I was half in a band for about six years.
We rocked mostly garages and cheap studios.
I felt bad for never being as committed as the other guys.
I’d do things like just flakily not show up to practice for months; then I’d appear again on a random Saturday morning all smiley and eager to play.
The others were always way too cool with my lack of dependability.
I showed up once to jam in December, 2010—my first appearance in over a year.
The others had obviously been working hard.
They sounded tight and brilliant.
I was rusty, but loving the experience of jumping around like a kid again in that tiny, dingy practice studio, being all loud and everything.
We were talking after practice, and one of the guys mentioned how easy it had been get his medical marijuana prescription.
2010 had felt like a pretty dismal year for me, so the notion of legal weed as a real possibility was definitely appealing.
My friend from the band gave me a gram to hold me over until I could get my prescription.
I was so grateful.
He actually let me choose between two different strains.
The first, he said, was supposed to be more physically calming and loose; the second was known to be more energetic and mentally stimulating.
I chose the second, stimulating strain, called Devil’s Lettuce.
That night, I got high for the first time in years.
My plan for the night was simply to collapse to the couch and watch something funny on TV.
Instead, I drifted like some reverse specter to my laptop where I typed up a dazed email to a friend, telling him something about as embarrassing as accidently sexting your boss might be.
I wrote that I wished he and I could learn to better understand each other one day.
I cringed when I realized I’d just pressed ‘Send’.
It seems kind of silly to me now to have gotten so worked up about the whole thing.
Perhaps the Devil’s Lettuce was merely amplifying my then naturally paranoid perspective to epic proportions, highlighting its clash with my abiding naïveté and immaturities.
Regardless, it didn’t paint a pretty picture.
I frantically tapped out another email, claiming to have sent the first by mistake.
I tried to cover with a few lame jokes.
Next, I wrote the following note to myself in hopes of avoiding future embarrassment:
“Just do what you set out to do.
I was essentially advising myself to only stick with TV and other forms of entertainment while high.
A bunch of other similarly awkward scenarios played out over the next few months.
One time, I got high and texted my brother-in-law, telling him he was the brother I’d always wanted.
Even if all my high sentiments were true, putting myself out there like that felt incredibly embarrassing, inappropriate, and poorly timed.
I felt like an idiot.
I gradually became too afraid to initiate social interactions on weed, especially with non-high people.
Instead, per my own instructions, I buried myself in entertainment.
It got to where if I wasn’t being entertained enough, I’d feel like I was wasting my high.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with entertainment.
I find weed can beautifully enhance TV, movies, music, food, sex, videogames, etc.
My problem was just that my rule about only having fun made me too aware of time passing by.
I’d get all anxious and impatient, always feeling like I could be getting more out of the experience than I was.
For example, if I was planning to smoke weed, make some popcorn, and watch a movie, the time spent actually making the popcorn would feel unacceptably boring and frustrating.
In those early days, I hated the nagging feeling that a certain high thought or idea might be worth writing down.
The pressure to maximize my high time even kept me from sleep.
I’d smoke late at night, watch the beginning of a show, smoke some more, keep watching, have an energy drink, smoke some more, watch another episode…
Here’s something I wrote while high years later:
“It’s kind of ironic: In 2010, I felt like I was supposed to be writing but wasn’t.
“Back then, I’d have seen entertainment as a waste of time.
“Then I started using medical weed, and everything flipped: I felt like I was wasting my high time if I had to write or do anything other than be entertained.
“In both cases, not doing exactly what I thought I should be fed into a cycle of anxiety and depression.
“Eventually I wouldn’t be able to ignore how many times I’d told myself how crucial it was for me to learn to really relax.
“I think I gradually came to see just how uptight I was getting about my ‘relaxation time.’
“Are ironies like that often the X’s that mark irrationalities in our lives?
“It seems true that time + recording and sharing experience = less opportunities for irrationalities overall.”
So, once I smoked through that gram of Devil’s Lettuce, I went to go get my prescription.
I had an intense experience the first night I used after that.
I’d plucked off a few clumps from a jolting, energetic strain (such strains, like Devil’s Lettuce, are called Sativas).
I’d also taken some buds from a smoother, more relaxing strain (these are called Indicas).
I coughed so hard after a few puffs from that first racing Sativa that I never actually made it to the second mellow Indica.
Going against my own advice about avoiding all but entertainment, I wrote down an imagined conversation with a distant friend.
I often imagine conversations while high—usually with those I wish I was still close to.
Feeling lost, impatient, sketchy, alone, and desperate, I next wrote:
“People from the past are voices in my head.
“But I could never talk to them now.
Throughout 2011, my chronic need for entertainment only escalated.
I isolated myself without realizing, and imagined rejection from everyone.
I’d almost convinced myself the reason for all my anxiety was that I’d been cursed for having wrongly chosen the Devil’s Lettuce strain in the first place.
It’s wonderful what a little objective perspective can do.
Have you ever felt cursed?
Did it matter whether the curse was real?
How has addiction changed you?
Tomorrow: a cry for help.
P.S. After writing today’s chapter, I got high and wrote:
“It seems kind of obvious now: Devil’s Lettuce is a Sativa strain; Sativas might be the opposite of what you’d want to use to ‘collapse to the couch’ and watch TV.
“No wonder I couldn’t sit still that first night, but instead skittered to my laptop, fired off a heartfelt email, and then got all anxious about it.
“Sativas are naturally more energetic, warm, and mentally (emotionally) stimulating.
“But I had no idea back then.
“Part of the problem—the effects of the ‘Devil’s Lettuce curse’—could have just been misusing strains early on.
“It takes time for those who’ve used illegally to get used to being able to choose between specific effects, which is one of the benefits of going to a dispensary.”