Sunday, July 18, 2010

As Long as This Post is, You'd Think I Was Stoned When I Wrote It

Rule #4

Marijuana: I am committing, for the next year, to refrain from smoking any marijuana. The purpose of this particular restriction is two-fold: 1) to break myself of the habit of smoking pot regularly and putting myself back in control of my life and the choices and decisions I make and 2) to spend a more significant amount of time with a clear and sober mind.

I decided this blog would be better written if I had an entire day off to do so. Those who are close to me and familiar with my relationship with marijuana will completely understand.

I have edited the rule above from what I originally wrote in my journal. In my journal, I allowed myself the flexibility to experiment with mind-altering drugs as a way to get connected to my inner self. I have a few friends that have told me about clarity they have found after “shrooming” or dropping acid; in the right circumstances of course – that is, during a trip out in nature or in the comfort of their own home and with people they trust. However, after rethinking this, I decided that I want to remain drug free for this entire year to determine if it is truly a deeper connection with self that I am looking for or simply an excuse to get stoned again. My search is for happiness with myself in pure form, without any mind altering substance whatsoever. Therefore, any kind of experimentation seems inconsistent with my “project”.

I don’t remember the first time I actually got high. I remember very clearly the first time I smoked a joint – I was with one of my college roommates and some of her friends in Los Angeles. We were back in one of her friends’ apartments and a lit joint was passed my way. I hadn’t even started smoking cigarettes at this point and wasn’t really sure what to do. But, as they say, when in Rome… so I took it, puffed a bit and passed it. I don’t remember feeling any different at all. It’s strange that I can’t remember the next time I smoked but by the time I started dating Eric when I was 20, I was smoking weed on a fairly regular basis.

I met Amanda in college and we hit it off right away. She was from Little Rock, Arkansas and had a wild spirit that I was immediately drawn to. Plus, we were both majoring in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles. We were great competition for each other as we both respected our artistic talents but secretly tried to one-up each other all the time. As a result, we received great feedback from our teachers and at the end of our schooling, both had very impressive portfolios that I’m pretty positive neither one of us ever actually did anything with.

I met Amanda’s boyfriend, Eric, one day when working on a project for one of our classes. They lived in a shoebox of an apartment in a not-so-classy part of Los Angeles called Echo Park. The building was really cool, though, with a bookstore and an art gallery built into the bottom floor. One of my favorite L.A. memories was going up to the roof on the nights that there was an art opening and blowing bubbles down onto all the snobby and pretentious people of L.A. who were not afraid to drive their $75,000 cars to the neighborhood for an art show but wouldn’t give a second look to the mother with her two children looking for a few dollars outside the grocery store to buy some bread. It was a strange dynamic.

During my last few months of college I had been doing an internship at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach in their Catering Department. You see, I had originally gone to FIDM to learn how to be a fashion show coordinator but was immediately discouraged when I saw how many people where more qualified than me with better style and a lot more money to do what they wanted to do. Once again, I thought I wasn’t good enough. I ended up spending my two years of school just making pretty pictures and doing what everyone else said I should do.

There was a part of me that still wanted to be involved in creating something and before I met Eric, I had been dating an older man whose brother was the General Manager for the Four Seasons at the time. I thought, well at least now I have an “in”. So, he set me up with a receptionist job in the Catering Department where I thought maybe I could be a badass wedding and special events coordinator.

I graduated from college in June 2000, and was “lucky” enough to have this job lined up for me in a field that I didn’t study for at all. Go me. I didn’t realize at the time that I was selling myself short – I was still under the impression that I wasn’t good enough to do anything else and that I might as well jump at every single opportunity that was given to me.

The apartment that I had rented in Orange County wasn’t going to be available until the end of July so I needed a place to stay for a few weeks. It just so happened that Amanda hadn’t “found herself” in Los Angeles like she had hoped to do but had friends in Hawaii that she could stay with for a few months. So after graduation, she decided to go see if her true self could be found on the island beaches. While back in Washington visiting family after graduation, she called me up with a “brilliant” idea that I stay with Eric until my apartment was ready as she was getting ready to split and he could use the company. Eric was okay with it and I was still as na├»ve as ever, saying yes to everything without weighing the pros and cons. One thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I think every opportunity that comes my way means something and that I’m always supposed to say yes. I do still struggle with that to this day but understand more and more the comparison that many religions make as far as the Devil’s temptation and God’s true path. I am not a religious person, but I do believe that the Universe is constantly presenting us with different paths and sometimes, saying no is the right one. I’m still a work in progress on that one.

I wasn’t even attracted to Eric when I met him. Physically that is. Intellectually, he was wonderful. We had great conversations and his strong and vibrant opinions on things were refreshing and stimulating. He liked baseball which was fantastic (not much of a football fan though, which was disappointing). He enjoyed smoking cigarettes and pot, drinking beer and worked as a Voice-Over actor which I just thought was cool.

My second night staying with him, we went out to a party with some of him and Amanda’s friends and later that night, in the apartment, he asked me if there was some sort of attraction between us. In all honesty, other than the fact that he was cool to be around, the answer was no. I didn’t say this though – I simply didn’t follow him into his bedroom when he told me he’d be in there waiting. I stayed out on the couch all night long, not sleeping, thinking about what I was doing and what I was considering doing. Another belief I hold that I am desperately working on breaking is that I am only good enough for those people who want to be with me. I’ve never really had the balls to hit on someone that I actually WANT to date. I always just ended up going out with guys simply because they want to go out with me. I don’t like the idea of rejection and figure if I date a guy who is nuts about me, I can always be the one to bail if it doesn’t work out. Nice, huh?

So, the next night, I slept with him. Amanda called me up from Hawaii when she found out and called me a whore. Eric and I dated for almost five years after that.

What the hell does this have to do with marijuana, you ask? I’m getting to that.

I grew to really love Eric – we lived together in my crappy OC apartment for a while and then got a lovely one-bedroom apartment on Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach where we built ourselves a little life and I thought I was truly going to be happy forever.

Marijuana was a huge part of my relationship with Eric. We got high together almost every single day. We lived completely normal, contributive lives – he as a producer of a talk radio show and me as a Sales Manager for a local hotel. After work, we would come home, walk to the grocery store, make dinner and smoke together while we watched our TV shows and crashed out on the floor in the living room.

Once a week, we would get in the car and make the 25 minute drive to Los Angeles where we would pick up an eighth of the city’s finest green for $70. I didn’t really care for that movie, Pineapple Express, however the scene where Seth Rogan’s character goes to James Franco’s character’s house to score weed is laugh-out-loud funny to me because every stereotype of buying weed is in that one scene. We would hang out with our dealer, listening to him tell story after story after story, sometimes going on for almost an hour while we tried our best to get one foot out the door. We would be there when someone would show up to buy and bring someone that our dealer wouldn’t know and he’d freak out about having strangers around. We would be there when our dealer would sell to someone and that person would want to sit and chat and our guy would say that he was really busy and didn’t have time to hang out. Then, when that buyer would leave, Eric and I would uncomfortably apologize and excuse ourselves for overstaying our welcome and our dealer would reply with “Hey man, where ya goin? I thought we were gonna smoke this joint together??” Really comic stuff if you’ve seen the movie. It is a perfect depiction of buying weed in L.A.

When Eric and I broke up years later, I tried to stay in Long Beach and if I wasn’t so hell bent on a party lifestyle, I might have been able to make it work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t committed to a budget that enabled me to live alone and while I had myself a cute studio one block from the beach, I was also rapidly drowning in debt. I made it about 6 months before I decided the best thing for me to do was come to Las Vegas where my mom and dad were and try to bounce back financially. I was planning on getting a grip on my finances and then heading out to the Midwest, Chicago specifically, and giving it a go out there. 5 years later, here I am, still in Las Vegas. What can I say? I love this city.

For the first two years I was here, I didn’t smoke any weed. There were multiple contributing factors. For one, I was living at home. Also, I didn’t know anyone or have any connections. I didn’t even know how to go about getting a connection. Our dealer in L.A. was Eric’s guy – I never had to do anything but pitch in and roll the joint. After being here for about 6 months, I got really involved in a leadership program that encouraged a substance-free lifestyle and wasn’t smoking cigarettes or pot for the year and a half I was participating in that. After all of that was done, I found myself as a server in a restaurant and started dating another server who not only knew where to get pot, but was an avid pothead and I was thrilled to get started all over again. He has since moved on, but I still work in that restaurant so getting weed now is as easy as handing my keys over to a variety of servers or customers that can put it in my car whenever I want it. As a result, I have pretty much been stoned the entire last two years or so.

But, here I was – face to face with the oncoming of my 30th year and wondering what the heck I was doing with my life. I was spending about $200 a month on my weed habit and since breaking up with my most recent boyfriend of a year and a half, all I wanted to do was lay in bed, get high and be mad. Well, that’s no way to live, is it? And besides, marijuana is supposed to be the happy drug and it was not making me happy.

I would also like to get a better bartending job here in Las Vegas. I’ve had over 20 jobs since I was 15 years old and the truth is, I haven’t liked any of them except the one I’m doing now. Serving and bartending is fun for me – it doesn’t require a lot of thought or responsibility, I love the flexible hours, I work with and wait on lots of interesting people every day and I don’t take the work home with me. Unfortunately, in order to live the kind of lifestyle I want as far as traveling and the toys that I feel would enrich my life, I need something that is a little healthier for the wallet. In Las Vegas, there is the potential to make six figures as a bartender if you play it right. I would like to work towards that. Whether I decide to get in with a more corporate environment or with the union, I’m going to need to pass a drug test (I can be a raging alcoholic or a pill-popper but God forbid I smoke a joint now and then).

As you can probably tell, I don’t have negative feelings towards marijuana. In fact, I love its medicinal purposes and am happy that it can help those who are in pain or going through a depression get through it a little easier without poisoning their bodies with these so-called “miracle drugs” that people are starting to drop dead from. When is the last time you heard of someone overdosing on pot? However, at this point in my life, it is no longer enriching or rewarding for me personally. So, I’m going to give it a year and see if I really feel the need to bring it back into my life.

I was offered a brownie the other day and it sure was tempting… but I think maybe it was just the chocolate calling to me. Don’t worry – I’m never giving up chocolate.

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