My neighbour’s brother is a pothead (possible cokehead). How do I know? Because one day, when I was walking down the street, he asked me if I had “dope”. He was standing on his brother’s front porch, looking pretty “baked”, as the saying goes.
“No,” I said. “I don’t.” Jesus, couldn’t he see that I was walking my cats? (And no, I’m not a cokehead too. The farthest thing from it. I just don’t want my kitties to get hit by cars, AND we live near a busy street, AND they are a fairly rambunctious breed, AND – as my kids always point out – I am a bit over-the-top when it comes to animals, like I’d do anything to make them happy, like I enjoy their company better than I do humans, which is true, most of the time.)
Anyway, there he was – my neighbour’s brother – standing on the porch, not really doing anything that I could see, except existing, maybe waiting for someone, meditating, vegetating, more likely stagnating – or maybe, he was just really confused. Drugs will do that to a person. Not sure what you call it when you are idling in one spot staring vacuously out into space. Whatever it is, that’s what he was doing.
I was with my son and his friend at the time – and the cats, of course – when I heard this voice coming from his direction. “Hey, you [muffled speaking]…”
We stopped. “Pardon?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what he’d said.
“You got dope?” It was very clear the second time.
“Uh, no,” I answered, a little taken aback. It’s not everyday that someone asks me these types of questions.
“Did he just ask us if we had dope?” whispered Dustin.
“Yup.” I kept walking. I didn’t really want the guy to try to continue the conversation.
“Weird,” Dustin said.
“Really weird,” I answered. “And desperate.” I figured he must’ve been if he was asking a middle-aged woman who was walking her cats for drugs. Maybe he was asking the boys, and the fact that I was there didn’t matter. That’s a definite possibility.
As we “drifted away” from him (pun intended), I could see Mr. “You Got Dope?” in my peripheral vision just standing there, motionless, like a statue, like he wasn’t alive, like he hadn’t just asked a group of random strangers (we’d never spoken before that, we’d just seen each other around) for an illegal substance. At least, I thought, we must appear fairly cool. My daughter would argue otherwise, but what does she know?
Actually, none of this comes as a shock. I’d seen him previously doing strange things, like smoking a joint while standing (oddly) in the middle of the street, in the middle of the day, in his housecoat. Just standing, like he was on the porch, more or less zombified. And we live in a pretty nice neighbourhood, so this kind of behaviour sticks out like a sore thumb.
Now, I’ve smoked weed in the past – the very distant past, mind you – but it’s not like I have a hate-on for weed-smokers. I know what it feels like, and I understand why people do it. I know that some folks are looking to escape their situation, their pain, their problems. I know that others just like the buzz. And I won’t blame anyone for any of that. Sometimes, you just want to chill. And life can be a real bitch.
But if someone tells me that smoking weed is their key to success, I will laugh, and act all “are you fucking kidding me, that’s bullshit” snotty. “It makes me more creative,” I’ve heard more than one person proclaim. That’s a pretty common angle, I think.
Apparently, a 2012 study in Consciousness and Cognition found that marijuana helped people in terms of how well they use language. The researchers said, “We investigated the effects of cannabis smoked naturalistically on schizotypy and divergent thinking, a measure of creativity.” Not sure what “naturalistically” means exactly, as opposed to non-naturalistically. Or maybe the author likes to make up words and their meanings as much as I do.
OK. Here’s where the judging begins.
I’m not buying any of that. I’ll tell you why, but before I do, remember that I was a philosophy major in university for one of my useless degrees. I am trained to pick a side and argue the shit out of it, knowing very well that nothing in life is ever completely black or white, including abortion, but that’s a whole other – very long and “I don’t think I can be your friend anymore” – discussion.
I am an art person, and if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you would know that I try to hammer this bit of information home every chance I get, almost like someone is paying me to make negative comments about Charlie Sheen. Poor idiot. Yes, I know a thing or two about “creativity” and what it takes to make art for a living, on a regular basis, come hell or high water, even when your “creative juices just aren’t flowing”. It’s what I do. It’s in my blood.
But DNA-advantaged or not, let me tell you, creativity takes fucking work, like anything else. It’s not magic. It’s not something that you find at the bottom of a bottle, or at the end of marijuana joint. And you can’t just sit around waiting for a great idea to pop into your head. No, you have to go looking for it. You have to try something, erase it, and try something else. You have to do this over and over and over again, until whatever thing you are attempting to make (whether it be a drawing, a painting, a story, a dance, a song, whatever) comes together. It takes time AND effort. It’s definitely a process that requires initiative and commitment.
Writing a blog like this one, for example, is not simply a matter of sitting down at my laptop as soon as the winds of awesomeness start swirling around me, the words then wondrously streaming from my brain to my arms, to my fingers, and onto my computer keyboard, to be saved in a word document somewhere, and then lost forever if and when my goddamn computer crashes. It’s never like that.
Sure, sometimes, ideas come easier than others, but sometimes they don’t. When that happens, you can’t just stop and say, “Well, my brain has had enough. I guess I’ll go watch reruns of The Bachelorette until I feel ‘inspired’ again.” You may be waiting forever. In those cases – especially when it’s your job (which, if you call yourself an ‘artist’, being creative and getting paid to do it IS your life), you have to go looking for inspiration from other sources like nature, movies, other books, paintings, fashion, from going to Walmart or Costco on a Saturday afternoon – lots of interesting things happen there. I guess, and from smoking weed too. If there is any misconception about an artist’s life, it’s this very notion.
OK, so smoking weed once MAY jumpstart you with some uber-weird, psychedelic storyline or vision. But it’s certainly NOT going to sustain you.
I’m here to tell you, art never just “happens”, nor is it always fun and easy – the way many non-art people may assume, such as my scientist husband who thinks that graphic design work (as one illustration) is like “snap your fingers and this stuff on the page looks fucking amazing” cinchy. That psychedelic vision needs to be continued, developed, and perfected. It takes brainstorming, and experimenting, and planning, and changing, and rearranging, until you want to say, “Don’t ask me to make any more adjustments to this flyer because you are being unrealistic, and if you want to have this finished for tomorrow’s big meeting, then you’ll shut the fuck up and go watch car racing on your gigantic television and leave me the fuck alone”.
It seems to me that there is a “bandwagon” type thing going on these days that is trying to make weed seem cool, trendy, almost necessary. And the fact that – in today’s society – people are looking for a “quick fix” to everything, well, weed becomes very convenient. It’s even a workout, or something like that. Hmmm…
Here is the quote: “Smoking weed isn’t actually that bad for your lungs, and smokers actually have improved lung function when compared to both cigarette smokers – and people who have never smoked either. The researchers, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association [wow], say that the big drags taken by weed smokers may actually ‘train’ lungs to be more efficient.” OK. Call me skeptical. Call me a nay-sayer, and a party-pooper, but who were they comparing here? I have a hard time believing that all those weed smokers out there have a higher lung capacity and better function than someone like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps or even my fitness-loving father. Maybe if smoking weed is the full extent to which you “work your lungs” period, then MAYBE it’s better than if you didn’t smoke week but you sat on the couch your entire life, never walking anywhere, never elevating your heart rate past comatose. Even that, I have a hard time believing, and I would never trade my daily exercise class for smoking a joint outside, in the street, in my housecoat. I will not eat green eggs and ham. I will not eat them, Sam I am.
As my daughter used to say about the kids at her high school who smoked weed on a regular basis – and she was one of them at one point, I’m sure of it – “They think they are doing stuff, but they are really doing nothing.” Well, now that explains a lot, Tess.
Bottom line (in my opinion): smoke weed if you want to smoke weed, but don’t go around thinking that it’s going to be the transformative factor in your quest to succeed in life. Call it like it is – something that might give you some trippy thoughts, make you extremely hungry for brownies and chips, and make you want to have a very loooong nap.
So you don’t want to strangle your asshole boss because you are more relaxed? OK, I’ll give you that. But holy grail? Answer to all your problems? Thing that is going to metamorphise (sp?) you from pathetic bum to multi-platinum selling rock star, or any other person of significant note? If that were the case, my neighbour’s brother would be president. Sadly, he’s not. But he has a pretty “good” substitute, and that’s even scarier. #donaldtrump