Friday, December 17, 2010

Flotation Comic Book (Art Needed)

It’s dark, that’s for sure.

The water could be warmer. I’m sure they left rattlesnakes in here. I don’t feel any snakes. Tank feels smaller than I thought it would though. I guess if there were snakes they would have drowned. Eww dead rattlesnakes might be even worse.

I’m not supposed to get the water in my eyes. Salty. The earplugs are weird. There are still bubbles seeping out of my ears. I wonder if that means that water’s getting in. I don’t think there could be all that much salt buildup after one session – I wonder why we wear earplugs. This place isn’t very well insulated, I hear things. There’s no way you could call this “sensory deprivation”

Yeah, it’s a shark, that’s what they’ve put in here. Definitely a shark. Or maybe…

Maybe I’m just not physically comfortable and it’s manifesting as fear. Where do I put my arms. By my sides? No, that’s not good. Up above my head? No, not that high. Yeah, right there, ah that’s good. Relax neck. Upper back. Relax butt. Ow my butt is sore from lunges.

When do we actually use a lunge in our life anyway? That’s not really functional. I can’t believe we’ve ever done much lunging, why do we have muscles that need to be built by that?

Floating. Wheeeeee. I wonder how my friend is doing in the other tank. I think I’m falling…



I’m think-dreaming. Or is it dream-thinking?

Oh there goes the world, all of it, all the people I know
and the things I think about and the memories I have, look at the show
there they are spiraling away as I fall asleep but that good survival rooted from belly down
says don’t sleep while you’re floating or you’ll drown.
So I pull back from sleep but oh no I pulled to hard
and now BANG I’m awake again, and jarred.

I wonder how long it took? I think I have to pee. I can’t pee in here. That was made clear. I think I’ll get out and pee in the shower. Is the experience supposed to be continuous? Will I give myself brain damage if I get out and pee during it? I already had enough fun with the hypnosis to get my money’s worth, and I know I won’t relax if I lie here having to pee.

Back in the tank. Much better. I can’t believe that I was in here for two hours. And now I have another hour. I wonder what’s next.

Hey… I’m rotating. I can’t be rotating. Not that much. Laterally rotating. Counter-clockwise. Clockwise. Now back to counter-clockwise. Now I can only go counter-clockwise. That’s lame. At least I can turn it on and off. Rotate. Stop. Rotate. Stop. Rotate. Stop. Rotate. Rotate. Rotate. Rotate. Rotate. Stop. That is so COOL though. Proprioception hallucinations.

Float. Float. Float.

I hear music. That’s not from outside. Can I manipulate it like I used to be able to when I came down from taking too much MDMA? No. Maybe. A little. It’s more bluesy than electronic. If I could manipulate it then I would take it away from the rock side of blues. Give it some more twang. Oh… There it goes. That’s my good brain. Give me the stuff I want.

Aw rats. Time to get out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Things I will miss about Venice, California: The Pacific Ocean; my great roommates and their superheroic feats; Bellissimo Venice (high-end foodie organicy convenience store/deli/coffee less than a block from me); walking to the gym for training with JS and yoga with F; the most weed stores in the closest proximity of anywhere on the planet ever; arson; the electric energy of the night - made present and not overly offensive by partyfolk practicing expert Californian fun management; being catcalled by men of color every single day; the gorgeous view from the balcony (not that my new one isn't better); Whole Foods; the "fuck-it-no-apologies" attitude; being within walking distance of U and S and A and G and a whole mess of other people I don't see enough; graffiti and street art; pickup games near muscle beach (I always root for the skins); falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the ocean; the smell of gasoline; the weather; watching the hustlers (CD sales, drug sales, the shell game, 3 card monty, pimps, dog breeders, shops, services, etc.) on the boardwalk from above then going back to my own hustling online; people singing; the constant stream of athletes to ogle; the streets; being in a hub where people visit from everywhere; the light; the weather; the decent selection of organic vegetarian restaurants, particularly Seed; random art and creativity; diversity; contact highs of all kinds; the sunset over the ocean; proximity to external entertainment; not being regarded as a freak (even when I walk around in my pajamas); living with someone that can fix my computer (even though he can mostly do it remotely too); the sound of helicopters and airplanes; electric lights and sometimes their pretty trails; borrowing things from neighbors and friends; being able to walk to the flotation tank or the liquor store (or both? Drunk Float?); being able to walk most places I go to if I choose; walking places from home; at least some people here aren't "fucking hippies"; impressing people who've never been to LA with where I live; the proximity of all services and goods; hearing and speaking Spanish; prepping for Burning Man as a community.

Things I will not miss about Venice, California: Being able to see 80 residences from my window (not counting the ones I know are there on lower floors - just the ones I can see); living in gang territory (Topanga Crips repreZoent!); having roommates; dead bodies in the canals; arson; the dude who smokes drugs outside at the bottom of the stairs next door and coughs his fucking lungs out in phlegmy, bloody glory with every hit of whatever it is he's inhaling; the most weed stores in the closest proximity of anywhere on the planet ever; stoplights and crosswalks; the swamptrashy, slept on the street, pukeswept corner of Windward and Pacific and all its various residents and gnats at 7:30 in the morning; and for that matter the winnebago-dwellers and their irresponsible sewage dumping; not being able to go nude; fluoridated, chlorinated city water; "Get your medical marijuana evaluation today! The doctor is in! We have the cheapest prices on the boardwalk! Are you legal? Get legal today! Get evaluated! Get your medical marijuana evaluation today! The doctor is in! We have the cheapest prices on the boardwalk! Are you legal? Get legal today! Get evaluated! Get your medical marijuana evaluation today! The doctor is in! We have the cheapest prices on the boardwalk! Are you legal? Get legal today! Get evaluated! Get your medical marijuana evaluation today! The doctor is in! We have the cheapest prices on the boardwalk! Are you legal? Get legal today! Get evaluated!"; carrying a Taser or a knife everywhere I go; parking tickets and street cleaning days; televisions from those 80 residences blaring at me; vandalism; the constant walla; the smell of grease and fried starch; poverty; other people's music; gum stuck to the sidewalk; sidewalks; rent control; traffic; tourists; leafblowers; leashed dogs; fake body parts; smog; pigeons and gulls; the smell of "food"; anorexics; the smell of chemical deodorant/perfume/hair or body spray/misc. product; the sound of metal against metal or concrete; unwanted distance-dependent social obligations; during my eensy teensy tiny time off running into the offline segments of ad campaigns I'm working on while walking the streets and thus being thrown back into work (sometimes even on banners pulled by planes along the shore... how crafty!); not being able to see the stars!; the higher proportion of people that completely buy into the standard American health model; the absence of complex wildlife; trash washing up on shore; i look everywhere, and i see, chemical de-pen-den-cy; that dead fishy smell all oceans have; grids, squares, boxes, and lines; heavy police presence; having no space to grow food; having no space to hoop; having no space for my stuff; being watched; being heard.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot Bean on Bean Action

Drug of choice? If you define choice as a free acceptance of the consequences of a decision – then I’ll have a double mocha with soy milk. That perfect trio of beans has to be the most delicious drug delivery system ever – even more so than Diet Cannabis Cola.

I am not a caffeine addict, and I don’t think I ever really have been. I’ve enjoyed it for days on end, but I’ve never had trouble giving it up because I never went too far with it for too long.

I love the rush. There’s a perfect level of tolerance – once every three weeks or so - where a cup of coffee will send my mood through the roof for the day. If I wait too long it either gives me the jitters and keeps me up all night or does nothing for me. If I do it too often I’m left tired and with a comedown.

The –ine family and I have a complex relationship. Novocaine and I don’t speak anymore – I had 5 mercury fillings drilled out of my skull and replaced with their non-toxic alternatives, all without going under the influence of anesthetics. My distaste for them has kept me away from Ketamine so far.

Cocaine is a trashy lover I see once every few years and afterwards I am left feeling dirty and distant.

Amphetamines are useful for nothing but cleaning the house.

But caffeine and its friends in tea and mate and chocolate – these are action drugs. These little helpers allow me to accomplish real things. I can be productive in every aspect of my life under the influence of a double soy mocha. It’s almost worth the endocrine disruption and the inhibition of the absorption of calcium and Vitamin C.

The most wonderful thing about coffee is that all of society agrees with me. It’s a drug I can buy anywhere, do in public without stigma, and with friends. Would that the rest of drugs were treated thusly…

Thursday, April 15, 2010

S.B. 420

This week I tender my resignation as Secretary and CFO of a mutual benefit non-profit organization with the purpose of enhancing the access of patients and caregivers to organically grown medical marijuana through collective, cooperative cultivation projects in California.

I am thousands of miles away and my prescription will lapse in just under a month. I step out of the world I never wanted to be in with some reluctance due only to the uniqueness of the experience.
I remember arguing with the ex-boyfriend about whether it was a good idea for us to go into business together both times that we drove an hour to sign papers with the lawyer. Screaming fights in the car: “WHY DO YOU BRING THIS UP NOW?!” “WELL ISN’T IT BETTER THAN NOT BRINGING IT UP AT ALL?!”, all smiles and gentleness and agreement when there – papers signed, and silence for the ride home. The lawyer looked like a Southern Baron, young, sloppy features, ill-fitting, white, three-piece suits. All fake wood, fake marble, fake leather office. So close to Los Angeles… and yet so far.
Now I’m still literally paying for starting businesses I know are a bad idea with people I know won’t make good business partners, which is certainly better than paying in time for starting a semi-legal business in a Red county. Best that I got away when I did.
Having the binders and the books and the scrips and the papers help, but in the end it’s still up to the cops and the county. Generally the ones on the bottom end, the ones that don’t sink money into lawyers and shields, are the ones that get busted. Still, even though rarely - sometimes it’s all on a grudge or whim. The ex goes to City Council meetings, introduces himself to the Sheriff and makes whatever contributions he can. More power to him.
Say what you want about the ex-lover – he grew some decent medicine. Most of the people we served were genuinely and sometimes gravely ill. Making medicine is a depressing business, even more so when you are addicted to the product. This thing I use to destroy myself helps others.
All y’all in the business: keep growing weed. For I sure as fuck ain’t gonna do it again, but I’ll smoke up yours on occasion.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blood Messengers

Every 26 days I'm astonished to find myself undergo a complete change in personality across all the strata of my being. It's as if the body has a sci-fi memory-erasing dealio to use on me and wipe the record of this clockwork happening completely clean, each and every time - for the entirety of my fertile years.
I feel the natural shift of my body more acutely the older I get. I would never call it "PMS". It's the cycle of life, my hormones are well tuned, and yet I still feel the notes, the bars, the melody, but not the whole song. Dampening them for ill-timed life experiences is draining. I pity the women that have to do it all the time. And perhaps the men, vibrating out a hormonal wavelength of their own. A wavelength which admittedly usually entices me the last week of my cycle and pierces my heart and all my senses once I start to flow. I want to curl up somewhere warm and cozy, protected, and bleed – uninterrupted.
Hormones feel so much deeper than neurotransmitters. Blood messengers. With drugs that work on the nerves/brain some part of me always knows I'm under the influence, there is a detachment. Hormones are complete. They feel realer than reality, like a burst of truer truth - signposts that show me how I really feel. I trust them as I do my own blood. I wouldn't betray them.
But they aren't functional. They lead me into a sensitivity that doesn't fit the world with all it's sharp edges and textures. I'm too curious to live in their revelations. Still, I let it come over me for the time that it's there. I act according to it's demands: horny, grouchy, extreme, manic – isolationist and then let it all go when it leaves, without shame – or, apparently, memory. I surf the cycle. It's animal, it's fun to exhibit without supression. I'm female.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Homeland Security

God Bless America. I love the open road. I am traversing 3000 square miles at my leisure, watching the states roll into one another and the dramatic crests and troughs of the landscape of the United States of America. Freedom of movement is one of the purest ways to experience the elusive American concept of freedom.

At dusk I am on the I-8 – between Yuma and Tucson, heading East. The traffic slows to a standstill, we move forward inches in fits and starts. After twenty minutes of this I see signs “Caution, Working Dogs Ahead”. It becomes clear that this is a border patrol checkpoint. I know I’m over 50 miles from the Mexican border, probably closer to 100. I’ve passed a few checkpoints today, took photos of a guy in handcuffs with six men in olive uniforms standing over him, his car open and the contents splayed over the ground in front of him. The last time I traveled this way there were none of these, Homeland Security didn’t exist ten years ago.

Desert tents line the highway and have been fashioned into makeshift tollbooth style coverings over the lanes. There is a middle eastern look to the scene, right down to the uniforms. I wonder if it’s purposeful – if the designers of Homeland Security are emulating the enemies in the War on Terror. Perhaps subconsciously we feel our tax dollar funding is justified in this process.

As I approach the small stop sign, I see they are circling every car with search dogs. I keep an eye on the young German Shepherd that does his duty on my Yaris. I move the rearview as he walks behind the car to make sure there are no blind spots. The dog then moves on to the car behind me.

I’ve seen the CheckpointUSA videos. I know better. But when the young black agent stops me I roll my window all the way down. I have been through three of these checks earlier in the day, and was waved through as soon as they saw the color of my skin.

He asks me “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”


He makes eye contact with another agent, who has checked my license plate. I see the other agent nod. I’m in Arizona. I have California plates. I must be a criminal.

“Are you the registered owner of the vehicle?”


I own a new car. I must be a criminal.

“Please pull over to secondary” The agent points at the tents on the right side of the road. I love how it sounds so official, but is really just the gravel shoulder of a two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. This is my last chance to say no.

I don’t. I know I am carrying nothing. I’m slightly curious about the process. I drive the ten feet to the shoulder. They direct me to park underneath a tent with bright lights set up at all four corners. Three agents surround my car, two white, one Mexican American.

The tallest white agent asks “Are you the registered owner of the vehicle?”


“Please step out of the car.” I want to say no. I want to start the engine and drive away. My curiosity is ebbing away. I step out of the car.

“Where are you headed?” he asks.

“Bisbee, Arizona.” I answer.

“Please step under the tent.”

“I’m already under a tent.” I reply. My patience is wearing thin. It seemed like a fun game, it’s seeming less and less fun by the minute.

“Please step under that tent.” He points to a tent with a park bench under it. I walk over and sit on the bench. I look at my car. The Mexican American agent removes a dog from a cage and has it circle my car. The dog looks uninterested. While this is occurring the first agent asks again:

“Where are you headed?”

“Bisbee, Arizona.”

“Where are you coming from?”

“Los Angeles.” I’m coming from LA. I must be a criminal.

“That’s a long drive. Why are you going to Bisbee?”

“I have a friend there.” The other white agent walks over to us.

“Where are you headed?” he asks.

The other agent answers “She’s going to Bisbee.”

Whitey #2 asks “Where is that?” like he doesn’t believe it exists.

I answer, like a smartass: “It’s in Arizona. The state we’re currently in.”

The agent chuckles and retorts “All I know is Yuma to Tucson”

The Mexican American agent joins us.

“Where are you headed?”

“The moon.” I answer, having lost all patience with their efforts to trick me into mismatched answers.

“We’re going to need to search your vehicle, if that’s okay.” The Mexican dude says awkwardly and like he’s embarrassed. I would be too in his shoes, he’s clearly only one generation away from being on the other side of the line. I stand up. I say the line I’ve been waiting to say for ten years:

“I’m sorry, I don’t consent to any searches.”

He dashes my brave stand in one sentence. “Well, we already have probable cause.” he says insecurely in his slight Hispanic accent. “The dogs have indicated that you have either hidden persons or narcotics on board, and it's obviously not hidden persons, so...” He expects me to finish his sentence with an admission.

I laugh. The three of them are not laughing. I shrug – and sit back down.

“I don’t consent.” I repeat. The Mexican agent is already halfway to my car. He opens it. I think of my Taser lying in my bag on the front seat. They don’t find it.

I look down the line briefly and hear a guy with a thick Indian accent refusing his search. I see people of color, people with accents, and another person with dreadlocks. I realize I’m being profiled. I have dreadlocks. I must be a criminal. I know the dogs have not reacted to my car. Trying to block my view, the second white agent plants himself between me and the car, and the first one between me and him, and begins rapidly firing questions at me.

“What do you do for a living?”

“Internet marketing.” I crane my neck around him to keep an eye on my car.

“Do you work for a big company or a small one?”

“I have my own company.” He stops at this and looks at me quizzically. He was expecting me to be a deadbeat. He’s realizing he’s incorrectly profiled and is wasting his time. I’m realizing he’s more poorly trained than any police officer I’ve ever encountered, and that the standards for his employment are lower than any rural Sheriff’s department.

“How did you get into internet marketing?”

“How did you get into Homeland Security?” He is silent. I continue. “Look, I really need to watch him search my car.” I get up and move closer to the car. The Mexican American agent is surprisingly ginger with my possessions. He has the dog on the leash, and the dog is inside my car. I’m afraid that they will plant something. I realize that these are Federal agents, should they “find” anything on me I am facing Federal mandatory minimums. I am less attentive to following questions.

“Why does it say that on the back window of your car?” he asks.

“It used to say ‘LOST BLACK CAT’ and it had my phone number. Now it just says ‘LOST’ because I like it that way. I lost my cat.”

“Did you ever find it?”


“Why do you have all those things in your car?”

“Because I’ll be on the road for six months. How long does it take you to train those dogs?” I ask.

“I don’t know.” He realizes I am done answering questions and stops asking them. When they open the trunk I open my mouth.

“I have fragile computer equipment in the trunk.” Hearing this, they don’t even bother to empty the trunk. I am grateful they aren’t abusing their power as much as they could. My three file boxes, suitcase, and laundry basket are on the ground outside of the car. They search them one by one by hand and with the dog and place them back into the vehicle. Eventually the agent gets to my box full of vitamins, herbs, spices, and oils. He doesn’t bother to open any of the pill bottles. The Mexican agent and white agent #2 pull out my organic basil, parsley, and oregano and wave the bottles under the dog’s nose before holding it up to the light. The sun has set. The sight of the two of them scrutinizing my organic herbs makes me burst into uncontrollable laughter.

“What’s so funny?!” the first white agent narrows his eyes at me. I grab my keys out of his hand.

“Nothing is funny about this at all. I believe in open borders and decriminalization, yet I’m still paying you to do this ridiculous shit.” I say. I walk towards my car. “Am I free to go?”

“Yes. Get out of here.” says white agent #1, in a tone more bored and frustrated than angry. The second white agent has moved on down the line. The Mexican agent is putting the dog back in his cage. I get in my car, start the engine, and peel out.

That night I feel dehumanized. I feel my rights as an American citizen have been ripped from me. I thought it was meaningless, but as it sinks in I feel deep emotional chords being struck. I feel degraded, invaded, violated.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searches, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The joke’s on them. It’s the first time I’ve traveled without drugs in over a decade. I am a criminal.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tequila and Cocaine

The Dust. The Heat. The Extremity. The Desert City. The Tequila. The Cocaine. The Shark.

For my 12th consecutive year as a Black Rock City resident I drank tequila and snorted cocaine every day. I promptly stopped upon return to the default world. I didn’t use weed and was THC free for three months before so called it “My first sober Burning Man”.

I don’t drink. I don’t use cocaine. I criticize others use of both.

The first few times I tried cocaine were in the bathroom on a film set, curious because of everyone else's rampant use. I found it less effective and euphoric than caffeine, and bothersome in its duration and comedown.

Once I visited the Medicine Man and he sold me weed, gesticulating excitedly about politics and spirituality. He was more amped than I’d ever seen him and I kept looking at him quizzically. Picking up on this, and looking as though he knew better but wanted to let me in on a secret – he told me he had some cocaine that no one had seen since the 1980’s. I refused at first, but he persisted that I should at least look at it.

The one time I’d bought my own gram of cocaine it was a dull powder, like baking soda. That’s what I was used to seeing - even at the best Hollywood parties. I walked into his private back room and there was an ornate, gold encrusted alter, with tiny drawers containing spoons and straws. The top of the small chest of drawers was mirrored, with mirrored walls on three sides set at 123 degree angles. On top of Old Smokey was a fist-sized rock of cocaine. It shone and glistened – reflecting the light in the room in all directions – as pure as driven snow. My jaw dropped. I accepted his offer of a line. He chipped it off of the rock and handed me one of the straws, sterile and wrapped in paper. I unwrapped it and bent down towards the mirror, eye to eye with the rock of Gibraltar. It was so bright I felt my pupils down aperture.

I got it. The euphoria, the openness, the feeling of being on a manageable dose of MDMA with no comedown, no negatives – just pure enhancement. When the effects of my line had exhausted he offered me another, but I refused. It was my first positive experience with cocaine and I was satisfied. I felt that I understood the decades prior with more clarity – and I never accepted an offer for cocaine again until Burning Man 2009.

Something about the psychic and physical space of Black Rock City alters the way drugs affect people’s bodies. For me, the drugs I choose there are a different set than I would when not there.

I had two buddies, one for tequila, one for cocaine. My tequila friend mixed me organic tequila margaritas with organic agave-sweetened mixes of different exotic, all natural flavors (blackcurrant, meyer lemon, blood orange, and pomegranate). I enjoyed getting drunk with my friend, it bonded us in our travels and experience there - though we spent considerable time apart We had stopped at three BevMo’s on one day and back again at one of them on our way out – as the beginning of our pilgrimage. We carried nothing illegal but were loaded down in hundreds of pounds of liquor and beer for ourselves and others.

Agave is a friend of mine. I avoid sugar as a poisonous drug, but occasionally I’ll turn to agave’s sweet nectar to tickle the tooth and tongue. I never tolerated alcohol well, until I discovered that it is all about quality, and that I take well to agave. I can handle my tequila. As Little Brother would say "It's not alcohol, it's tincture of agave." The alcohol made me feel keenly adjusted to the desert city. Aware of myself, aware of my place, aware of my surroundings – present.

My cocaine friend brought four grams to last us the week. It was mediocre, but I was so boozed up and he was so tripped out that it didn’t matter. It just helped me stay the course. I was surprised to find that the drug that Burning Man is lengthened the duration of cocaine considerably, so that a few lines would get me high for hours at a time.

The cocaine made me feel immortal, and heightened awareness even more combined with the tequila, adding a glow to the city. I floated along on air and confidence. Often it made me annoyed with others that didn’t. I realized how often I look down on those not as sharp as I am, and I how I chase those that are sharper.

The others referred to their vaporizing sessions as “safety meetings”. My cocaine friend and I referred to our sessions as “danger meetings”. We would meet in secret. We’d use a full-length mirror furnished by Wal-Mart laid across both of our laps, and rolled up hundred dollar bills. During the peak of the cocaine high question each other with animation as to why this particular substance is so taboo in the circles we find ourselves in. Clearly MDMA is more damaging to the body, and everyone around us was rolling on E – but cocaine is poo-pooed and maligned by the same pseudo-hippie crowd.

Each day I would consume around a half liter of organic tequila and five or so lines of cocaine. I became a queenpin. Confident and arrogant. Output centric. On the few days I wore my shark costume I felt perfectly suited.

The Black Rock Desert doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’ll tear you apart, the alkaline seeping into your skin and causing lesions, filling your lungs and giving those that stay out there long enough a lung disease similar to silicosis. Tequila and cocaine were my Popeye’s spinach. I triumphed, I transcended. There was no sloppiness – every move was precise. I was filled with a present invincibility, and available to all. I was reliable, on time, full of integrity. I gave pep talks, I was a shoulder to cry on, I was a leader and a sorcerer. I looked down my nose at all the uncontrolled debauchery and wonderment. I was controlled. I was certain. I was drunk and high.

I had always believed I could never be an alcoholic or a cocaine addict, drunk or cokehead, boozer or fiend. I had never drank or snorted cocaine two days in a row in my life until this week. I now realize that with habitual use I can accomplish addiction to anything – I just need to put my mind to it.

Relapse/Relax (215 III)

I leave the partner on the winter solstice. Quit growing dope, quit the relationship, and move out, all in one day. I stay with friends in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has a higher number of dispensaries per capita than anywhere else in the state. At present time this means over 500 medical marijuana establishments, more than Los Angeles has of Starbucks and Coffee Bean combined. The City was delinquent in following the 215 guidelines to set zoning regulations for medical marijuana pharmacies – and so they bloomed. Once Obama stopped federal intervention, they became a thriving market force that blocks the Mayor and City Council’s efforts to curb use in various ways. At present it’s only a city block’s walk in any direction to come across a weed shop.

Knowing that this might not last, feeling the pain of a life empty of the lover/partner/friend – and prescription in hand – I go to town. Wandering dazedly from shop to shop, buying a pre-rolled joint or a gram off of their menu of dozens of choices. Rating them, experiencing them, delving into the sativas, indicas, edibles, tinctures and more. I smoke openly on the street – so do enough others that I feel absolutely secure. I watch the sunlight glinting on the waters of the Pacific, I take photos of Los Angeles oddities, I feast on the deli section of Whole Foods, I miss appointments and lie to friends, and I am deeply medicated.

At first it is like meeting a long lost friend. That part of me that the cannabis brings out. She’s a beautiful woman, the Green Diablolita – so opposite and complimentary to her sisters in trinity – Blue Diablolita and Red Diablolita. After enough months off and a good enough relapse – I realize that addiction has robbed me of the best parts of the drug. With habitual use the creativity and sensation enhancement fades – and all I am is mildly dull. I feel it necessary to maintain continued sobriety to accomplish long set-aside goals. This abstinence leaves out that part of me that I am so used to maintaining and managing in the world, and having back the developmental under-the-influence of THC self that I have built over a ten year period is empowering and fun. I know, in the end, that the Middle Way is the only way. However, I can honestly say I’ve yet to find mine. Perhaps all life is a strife for that perfection.

After a while – all I feel is dull. So I quit again. And then relapse. And then quit again. And then, one day: I feel at choice. And I sit down … and write.

There are a range of weed shops. I enjoy the simple ones – and have noticed that often the quality of their product outdoes the flashy places. I walk up to the door. I ring the doorbell. I’m buzzed into a holding area and a security guard behind plexiglas verifies my prescription by phone (or just by my license and patient number, if it’s not my first time). Then I am buzzed in or led in to the main area where there are clerks behind a glass case. What if alcohol were sold like this?

I find myself gravitating towards the places with live plants. There are specials on a board, there is a menu on the wall with a dozen selections each under Indica, Sativa, and Hybrid – and there is a full range of edibles from ice cream and vegan gluten-free cookies to fruit-roll ups to pizza. There are lounges to vaporize, there are lounges to smoke. The prices range. I usually by $15-$25 grams or $10-$12 joints, because I can, because they take credit cards, and because I never want to try the same Kind twice. And OH is it Kind – Cali weed of the finest quality a highly competitive market can produce. Knowledgeable salespeople who can tell you exactly how it was grown, what products, where.

I flashback to a decade ago when there were none of these shops and I had to spend hours getting marijuana at first from a friend of a friend (always missing a bud for each stop down the line) – then from a string of drug dealers that connected me to crime. The sheer legality of it all is wonderful, not having to jump through hoops any more ridiculous than referring to weed as medicine and never talking about sharing in the shops – very freeing. I laugh at the accuracy of the DSM definition of cannabis dependence through the lens of prohibition. In the end – this is what it takes to get me to lose interest in getting high. Take the chase away, and I’m not smitten anymore.

After a few weeks of this I am done. It was worth it, it was great – but I’ve had my share.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Attack of the Clones (215 II)


I unpacked the truck into the grow house – and at once the lover became my boyfriend, housemate, and business partner. His mental illness may have colored the process – but I hated growing weed. Hate it.
Beautiful and ebullient life, sacred plants with their happy leaves that look like hands – reaching up to artificial lights in an indoor environment, with forced air and ventilation, the sound of fans and AC, and often a screaming madman impacting their growth with his wrath.
I dreaded 8:00. The lights would snap on, and I’d descend into the underground plant jail to mix water, organic fertilizers, and adjust the pH. I’d water the plants, tie up those of them that drooped, water the veg room if needed, and as we grew in soil I would transplant anything that needed it – all rarely to his satisfaction. I’d then clean the rooms, and empty the trays from the water that had runoff. I regretted being tied to this nightly task, the loss of freedom far outweighing any money made – and from where I sat we made no money, just kept sinking further into debt on my credit cards as the lover obsessively updated the room in preparation for expansion that never seemed to happen at a pace rapid enough to justify the expenses.
One of the only parts of the job I enjoyed was getting out of the house to fill up the four 5 gallon jugs at the nearby grocery store water station – a joy that was taken away from me when the partner convinced me to invest in a reverse osmosis machine. The other task I withstood was trimming, despite the partner screaming at me that I did it too slow, or was cutting too close or too loose when there was no discernable difference between his work and mine.
I quit smoking, eating or vaporizing weed. After ten years of almost daily use – I was done. And he raged at me for that – for treating the job like a job, for only caring about the plants for how much money they would bring in, not for how they would get me high.
Before the partner convinced me to invest in a clone machine (and aquarium chiller to keep the water at the correct temperature) – we reached a few plant number emergencies due to the partner’s inability to see into the future and my novice gardening skills.
I was always happy to volunteer to leave the house on grow room related activities; any time we needed supplies from the hydro shop or clones I’d eagerly run the errand.
And so – the first time I stepped into a medical marijuana pharmacy I was months sober and not there to buy the finished product – I was there to buy clones.
I savored the process of buying clones. I luxuriated in the elitism of having my prescription verified and being buzzed passed security, of learning the lineage of the different strains, of using a magnifying glass to determine any insect activity – and being educated on how many days from soil to flowering to finishing. Most of all – this was the only area of our grow operation that I had any control over. The clone menus would be posted online, but often when I arrived at the shops the selection would be entirely different from expected. In the end, it was up to me to choose the varieties and the individual mini-plants.
The satisfaction of carrying my tray of sensitive plants, less than 8 inches tall, nestled in rockwool and innocence, and placing it on the front seat of my car and driving them the two hours to their new home was immense. Every step of this process was legal. I had no fear of being stopped or questioned by police officers; I would often take my prescription out of my wallet and lay it over the plastic dome covering the plants to prevent them from wilting in the baking Southern California sun.
It was through this that I came to accept Proposition 215. Though in my eyes I was not and am not a legitimate medical marijuana patient – I AM a legitimate gardener. I am qualified to plant a plant, and to oversee its growth. It’s my God-given right. That there is no other way to legally do this with cannabis made me accept the law, and accept my caretaker role, and be deeply thankful and profoundly proud to be a Californian.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

215 I

I am sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. This is no ordinary doctor’s office – it’s one of the network of Medicann offices, and I am here to get a prescription for medical marijuana.

Why am I here today? After railing against the idea for so long? After claiming I’d rather be a criminal than a patient? Because I have a moving truck sitting in the parking lot – ready to be unpacked into a grow house.

The wait is quite ordinary; I am not seen until an hour and fifteen minutes after my appointment time. There are about ten people in the waiting room with me, and from what I can see it is a constant stream of people – and this is not a day that the office accepts walk-in patients. As I wait, I observe the process.

There is a receptionist who copies each patient’s California Driver’s License when they enter the office, takes prior records relating to the condition, and hands out forms to fill out. When the forms are completed and returned to her with a $150 payment, she does some paperwork and attaches them to a clipboard which she puts in a plastic sorting thing hanging outside the doctor’s office. The doctor spends at least fifteen minutes with each patient. When the patient exits the office, the doctor takes the next chart and calls the next patient in. The patient returns to the receptionist and has their photo taken, and is issued an embossed prescription including a photocopy of their license, and a photocopy of that which they are instructed to carry on their person at all times. The laminated card for which the photo is taken will be sent in the mail. A pamphlet listing nearby medical marijuana providers is included in the packet handed to the patient.

After filling out my form where I admit to vaporizing a gram of marijuana a day to deal with neck pain, and rate the “side effects” of its use on a 1 to 10 scale of discomfort (I give the munchies a 10) – I am offered coffee, tea or water, which I refuse. I overhear that the doctor I am to see today is the founder of Medicann, and cycles from office to office in the network. I feel lucky.

The waiting room is clean, but not sterile like other doctor’s offices. It’s painted a pleasant, light forest green. There is a running fountain in the corner, and plenty of windows. Instead of magazines there are pamphlets educating patients about other alternative healing options – acupuncture, massage, nutrition. I am happy to see these and find it ironic considering that the doctor I am about to see is an M.D. - not an alternative practitioner. I also find it encouraging that the average stoner seeking their scrip will be educated about these modalities.

The other patients range in age and size and class and race and the visibility of their illness. The girl before me comes out of the office. It’s the day after her 21st birthday and she has just woken up - she asks the receptionist if she can go home, get made up, and put on a bra before her photo is taken. The receptionist acquiesces.

It’s my turn. The doctor calls my name. He is a light skinned black man with a few small dreadlocks running down the length of his back. He looks healthy. He is not wearing a white coat. I walk into the office and take a seat. He goes over my chart, and is so impressed by the letter written by my massage therapist he asks me if he can have her name and number, which I provide. He hands me back my chiropractic records, telling me that he only needs one piece of paper because the folders get very thick and won’t fit in the file cabinet.

He then asks me to stand up and turn my head and raise my arms and other ridiculous and ineffective ways of checking on my neck. I thank the State of California for turning us all into liars who perform elaborate dances and speak in jargon while fully knowing that it’s a farce.

It is true that my neck only turns so far in one direction, and that I suffer from neck pain. It is not true that marijuana helps in the slightest, it only makes it worse. I keep this fact to myself.

He tells me I should look on the Americans for Safe Access website for details on my rights as a medical marijuana patient. He says that I may use my medicine anywhere – but if I am in a motor vehicle I must stop, pull over to the side of the road, sit in the passenger seat if I’m not already there – and take the keys out of the ignition. In the next sentence he tells me that it is illegal to drive under the influence.

He educates me that I can use “medicine” in a balm form to soothe the muscles in my neck. I genuinely did not know that before he told me so. I still haven’t tried it.

As a punchline, he comes to the part of the form where it asks the name of my M.D. I wrote “n/a” on the form.

“I see you have no Medical Doctor”

“No, I’ve just used massage, chiropractics, and yoga to handle the pain. I guess I should find one.”

“In Heaven’s name no. You are already doing everything you should be to treat your condition.”


“DO NOT find a Medical Doctor, you do not need one. We just want to give you drugs.”