Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to surf from Oregon to Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Indonesia and the South Pacific. But of all the great waves and exotic places, it’s the early days, back when my entire surfing world consisted of three miles of coastline biking distance from home, that are my favorite.
I think most young surfers at some point fantasize about becoming a surf bum. I did. At sixteen I saved my dishwashing money and bought a ticket to Hawaii. I spent the summer sleeping on a friend’s sofa and surfing the South Shore. I thought I’d found my destiny. But, with my pennies running out, my host tiring of me, and my mom threatening to drag me back, I decided it was best to go home.
After graduating high school I dabbled at city college while working restaurant jobs, either of which could be dumped upon a good swell. By twenty-two I was stuck in the restaurant loop, the water was becoming increasingly crowded, and the doctor’s daughter I was dating chose to go off to college rather than hang with me. It was time to put surfing aside and commit to some sustenance. I signed up for a psychiatric technician program through Ventura College. That led to a job at Camarillo State Hospital taking care of mentally ill people. It was a decent job–good pay and benefits–but sad work. Most of the patients would be institutionalized for the rest of their lives, and now possibly me with them. I dreamt of an escape–the ultimate surf bum departure–sailing around the world. It became my motivation. My new wife and I worked double shifts, and I DJ’d weddings on the side. We bought a sailboat. But soon I landed a job at the Santa Barbara County Jail as the mental health counselor. We moved to S.B. and I got a cool DJ gig at a club. It was 1990, and suddenly the need to escape wasn’t so great.
After a year in Santa Barbara we came up with a new plan, sold the boat and moved to Portland, Oregon. I opened a record store and sold records for sixteen years. When the market dropped out in the middle 2000’s I closed up shop. Three years later I had a corporate desk job, it was then I started writing what turned out to be Pier Rats.
Over the years I’d filled countless notebooks and journals with ideas, notions, and story lines. Now, I present, a finished manuscript. The project could never have been completed without the guidance and mentorship of Myrna Oakley, retired writing instructor from Marylhurst University. She took me under her wing and guided and pushed me from beginning to end. Also, Jane Manchee, my writing cohort who is under Myrna’s tutelage as well and acted as generational buffer and artful critic.
I live in Portland Oregon with my wife Renee and two daughters, Colette and Audrey. Thanks to anybody who bothered to read this far,