Thursday, January 31, 2008

love the song - touching images

A group of guys who really cared about each other. If you google them, you will get a lot of pictures of them smiling their faces off. Sad early demise for Bradley, their guitarist/vocalist/songwriter. Mr. Nowell had an incredible future and so much to live for but was seduced by inner demons. Interesting guy that was always open to different types of music. Vacation at age 11 to the Caribbeanean really opened up his world musically. Lived in Long Beach, CA which is a place most white surf dudes would not claim. He and his band mates claimed it with pride. Good friends with Gwen Stefani. After his death, his ashes were scattered at his favorite surf spot. No worries Brad you are at peace and the waves and music are always flawless and comforting.....

A unexpected drink

In my line of work we have a weekly professional development. These cover a wide array of topics from best practices to sexual harassment. No, not best practices in sexual harassment. LOL

Lately I have been feeling dry. Creatively I have not felt hydrated. My nightly Bataan death march failed to knock anything loose until I sat down for my scheduled PD yesterday morning. Sometimes you find answers in the most unexpected places, don't you?

I sat at the table with some nice guys I have gotten to know this year at my school. One is the head baseball coach, and the other two are basketball coaches. The source, inspiration if you will, of this blog topic is a first year teacher. Young guy, no more than 22 or 23.

He recently bought, with his parents who live in Oklahoma, a condo down the street from our school. He told us in the first few weeks he had moved in he would hear a knock on the door. He would answer the door and various little boys would be there inquiring if there were new kids they could play with. He would say sorry, he wasn't married and didn't have any kids. He told us this had happened about 5 or 6 times. He had even told the last two inquirers to spread the news that he was a single guy with no family.

He had had a rough day at school, as all of us that have been first year teachers have experienced. The door bell rang once again and he, in an exasperated state, went down to deliver his canned speech about not being married, not having kids, etc.

He said he opened the door quickly, probably too quickly. The little boy, no more than 7 or 8 stood there as Brian went into his spiel. The little boy listened to Brian and told him that he knew that he wasn't married and that he didn't have any kids.

The little boy just said, "I don't have a Dad around, will you play catch with me'? Brian said that all the days challenges went out the window, all the worries about finances, everything was then put in its perspective. He didn't even change out of his school clothes he played catch.

Brian also told us that it is almost daily occurance now on non-game days. A group of three to four boys, all without Dads around will play catch with a football or a baseball.

You know the ball has nothing to do with it. Boys would die without their Moms but they just need to be around adult males too. To hear their voice, see their smiles and to look into their eyes.

I was struck by that little boy's need and courage as I heard this story. I think it took a lot of guts for that little dude to lay it out there like that. I thank God that Brian was the guy that opened the door and not some guy that would just dismiss and shut the door on that kid.

The story concluded. I made some wiseass comment on how Brian really knew how to start the day off right. We laughed uneasily and got up to start our days. I got up next to Mike, our no nonsense barrio raised head basketball coach. He stared down at his hand out and I noticed a single solitary tear working its way down his face.

All of us guys are still the kid at the door in so many ways.

Monday, January 28, 2008


I think everyone is a mixture of things. Experiences, preferences, what have you! Just like one of my favorite movies if you allow me to be simplistic, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Cue that music please. My 4 year old loves that theme song. God, I’ve warped him already….

One of the things I’ve discovered about the blogging experience is it has made me more of a reflection oriented person. Once I write it, I go back to it and wonder what I was thinking and how effective I was at conveying at those thoughts.

As I looked over my earlier posts I was wondering if my reporting was fair and unbiased. LOL. Am I only presenting one side of the coin? This concerned me. Allow me to share some stepping stones that brought me to the mostly decent, compassionate person that I am. Most of the time. The thing about us as people is that we can rewind rapidly. This can be nice and it can be nasty.

As I mentioned earlier I grew up in close proximity to the coast. I loved the beach life style and it really formed my identity as a young guy. As a high school guy and directly after, I grew up in tempestuous times. It was an era that supplanted the peace and brotherhood eras of the 60’s and 70’s. I dwelled in surf turf wars. I was a willing combatant. A misguided sense of local pride and protection did not evolve me as a young person.

The battles were quaint really when viewed in the modern eras tales of drive-bys and senseless drug fueled mayhem. But to minimize them would be negating the negative impact of my actions.

My part of coastal California from Rincon to Jalama was at war with the surfers of Los Angeles County. We had a truce with most of Ventura County. We were allies of surfers in San Diego County. We hated surfers from Los Angeles with an unabridged contempt. We didn’t go down there and they were not expected to interject themselves into our home turf.

But how could we tell? A guy with a wetsuit and surfboard is pretty non descript you would think. Ahhh not so. Like gang colors of these times, we had our colors. Our turf never rode anything but clear, neutral colored surfboards. Any splash of color was verboten and not going with the program. Wetsuits were also basic in nature, you only wore a black wetsuit. In our ignorance, the world truly was black and white.

So with this differentiation established, interlopers stuck out like sore thumbs. Initially they would get a dose a “stink eye”. If this wasn’t effective, loud curses exhorting the visitor to split were given laced with vile obscenities. If this wasn’t met with compliance, it was time for direct action.

My style as a juvenile was ruthless. I was a mess. I had buried a lot of anger just below the surface and my fuse wasn’t short, it was microscopic. I had no reluctance to take things into my own hands to represent my coastal tribe. It was an expectation the older, more seasoned guys had of us.

If the situation got nasty in the water I would call the guy off to haul his ass onto the beach. Size is deceptive sitting or paddling on a surfboard in the surfline. When I strode out of the water and onto the beach I was formidable. 6-5 and 210 lbs of misguided malevolent, issue drenched male. I liked the sensation of beating someone’s ass. I didn’t even mind getting my face punched. Somehow it was reaffirming in some twisted fashion.

I did not lose. There was too much riding on it and too many eyes watching. The vanquished would split and despite my condition I would be a celebrity of some sort.
I liked the notoriety and the false sense of camaraderie. It was good to belong.

Rincon - Queen of the Coast

One time changed that. It happened as it always did. A hassle, bad vibes and the inevitable call out to the beach. As my next encounter got to the shoreline and I laid my board down and gave the familiar gesture of my arms spread wide in an invitation of here I am pal. We engaged and I was hitting my stride. I had delivered a series of quick blows to his face with the expected results. He was on both knees struggling. This really made me want to conclude the issue and send him packing. As I was gathering up reserve energies, I heard a shriek that stopped me cold.

This enemy, this villian, this non person had someone who was terrified at what was occurring. It was a young woman no more than 20 or 22 years old. She was clutching a little girl close to her and watching someone they both loved get hurt. I, to my dying day, will not forget the look on both of their faces. I stopped what I was doing cold. I picked up my board and stood by my moments ago victim. I didn’t say anything I just looked at him. It was like I was looking at myself. I was lashing out for no good reason at all. He slowly rose and I just said, “Dude, I’m sorry.” He justifiably said, “Fuck you asshole”, and left with the two people I mentioned earlier. I watched them walk unmolested the whole way up into the parking lot.

I walked over to where the hightide line was. I set my board down and started to cry. People mostly left me alone. A couple of the older guys came by to talk to me and I told them to leave me alone. I sat there for about three hours until the sun went down and dusk descended on the beach. I was hoping that the dusk would provide some sense of cover, but it did not.

That’s the last time I fought over surfing. I started crying again as I drove the 25 miles north up the coast. People looked at me like I was tripping. Just another drug addled surf bum. My dad joked about another hard day at the office, I didn’t smile I just nodded.

The next day I spoke to this about to the owner of the surf shop I worked at. He looked at me and shut the door to the store. He put the closed sign out and invited me back into the shaping room. He told me about the spirit of Aloha and how it isn’t what you have in life it is what you share. He was half-Hawaiian and pure surfer. He knew of the old days when sharing was the norm. I started misting up again and he said something to me that I have tried to hang on to since then, “There is a way to be good again.” I instantly grasped what he was saying and more importantly what he was feeling.

From that time I tried my best to be an ambassador of aloha in the water. I would share waves and not get down on people. If someone lost their board on a wave, I would take it back out with me. The perplexed looks would often be followed by some great smiles. It was a good deal.

I’m pretty sure that this event compelled me to choose the career I have followed and loved. Some inner sense of required atonement. The knowledge that I can revert to some less evolved person if I don’t maintain vigilance truly frightens me. I hate that person as I look back on him. He seems foreign and monsterous but he, in his blind fury, did help me on my way. I remind myself of the journey we all take in life.

Aloha ………...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I can be such a prick you know.....

I love this song...... I've been there not for along time but its a legacy nontheless

"When I Come Around"
I heard you crying loud,all the way across townYou've been searching for that someone,and it's me out on the prowlAs you sit around feeling sorry for yourselfWell, don't get lonely nowAnd dry your whining eyesI'm just roaming for the momentSleazin' my back yard so don't get so uptightyou been thinking about ditching meNo time to search the world aroundCause you know where I'll be foundWhen I come aroundI heard it all beforeSo don't knock down my doorI'm a loser and a user so I don't need no accuserto try and slag me down because I know you're rightSo go do what you likeMake sure you do it wiseYou may find out that your self-doubt means nothingwas ever thereYou can't go forcing something if it's justnot rightNo time to search the world aroundCause you know where I'll be foundWhen I come aroundWhen I come aroundNo time to search the world aroundCause you know where I'll be foundWhen I come aroundWhen I come aroundWhen I come aroundWhen I come around



For some reason I remember my old Social Studies teacher from Dos Pueblos High School and his closing remarks when, as seniors, our high school days were drawing to a close. "Ladies and Gentlemen", he said, ""the only thing constant in your lives will be change." Now I liked Mr. Bates, he was one of "cool" teachers. As he told us this I couldn't help think that he was overstating the obvious. My friends and other classmates had a look on their faces that he was utterly deranged.
Of course Mr. Bates knew what was up. Change was inevitable, irreversable and usually pretty cool. Those that held a deathgrip on things trying to stop change were akin to a person trying to stave off the incoming ocean tide to protect a constructed sand castle. Frenetic and foolish, a figure provoking embarrassment or sadness.
My journey on SL is no different. I've dealt with a lot of change lately. Most has not brought out the best in me. I think I am rounding that corner on that self-realization that in me dwells a thing, an aspect that wants its pound of flesh, its payback is going to be a bitch mind-set. This too is changing.
If a choice is made and you feel you do not benefit look at that feeling and those words. Should we really look to benefit from our associations. We aren't commodities or possessions we are people. This is true in SL and RL. If I have learned one lesson in this platform called life it is what my mom always told me: things happen for the best. She was right. There is no definitive timeline where you flip through a schedule and go,"hmmm, yes as I thought, clarity is scheduled for 10:45 tomorrow evening!"
I do not have the faintest idea who will read this blog if anyone. It's not the point of writing one. But I need to tell you this: Kimala and Crighton are nice people. Quit being assholes to them and think you are rallying on my behalf. The sentiment is misguided. It serves no goddamn purpose whatsoever, only to hurt someone who I care about with my heart and soul. I'm telling you this from all the love I can muster in myself when you hurt them you are hurting me.
If you take the trouble to shoot me an IM I can tell you how I'm feeling, how I've missed and how much I need you to be my friend. Being silent and just plain nasty hurts me more than any hurt I've experienced in SL.
I have a pick in my profile called better days. Look at it and know in your heart that that's were this is all going. I really want to hang with you there.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ho Hum......Another friday

high school has been evacuated after a bomb threat was made early Friday morning.
Police have brought in bomb-sniffing dogs and are going from classroom to classroom looking for anything suspicious.
Police say the initial call was made by a man Friday morning claiming that a bomb was going to go off in 30 minutes.
Students continue to be clear of the school while police investigate.
3TV will update this report with the latest as it comes in.

This bit of stupidity resulted in 90 faculty members being outside with 2100 students next to the Agricultural Lab for 2 hours. Custer's last stand anyone?

Actually the kids were incredibly cool taking care of us as much as took care of them. Students stopped by that I don't have in class this semester to ask how the holidays were and how my kids are. I let my students in my life with boundaries. They know my family. I make it a point to show them the pictures of my lovely family. Oh btw, I make sure to tell my wife that she is still a hit with the high school boys :).

Several circles filled with dancers and rappers erupted. It was pretty cool. They are incredibly creative when they let their guards down. I guess that is true of everyone! All in all it wasn't that bad of an experience. Food would have been nice....

Friday, January 25, 2008


Plugging Holes

I can’t take credit for this line of thought. It just struck a chord in me.
This is something that I see being replayed over and over in our culture that is obsessed with the cult of celebrity. We all need to find other ways to fill empty spaces.

Basic equation: you get the money, you get the drugs, and you die

Is it just me? Is being a dinged individual a prerequisite to being a celebrity? God knows we all have our strengths and our challenges. That is what makes us uniquely human. But what does it say about a culture as reflected in its media topic du juer?

Our culture has a voyeuristic compulsion to not only slow the vehicle down but slow down in hopes of another accident occurring to further enhance out titillation.

I’m know I'm no different than others. I freely admit to my own consternation. I’ve made jokes at the expense of none other than our favorite whipping girl, Brittany Spears. Recent events have forced me to look at this behavior in myself and I am less than pleased.

She is a person when the veneer of celeb status is stripped away. Her children take comfort when she holds them near. I’m sure that they just see her as Mom, not an ET special report.

I hope in my heart that she and her children escape the octopus of fame. I think they all deserve better than that. I even have hopes that this society we all inhabit will decide that decency is more substantive than corporate media manipulated force fed crap.

Good Luck Brittany. I’m pulling for you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thanks man....

I got an interesting job, I admit that freely J

Not a typical day but not atypical either…..

I work with teenagers. Let me demystify something for you if you are interested. If you’re not, see ya LOL

They are people. They are closer to childhood than full blown adulthood. They hurt. They have great senses of humor. They have an incredible capacity to love. They also are capable of unimaginable cruelty. If you are real to them, the love always shines through.

Two examples that stick in my mind from recent days:

Young lady. Major vision issues. Has to have any written material read to her. She and I were talking about the impending Winter Formal. Now it is my understanding that this is a situation in a young female’s life that is fraught with tension and anxiety. I know I’m outside looking in on this one. This young lady is telling me about her date, their plans for dinner, and her dress. I’m in my good listener mode and saying everything I should. At least I think I am. She tells me she is going to get her hair done that afternoon before her date picks her up. She’s quiet for awhile and states: “I just hope my date thinks I’m pretty.” Before I can offer any reassurances to that viewpoint she says, “Mr. ********* I’m so blind, I always look good to myself.” Great way to start a week!!

Second eye opener for some. Big kid. Young, proud African-American male. Kid has mad skills in football. Division I schools are in contact. This kid and I have connected and for that I am grateful. Grateful for my life and my career. Anyway….

Kid knows I got a scholarship back in the day. I want to work with him to define what his expectations are. I want him to think about the end of this year. Not playing ball in college, not a lot of what if’s….. I ask him what the most important thing about the end of this year. No brainer, it’s graduating from high school. We are rolling till he gets still and introspective.

He quickly looks around to make sure nobody is within earshot. Tells me he hasn’t seen his dad since his parents split up when he was 10. Sometimes it helps just to shut up and not fill blanks. A minute or two passes. He says to me, “Do you think my Dad still loves me?” I don’t think of a measured response, I just open my mouth and hope something good happens. “Something about being dad you will understand someday I hope, you never stop loving your child. It starts when you first look into their eyes and feel their touch in your hands. It’s irresistible, like a force of nature.”

He nods his head and some friends enter the room. He is back in a world that holds more comfort and surety. “Catch you later Mr. F”, he says as he exits the room with his buddies.

The day progresses as all do. I am tugged in many directions. I worry about things, relay information, and pretend I’m listening when I’m in the empty box.

I leave school to attend my oldest’s afterschool conference at his school. No worries the kid is rock solid. Whew! As I get closer to my car in the parking lot I notice a ripped piece of notebook paper stuck under my windshield wiper. It’s folded three times. I unfold it and it says in a beautiful two sentence note: Thanks man….

A Today thing to start the week

Even if it is a short week for me I got plans ;).....

Just for today…..

I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will look as good as I can, dress nicely, speak softly, act courteously, and not interrupt when someone else is talking.

I will be more in tune with my selfish interests and tell them that they have the day off until further notice.

I will have a plan. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it, thereby saving myself from my inner archenemies: hurry and jumping to conclusions.

I will adjust myself to what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things that I can correct and accept those I cannot.

I will gather the courage to do what is right and take responsibility for my own actions.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Gift

man, this is an old one.... I wrote this back during a simpler time


During my senior year Ron, Gordon and I worked at Gaviota Chevron, which was twenty miles up the coast and far enough away to keep anyone but friends from dropping by. It was a time in our lives for laughs, loud music and not dwelling on the future. The number one important thing in our collective lives was surfing because it was our time to be young and charge hard. Working at Gaviota Chevron was perfect. It was the graveyard shift and it was working with friends.

It was on the main coastal highway that connected Los Angeles to San Francisco. It never got that busy; it seems that people respected the velvet embrace of night then.

One of the few "regular faces" we saw was Kemp Aaberg. He and his brother Dewey were beach royalty back in the day. It was a time when people surfed the love of it. Within them dwelled pure stoke. Surfing wasn't the money machine yet, the Beach Boys had barely written songs about it.

Time had progressed and had left Kemp outside looking in. The Aaberg brothers were indelibly connected with some fabled surfing spots throughout Central and Southern California coastline. They rode these breaks and helped put them on the map.

Occasionally, when the wind would howl down the mesquite covered canyons to the sea, Kemp would appear out of nowhere, looking like hell. He lived in a abandoned shepard's shack that no one seemed to care much about. Kemp would show up to talk to us "grems" because he felt bad for us because we would never experience the old days of uncrowded surf and camaraderie.

He seemed part of the scenery of the place. hardly a week would go by without Kemp making an appearance. Ron, Gordy and I started bringing him cans of soup from our mothers' pantries and asking if any old blankets or clothing could be spared. Mostly our moms would say absent mindedly, "that's nice", or warn us sternly to be careful.

Kemp came to trust us not to ask him why he lived apart from mainstream society, and we feigned disinterest. Kemp was a treasure trove of stories that beat the hell out of listening to the same song for the fourth time ion two hours. Kemp was a look back into what made us the people we were then. One hundred percent dedication to surfing and a celebration of being in the right spot at the right time! Kemp was the ultimate rarity: the surfer who well into his 40's , who hadn't moved inland and stopped surfing. He was what Ron, Gordy and I would never be.

An old friend returns

Last night was fantastic! A superb meal? No. A romantic evening evening away from the kids with my lovely wife? Sounds good, but no.

I slept! I did not wake and wander. I did not fixate on what is out of my control. I laid snuggled under the covers and let the hours wash over me rather than my brain playing cat's cradle with everything under the sun.

The thing about sleep is that I have become conditioned to function at an acceptable level ever since the birth of our oldest son. Maybe its a parent thing, I do not know. This was really accelerated when our second son was born with moderate to severe asthma. We could go on a 3 to 5 day tear of hourly breathing treatments and that doesn't do much for your sleep cycle.

Thankfully, those days are past and our son is remarkably strong and vital. If you heard him belting out some weird collection of noises you would never guess. Damn that kid has a loud voice. Oh btw, it runs in the family;)

But I digress, I might be at the point where I think I don't need as much sleep as I do but the body goes think again. I get plenty of exercise so that helps. I think I need to cultivate a relationship with sleep. We need to date for awhile and then I need to state my intentions for a long term relationship. If its mutually agreeable we might even sleep together. We'll see.......

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Take II

You know revising and editing are crucial parts of the writing process. You didn't? Well, they are! LOL I thought I would start a blog because: 1). I've been meaning to do it for 2 years and 2). I'd love to share some of my writings with you. You see before life's rich pageant included being married, to a wonderful woman who has enriched my life immeasurably and 4 subsequent little ones, I used to write and take writing classes. It's something that my wife and I did prior to taking on other roles. Life is about priorities mine being my marriage and my kids.

I really feel it is time to once again make some forays into writing. God it is so therapeutic!

I plan on writing about a variety of subjects ranging from whatever to more traditional story formats. I really would appreciate your feedback. Don't worry about offending me cause I have no idea who you are:).

First of touch of my background which I'm sure will leak into my writing. I don't know how it couldn't! i grew up in Southern California in very close proximity to the beach. All the stuff that goes with the beach lifestyle was part of my upbringing. Yes I surfed and yes I loved it. Growing up was growing up relative to any other place across this land of ours. I watched friends stay and friends go. People died and people were born. I fell in and out of love. I thought I had all answers and later realized that I had no fucking clue. LOL Such is life.....

I would have to say the cornerstones of my life were initially surfing and baseball. I was passionate about both and used both as a personal refuge from unsavory elements in my life. It worked! Baseball was very good to me and I snagged a free college education thanks to playing on a buttload of teams in a buttload of leagues when it was available. As i think back on it, it harkens me back to a bit of dialogue found in Bull Durham when one character relates about the distance that has grown between father and son. But no matter which direction each individual went, they could always connect when talking about baseball. God Damn touching in my opinion. Hell, I'm way past playing catch with my dad in the backyard that i grew up in. But you know what? When I still talk baseball with my dad there is still a part of me holding my dad's hand as we go into Dodger Stadium and I'm 6 years old again. My dad isn't all gray, his hair is jet black and my hand fits so perfectly in his palm. He leans slowly down and says into my ear, "I've always dreamed of taking my son to a ballgame." Hope you enjoy my blog....