Thursday, May 29, 2008

Little Brother

A time comes in the life of a drug user when their paradigm must be replaced. During this time is a short period where the user questions their sanity. For each person this process leads to different results. I can only speak about my own journey.

For me this time came at the beginning of my drug career. Just after I’d finished the graduate level Cinema-Television Production Program at USC. Left worse for wear after its strict discipline and my nutty penchant for finishing school in a time that beats any historical records for completion of whatever program I’m enrolled in. A three year master’s program shaved down to two and change. During these nickel and penny months, these three before the work was done and five before the diploma declaring me a Master of Fine Arts, this is when I took up drugs in earnest, diligently. Alone.

At the end of this time I found myself on a trip to Northern California with my parents, on a beach I’d driven to in a borrowed car, with a cannabis habit, on triangle-shaped pills sold as MDMA, Mescaline, and ? mixed together, but obviously dextromethorphan of which I, under the influence, took all three of - perhaps hoping they would somehow magically form a trinity that would be Ecstasy.

After gratefully puking up the overdose of said I made a series of unbelievably detached and increasingly self-destructive choices that led to me enlisting the help of a random well-built stranger, and convincing him to leave his young children alone to help me across a super-strong tide.

During this process, he asked me a series of questions to ascertain my sanity. This was the ultimate moment in my arc – here I was, doubting my sanity, without enough sober instances to create any kind of continuity bridge for my life. Now there was a stranger here, also questioning my sanity, and with each odd thing that came out of my mouth his look took on a deeper level of compassionate scrutiny. According to him, I must be special. And there was nothing I could say to change that.

After crossing the inlet once again, the same one signs claim had taken the lives of three adults the week before, with the same stranger’s help (well how was I supposed to get back?), I made it to a shady spot and sobered up enough to think that I could drive. I managed. I went to bed for fifteen hours and woke with the kind of sobriety that makes me pray to God with thanks to be alive and is really better than any drug.

And I return home, and my friend J visits. Thank you J. If you had any idea how it feels… just at the time when I believed I was craziest, you said “well, if she’s doing it, it’s gotta be good, I’ll do it too”. And thus justified my actions. My sanity was restored. You believed in me and made the ultimate leap, trusted me to bring you sanely across. And it was time for me to begin doing drugs with other people.

And good lord, you did mushrooms... then a month later MDMA, LSD, weed, and cocaine…. All in one weekend! And then that pharmaceutical opium, and then San Pedro tea and pot brownies soon after… you did it all, you did it all with me. I wouldn’t, couldn’t have done it without you, and you wouldn’t, couldn’t have done it without me. And finally, DMT.

Your attitude was more diligent than mine, I guess it’s always that way with the younger brother. Just as hard for you to get there, you took steep doses along with me and we rose together. It’s no mistake that I taught you to drive, this is the dynamic we have. You are not the kind of guy that goes along for the ride, so it’s extra special that you got in the car with me.

Of course you had your insanity, your equivalent. The herbal psychedelics you bought off of the internet. You felt so poisoned you went to the emergency room. In addition, you had a pipe and weed in your pocket, which thankfully they took away from you and let you go. Still – this was your equivalent of my insanity. I would never have done your version, and you would never have done mine. I only hope that knowing about mine made you feel less alone in yours.

We hadn’t done drugs together in years until my 30th birthday when we shared a secret dose of LSD and enjoyed 5 different kinds of herb and some whippets too at my 24 hour party. As always, there you were, riding sidecar to my drug whims. By this time my attitude around drugs had soured, and you had married and were planning a future – but it was still the best birthday gift ever.

Turns out, we’re both sane, sane by our counts, sane by objective accounts. We’re saner for the experiences – and more successful. Sane most of all for having stopped, for having developed a very healthy moderation and different priorities within a healthy and reasonable amount of time. Enough time to experience the slings and highs, but not enough to unlock too many doors we can’t plant a guard in front of. Sane most of all for never giving up the drugs, for integrating them into this lifelong quest.

And so you, my ground, my anchor, my brother: I love you and I toast to our shared sanity and semi-sobriety! Thank you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Throughout the months my lover comes and visits my house. The trade brings him through, but he always finds a way to stay the night. His stays though unanalyzed evolve into the kind of time better described by the title “long distance boyfriend”, measured in part by the things he leaves at my house – a toothbrush, his dog’s leash, a bag of dirty socks which I launder and return to him. At a party I try to describe the humor of my long distance boyfriend’s Indian gifts to my household, but realize mid-description that the best parts must be left out. He leaves a scale at my house, always weighing something out, I end up with piles of shake around my living room, some usable, some not. I get treats and goodies and buds and hash balls and tiny vials of honey moonshine and gardener’s prize persimmons or asian pears - a taste of whatever he’s gotten from whatever random section of the populace tied together only by their usage. And then one day, as he leaves from stopping for barely a shower and a kiss – he smacks his forehead as he realizes he forgot to give a northern rancher a clone. Before he can turn his head to aim his sheepish look I sigh and put my hands out. He hands me the box from the new work boots he’s just purchased. I wave goodbye, bootbox under my arm.

I plan to shred it as he would have if I’d made him stay to do so. I am not an illegal drug manufacturer. I do not want business. I do not want risk. I do not want status. I’ve ripped apart many a budding stem before, helping the lover-cum-long distance boyfriend with trimming. Inside I open the box and there lies a poor bent plant in a plastic planter. My plant. My very own plant. An instant, brief perspective change impels action. This isn’t a clone, this isn’t evidence, this isn’t dolla billz. This isn’t an illegal drug manufacturing device, or an illegal drug container. This isn’t an illegal drug. It’s a plant, for fuck’s sake. A sweet, small, living, breathing, plant.

In a quick fury I find a spot in the corner of the yard, dig a hole, plop the plant in, fill in the dirt and give it a shovelful of compost. I don’t look back, continuing in the long tradition of not telling my roommate about cultivars that are frowned on by the law. Two weeks later I check on it after not being able to physically identify it from either window of the house on that side – both about fifteen feet away from where I planted it. When I approach I see it, amongst the jade green of the ivy it blends in almost perfectly but for hints of the undersides of the leaves which belie a lighter, grass-like green. It isn’t as light outside as this plant’s indoor genetics are used to, which makes the leaves droop and further blends it into the downturned leafy neighborhood.

It is beautiful.

I can’t dwell on it. What would the neighbors think of me standing in the corner of my yard staring down for no reason? Would they investigate what I was viewing? Would it bring attention? My exhaustion with the paranoia brought on by other manufacturing forays years prior replaces any human to plant interaction, reaction, action.

In another two weeks I am furious with my lover (demoted from the title of long distance boyfriend) for his selfishness and in a fit of frustration with him decide to check on the plant. The weather has been literally freezing and I’m almost pleased when I find the plant wilted, withered, frozen, whitened. My mind fleets to life, to the beating, pulsing rhythm of survival that unites this photosynthetic expression to my own respiratory goodness. To our eukaryotic solidarity, to our expert and related chemistries, to the power of the sun and water, to the hardiness of hemp. I teleport this sanity - this knowledge that the plant can be saved - far under the rage that infects my lover and me as a side effect and tear the plant from the ground and itself asunder all at once. Throwing pieces of it to all sides as it scrapes it’s resinous and miniscule thorn-like hairs against me in an inept attempt to fend off predators hundredths of my size and without opposable thumbs.

And, walking away, I commit worse than this frenzied murder by patting myself on the back for just having done something responsible. Grown-up. I would have had to tell the roommate eventually. It would have started budding. It would have smelled. It’s against federal law. I don’t have a prescription.

Then, to prove my essential human nature, in a step even worse than the justification – the self-recriminatory laud: I would have had to deal with the flowers and would not have had the self-control to have let them be, to let the plant’s lifecycle play out with no help from my particular brand of nature. Therefore I would have chopped it down eventually anyway. Push away the thoughts that recognize the difference between ceremoniously trimming the first plant that I’ve nannied and taking out my anger at a difficult to kill being on one that is easier. Pound myself into rightness. And as I walk away I settle on the inevitable death of the plant and myself as a reasonable explanation for just about any behavior on either of our parts: “It’s all the same, might as well just pack a vapor load and pretend it came off of that plant.”

Thus ends another lesson in how the lives of humans become a slave to this plant. Looking at the lover – a trumpet prodigy destined for greatness who succumbs to the plant, loses his passion, his hobby, architectural school drop-out because of burn-out, loses his sanity, his will to fit in, becomes a slave to his addiction, then a slave to the spread of the plant, then a slave to the propagation of the plant. Now his life plans demand the plant. Even when some other plan emerges - of money, of world change, of quitting his own usage – in the background he will always grow weed. The reasons might change (more money, just for friends, just for myself) but it will always be there, and right now it’s at the foreground as an option.

And every other tale of cannabis addiction has the same tone – a life dulled by the plant, and then enslaved, whether to support oneself or one’s habit or both. It’s such a slippery and common contract that I wonder what led to so many signatures. Perhaps gardening is such a nice form of slavery as compared to laboratory chemistry – the repetitive extraction, combination, distillation that other drug slaves endure - that the workforce doesn’t awaken to their fate as easily as do addicts to other drugs – and there are few interventions for the cannabis addict. Perhaps it’s just that nature takes on a portion of the work and lightens the buck’s load… or perhaps they’re all just stoned.

The palmate leaf is like a hand that grabs the face, an impartial helmet and intermittent blindfold. Myself I slave away after 9 years of internment to the plant, all those years spent under the lucid awareness that my life would be better, more progressed, more productive, more successful, more real, more linear, more sparkly, more sensual, and more powerful without it. Since I killed the plant it seems I don’t even get my own plant for all my enduring service to it – instead all I get is this perspective. The true nature of symbiosis is always one of co-dependence and it’s possible to look upon it positively or negatively; I was just too stoned to make a list of the positives. The only gift of a non-consuming addiction is to recognize that life grants alternatives – that there is always column A and column B. There is always “sober” and “high”.

So I have knowledge. I’d imagine it’s another useless politically correct assumption I learned in my generational autocracy that an educated slave is best. When one hasn’t any control or power it’s useless to know things, and perhaps more fun not to. To that note, I take a vapor hit for all the dead plants, the mounds and mounds of them that would form across the planet should they all de-compost simultaneously. All those that have been born and cloned, died and transferred, cut and ripped, bagged and shipped as they pretended to serve us, the wily expert thespian plants convincing us all the while that it was us behind the whip.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tweaker Pool

“So, yeah, at the bridge come off toward Rio Nido along the river”

“Uh-huh” Phone between my chin and shoulder, I am writing this down on the back of an envelope, my pen is running out so I’m scribbling furiously to get the ink to flow again.

“And then go, like, past where Rio Nido starts and you’ll see like this lodge, onna them Rio Nido tweaker lodges on your left, make a left, and then another left at the tweaker pool,” I laugh at this “and you’ll recognize the house because it’s the only one that’s bright green”

I think ‘well that’s appropriate’ but “ok, I think I got it” is what I say, despite that his instructions included no road names and two references to tweaker architecture.

Later as I’m leaving I look at an online map and realize that this area is one of the compounds in the forest, with all streets named “lane 1” or “canyon four”, a maze of houses, their layout chosen not by human planning but by the location of the giant redwoods with whom they share occupancy. I dial his number. His roommate picks up.

“No, they’ve already left. I’m watching the baby.”

I’ve been to his house too, way up out in the mountains in Lake County, stacked, pimped, full of weed and state of the art electronics and lizards.

“Uh, do you by any chance know, say, the address to the house I’m meeting him at?” I say, careful to sound neutral and dumber. When the roommate talks it’s clear he is a gentlehippie.

“Aw, no, I don’t, but I don’t think it would help you anyway, it’s so crazy up in there, it’s like a maze, I’ve gotten lost in there every time. I think it’s on Canyon Something, though”

“Thanks, that’s helpful.”

“Good luck.”

At the Rido Nido tweaker lodge, I make a left. It’s clearly a lodge. A-frame. Sign: “Lodge”. Who would stay there, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that designation means it’s meant for tweakers. Rather, it seems to be a front for tweakers. This becomes apparent to me when driving onwards…

…there it is. In all its glory. The tweaker pool. A swimming pool half-filled with mucky green water, deflated grey ball sitting at the corner, pool ladders detached and rusted, sitting by the side of the pool, all surrounded by a chain link fence. A faded sign “Pool”. As I’m staring at the remarkably aptly described tweaker pool, its description becomes even more accurate as a toothless, shirtless, shiftless man in faded blue jeans wheels a cart carrying a white industrial liquid container and an empty jug they use for watercoolers (5 gallon?) across the dirt road. He squints at me. I drive on. The road can’t decide on dirt or pavement. In my rearview, I watch the man rattle his cart into a garage, his neck tattoos only visible from the rear. He peers out the door after me, and closes it.

I stop at the brilliant green house, who for all the trash-bag taped windows still belies it’s treachery to the tweaker neighborhood by reeking of weed. Legally. 215. California rocks. I am stunned at how easy this was to find. No GPS. No mapquest. Just tweaker pool.

He greets me at the door, there are four full size boxers, one with swollen nipples, also greeting me. And his baby, and babymama and babymama brother and brother’s friend. And two other people making a deal. And 11 puppies (they inform me a few times that 2 of them died… labor was so long that they drowned in their mama) in a kiddie pool in the other room. Puppies they’ll later sell for two grand a pup. And two giant exotic lizards, whose names they tell me but I forget. One from Australia and one from South America. State of the art lizards in the wrong continent. They mention the mice feeding copiously. The boys flirt by trying to impress, disgust, overwhelm. In the other room there are plants, beautiful green cannabis plants. The house is dingy, they bring life.

I notice that every time I come to the house they change the music. Usually to reggae, sometimes to hip-hop. I’m not sure whether they’re reacting the dreadlocks or whether they just want to look cool to me. I know at their age I’d want to look cool to me. At least brother’s age. He and she are older, close to my age I think, but maybe it’s just that I drop money to him, and he’s the most respected of the group so seems older. Indirectly, I pay for their state of the art lifestyle. And lizards.

Brother’s friend is reading a letter from a Brazillian pen pal. I get the idea that these letters don’t arrive as often as he’d like. “Dude, she sent me a picture!” he exclaims. The whole room crowds around. “She said she wants me to visit, but not for too long, she’s got roommates, and school”. The usual hoopla over her femaleness and Brazilianness ensues from the guys. I am amused knowing they only speak about a female like this if she is 1500 miles away.

I watch a quarter pound being sold to him for $500 and then buy a quarter ounce from him for $100. Themz the breaks. I should get my 215. Go scrip. But no. I must brave the tweaker path to pick up barely acceptable weed from a trashy kid from Ohio who moved to NoCal to sling dope, talks big, and seems to have a problem using a scale. It’s really not simple to be a good dealer, and he’s one of the worst I’ve had, but has a good heart, so what the hell.

I take a few pulls on a hookah that brother’s friend brought back from Israel - $15! It pulls nicely. Water, red and gold plated base and thickly woven red cover to the tube, still plastics used, but the mouthpiece has a built-in glass spiral to cool the smoke. He makes me add some of my own weed, the ignant fucker. The smoker high is nice, I’m used to the vaporizer. He sings along to “Smoking marijuana like we just don’t care” and winks at me. It’ll be a nice drive back, on the windy road through the redwoods, shifting into the rolling hills of where I’m from.

As I leave he and brother are on the front porch.

“I hate this house.” He says

“Me too.” brother usually agrees with him.


“It’s so boring here.”

“Maybe we should get a couple canoes and some beers and hit the river.”

“That sounds fun.”

“Yeah, go cabrewin’!”

“Yeah, that’s cool, go caboozin’!”

“Naw, I don’t think I’d make it back up the river if it was caboozin’”

I choose this time to pipe up “You mean caboozin’ is one way and cabrewin’ a round trip? End up in the Pacific, floating off towards the Farallons?”

“Hey, I end up in Hawaii the way I am when I booze up.” There is a pause, both of them take drags off of their cigarettes in unison. I take this as a cue to leave. As I get into my car, I turn back.

“Well, have fun you guys, enjoy the cabrewin’. I hope ya don’t end up ka-yakin’”

They laugh at this. I get them. I’m one of them. We’re all stoners. Smoking marijuana like we just don’t care.

I see no tweakers, or anyone for that matter, on my way out of the compound. The pool looks just as bad from the other side.

Later the beauty deepens as I spread the story. JB tells me about a conversation with one of his geek friends – a game of 20 questions only the questions are limitless and the objects are random.

Fast forward 1.5 hours into their conversation:

“So, it isn’t just an undermaintenanced swimming pool”


“So of the set of swimming pools that are undermaintenanced, this one is so because the person or people responsible for its maintenance are using, procuring, selling, or manufacturing methamphetamines?”

“Close enough.”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Experience Maintenance

After overthinking my depression into a state of worsened emotional confusion and physical illness I realized that this was one of those days where healthy completion, communication, and resolution is not in order. Instead – raw hard escapism is all that would lift the malaise and clogged sinuses.

One escape route is never enough. Besides, I’ve tried them all. I know the alleys and tunnels of release so well that they don’t distract, tips worn from running my fingers along the walls to blindly navigate the tortuous and pigmented trails of my self-imposed passage to obliteration, all I think about is “left turn here. Stop. Pick up trap-door. Down two floors. Around the corner. Ah, sunlight.” But I’m still depressed. And sick. And present.

No, I’m too encrusted and well-patterned for simplicity. I have fashioned my own currency out of the contrast between boredom and entertainment and having pressed the levers all so many times: it takes a complex and surprising circus to bring a smile to my face.

Today’s? Bathing with Nitrous. Bubble-less bathwater provided the weightlessness and sensory shift as a dais for the whippets. The danger of drowning and dirty text messages I sent everyone I could imagine fucking me completed the equation. A little death and sex with your bathwater and drugs, anyone?

Chuckled to myself realizing it had been far longer since I took a bath than it has been since I abused inhalants. Held a hand mirror in front of my face and giggled at my lips turning blue, but canceled out that moment of glee with the reality that having a cold on N2O reduces the effects dramatically. Realized the tension I was holding at the base of my spine and felt the Kundalini coil so tightly against my attempts to unsettle, squeezing the gaps out of the possibility of release – edging its teeth into my sacrum. Thankful (and not) for its holding on, for my strong baseline – another balloon. And another. And another.

The process becomes routine. Receive dirty text message. Put balloon on cracker. Put whippet in cracker. Hold hand towel over freezing metal, release whippet into balloon. Inhale nitrous oxide gas, hold it in, breathe out into balloon, re-inhale, hold, breathe out. Sink below the water. Come up for air, let ½ of bathwater out, re-fill with warm water. Send dirty text message. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I think of all the famous drug gurus that have died in their bathtubs. I think of Addiction, not the small-a kind I enjoy that still gives me the delicious high every time, but the people with the big-A kind – the ones that are locked in a repetitious and laborious cycle just to feel better than sick and depressed every day. I think of how some of these scrimp and spend more money in a day than my Googleaires make. How nothing is as motivating as the need to feel right and settled in oneself.

Soon – the labor takes over the experience. I can’t feel anything sensual whatsoever. Instead, just mindless repetition – a 1950’s telephone operator patching and re-patching a signal. The flow of traffic. The rhythm of breathing. The ebb and flow of tides. Everything I give, I receive. So why give? Or why not give it all and be done with it? Why *not* throw out the baby with the bathwater?

Consciously: I am disappointed. It sounded more fascinating than it was. Upon rinsing, re-hydrating and recouping I realize in shock: I feel better. Much better. Both physically, and mentally. I feel accomplished. I feel like I have done something productive. All that work for experience maintenance: it sure paid off. Instead of providing a purely chemical relief it was the relief of a job well done. I re-realize that it matters not what we do with our time, there is no inherent value to activity, but only that we fulfill our imprinting and biology, a day spent working on a cure for cancer has as much value as what I’ve done with mine. I am comforted. I slyly pat myself on the back for knowing, somehow, in some way, how to take care of myself.


I was standing outside my friend's place waiting for him, on Rose Ave. a block from the beach in Venice, CA. I was wearing horns. Bouncing on my toes to keep warm in the night's ocean breeze. Three Mexican men singing in Spanish walked up the dark street towards me. Passing the only working streetlight I saw two old with a bottle of tequila in their hands, and one young - without. As they passed, in a moment of rare social interaction in Los Angeles, the third and youngest turned to me and we faced, hood to hood, faces beaming pure joy. As he sauntered onward, he recognized me over his shoulder, in the singsong voice of an angel: "Hola, Diablolita"

Blogging is the naughties hotness. Here I am, 8 years late. Thanks for reading.