High Times all the Times

Walter from Big Lebowski looks like a fatter version of Shorty.

Shorty was a 6’5”, buzz-cut, Wisconsin native, who always wore army fatigues and shooting glasses.  He lived in a ranch-style house across the street from the soon-to-be-defunct Stapleton Airport in Denver.  He chose this gang-infested, jet-fuel-smelling neighborhood because it was a discreet locale for his weed-growing operation.

Shorty had a massive hydroponic setup with 5 x 1K watt high-pressure-sodium lights in his flowering room and an even bigger vegging room with rows of florescent lights.  He had 3 x 5’ clone mothers.  Because of the massive amounts of juice the lights used, the rest of the house’s electricity expenditures were limited to a couple bare lightbulbs and a discman with portable speakers.  No fridge, no TV.  Shorty spent his days tending his crop, listening to Little Feet on the discman and pulling hits from his resin-caked bong.

I was one of 2 people who knew where he lived.  I made weekly pilgrimages to pick up his fresh and uncured buds.  While impressive to look at fresh pot, curing it, particularly when I was living with my folks, was not a simple task.  If there was not enough air, it will mold.  If there’s too much air, it would become dry, harsh and brittle.  It also smelled like a dead skunk.

As Shorty’s main distributer, I was one of Boulder’s most reliable sources of hydroponic weed, and though our relationship could be fraught, I felt quite blessed.

I wasn’t a kingpin.  I sold weed to feed my habit.  I needed the shit.  My pre-weed life had been spent as a nervous turd, my waking hours spend wondering what people thought of me—was I dressed okay, do people like me, will I be successful, was I cool enough, smart enough, etc.?  It’s not clear whether weed allowed me to let those things go or merely mute them.  Either way, from the ages of 16-20, years largely spent high, I was able to cope.  I was able to sleep.  I was able to relax.

Dealing pot taught me some things too.  I learned that the way to make sure things went smoothly was not to worry about them; it was to relax and lay low.  One time I got pulled over by the police on my way to Shorty’s.  I had $3K in small bills in the glove compartment where my registration was kept.  I was able to calmly move the money, give the cop my registration and get a speeding ticket rather than a felony drug charge.

Another time Shorty unloaded 4 trash bags of freshly cut weed on me.  I didn’t panic here either (much).  We just unloaded the bags from his pickup into my apartment as if it were the most natural thing.

I haven’t smoked weed in almost 12 years.  After a while, it started to amplify my insecurities rather than mute them.  Yet my years of weed-smoking taught me many things.  I learned that it’s possible to be relaxed in any situation.  I stayed cool through some tense moments with Shorty, who’s chill, iry-vibe was replaced by an angry, violent one after he got into drinking, strippers and collecting guns.  I stayed cool moving pounds of stinky weed throughout Boulder County.  I stayed cool at high school, which had previously been a den of anxiety.  I learned I could be relaxed anywhere.

I was thinking about this today because I have been consumed with future-related anxiety.  How will I make money?  Will I achieve the goals I set out for myself?  What does the future hold?  Will I ever pay that stupid health insurance bill?

Then I thought, “I did so many things that were real threats while high and didn’t worry.  Today, I deal with perceived threats and am filled with anxiety.  What gives?”

I have no desire to smoke weed, but I might ask myself how I might act high?  Would I really give a shit?  Would I really be so hot and bothered about growing up, being a responsible boyfriend, friend, citizen.  Un-fucking-likely.  This is not to promote apathy, which is often the flip-side of relaxation.  I still want to unlock my potential.  I still want to be the good guy.  I just have to realize that tension and anxiety are not the ways to get there.

Advanced Fonzametrics

Standard English Fonzometer. How cool are you?

Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli, was the coolest person to never live.  Nothing affected him.  He was handy.  He knew how to fight.  He rode a motorcycle.  Men wanted to be him.  Women wanted to be with him.
Most of my life, on the other hand, has been decidedly un-Fonzie-like.  I have historically been hypersensitive, copping quick resentments and easily falling into depressive states.  I have been pretty inept with tools for most of my life.  I didn’t (and don’t) know how to fight.  I owned a motorcycle, but it was crashed in a very un-Fonziesque manner.  I have had trouble earning the admiration of men. I have had greater difficulty getting the attention of women.
This lack of inherent Fonzieness didn’t extinguish my ambition to be like the Fonz.  To be cool has been a principle aim for much of my life, often at the extreme detriment to my happiness.
The trouble with being cool is it has made me inflexible.  Cool is an ideology—i.e. a way of behaving driven by an idea.  In my case, the idea that Fonzie knew the answer.  And when you’re an ideologue, you have trouble stepping out of that idea.  Acting within the ideology of cool, I couldn’t be a dork or a whiner or whatever a situation might dictate, even when to do so would save my life. Continue reading “Advanced Fonzametrics”