A NEW OUTLET

I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a month now. For some reason I haven’t hit publish. And the reason is unknown to me.

Even with all the free time I’ve had on my hands, I still find myself having to choose what to do. You’d surely think I’d have time to do everything I wanted to with this new quarantine lifestyle. But maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? See here’s the thing: they say splitting your focus into too many different lanes is counterproductive. But I would disagree. I think things that are new and fresh are going to require more focus until you hone them to the level of expertise similar to other activities. So since trying new things, I’ve devoted more time to these activities I am far less familiar with. As usual, every morning consists of a surf. Just to get it out of the way. Not that it is a chore, but getting up early and striking before winds and crowds has definitely been my wavelength as of late. Even though it might be one of the things I am most an expert in (don’t take that the wrong way), I still love to give it the time and attention it deserves. Sure, I’ve woken up at 6 for the past xxx mornings, but I’ve fully gotten used to it and even when I don’t surf I still rise fairly early. If it’s a work day, I am preoccupied until around 5 or 6. Those days are a little more boring. I can pick 1 of the things I like to do after work. I have that 2 hour window to do whatever. Then it’s eat around 8 and watch a TV show with my roommates. In bed at 10. The TV show might be looked at as wasted time, but it’s time all of us sit on the couch and shoot the shit. Sometimes we pass on it but most of the time it’s our bonding (aside from our daily sunset bike cruise). So maybe I’ll fish. Or maybe I’ll read.  Maybe I’ll cook up a beat. Maybe I’ll go on a run. Maybe I’ll work out. Maybe I’ll surf. Maybe I’ll write. Do you see where I am going with this?

It seems like I keep writing these posts saying the same thing: writing has taken the backseat. But no longer! I had mentioned in an earlier piece about a side project I have quietly been working on, and I think it’s about time to let it rip. They say you have to fail a ton of times to succeed. And this might be a shot in the dark that amounts to nothing. But the cool aspect of it is that things are cemented on the internet, and I’ll always be able to look back on it and smile. And maybe learn from the mistakes. If you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll never know what the outcome could be. So here’s a quick synopsis on my new site.

Yes, it’s another website. Why? Because why not! I love this site, and it seems like (very few) others do too! Love is a strong word, but just work with me. It’s a snapshot of my professional career and me flexing my writing chops (if I even have any to flex). If you know me, you know I really don’t like things to be about me. If it doesn’t pertain to any but me, I usually don’t talk about it. I try not to gloat or boast. I (typically) am humble and quiet. As it should be. So it only made sense to make something that wasn’t all about me. Enter: Welcome Progress. I grew up glued to some surf media outlets. What Youth, Stab, SURFING (RIP), etc. Things have surely changed as far as paper magazines and how these sites are ran, but I loved reading interviews and pieces penned about things in the surf world I was enamored by. I still read articles off sites like GQ, Pitchfork, Stab, Inherent Bummer, etc. The shift from pure surf media started happening as I grew older and also more found of writing and styles. I am definitely a surf turkey by nature, but at this point in life I like to think I am a lot more. I think just being labeled a surfer got so stale. So let’s spin from that into what Welcome Progress will be about. It’s going to have some elements of surf. That’d go under the realm of “Activity”. There is also Mindset and Everyday. It’ll just be cheeky little pieces that fit into each one of those bins (or the trash bin if it sucks). Opinionated or fabricated pieces, made easily digestible. 

But it’ll be more than just my writing. I will reach out to others and post their shit. I want to talk to some of my friends and get their opinion, because I like to think I have a pretty diverse group of friends. With varying degrees of notoriety, hustle, and intellect. Some I talk to way more than others. Some tell me a lot more than others. But that’s not the point. I only know so much. Other people know a lot more. It would be strange to let other people in on a website that was named after me, so peer work will live here. Just a whole bunch of random shit! I also tried decently hard to make it look good. I think the layout is cool and a more complete site in comparison to my current site. The homepage is a mood board, linked to @welcomeprogress. It will be embedded with art, design, surf, and anything I think is cool or fits the brand. It’s still me at the helm, so you could probably guess the vibe (if you know me). Well, that’s it. Let’s see what happens!! If you are keen to give it a look, click HERE. If you want in on it, text me or reach out on the contact page. Come one come all! There’s not much currently, but if you want give the Instagram a follow and check out the little pieces I wrote under each category. 

 

The Writer’s Block Part 2

If I am struggling on the inspiration side, I invested in a nifty little “book” titled The Writer’s Block. I don’t particularly like leaning on this for a post, but it does offer a new challenge and spices up form my usually writing. So I opened the square up and landed here, and ended up writing the little passage below:

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I WISH EVERYTHING WOULD GO BACK TO NORMAL. I miss meeting new people and changing things up.

I WISH I WOULDN’T GET HUNGOVER. After not drinking much at all during quarantine and finding a night or two to hang with friends, I quickly was reminded of the wrath of hangovers. 

I WISH I COULD TOSS FULL ROTATION AIRS. They say you never get what you really want. I think airs are the coolest shit ever but I am stuck going straight. 

I WISH TATTOOS WERE FREE.They aren’t. They are actually quite expensive. 

I WISH PROBLEMS WOULDN’T EXIST. I am one of the least confrontational people out there. And I think a lot of people should follow suit. 

I WISH I COULD SEE FRIENDS AND FAMILY FROM HOME MORE. New Jersey is just too far and the flight is too expensive. 

I WISH SOME OF MY FRIENDS LIVED CLOSER. I have a lot of close friends in California that live more than an hour away. That kinda sucks. 

I WISH WRITING WAS ALWAYS EASY. Today and recently it just hasn’t been there. I guess that is what gives the satisfaction after writing something good though.

I WISH READING WAS JUST A TINY BIT MORE EXCITING. Some books are far more entertaining than others. But overall, it is just quiet and monotonous. 

I WISH I COULD CATCH A FISH EVERY TIME I WENT FISHING. Lately I’ve been on a streak of not even getting a bite. I guess it’s not called catching for a reason. 

I WISH EVERYONE WOULD TREAT EVERYONE HOW THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. The Golden Rule. It really is as simple as that.

A Year in the Review: 54 Posts Later

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I’ve done a couple of these introspective and reflective pieces since the inception of this site. It might have been on New Years, my birthday, or just a time where I’ve been able to think a lot. With our current situation, everyone has a lot of time to think. And it’s not the worst thing. Sure, sometimes you get lost in a rabbit hole of reminiscing (for both positive and negative events). But overall it’s a great time to work on yourself and really get to know yourself if you are at the proper age to do so (not saying there IS a definite age in which this is attainable, but you’ll know if you are at this point in your life). On with the show.

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I started this site in the first place down and out. Unemployed and looking for jobs, I kept seeing a portfolio of work as an alternative to years of working for a copywriting firm for a lot of writing positions. That was the birth of the site. I added a work history/resume section and the writing section where all the posts would live. I wrote a handful of posts and then found myself at a promising retail position for a company I believed in (Catch Surf). Writing had then taken the backseat. Here are the quick stats: from the birth of the site to my full-time employment at Hurley (OCT18-JAN19) I wrote three posts. I clearly had just forgotten about the site and was just wrapped up enjoying the lack of stress for finally being partially employed to then fully employed. 

As I got more and more accustomed to my position at Hurley, I started taking on writing tasks to help out a coworker in the building. Writing global product copy and email marketing copy meant I was writing a lot during my typical 40 hour work week. I knew the only way to sharpen the pencil was to use a pencil sharpener. So I started writing again. Even though writing copy for NIKE and then blabbing on about going out on the town and surfing are completely different, it’s still writing.

Hell-bent on grinding out work, Sundays would be the day I decided. I would work Mon-Fri at Hurley, Saturdays at Catch Surf, and write on Sundays. But this took a little while to stick. My next post, post-employment, was February 3rd (before that was January 8th) and then radio silence until March 11th. A lot of things most likely stood in the way: laziness, hangovers, travels, good surf, you get the picture by now. 

So on April 10th, 2019, I wrote the excerpt “Return to Form.” Here’s a little blurb from it 

“I will be jotting down words and phrases on Sunday and will try to keep it as consistent as possible. I woke up before the sun came up to pen this peasant piece, sipping a nice cup of joe on my left with a bowl of oats on my right. It feels good to be back.”

Did it feel good to be back to writing? In the moment probably not. If it was a Sunday, there’s a good chance I was nursing a hangover with a coffee or had just gotten back from an AM surf. I hadn’t really found the joy back then in putting pen to paper (in reality fingers to keys). I still sometimes go in and out of it now, with just about everything I like to do. But this was the oath. I was going to write a piece a week. Of course I warned my large audience (lol) there would be no post next week because of Coachella (in the most cringy way possible [No post 4/21- I will be in the desert dancing.] I want to barf). But the roadmap was there: post something every week for a year straight.

There were mishaps. I could have told you that early on Actually just forgetting to write something (mostly due to travel or an event). Not having an idea by Sunday. Surfing all day and then just being so fried that no amount of coffee could get my brain working. That just meant 2 next week. Have no clue what to write about? Find something to draw inspo out of. Sometimes this was a hell of a lot easier than others. I won’t lie, I had some help along the way. Sometimes if a friend suggested a good idea, I ran with it. I even used some old academic papers and recycled them onto this blog. I don’t feel bad about this since if I was ever going to use this portfolio to try and score a gig, I’d want some of my Chapman Writing minor classes present (some I was actually quite proud of upon re-read). But you get the jist at this point. 52 posts in a year span. I actually ended on 54 (bonus points).

In coming full circle, there definitely were a couple of takeaways from this yearlong hajj. Obviously there’s the dedication factor. Too many Sundays I found myself either toasted from a long work week and weekend or just didn’t have the creative juices flowing. But I had to write something! That’s when I started writing when it felt right. From there I got even more lazy and just posted whenever, as long as it was in the right week window, although a handful of times I found myself posting two in one week to make up for a missed week. There’s also the styles I tried to emulate and the topics I tried to cover. While some things flowed smoothly, others were a lot more jarring and required more focus (something most times I lack a ton of). I learned what I like to write about, and how I like to write about it. Hopefully you liked it too! 

Do I think my writing has improved? Of course! You can only get better at something by practicing. Ironically enough, by the time my writing duties had waned off at work, I was more excited and fired up to write that I just kept going as a side project. I spent a little more time working on my weekly posts, drafting them and then editing them. As life always seems to work in weird ways, I find myself full circle again, with a new job title that requires quite a bit of wordsmithing. While this style of writing is far from what I write at work, writing is writing. And I find myself with more creative reigns than ever before. The only way to sharpen the pencil is with the pencil sharpener. My pencil as of late is feeling extra sharp. But now I find myself at a crossroads.

I’ve always wanted a creative platform to express different things. This site has really gone all sorts of angles and directions as far as topic and execution. One week I could be talking about how to cure a hangover and the next I could be personally reflecting on (somewhat) serious topics. From surfing to coffee to recommending music and everywhere in between, it’s a little too scattered for my liking. While I never really wanted to hone in on one single idea or style (since I wanted to flex all areas of my writing), I think now is the time to get it dialed and figure out what’s next. While I don’t see myself completely stopping writing on this platform,  I know it’s not going to be as frequent. And that’s fine. If you’ve kept up, you know probably more about me than I’d like. I tried to let people in but not expose too much. I do like to use this as a place to vent sometimes, but it’s boring when it’s all about me. So moving forward, I am going to take a stab and go and sit on the ledge, looking down at the future. Next post on this site is going to expand upon that.

Lovers Day

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Valentines day. A day to dedicate to your significant other for putting up with your shit. Whether it’s spending too much time with your friends, you bailing on plans because the waves look fun, or just about anything, Valentine’s day is a great way to reset for the year and show your partner how much you love them. It doesn’t need to be a flashy gift or extravagant date (although most probably wish for one or the other, or both). It’s a day to celebrate new love, old love, and love that has been up and down like the waves. 

But Valentines day doesn’t just need to be for those in a committed relationship. Tell the girl you might be talking to happy valentines day, even if you met her a week ago (note: this might be a little much to some, so tread lightly). Say happy valentines day to your parents. Say Happy valentines day to your close friends (more of a girl thing, but fuck it). Say happy valentines day to your dog. Or cat. Or any pet. Post on social media about valentines day and your valentines (so far I’ve seen friends, family, and pets on my feed). Or don’t post, that’s fine too.

Do something you love. Whether that is as easy as going on a bike ride, playing video games, eating junk food, or all of those things at once. Go for a swim in the ocean (for my west coasters, but people in NJ are welcome to take a polar plunge). Read. Write. Draw. Take a nap. Do nothing. Scroll Instagram for an hour. It doesn’t matter to me. Or to the person next to me. If you don’t have anyone to share the day with, share it with yourself. Share it with nature. Share it with someone over the internet. Share it with someone new. Share it with someone old. 

If there’s one thing to do on Valentines day, it is to love. Person, place, thing, it does not matter. Maybe you are some weirdo and you don’t love ANYTHING. If in that case you are, how about you spread and show love. Talk positively. Compliment people you wouldn’t normally. Smile at people when you walk past them. Hold the door open. Buy someone their coffee. Give someone a set wave (unless you really want it, then you are expressing self love and they will get that). The 14th of February is a day mostly associated with love for a single person, but let’s change that. Love everyone. Try it just for one day. Then maybe next year the whole week of Valentines day. Then the month. Then just do it. 

 

How Instagram Ruined Surfing: No more secrets and trying to prove oneself

(This is an old piece from my minor in writing and rhetoric at Chapman University. Since most of my writing is pretty loose on here, I figured it would be cool to post something that had more structure. I wish I could find the prompt, alas I cannot. I also could not find the grade. I do recall it being a rather large chunk of your overall grade.)

Instagram can be used as a news source in a sort of way. I am saying this because very relevant things tend to be posted rather quickly in comparison to on a website. Obviously, news outlets for global events and such is most informational in its website form. However, by way of experience, if you tailor your news feed to a certain genre, you can have very timely news feed pertaining to what is going on in that genre. One example is the amount of different hip-hop Instagram pages. Follow all these pages and you’ll know about all the rap beefs and new songs that come out daily and are posted same day. It’s all about being the first to post, so it’s a race against the competing pages.

This theory of using Instagram as a news outlet can be seen in many different genres, especially surfing. If you were to follow these essential Instagram accounts of the surf world (@stab @Surfline @surfer @theinertia) you could essentially know what is going on all over the world in terms of surf. You would see posts of who won the most recent surf contests, what countries and places are having exceptional swells, and some of the craziest surf clips that would maybe not see the light of day had they not been posted. For the most part, surf media outlets post where the waves have been firing. This is where the problem resides.

This may sound cliché, but secret spots are becoming a lot less secretive since the birth of Instagram and the geotag. Prior to surf forecasting sites and the social media boom, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of spots photographers aren’t allowed in and are held sacred to the people who have kept them secretive for this long. Secret spots would soon start dying out as soon as everyone becomes Instagram crazy.

It would give a sense of a fragmented reality, as we see all these crazy good waves but don’t really know the story behind them. Since the world is so large, multiple different places can have really good waves at once, but the only people that really know the truth are the ones posting it. I know of one friend that when the waves are only O.K. he will post a photo claiming it was from the day but really was from a far better day, stoking people out and making them feel like they might have missed out (FOMO).

As well as a fragmented reality of we never really know if the waves are pumping unless we are there or know of some one in the area, we see a breaching of the private space involved in the sport of surfing. Surfing has always been an activity that in practice is somewhat private and just involves you and the ocean. Besides the people you tend to surf with and a couple people you can recognize by their face, it’s overall what seems to be a private space. However, we see increased posts of waves here and sandbars there that more and more people begin invading the private space. Now, when I surf I expect to have to interact with a stranger, which I don’t mind but sometimes just aren’t in the mood for.

With more people’s spaces being invaded, we see more people who do mind interacting with people they aren’t familiar with. We can refer to these people as “salty loc dogs.” These are older people and even some younger guys who just can’t stand new people surfing their spot. They typically tend to be loud and vocal about their dissatisfaction, and tend to act like they own the place. Here is a comical example featuring the late great Andy Irons being heckled for surfing a spot he wasn’t native to in a skit for a surf movie. (The irony is that usually the people who claim local status aren’t that good of surfers, and telling Andy not to surf a spot would be like telling Kobe you can’t shot on my court.)

Everyone needs to brag about how good of waves they scored. As a surfer, getting a good swell to surf is the ultimate challenge, and when you achieve this it is hard not to let others know. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone’s Instagram story perfect empty waves, and I am guilty of this as well. At first it seemed harmless, until the effects of the app really started changing the lineup.

I have a particular experience with one of the only waves I’ve ever missed from where I grew up (New Jersey). I would surf this wave before school junior and senior year of high school, and the crowd would be minor. Either it was only for good surfers or people who were known by the locals who would surf the wave. It wasn’t uncommon to hear someone getting yelled at along with the words “I’ve never seen you out here in my life.” I always was a little more cautious surfing this spots since I wasn’t born in the area, but was from a town down the road. However, my surfing would do the talking and people would notice I was just trying to surf good waves. Minding your p’s and q’s at a localized spot coupled with respect for older people at the spot can get you in the local crowd pretty quick. It was like a well-oiled machine: only people who were supposed to be there were surfing there. It’s a little selfish, but some waves should be this way, making it a lot less crowded.

I would come back to this spot winter break of my freshmen year, after being in school in SoCal but itching to surf this spot again. I heard from a friend down the grapevine it was doing its thing and made my way up the road. I arrived on the beach to see my favorite surf spot on the east coast going off. One thing was different: it seemed a lot more crowded, and seemed to be increasing in numbers out surfing by the minute. I went to take a snap to send to my 2 friends out in CA that grew up surfing the wave and was greeted with a “HEY NO PHOTOS” by a boogie boarder on the shoreline. I wasn’t too fazed since he was a boogie boarder (I now salute draggers but in my youthful ignorance definitely did not) and went on with my day. I would suit up and by the time I was in the water it was the most crowded I had ever surfed the wave. Probably 20 surfers, 20 boogie boarders, and 10 people bobbing in the water with GoPros. This made my surf session more dodging people in the water rather than actually surfing.

However, secret spots do still exist, again as cliché as that sounds. Check this clip of a wave only 4 people have surfed, and it might just stay that way if people keep their lips shut and put their phones away.

On top of the ruining of certain spots, people can get caught up in posting lots and lots of photos on their profile, even if they are not what they seem. We see the constant “who can do this better” on Instagram, and the surf community is no different. Everyday people are posting photos whether they authentic or not to make the illusion they are always scoring waves or always landing tricks in the photos they post. It can be a separate world, or act as a public diary of someone’s surfing progression. We can see it as “that different place,” where people can show their surfing talents when not actually surfing right in front of you. Instagram is changing the way we view media of the sport in many ways.

Overall, is Instagram going to kill surfing? No. Will it make it more public and “cool?” Yes. Exactly like the Olympics coming up in 2020. We can see popularity rising, but the ocean isn’t getting any bigger so I guess I should surf as much as I can before Huntington beach starts to look like this. (I swear some days it is pretty damn close.)