’d be on everybody’s Christmas list for all the wrong reasons.

Terry climbed out of my car with his burrito, still unopened.  He hopped into his van, waved and drove away.   That was the last time I spoke with  Terry.

I drove out of the Costco parking lot knowing I had just gotten one of the best gifts ever.    Costco doesn’t sell surfboards or anything else that can compete with that of kind of gift.  No membership cards, SKU numbers or family paks.  Just the gift of time and self.  A priceless commodity any time of year.

I raced home and called my niece, Christine, who attends the same church as Terry and his family.  As I recounted my experience to her, she knew that Terry had renewed this Catholic girl’s spirituality and faith in mankind –  in less than two hours.  Something no one had done since I defected from Catholicism.  Praise the Lord – a miracle happened right there in the Costco parking lot.

I have allowed  a select few to use the board.  Of course, this was after I had them sign waivers and releases followed with a thorough background check.  And they would all come back with the same enthusiasm I have every time  time I rode that board.   And for those who had never ridden a Terry Martin board, they too had become followers.  The difference between Terry and other shapers?  All Terry’s boards are magic boards.  All 80,001.

Dustin paid a visit to Terry back in January.  In April, Dustin  had three open heart surgeries.  By May, Terry’s melanoma was in its final stages.  Dustin felt the  urgency to visit Terry again yet he put it off  and now I know why.  Terry was going where Dustin almost went in April.   It was just too much to handle.  Dustin would remember Terry on his terms.  So instead, we hired our friend, Dylan Mack, to patch up the dings on my board.  As Dustin’s health improved, Terry’s health was deteriorating.  But by all accounts, Terry’s spirit, that soul, was still intact.

Last week, my magic Terry Martin board came back home from the ding hospital.  Perfect.  All ready for another endless summer.  And so was I.  So I went downtown and bought myself a Mother’s Day present to go with it:  a 3/2 wetsuit.  I rushed home, put on the wetsuit and headed to San O.  These past 5 months have been the hardest time of my life as a Mom.  A real doozy.  But after the first wave, it was all washed away on my magic board like the Christmas rush on the last day I saw Terry.

Familiar faces greeted me with talk of Terry in the line-up.  An amazing human being.  Oh yeah, and a great shaper, too.    To those of you who don’t surf, Terry is as synonymous to household names of surfers such as Kelly Slater and Hobie.  Sitting in the water for the evening glass off, I savored the ocean, the puffy clouds, taking in the visual reinforcement that reminds all surfers that  we are such a small part of a much bigger picture.

I came home from that surf session with a renewed love of surfing, family, life and faith.     Early Saturday morning, May 12th, Terry Martin passed away.   A legend in everyone’s mind that taught us so much;  yet most of it had nothing to do with surfing.

His services will be held this Friday but my family will not be able to attend because my youngest son, Steven,  is graduating from college.   Terry totally understands, though.  God bless you and your family, Terry.

To contribute to this very’ magic’  human being go to:  www.terrymartinproject.com

 

 

 

 

This too shall pass…

I live by that quote.  I first learned about it from the great scholar, Norma Selb.

Norma who?  Norma Selb.

Also known as my Mom, best friend and partner in crime.

I’ve seen many variations on that famous quote in print including the Bible, Google and of course, Wikipedia.  I’ve never seen Norma’s version but I’ve always liked hers the best.

Once upon a time, as a young girl I had a big problem.  I don’t remember what it was but it was big.   Norma sat down, lit a cigarette and said, “This too shall pass.”  She always said that, but this time she really, really meant it.

“When Mom?  When???”

This time I wouldn’t let up as frustration set in.

Okay, Mom, Norma, Miss Know-it-all…how do you know?

She took a long, deep puff on her cigarette.

Norma’s version went something like this:  King Solomon was really upset at some guy.  So he sent him down into the bowels of the dungeon where a lion was awaiting his daily rations. For the sake of discussion let’s just call this guy, Justin.

The King was feeling feisty that day, so he instructed the guards to save Justin for the lion’s midnight snack.  Meantime, he taunted Justin with a word game:   The King would spare Justin’s life if he could come up with one sentence in life that would define everything in life.  Everything.  Before, during and long after we’re all gone.

Justin paced the floors of the dungeon all day and night.  As he paced, he realized that no matter what he said, what he did, this moment in time will be history.  He wondered aloud, “Good, bad.  The King’s mood,  the lion’s mood.  Heck, even the lion’s appetite.  It won’t matter because…because  this too shall pass”.

Bingo.   That’s it!

“This too shall pass”.

And so it was, Justin life was spared.  Just in time.

Think about it.   Here we are, the year 2012.  Good days, bad days.  Oscars or Razzies.  Text, email, phone, write.  Worry all day or celebrate into sleepless nights.  But when it’s all said and done?

This too shall pass.

A week from now, my son, Dustin will be in the operating room of one of the best hospitals in the world.  UCLA Medical Center.  He will receive the very best care known to man.  When it’s all said and done, he will be the proud owner of a new heart valve.  His last replacement lasted nine years.  He’s a young, active man with a  ‘good’ obsession, if there is such a thing.

In preparation for the big day, he is surfing his brains out up in Santa Barbara because he won’t be able to surf for three months after surgery.

Yes, it’s going to be a long three months. Frankly, it would be easier to referee Dustin and Justin in the lion’s den.

These are the times I miss Norma most.   That quiet confidence that all will be well…as she puffed on one cigarette after another.

Norma never met Dustin – or my two other sons.  But she embraced my stepson, Jamie,  like all her other grandchildren.   That was her style.  Unconditional love, day in and day out.  A love so strong that you can’t fathom it until you’ve lost it, or you become a parent yourself.

Norma won’t be there at UCLA which is probably better for her.  Those halls don’t tolerate chain smokers these days.  But she’ll be there in spirit. She’s been gone over 30 years but I still feel her love, particularly at times like this.   She was right.  No matter how much me, Dustin, my husband, his brothers, family and friends worry or lift his spirits…

This too shall pass.

Remember that, Dustin.  This and everything in between shall come to pass.  Except my love for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Copyright www.MaggieFranks.com 2014