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Adventure-ing: Surf Lessons, Day 1

A few weeks ago I thought “hey! why don’t I try and see if I can take surf lessons somewhere in the Bay Area?” huh, fancy that… and all this time I had it stuck in my head I couldn’t take surf lessons unless I was in Hawaii or something. And I live a few blocks from Ocean Beach… where there are surfer’s a plenty. What was I thinking? I think when it comes to my life list, I end up putting road blocks between me and some of the scarier or harder goals. I didn’t just make it “take surf lessons”, I created this whole scenario in which the surf lessons would happen – in warm water? on vacation? certainly not here. But I don’t want to just have a list! I want to live an adventurous life! And the list is just an avenue to that life.

A quick google search confirmed there were plenty of companies that gave surf lessons, and look! even one in Pacifica, just a 25 min drive from San Francisco, with reasonable rates, and an opening for the next weekend. Did I jump on it? I did not. I actually… sat on it. And twiddled my thumbs because it turns out that accomplishing big things (actually the FIRST big thing) from my life list is hard… and scary.

Suddenly I was faced with accomplishing something I have wanted to do since I was 12. In junior high I somehow got it stuck in my head that I wanted to go to surf camp. I blame the internet. I begggged my parents to send me to San Diego (I grew up in Seattle). The camp was for a week and was about $3,600. The answer was no. And it was the same answer I got the next year and the next year I asked to go. So now, as a grownup, I was actually capable of doing it. I was going to be taught how to surf. But what if it was really hard? What if I embarrassed myself? What if I didn’t wear the right thing? What if I was in a class full of 5 year olds and the instructors thought I was a total noob (hello, it’s a beginners class, I think that’s a pre-rec) and laughed at me? Surfing is only for cool people! Suddenly, I didn’t want to do it anymore.

But it was on my list. And so simple to complete. The idea of crossing something off eventually won out over my total anxiety-ridden neurosis. So I booked the closest weekend for a TWO day beginner’s surf clinic and the entire week before fretted over it. The whole night before my day 1 of surfing I had bad dreams, and then woke up at 6am and begged Kamel to not make me go. He was way, way, way more excited than I was. He’s an enthusiastic guy. And through his excitement I was coaxed into putting on my bathing suit, eating breakfast, and getting into the car.

And let me tell you… day 1 of surfing was really, really fucking hard. All morning I kept marveling at how similar surfing was to using a netty pot. The water shoots in, every thing else just kind of pours out. Salt water in my ears, my nose, my mouth, again and again and again.

See? Yeah, that’s me… eating it. Thankfully, Kamel was there on the beach with his zoom lens to capture the whole thing. He totally froze his ass off for 3 hours, while I was actually quite warm (via a thick wet suit) in the water.

Learning how to surf, is surprisingly hard work. I had muscles burning in my arms and back after that first day I never knew existed.

But even after all of my many, many wipe outs, I still couldn’t keep a huge goofy-ass grin off my face. Because surfing? Is really fun. Very salty, very tiring, but a total kick in the pants.

And when you stand up? When you finally lug your soaking wet, tired as fuck, body up and onto your board, it’s like I won an Academy Award or something.

This is a picture of the only time I really rode a wave for any substantial amount of time, and instead of paying attention to what I was doing, I took the opportunity to celebrate my victory. Plus, with surfing, I think you look equal parts ridiculous and awesome, so why not work it when you got it? When I got home from day 1 I was also equal parts thrilled to be going back for a second go, and totally worn out to the point of wanting to do nothing but sit, watch netflix and eat Doritos.

The happenings of day two …. tomorrow.


  1. I love, love that you did this! And that last surfboard photo made my whole upper body grin (you know, when you smile so hard that your neck catches and your shoulders raise and you get tummy-wiggles?)

    • That is an amazing description! I am honored to be a part of your body smile! hahaha

  2. Reading this made me so happy. What an inspiration!

    • Thanks Ladies!! Tomorrow things get a little dicier… Still, I’m really glad I did it. :)

  3. That. Is. Awesome. Next time I come to visit, can we go?? That way, you can be the slightly experienced one, and I can be the one that you totally mock!

  4. Aahahahahahah LOVE the arms out wide ass grin!! so proud! so awesome!

  5. Yeah! now we have somebody with balance in the family!

  6. Yay for you! Crossing off a life list goal is a major accomplishment.

    I took surfing lessons once, and I agree, it is hard stuff. You definitely awaken new muscles.

    I would love to do it again some day. For now, I’ll live vicariously through you.

  7. Holy wow! I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf but I am TERRIFIED of the ocean! AHHHH!


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Who the hell is she?


Seattle/Writer/Adventurer/Married to Kamel/Maker of many mistakes/Mom of 1 Gabriel and 1 TBD/Baker of things/Roaster of Vegetables/Maker of videos/Normal life photographer/Romantic/Irreverent/Honest

If you would like to chat with me or see what else I'm up to you can follow me on Twitter (betterinrealife), on facebook, or email me at betterinrealife at gmail.