THE LIST OF THINGS I can do without thinking is long and boring; there's nothing interesting about autopilot. By the time I reached my 20s, I felt as if I had navigated nearly every imaginable body of water, I had trained my brain to negotiate the giant swells, the sudden tide changes, the peaceful calm. Whether that was naive, juvenile, bitter, or ridiculous is a question for an entirely different day. The fact is, I was bored, and I started smoking a lot of pot. I still do.
Deep drags unleash full circles of unadulterated enthusiasm, and my stereo is my best friend. Some smokers sink into the couch and gorge themselves on old movies and sitcom reruns, some dig into conversations about the absence of allegory, some stuff themselves with pizza. I hear music. The Stone Roses' "She's a Waterfall" curls around exhales. Yo La Tengo is next—anything off of Painful, and then Seam, Mercury Rev, the Feelies, Small Faces, Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, the Jam, New York Dolls, Destroyer, David Bowie, and nobody can fuck with me. I hear all of it exactly as it is meant to be heard, and it never stops amazing me. Never.
Conversations confound me in the best way. My friends astonish me with their brilliance. Strangers intrigue me. Everyone knows something. When I'm stoned, I write it all down: expressions, nods, smiles, handshakes. Each of us has our own ugly heart-shaped birthmark, our own badge of honor that we were born to take advantage of, our own manifesto, our own words about what burns brightly and what hurts the most. I appreciate them all without marijuana, but smoking pot gives me an excuse to record it, to write it down.
Marijuana allows me to experience everything with that much more light. It opens my eyes and increases my awareness. The filter is off, my mind moves freely, betraying old patterns. I travel through thoughts, ideas, pictures, and s tories like they're small towns on my own personal autobahn. Some smokers will tell you that marijuana allows them to slow down, unwind, and mellow out, but in my life—perhaps due to my metabolism, karma, or brain chemistry—pot is an antidote for a world that often feels too tidy, too rule-ridden, too slow, too thought-out and followed-through.
In certain circles, I am identified primarily as a stoner. I am the girl with the pocket-sized pipe at the ready, the one with the really good lighter, the easy laugh, and the head full of curiosity. But the key to using marijuana effectively is to often not use marijuana. If the idea is to subvert the static and increase the outliers, then one must stagger one's drug use with healthy doses of a smoke-free environment—otherwise it all becomes one big bore. As Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers said in "I'm Straight," "If those guys are so great/tell me/why can't they take this place/and take it straight?" It's the contrast that keeps both realms so interesting. I sleep less than most people I know and do more while I'm awake because I'm grateful for the experiences that awareness provides. I believe marijuana has given me that. So I suppose I am a stoner, but if you think about it—and I've thought about it plenty—this is all just a beautiful dream, and I like to dream in green.