September 25, 2006


I smoked pot for the first time in like ten years last night. It was fun! I’ve had a weird attitude towards pot. When I was fifteen I smoked a whole lot of it. My best friend’s mom let us smoke pot in the house. We smoked with her. An intimidating, burnt-out old hippie woman. My friend eventually lost it after a bad acid trip. He saw coyotes in Temescal Canyon—they must have told him to lose his mind.

It was, overall, a bad experience smoking pot in those days. I wasn’t enough of a bronze, Southern California surfer hippie to be comfortable in that scene. Too pale and neurotic. At the tail end of it, my friend said to me, raining, on the balcony, “You know, I’m anti-semitic...Oh, I guess that would bother you.” I just wasn’t one of them. Pretty sad and formative. I discovered punk rock soon after and declared myself straight edge.

Cut to around ten years later. Hanging out with my friend in Boston. I knew him in Minneapolis, we lived in the same house, played music together, worked at the same restaurant. He’s a character in my first novel, Dishwasher. He’d become a total pot-head, painted a marijuana leaf on the back of his jacket. Irony was dead in him. “What have you been doing with yourself the past couple of years?” I asked. “I don’t remember,” he replied. We recorded some songs—I played drums and he sang and played songs I wrote. I had just started writing songs, wasn’t comfortable singing on my own. We also took mushrooms, but he started lecturing me about revolution and it got boring.

In his apartment, him and his roommates passed around the bong. J. took a big hit and sucked out all the smoke. “That’s a beautiful hit,” his friend said. The bong came to me. I sucked up barely any of it. They looked embarrassed and kind of annoyed. I failed. I smoked too much pot and was literally convulsing.

Since then, I’ve stayed away from it. It seems to call attention to all the terrible stuff between people, in yourself—all the doubt, all the awkward moments. I realized last night I’ve never smoked pot with people who sincerely like or get me. My wife does. I still felt some of the self-doubt, but it wasn’t so bad—more instructive. I said to myself, yes, you fuck up, everybody does, just do better. I didn’t spend all of my time brooding about my problems, but given my history with smoking pot, this was a major leap forward.

I’ve been reading the book, Sex, Drugs, Einstein, and Elves by Clifford Pickover. In the book there’s a Terence McKenna quote which says something like: too much artificial light is curbing people’s imaginations. Which means I've got to get away from the computer. This is what I thought last night: TV and computer screens are causing people to see in two-dimensions, only the immediate world around them. This is how it is for me. I spend so much time repressing regrettable things from my life that I repress other people’s concerns as well. Last night, I saw in three dimensions, saw life from other people’s eyes. This is just pot, mind you, not LSD or something else. But I took it to heart.

Part of me wanted to write down what I was thinking while I was stoned, and I did write some stuff down, but mostly I just wanted to BE, something I don’t do a whole lot. I’m glad I don’t fear this stuff anymore. Realized how uptight and unhappy I’ve been and seemed for a long while, running away and not relaxing. Weird thing is despite my bad experiences smoking pot, it turns out I’ve got a lot of hippie in me.

Here’s one thing I wrote down, really amusing at the time. I was ripped:

The bullet-soaked serpent in even water
takes a break in the waves


Emil Michelle said...

I like those last two lines about the serpent taking a break. Sounds like something William Blake would have penned.

And I am now worried about my time around curved light. Jesus! I never thought about that -- I provide it with boo coo credence. I'm turning into a two-dimensional freaking Freakoid. I need to expand my horizons, my mental territories. Maybe that's why I always enjoyed the OT book of Ezekiel so much. That homeboy was smoking some good shit and was definitely NOT two dimensional. He'd transcended into about 16 or 20 dimensions.

Henry Baum said...

I was thinking Jim Morrison, but Blake's better. It's easy to sound like Jim Morrison when you're high. Too bad he thought of it first.

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