Actually, my blog has moved, I’m not going to be updating this site anymore, I’ve gotten my own url: www.thewanderingwaterman.com and I’ll be posting there from now on. Go check it out, I’ve just written a new post and would love to hear what you think! Make sure you bookmark it AND become a subscriber if you like my stuff… I promise you won’t regret it, 2009 is going to just be chockful of stuff that’ll make you go “Oh Sh*t! Reuben has mad skills!” maybe not, but I think you’ll like the new site! See you there!
It’s 2a.m. Monday morning, my flight leaves in a little over 9 hours, the dive gear is packed, camera and housing are in their cases, and I can’t sleep… at all. I woke from a dead sleep at about 1a.m. not knowing why, the dogs were quiet, Maria was lying next to me, still breathing soft and slowly, lost in slumber, but I was wide awake. Not anticipation, I don’t get like that, I haven’t had an anticipation filled night since I was a kid and decided that I didn’t care if I saw Santa or not, I just wanted to sleep. See, when my body tells me It’s ready for bed, well, it’s ready for bed, there’s nothing, nope, not even that, that can keep me awake and I crash. Of course, once I’ve crashed I become the lightest sleeper in the world, I can hear a dump truck three blocks over!
Anyways, figured since I can’t sleep I might as well catch up with my writing. Actually went underwater last weekend with a few new students. Did one dive at Redondo, which was fun as always, tiny surf, though surgy and almost no vis. The students did great, handled it all in stride, but they were glad to be out of the water and ready for the easy dives at Casino Point the next day.
We were joined out there by Kyrie and Yoshi, two friends who happen to be sisters and great divers. The class was uneventful, everyone rocked through the skills, the water was warm, at least by California standards, the vis decent at 30 feet, though I did get the standard “Dude, you should’ve been here last week, it was over 70 feet in vis!” from the guys at the air station.
After the last dive with the students, I took Yoshi and Kyrie down to the little wrecks in 65′ of water and we hung out there as we were surrounded by a huge school of minnow. We all just hovered there as the school circled us, the light dancing off their scales, flashing blue, silver and white. I glanced over at the girls and both of them were smilinmg, their eyes shining just as bright as the fish around us. I was in my place, home, just listening to my breathing, feeling the water holding me in place, and I was at peace.
Just got back from the doctor, been wheezing while breathing, so thoughts of “Asthma!!!!” started banging around in my head. The thought of me developing “Asthma!!!!!” scares me, because it could end my career underwater, and then I’d really be a grumpy mofo! Turns out it’s simply an add-on to my seasonal allergies…or so says the Doc.
Anyways, started teaching 3 private students this past weekend, Saturday and Sunday we did classroom and pool, everyone did great. This weekend we’re doing one dive at Redondo (I know, EVERYONE seems to hate beach diving, especially at Redondo, but I love it, plus I think it’s good for students to get a taste of what it’s like) and Sunday we’re going to Catalina, where I’ll also be meeting up with my friends, the Maezumi sisters, Kyrie and Yoshi! I taught Kyrie how to dive, and Yoshi is my dive buddy who stars in my video “Yoshi and the Sea Lion” (I posted in an earlier post). I haven’t had a chance to dive with either one of them in ages, so I’m really looking forward to seeing, and diving, with them!
After the pool session on Sunday, I stopped by my LDS to get some new dive booties, and while there, Joe, the sales clerk that was helping me out, asked me what I had been up to, so I told him I had just spent the day in a pool teaching. He answered with, “Oh, bummer, must really suck when you have to teach and be in a pool when you can be diving in the ocean, huh?” I paused as I looked at him and answered honestly, that I actually enjoyed teaching, love introducing people to my underwater world, and that I’m happy whether I’m in 100′ of water, or 6′ of water, what it boils down to, is that I’m UNDERWATER!!!! and that’s what makes me happy. I’ve hovered above the deck of a 5′ deep pool before for an hour, not doing any skills, not moving, just hanging there, listening to my breathing, watching the bubbles squeeze through the water, feeling the water holding me in suspension, and I’ve been happy. Though I love seeing fish, playing with the sea lions, swimming through incredibly clear and warm waters, the thing I’m in love with is simply being underwater, that’s all…
Alright, here’s a bit of underwater Fiji, let me know what you all think! Later this week I’ll post something with more land based subjects and sharper edits!
So I haven’t written here in about two weeks, and I wish I could say it was because I was in some exotic location, swimming in dangerous waters, filming Giant Pelagics… but no, I’ve actually been here in L.A….not diving….and working in my wife’s shop YOLK…sigh…. BUT! I do get to go back in the water in a few weeks with a new class of divers, so I’m looking forward to that. They’re all on a budget, so our ocean dives will be at Redondo, hilarity will soon follow on this blog!
Anyways, lets put the Fiji trip to rest, shall we? First of all, I finally got my camera back, it only cost, oh $2103 to fix! Thankfully I had insurance!!!!! So I’ll be editing the tapes this weekend and will post some stuff here next week.
Well,I’ve already described the diving, or at least a bit of it, it’s hard to really describe what I saw, you’ll have to watch the video, but what follows are a few bullet points on my memories and experiences. Not everything is in here, because you, the reader, might not find everything as interesting as I do, but some of the stuff that really stands out.
1.) Seeing the sharks…yes, SHARKS with an S, as in more than 1! There was the Grey Reef Shark I saw in the current of death, but also saw at least 3 White Tip Reef Sharks on subsequent dives…of course they were dives that I did AFTER the camera had flooded, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
2.) Finding the tiny little Harlequin Shrimp, and the smallest Frogfish I’ve ever seen (ok, it was the first Frogfish I’d ever seen, but it was TINY) I did get footage of those two, though I had my wide angle lens and the adapter isn’t great at filling the monitor, so we’ll see what they look like.
3.) Giant Clams!!! Well, maybe more like BIG Clams, but bigger than any clam I had ever seen, so I guess they would be considered Giant. I mean, you might only stand 5’8″, but you go hang out with Pygmys in Africa and they would probably describe you as a giant. (It’s why I like visiting my family in Mexico, down there I’m “tall”) The best part was watching Kinsey make them snap shut and her jumping everytime they did because she thought they would clamp down on her and drown her! hahahaha
4.) Ah, just everything underwater, I’ll show you later, I promise.
5.) The friendliness and kindness that the Fijians show towards visitors, and not just at the resort, where some of you, yeah you, the cynical jaded one reading this post, might assume is because they’re hoping for a tip. The people are very nice and good natured, it goes against cultural belief to argue and they hat being impolite (maybe we should just let Fijians run for office?)
6.) Oh, the shower in my room… yeah, you read that right, the shower. See, it was one of those indoor/outdoor showers, where one of the walls is a plate of glass and it faces into a small “private” garden, so you can get the sensation that you’re actually showering outside.Yeah, I know people LOVE that….um… don’t. As much as I get accused of being extroverted, I actually like my privacy. The first thing I do when I go into a hotel room is pull the curtains shut…tightly.
Anyways, I walk into the bathroom for the first time and see this shower and think “Shit… I wonder if anyone can see in?” There’s a bamboo screen around the garden for privacy, but I can clearly see gaps in-between the poles, just enough for someone to catch a glimpse of my hairy shampooed ass. I kneel down and try to see what’s on the other side of the fence, but the sun is shining in, so I can’t really tell. I’ve been on a plane for 10 hours, and then took a 2 hour van ride to the resort and I stink. I know I need to take a shower “Well, I am going diving tomorrow…I’ll be in the water…that’s like bathing, right?” Hmmmmm? SO my first shower consists of me turning off the lights (can’t look into a window if the lights outside are stronger than the one’s inside) turning the water on, quickly jumping under the water stream, making sure I’m facing AWAY from the glass, cleaning up really quickly, and then jumping back out… all the time imagining half the resort walking by my room and going “Hey, look! We can see right into that guy’s shower! Look he’s totally naked! hahaha… Gasp, oh my!” That last part is because the half of the resort I was talking about was the female half and they…well, never mind.
So I showered, went to dinner, came back, turned the lights on and walked towards the back of my room, where I noticed that the only thing facing my room was a huge hillside and you could see nothing going on in there. Needless to say, I still showered with my back to the glass for the whole trip….
First day of diving:No current no fun! or, “…OH…MY…GOD…I’M GOING TO DIE DOWN HERE!!!! I’VE NEVER BEEN IN A CURRENT THIS STRONG!!!! Oh, look a Clown Fish.”August 28, 2008
I get on the boat, meet the other divers; Tom and his daughter Kinsey down from Sacramento, Justin and Heather from L.A. too, friendships that will grow through the trip.The boat flew out to the first dive site…ok, bear with me, I tend to NEVER remember dive site names, I mean NEVER, so you won’t be hearing any names, sorry….so the first dive site is out in the Bligh Waters, we suit up, get our briefing, and jump in, me with my Light and Motion Bluefin HD Housing, which I realize, acts like a HUGE sail when one drops down into a current! Ok, not just a current, I dive in California, I’ve handled currents, this was more like a raging underwater river! Hit 40 feet, am kicking like mad, and I’m wearing ScubaPro Jet Fins, and I’m waiting for the dive master to drop us somewhere that the current isn’t hitting. Instead he’s got us above the reef, pointing out stuff, seemingly unaffected by the current (Later we discover his favorite saying is “No current, no fun!!!”…um…yeah) He points out a few things, but I’m really not paying much attention because I’M TOO BUSY RUNNING AN UNDERWATER SPRINT!!!!
He points out a shark, which I nod my response to but I’m not into it…”huff, huff, huff…shit, this is hard…damn, housing…wha? yeah,yeah, yeah, it’s a shark…huff, huff,huff…man, I’ve got to stop eating so much Jack in the Box…wha?…yeahyeahyeah, it’s an eel…I wonder if I should just let go of the housing…wait, am I starting to blackout?” I look around, and thankfully I’m not the only one kicking like mad, now I know what a salmon must feel like while swimming up a river!
Finally we get back up to the boat, and I’m breathing HARD! Now, I push weight 3 times a week, I take part in fight training 3 times a week, I RUN twice a week… I’m kind of in shape, and I was sitting on the boat sucking air and feeling like I was going to pass out! Now, am I saying this dive sucked? NO!!!! I never say that, because I was underwater…in Fiji…so it didn’t suck…but man, I wasn’t looking forward to doing that again!
Ok, before I go on, you might be wondering “Wait, Reuben’s an underwater videographer, he had his camera with him on this trip, but all I’m seeing on this blog are photos…why is that? Oh, and he’s such a wuss, that current wouldn’t have bothered me!” To that I say…screw you! Oh, and I did shoot video, except that on the second day, after our last dive, my camera basically FLOODED! The trip that was supposed to be all about me getting stock footage and a story for the Travel Channel, suddenly became a very expensive vacation…by myself, since my wife wasn’t there with me…do you know how boring that can be? I mean it was great diving, and the friends I made and had meals with were awesome, but you’re in Fiji at this amazing resort with beautiful sunsets and you’re spending your evenings wtrying to watch movies on your iPod, because they had no tv’s!
So, my camera is being repaired right now, at Computer Works Technologies in Burbank, AND, it’s being paid for by my insurance company, who I now whole-heartedly endorse now: H2O Insurance They were great about handling my case quickly and efficiently! I should be getting it back this weekend and I’ll post videos later next week. For now, enjoy the photos!
I’ll post more about Fiji later!
“…the diver finds deep immersion the ultimate gentle release, a homecoming in an element where they have known only joy.” – excerpt from NEUTRAL BUOYANCY by Tim Ecott –
I’m sure I’m not the only diver out there that finds solace and peace under the surface of the sea. I tell non-divers that the underwater world is my church, where I go to meditate and put my life into perspective. It’s really the only place I’ve ever felt 100% at home, where I belong, and where I’m the happiest. Just the ocean, the sound of the sea and my bubbles, and the gentle squeezing of the water as I hover in the water column, not kicking or moving, just existing in serenity, for as long as my air lasts.
Non-divers always, without fail, ask me if I’m not afraid of dying while in the ocean’s embrace, they see the ocean as something huge, dark and frightening, they’ll never understand the peace I experience when I’m down there. I try to describe it, try to explain, but there really aren’t any words, or actions, that can be used to enlighten them, so I usually end up stopping in mid-sentence, smiling and shaking my head, you can’t understand if you don’t go under. I just tell them that there are worse ways to die, and to cross the line to the other side while under the sea wouldn’t be so bad… it would feel like a homecoming.
Back home from NYC, got in at 9pm last night, the rest of the trip was uneventful, hence no writing after I posted the photos…well, except for two things.
First, I finally got to meet my friend Nancy Schwartzman, after 8 years of emails, phone calls, near misses and almosts. She was one of the first photo editors to actually not only give me feedback on my portfolio when I was shooting, but also gave me a few assignments. We’ve been trying to meet for years, but never quite got it together, so it was awesome that we were both in NYC, well, that’s where she lives, and we got to meet! Felt totally comfortable and like were old friends, which we are, but no awkwardness at all. I guess we know so much about each other that meeting was just a formality. I find it fascinating how the internet allows friendships to flourish across thousands of miles, sometimes overseas, with people that you might not ever meet face to face. For all the complaints one hears about how the internet is full of crap I think this is one of it’s greatest contributions…it shrinks the world!
The other event was me getting lost in Central Park while walking back to the hotel. I thought I was walking ACROSS the park, from 5th to Central Park West, but when I stepped out onto the street, I noticed I was on 5th Ave again…”Hmmm, no worries, must have gotten turned around, I’ll just go back into the park and just follow this road through the park, and exit on…. 5th Ave…” Don’t really know how I did that, I have an EXCELLENT sense of direction, never get lost, so thought it was simply because I was tired, so I returned to the park, walked down a path, past the little boat house, crossed a road watched some remote control boats toll around a pond, and finally exited on…5th Ave!!!!! 3 times!!!???!!! I finally just hailed a cab and got back to the hotel $10 lighter…
Other than that, it was good, until the morning of our return.I didn’t check the flight times before that morning, assumed the flight was leaving at 3pm, and then actually checked at 9:30am that morning, and realized our flight was actually leaving at 11:30am!!! I figured we could make it, Maria didn’t think it would be possible, so we ended up re-booking for the 4:59pm flight, at an additional $600, and went to go get lunch… a really quiet lunch. When we finally boarded the plane we were one row behind a mom and her two crying kids, thankfully I have Skull Candy’s Proletariat NC headphones, the NC standing for NOISE CANCELING, so on go the headphones, the iPod gets clicked on, and G.Love drowns out the crying babies!
Maria had pointed out that one of our fellow passengers was Donna A. (a.k.a. Brett Anderson) from the band “The Donnas“, if you don’t know them, click on the link and get to know them, they’re pretty rocking! Maria actually wrote about them back in the days when she worked at Jump Magazine, just when they were starting off and we got to see them a few times, the last show being at The Troubadour in Hollywood, where, after the show, Donna A. pulled up next to us in her Volvo station wagon… guess they didn’t have a tour bus back then! Anyways, she sat in the row in front of us and I could see her seat back screen from where I sat, and so I got a gander at her playlist, Virgin America allows you to put together a playlist for your flight from it’s MASSIVE music collection, …but I ain’t telling what she was listening to! I considered leaning over and coolly asking about her Volvo Station Wagon, kind of show her that I knew who she was, but was too cool to mention the band, or her music…. but Maria pointed out it was kind of creepers, and the idea of getting punched by a rocker chick and then arrested at L.A.X. really wasn’t appealing, so I sat back and read my book.
Anyways, back home now, the weather is much cooler than it was in NYC, and things are back to normal… as normal as it gets in L.A. anyways. I need to go underwater, feel myself getting grumpier and my gills are drying up. Here’s a quote for you guys:
“The sea does not belong to despots. Upon its surface, men can still exercise unjust laws, fight, tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with terrestrial horrors. But at thirty feet below its level, their reign ceases, their influence is quenched and their power disappears. Ah! sir, live – live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognize no masters! THERE I AM FREE!”
– Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
Freedom only underwater….
Ok, so didn’t write yesterday due to two reasons: A.) Went to see Les Paul, yeas Les Paul, who is 93 years old AND still plays better than 90% of us out there! It was awesome…
B.) I was dead tired after walking from Battery Park all the way up to our hotel at 103rd St, which, according to Mapquest, is a distance of almost 8 miles! Hmmmm, I walk 8 miles here, but won’t walk the 1/4 mile down to the store back home….
We also ate dinner at Mama Mexico which I have to say, is one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten at in NYC! The Carne Tampiqueña was excellent, they had nicely cooked nopales, and Maria had a chili quesadilla which was delicious!
Today I did the Metropolitan Museum of Art and had a good time. They have a great photo exhibit going on: “Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940” which I loved, but still question the validity of some photos. I still think that some of those photos are only considered special because of their age and their association with their creator i.e. a snapshot by Henri Cartier-Bresson (who’s work I love)= BRILLIANT!!! A snapshot by some joe schmo = just a boring snapshot. Sometimes it’s all about the marketing, know what I mean?
Anyways, enough talk here are the photos from the past two days, enjoy!
Let me know what you think!