Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Myth of Sissy Fish

Hello and welcome to Sissy Fish. This is a blog about trying to survive as an artist in the strangest and most beautiful city in America: Portland, Oregon. Having moved town two years ago from Hollywood, California, I recently decided to cut as much bullshit out of my life as possible.With that decision, I vowed to stop snuffing the creative spark inside my heart with career aspirations that kinda sorta sound tolerable because the pay is right. I refuse to keep rolling the rock up the hill only to watch it tumble down again and again. I draw pictures. I paint paintings. I tell stories. And now I surf.


My house in the Northeast part of Portland is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes away from the nearest surf break, a world class left called "The Point." I have never braved the huge waves, VW-size boulders, or predatory locals there. Having only surfed for a year now (not counting a few years of flopping in the foam during the '80s), I am content to cut my teeth at less intimidating spots: Short Sands in Oswald State Park, The Cove at Seaside, Pacific City, Oceanside, and a few other breaks in between. As you can probably guess, I'm not very good. I can trim down the face of a wave in either direction and generate speed by pumping and doing small top and bottom turns to keep me in the pocket. I always prefer to face waves and I am goofy foot (my right foot is forward), so I like "lefts" or waves that break from left to right if you are watching from the shore. Lucky for me, most of the waves in Oregon are lefts, including "The Point." Someday I hope I'll be able to paddle out there and return to tell you all about it.

Charging out into the 45 degree sea against wild currents and tidal rips may seem crazy to people who have never experienced the thrill of riding a wave. Making it past the breakers to the outside where unbroken swells can be caught has at times taken me over a half hour. You scratch at the water with numb hands and just when you think you are there, walls of turbulent whitewater carry you back to where you were five minutes before. But you blow the saltiness out your nose and keep stroking toward the rolling beasts, taking their power head on. The Sisyphus myth resonates and you feel damned to an eternity of ice-cream headaches until, somehow, you rise over the crest of an elevating peak and can finally straddle your board, catch your breath, and wait for your heartrate to drop. Then, when the time is right, you challenge yourself to pick the largest wave of the bunch, paddle back in the direction you came from, and launch yourself down its powerful and thrilling face.

Then you do it all over again.

So this humble weblog's about following those dreams and everything in between. I will also try to set the mood by posting random pictures and artwork and telling you what music was playing when I wrote. Like this:

Music: The Fiery Furnaces - "Here Comes the Summer"


G said...

You've come a long ways Senor Sissy. Great to read the first entry. Gives a good perspective on our progress. Even makes me feel a tad bit nostalgic. Can easily remember those twilit drives back from the coast talking shit and hoping your car atenna goes up so we can have some tunes.

pushingtide said...

Cool man. Can relate to bein' far from the ocean but closer than I ever been to it.

Keep on rippin' Sissy!

LSL said...

Hey there. I'm a brand new surf baby and laid off banker who came home to Portland to try to find my soul. I think I found you via Pet Cobra, even though you're in my back yard. I'm looking forward to catching up on your archives and hearing more.

Jamie Watson said...

Hey this was really cool to read. Glad you pointed us to it. You must feel like you have come a long way.

Chum said...

Glad you liked it Jamie. Seems a little now that I've learned so much more about surfing up here, but I'm really glad I started this blog way back when. And I have returned from that spot, but now know better than to tell everyone about it.