Forgetting Mary Jane 

Confessions of a pothead

Page 3 of 4

People drink as a method of social lubrication; getting drunk makes it way fun to be around others. I smoke pot so that I won't care about socializing. At some point I decided it was becoming an expensive and crippling problem. I couldn't concentrate. I was afraid of or indifferent to strangers. I would complete 75 percent of a community college course and then inexplicably stop going just before the final. I tried to stop smoking many times and I couldn't. I smoked out of pop cans or homemade bongs. I could never justify the expense of a nice piece, because every time I bought an eighth I told myself, "This is the last time." This went on for 10 years.

In 2007, I quit for 379 days, because my then-boyfriend hated it. I told myself I would quit for a year and then see if I could smoke occasionally. I tried it again once, and then again a week later, and before I knew it I was back to pretty much all day every day. Ask just about any daily user and they'll tell you about that year that they quit smoking "no problem" and cite it as proof that they were never addicted.

click to enlarge ...the voice in my head that tells me to smoke her sounds like an evil, raspy man. “Do it,” he says. “You found that joint yesterday, re-member?...Anyway, your mouth hurts. It’s medicinal.” I think he makes an excellent point. - ILLUSTRATION BY JONATHAN MARQUIS
  • Illustration by Jonathan Marquis
  • ...the voice in my head that tells me to smoke her sounds like an evil, raspy man. “Do it,” he says. “You found that joint yesterday, re-member?...Anyway, your mouth hurts. It’s medicinal.” I think he makes an excellent point.

Some people are governed by dials measured in degrees that can be tweaked and modulated, but not this girl. For me, there's just a single switch that gets stuck in an on or off position. Molly doesn't eat just one cupcake; Molly eats all the cupcakes. Every time, it's the same, sad story. I buy a bag of pot with the intention of making it last a long time. I rush home to smoke, and I more or less don't leave my room until the entire bag is gone. My bed is a Tempur-Pedic knock-off, and it's true what they say about them not transferring motion; the mattress is also a table. I wake up and the bag and the bowl are still next to me, right where I left them. I don't care about cleanliness because I don't invite people over. I smear last night's ash into the sheets. I start smoking before I even get up and go to the bathroom. Drinking is only second best, and if I manage to get out to the bar during these times, I usually sneak off at some point to light up. When I come back from smoking I'm "myself" again and problems are no longer problems.

I wish pot were more like cocaine. The coke addicts can just slip into the bathroom, sniff some powder out of designer jewelry that is also a drug receptacle, and then return to the party in wonderful spirits. Pot is such a production. You have to set it on fire. It envelops you in a cloud of pungent smoke. The smoke seeps into your clothes. Everyone can tell and they're judging you.

I've gone to desperate measures to try to temper my smoking. Halfway through an eighth, my throat burns, my head is made of lead and I hate myself. It's gotten so bad that I've given half a bag of pot to my neighbor to hold with explicit instructions. "Do not, I repeat, do not give this back to me until the semester is over." A day later I'm knocking on the poor kid's door.

Bad weed is dry and crisp and burns like dead pine needles. The good stuff unfurls inside of you. I picture a blooming flower covered in diamonds that crystallize and crackle. I see floating colors in front of my eyes whether or not I close them. My blood gets thick. Limbs move through the air slowly, like ripping through Velcro. Whatever it was I was worried about five minutes ago doesn't matter anymore. The bad thoughts inside of me are snuffed and replaced with a calm nothingness. I feel soothed, and sometimes guilty. I smoke non-stop just to get rid of the stuff, and always there's that dumb legless thought of "This is the last time." I can go anywhere from hours to days to sometimes weeks without buying another bag, but then life happens and I'm back at Jack's apartment.

So here I am. I have my master's degree. I'm almost 30. Enough is enough. I set out to quit smoking pot for at least 10 days. Then, so as to not allow myself an escape valve, and to make the experiment more complete, I give up drinking. And then, just to lay it on really thick and ruin everyone's summer barbecues, I give up all animal products.

I had hoped I would be miserable so that I'd have more fodder to exploit, but it's been easier this time than ever before. My habit is behaving like a monster that taps you on the shoulder and then disappears the second you shine a flashlight on it. I think I might be growing up. I'm starting to think I'm cured.

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