May 25th, 2006

Ana's Sea Nymph

Surfing in Maui

Hi Everybody, How happy are we that Taylor won American Idol? I think this is a hopeful, sweet, happy thing. I know I'm celebrating even if a certain massively egotistical music producer, who shall remain nameless, was scowling when the camera panned over to a shot of him as the results were announced. I've been rooting for Taylor since the beginning, and even though I didn't think he had the best voice out of the whole group, (I think Mandissa and Elliot did,) I thought he loved music the most, and had the sweetest soul, so I'm pretty happy with this outcome.

I haven't had any new news about Mom. We're going to go see an oncologist who specializes in ovarian cancer on the first, until then, we're on hold. She doesn't want to know, so she's blissfully ignorant, while I'm crawling the walls, trying to remain hopeful and full of faith.

Beau is finally going to have his birthday party this Friday and I bought so much stuff at Smart and Final today that I threw out my back.

Cat-wise we have two kitties who are in need of positive thoughts and prayers; Curly Girl and Rook. Curly Girl has been hanging on for us for a year now, I really thought she was going to die last summer while we were at Burning Man. But she's sitting beside me now while I type, looking bony fragile, and I'm grateful for the extra time we've been given with her. Rook may be succumbing to same organ destroying protein accumulating disease that his father, my beloved cross eyed Sparkle and his wonderful brother Twinkle died of. I'm trying to keep their weight up by enticing them with extra treats of turkey and baby food and so far this has been working. Help?

Here's another one of my Maui vacation entries;

Okay, look quickly before I chicken out and take it down.

I had such a good day today. SUCH A GOOD DAY! I went surfing for the first time in my entire life. I was scared to death. I was exhausted before I even hit the water, exhausted from hauling the board out to the beach, standing on it, bending my knees, pretend paddling, and popping up and down. I tried to back out more times than I can remember. I never stood up, and I wiped out four times, tumbled around in a complete circle while hanging on to my board like I'd been told, and I had a blast!

I'm going to rate this right up there with some of the best experiences I've ever had. And there was this one perfect moment. This moment where the wave lifted me up and pushed me forward with such force; I was hanging on, knowing that my knees were too weary and messed up to lift me up, I just didn't have the strength to stand, and that was good enough, I was just going to ride this wave as if I was Boogie boarding or body surfing, (the only difference being that I was farther out, the waves were bigger and more powerful, and I was holding on to a big hard surfboard), and it was so much fun, the speed, the energy of the wave itself, the joy, the thrill, the exhilaration of it, and then I looked up and saw the most beautiful scene; right in front of me, above the beach, above the palm trees, there was a perfect rainbow framed by two green mountain peaks. I was so moved that I forgot I was surfing. I lost control, my board turned sideways to the wave, and I wiped out. And so what? I had a blast!

I have this wonderful man to thank for this, our instructor who wouldn't give up on me, wouldn't let me back out, and who told me that as long as I got out there and rode one wave, whether I stood up or not, I will have been surfing. I was so scared, but I know that whenever I push off from the edge of whatever feels safe, I grow.

Beau had been wanting to try surfing for a while, this was the trip we were going to make sure he got out there and did it, but the weather's been so unpredictable, and storms make the waves too big for baby wannabe surfers. When I woke up this morning, the rain had stopped, the sun was out, and the birds were having such a good time singing away outside our lanai, they were so loud, that it seemed as if they were shouting at us. I thought I should grab this chance while I could so I went to the front desk and scheduled a surfing lesson for Beau with our wonderful concierge. I had no intention of taking a lesson myself, even though I've always admired surfers and loved watching them ride the waves. I'm too old. I'm too fat. I have messed up knees that are full of broken cartilage. I am completely out of shape. So I signed up.

I kept telling myself that I could back out at any moment, that I didn't have to go through with it, but why not try since I've always loved it so much? Our school was in Lahaina, the Royal Lahaina Surfing School, and I have to say that the guys there were the complete opposite of anything I had feared they might be.

Here in California, and maybe in other places, there really is this scary, competitive, me first, my wave, competitive mentality when it comes to surfing. People will beat the shit out of other people for daring to surf in their spot, and certain beaches are so dear that chain link fences have been put up, padlocks put on, and only certain senior surfers have the right to carry the keys. I know this because I've had a couple of friends who had them.

So, it was a complete surprise to me that the guys at this school were so kind and welcoming. They didn't care if we were young or old, fat or thin, experienced or inexperienced, they were just glad that we were there, because they love surfing, LOVE it, and it was clear from the moment we walked in the door that they wanted to share this with us. I know that attracting tourists is how they make their living, tourism is very big business over here, and a business is only as good as it's reputation, but these guys went way beyond what they would have had to do to make people happy. For most of the people there this was a one shot deal, and they were probably never going to see any of us again, but they took the time to memorize all of our names, and still remembered them the next day when we came back to pick up something we'd left behind. For someone who has become used to hostile salespeople who don't want to interrupt their personal cell phone calls to answer a question, or customer service operations based in Delhi, this was amazing.

Our teachers name was Sharky and he was in charge of our small group. There were just four of us, two extremely well mannered teenage boys who were there to brush up on their basic surfing skills to impress a couple of girls who had asked them to go surfing with them tomorrow, Beau and me.

We walked a ways along the waterfront to this spot where the various surfing schools take out their baby surfers. I think they picked this spot because the waves are pretty small and there's a long rock covered pier that juts out along one side where friends and family can stand and watch. The rock covered pier is scary because it makes the small area where you can surf kind of narrow and it looks as if you could get hurt pretty badly if you veer off to the right and end up getting washed up against these boulders. I felt bad about walking or standing in the water because the ocean floor was covered with rocks and coral, coral that must be long dead by now, but I'm super careful when it comes to coral, careful more for the sake of the coral than for myself, and even though our feet were covered by reef shoes, it just felt wrong to be standing on it.

After Sharky talked to us for a long while about the sport of surfing; "In ancient times only royals were allowed to surf, only men were allowed to surf, and they surfed naked, we are very lucky to be here doing this", "Surfing means to ride the wave, so even if you can't stand up you've surfed", "The energy of one wave has traveled hundreds of miles to reach you and if you miss it, you've missed the gold", "Never turn your back on the ocean," he had us practice on our boards. We were all tired by the time he let us take them in the water. We practiced paddling back and forth for a while and then we paddled out to the break. There were a lot of people out there, teachers, students, surfers having fun. We waited our turn by a buoy and then he'd call us in one at a time and coach us.

Beau went before I did. He was great and so brave. I love how he's gotten to the point now where he'll jump in and try things when for so long he was too afraid to. He got up to his knees and tried to stand and we all cheered for him. It took him a couple of tries but on his third try he was finally able to stand and it was so exciting, everyone cheered. They nice guys who were in our group were both pretty good. They had well defined chest, shoulders, and upper arms. I began to notice that anyone out there who was any good had good upper body strength, probably from all the paddling.

I got to go out and ride back in about four or five times, I think, and just from doing this, my arms were shaking so badly I could hardly hold my torso up off the board in order to paddle back out over the waves. It was hard, but it was so much fun. Finally I was so exhausted I honestly didn't think I'd be able to paddle back to shore so I swam back to the buoy and spent the rest of the time watching. I had a lot of fun just sitting on my board, straddling it, rising and falling with the small waves while I watched and cheered for Beau, and everyone else who paddled out farther to catch the bigger waves.

When I was done I was so proud of myself for being able to walk myself through all of the fear and do this seemingly simple thing that was so incredibly rewarding. I get it now, I so get it, surfing is amazing, and so addictive. If I were younger, if I were in better shape, I could see myself dedicating a big chunk of my life to learning this beautiful, spiritual, natural sport. But for now I'm so happy to have tried it, and if I get in better shape, and have the opportunity to try it again, I definitely will. I want to be able to stand, but I may need knee surgery first, oh well.

When I was a child my Mom would take me to our Beach Club on weekends, during the summer, and on holidays. One of the things that I loved to do was go down to the beach and ride the waves on these canvas and rubber rafts that everyone had back then. This was before Boogie boards. These rafts were a lot like inflatable air mattresses, with channels that were filled with air and ran from end to end. They came in simple solid colors, and I think I remember having one that was a dark blue with yellow underneath. There was often a rope tied to them and we could hold on to the edges of the rope while we rode the waves. The best way to ride these was to place the raft perpendicular to the waves and center yourself in the middle of them. Then we would wait for a good wave and ride it in. We would yell and whoop and get tumbled up in the surf. Our bathing suits would completely fill up with sand and the insides of our thighs would chafe, but it was so much fun. I also learned to body surf and got good at it, but neither of these things, as fun as they are, can compare with surfing.

When I use my body physically, which I obviously don't do often enough, I feel so good. I know this intellectually, but when you're in pain a lot, and you're sleep deprived, it's hard to get, intuitively, that expending physical energy will increase your available energy, as opposed to depleting it. What I want to remember about today, about any of these days that I spend here outside in the sun, walking, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, trying to surf, or just moving my body, is that afterwards, and sometimes during, I am so excited, so happy, that I find myself smiling for no apparent reason, which tells me that my brain is flooding my body with endorphins, rewarding me for work well done. And I really like this feeling. I like smiling for no apparent reason, smiling so much it hurts.

Driving back to our hotel I noticed how happy everything made me, how much I loved everyone. Someone was nice enough to let me cut in to the super congested traffic that didn't used to be here, and just because this stranger was nice to me, and shot me the shaka sign, I was singing and smiling for about an hour. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to be happy when the sun is shining, there are flowers everywhere, and all you have to do is swim and lay around.

Not everyone was as nice to us today as the surfing instructors were. There's a Birkenstock store near Lahaina that I always like to visit when we come here. It's next to the music store where I bought my beloved Kamaka ukulele. The last few times we've been here I've bought sandals from this same store and I enjoy the continuity of it. I like to be a loyal customer, like bonding with people and coming back to spend money with the same people year after year. The last sandals I bought from them were my favorites. They were a kind of bronze color and they went with everything. I liked them so much I pretty much wore them every day for more than a year.

I haven't been out in the sun as much as I normally am, or when I am out in the sun, it hasn't been as sunny, and I want to be tanner before Scott gets here, so I decided to go back to town to get a Mystic Tan and some sandals. I went to the tanning store, made an appointment, and then went next door to the sandal store. I was hoping the nice owner and his daughter would be there, the people I had met last time, but instead there was this bizarre, crusty, bitter man, who has no business working with people. I think h should just find himself a shell, put on some pinchers, and hide out among some rocks somewhere, that's how lacking in people skills this guy is.

He ignored me for the first few minutes that I was in the store, which was fine because I knew what I wanted; some bronze, gold, silver, or tropical patterned Birkenstock sandals, unusual ones that I can't get at home. After acting disgruntled and put out by my being there for a while, he gruffly asked me if I was going to buy something or was just going to waste his time. I was so shocked I thought he must have been kidding. They really didn't have anything that I wanted, but I was determined to buy at least one pair there, so I pointed out several pairs of sandals that were marginally acceptable. They didn't have any of them in my size, so I looked around some more, trying to find anything else that might work.

The man seemed irritated as if it was my fault that they didn't have anything in my size. He asked me what I was looking for. I told him. He told me that what I wanted wasn't in style or they would have it. He crowed about how great their store is, how they have the largest stock of Birkenstocks anywhere in the Unites States, and that if it were worth buying it would be there. I told him that metallics were very much in style and that Heidi Klum had just teamed up with Birkenstock to make an entire line of evening Birks in silver and gold with rhinestone covered buckles. He told me I was wrong, that they couldn't be Birkenstocks or he'd have them. I told him to look them up on eBay. He asked me if I was just going to talk or buy. Can you imagine? I mean this guy is the only person working at this store that specializes in Birkenstocks, that's all they carry, and he doesn't even know what's out there. There are even Jerry Garcia Birkenstocks now. I sure didn't see any of them there though. I guess they aren't in style or don't exist, sigh.

It went on like this for a while, with my trying to be nice, and his being rude, until I finally got that I didn't need to keep trying to find a pair of shoes to buy, in this particular store, from this mean man who was ruining what had otherwise been one of the happiest days I could remember having in years. The sad thing is that he knew about the fire spinning and drum circle at Little Beach, which means he's a member of our tribe, the fun and fringy alternative people who like to take their clothes off and run around together in the desert tribe. Oh well, you can't win them all. Just because we're in Hawaii and I like to idealize, romanticize, and possibly exoticize everything doesn't mean there aren't real people having real hard lives here.

We're going to go out soon for dinner with Mom. She loves to go out to dinner, and I like to make her happy, so even though Beau and I could really care less about having to hassle with making reservations, dressing up, and sitting through a semiformal, super expensive meal, where there is usually very little that we can eat, we do it for Mom so we can all be together and she can enjoy herself. The funny thing is that she looks forward all day to going out at night, then when we go out, she complains about every little thing, gets tired, and rushes us home before we can even finish our tea. Oh well, I'm happy to be with her, and so grateful that she's brought us here again. God, I love it here. Do you think I can find some way to stay here forever?

Woohoo, here's my "little" boy. Can you believe this is the same little boy I used to write about? He's gone from nine years old to sixteen in the years that I've been writing on Live Journal. Amazing isn't it?

Breastfeeding Icon Ban On Live Journal Continues

So here is the response letter from Six Apart. It's a good start, but doesn't mean much while women are still being targeted for their breastfeeding user icons. A whole new batch of suspension letters were sent out today. If they are really and truly willing to try to work this out, if they are asking us to hang in there with them and halt any kind of media campaign, then I believe they should extend the same grace to the women whose user icons are in question. And again, all of this is just a great, big, stupid, collosal, and offensive waste of everyone's time, because while some people, certainly not me, may find nudity offensive, breastfeeding is exempt from all of these indeceny laws pretty much everywhere except here on Live Journal. It should be a non issue but it isn't and I think Live Journal and Six Apart are really the ones who are being caught with their pants down, I think they are clearly the ones who are behaving in a manner that is offensive and indecent.

And please, if you are sick of hearing about this, keep it to yourself, because this matters to me. It should matter to anyone who cares about women and children. This is important. Live Journal is my home away from home and things that happen here reflect things that are happening in the outside world. If there is censorship of breastfeeding women here, this is a reflection of censorship and prejudice elsewhere, and we as a community are taking a great big giant stride backwards, and I for one believe in standing up and fighting back.

It doesn't matter how this started, (with a naked picture of Bea Arthur apparently,) the basic fact is that it did start, and women are being targeted. I hope you understand this, that if these women do not remove images of themselves breastfeeding their children, (images that contain even the barest sliver of areola,) from their default user pics, that suspension of their journals will result in a deletion of everything they have ever written here, they will essentially disappear. This matters people, it really and truly matters.

Here's the letter, it's a nice letter;

"As you are aware, on Friday we sent out a request to a member of this community asking her to remove her default user picture because it was found to be in violation of our standard restrictions for default userpics after being reported by a fellow LJ user.

Enforcing these restrictions is not a fun or enjoyable part of the LJ Abuse staff’s job, but it is important to maintain consistency throughout our service so that everyone (kids, adults, and parents) can know what to expect when they use LJ. We do our best to have as few restrictions as possible. With any restriction we attempt to make sure that we have a clear, objective test.

To use an analogy, this is like a police officer having to enforce speed limits in neighborhoods where kids play. When enforcing these policies, sometimes you end up catching someone who is in fact a very law abiding citizen, but who just happened to be driving over the speed limit.

That being said, we’d like to sincerely apologize for the following:

The lack of sensitivity our procedures appeared to show toward the right for women to breastfeed their children.
The confusion and perception that LiveJournal and/or Six Apart is against mothers who choose to breastfeed their children.
The impression that we simply were not willing to listen, when in fact we are.
The lack of clarity on the policies, which was possibly made worse when we updated our FAQ on Saturday. We updated the FAQ to clarify our policy, not to change it in response to this specific situation.

Simply stated:

LiveJournal is in no way against breastfeeding or breastfeeding mothers. We salute your dedication to raising happy, healthy children.In the process of enforcing our policy, we are not saying in any way that userpics showing breastfeeding are wrong or inappropriate.We appreciate your voices and your use of our service.At present, we have agreed to review both our policies and our enforcement procedures to ensure that we are acting both consistently and fairly. Along with this, we want to add appropriate detail to our online FAQ so that it accurately reflects our policy. I look forward to involving xavi7734 in this process.

By way of background, our Abuse team revisits these policies regularly to make sure they're the right solution for our users and for the company, and we'll be looking for ways that we can better address grey areas (like userpics supporting breastfeeding). We've always believed firmly in free expression, and we think that our policy of being strict about what's allowed in default user icons but lenient about what's allowed in non-default icons is a good balance between two very different points of view. We'll be working in the upcoming weeks and months to make absolutely certain that we have the right policy and the right way to handle issues.

Finally, we very much appreciate your support of LJ and the value that your community and those like yours bring. As I have conveyed toxavi7734, it’s because of users like yourselves that LJ exists, and we want to continue to run a service that enables you to create community, connect with others, and express yourselves in a free, safe, and positive manner.

I look forward to reading your feedback to this post as a temporary member of the community.


Father of 4 breast fed children,
Doug Bryan
VP of Business Operations, Six Apart"