The real gateway drug is…

Everyone knows the "gateway drug" thing is bullshit. You don't smoke weed for a couple weeks and then gradually begin to experiment with progressively more dangerous and potent substances until you end up ODing in a Burger King bathroom.

It's just not true.

I will say however that the black market we're forced to resort to in order to buy a naturally occurring flower — a completely harmless one, at that — is the main reason our country is addicted to speed and opiates.

I mean let's not forget that there's no necessary "processing" involved in making marijuana consumable. You plant it, it grows, you grind up the buds, ignite, inhale and exhale. There's no ether or pseudoephedrine involved and it's not going to explode and burn your trailer down.

Racism and prohibition turned a miraculous all-natural wonder drug into something so mysterious and frowned upon that millions of people all around the world have no other choice but to go to the same places where every other illicit substance might be found, just to get a few buds clipped from a cannabis plant.

If the shit was legal everywhere, non-criminals who find cannabinoids to be beneficial could go to a safe, regulated place to buy their herbs or even grow their own garden — like any other fruit or vegetable — rather than hitting up a drug dealer and risking your freedom.

On a different note than that though, people with addictive personalities have a hard time turning down something that feels amazing, regardless of how dangerous it may or may not be. So if the dope man gets in some other shit, they'll probably be inclined to buy it. When that acid on paper turns out to be pcp or some random research chemical though, shit's not real fun anymore. Or maybe you're just some teenager buying dabs from a solid plug who gets perc 10's and 30's a couple times a month. You see the dude railing one every couple hours and he seems perfectly fine so next time he offers it up, you try it. Turns out it feels pretty good. So good that you feel like dropping half your paycheck on them every week. So there's one more thing the gateway of black market botanicals leads to.

Marijuana prohibition is the real gateway drug, is what I'm getting at. That's how I see it, anyhow.

Opinions, anyone?

Wanderlust

It's kind of like I develop more into a douchebag hipster every day. This week, I've come to the realization that I have a huge case of wanderlust. And that's pretty weird considering how reclusive and socially anxious I was, right about this time two years ago.

I've always smoked wayyy too much weed ever since the first time fifteen year old me paid $25 for some schwag. It was brown and definitely on the short side of an eighth but it was still potent enough to open my eyes to the finest everyday mind altering substance Mother Nature has to offer.

So after I finally saw the light, I became the poster child of a pothead and smoked as much as physically (and financially) possible, whenever possible. It's been about eleven years since then and for the most part, I haven't changed a whole hell of a lot.

I'm getting sidetracked though. What I'm trying to say is this: for most of my adult life so far, I've been a (mostly) asocial stoner who didn't ever do much aside from sitting on the couch getting baked. Asocial in the sense that I didn't like to spend a whole shitload of time in public doing stuff when I could be getting stoned instead. I've always enjoyed a good house party or really any other social gathering that involves drugs and alcohol. But for the most part, I wouldn't have considered myself an outgoing person.

Until the first time I flew out of state. God damn was that an eye opener. As someone who's grown up in the corn-dominated land of Central Ohio my whole life, flying out west and hanging out somewhere like Dallas, Texas was like I was living on another planet.

Every small town has rumors about every other small town and beyond. People from Granville are snobby pricks and everyone from Newark smokes meth and has incurable std's — that kind of shit, ya know?

So it was pretty surprising to me when I went out into a huge ass metropolis expecting to meet completely alien "city folk" who think I'm just some hillbilly from that state somewhere by Kentucky and West Virginia — but they actually turned out to be awesome people. People I'd like to see again, maybe. People who made me feel at home, made me laugh and gave me a fresh perspective on life, if nothing else.

I know it's some pretty simple, basic stuff but the few times I've been across the country and back have instilled in me a passion to travel the world and meet as many different, unique people as I realistically can. I love the backwards ass small town I grew up in but life gets too routine and inevitably begins to plateau.

Flying thousands of miles away and falling into a circle of completely new friends is like walking through a gate into an alternate reality, and the crazy part is that new people are everywhere and usually they're pretty chill.

Here's a relevant song to hopefully brighten up your day. 😋

Perspective

Even though I didn't realize it until all this existential stuff became so trendy, I've always been an empath. When I was a kid in elementary school, I remember the teacher explaining the concept of "taking a walk in someone else's shoes" and being dumbfounded by the fact that she had to explain such a thing to us. I'm not trying to sound like a pretentious douche but I just hadn't realized that some people don't think that way.

It didn't take practice or really any effort at all for that matter; I've just always been super mindful and aware of other people's feelings. In a few less words, it's pretty hard for me to enjoy myself if someone else in the room is having a bad day or being picked on. Or whatever.

That's not to say that I'm never an asshole; I'm only human. But being able to vividly understand — or at least closely relate, to your best ability — how other people are feeling comes with its downsides. Mainly just one. And that's the simple fact that it makes you look like a pushover. People often mistake kindness for weakness and that's really a shame.

Not sure where exactly I'm going with this, but I guess the message of the day is to be kind. The world is rough and stupid sometimes.

Why can we not be sober?

When it comes down to it, most everyone has some kind of vice. Some worse than others, some not so bad.

Some people do the hard shit because they had the balls to try it one day and – surprise  shit like meth and heroin is absurdly addictive because it’s literally the best thing you’ve ever felt. Like… by far. And there’s nothing unpleasant about the shit while you’re on it because your brain is drowning in dopamine. People don’t turn into tweakers immediately after railing some dope. You don’t pick at your face until you have obnoxious bleeding wounds everywhere if you’re only banging a teenth of meth every other weekend.

But then if you’re bangin’ seven gram rocks and finishing ’em for months on end, smoking a bowl of some medical grade Kush probably isn’t going to have the same zing it had before the, uh, crank. 

I’m getting sidetracked. Weed is pretty fucking good in a lot of ways, thus it’s an increasingly acceptable vice — or medication even, because it literally has actual medicinal value with virtually no negative side effects. People are going to think you’re a fuckup if you get out of bed and chief blunts until you pass out at 4am every day, but that guy at least has his shit together enough to have a studio apartment and a ’92 Honda. Unlike the meth guy, who’ll inevitably suck dick for meth somewhere down the line.

What I’m shittily transitioning to with no segway is this: why the fuck is sobriety so dull and unfavorable that everyone has to pump chemicals – be it caffeine or codeine or everything in between – into their bodies to be content with life?

Most people from the developed world are a slave to some kind of mind-altering substance. White trash warehouse workers like myself drink Mountain Dew and Redbull by the gallon and breathe in more cigarette smoke than oxygen on a typical day. Most working class people go to the bar when they get off in the afternoon, or maybe pick up a 12-pack on the way home. There’s always the stoner crowd, no matter where you go. Kids who can’t get their hands on real drugs huff duster or chug robotussin to catch a buzz that would give legit dope a run for its money. The kind of people who are on a salary are the kind of people who can afford a cocaine addiction, and what better to go with some powder than some top-shelf booze?

It’s true that drugs and alcohol aren’t for everyone; there’s people who swear they’ll never touch the stuff — and they actually don’t, and there’ll always be recovered addicts who’ve had enough toxins flow through their veins for one lifetime. But then again there’s a whole shitload more of people who smoke, drink, snort, shoot up and boof all sorts of shit to hit the mute button on all of life’s bullshit, even if it’s only for a few hours at a time… or maybe a few days… or weeks.

We all know how bad it is for you but for most people, self destruction is a fair price to pay for dirty happiness – and that’s really all anyone is looking for right? 

Work to live…

…don’t live to work. Unless you’re an oncologist or something.

University is the ever popular route to go in terms of finding a career these days. For the baby boomer generation, everyone buckled down and got degrees in medicine and engineering. For their offspring – my generation – it’s more like technology and communications or the standard doctor/nurse thing because our parents have been telling us to spare our backs and get office jobs our whole lives, and we’re brainless pussies.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that furthuring your education is even remotely a bad idea, and we definitely need doctors and lawyers and all that stuff.

But when you go to college for four to eight years or more, you’re going to owe a few bucks in student loans. If it turns out that you completely despise your chosen field and going to school was a big mistake, you’re completely and utterly fucked. And it’s looking like that’s the case for a lot of indecisive young adults today.

“Blue collar” means “working class” which usually represents that old white haired maintainence guy at every factory who makes upwards of $40 an hour or the lead mechanic at Goodyear who’s the local face of auto repair and cheap oil changes.

Lower down on the spectrum are the highschool dropouts who are doomed to flip burgers their whole lives. Below that, there’s the crazy older dudes who stand out in front of the cash for gold place twirling a sign in 90 degree weather all day for minimum wage.

Between the two, there’s an ignored group of people who don’t make terrible money but we’re not rich by any means either. The work isn’t back-breaking but you’ll likely break a sweat every day and go home tired after every shift. There might be mandatory overtime during peak season and virtually no voluntary overtime the rest of the year, but it’s a steady job complete with benefits and it pays the bills and then some.

It’s absolutely possible to be successful in life without being married to your job, is my point. What’s more, it’s actually possible to be happy and have a social life in the mean time as well. I run a printing press for a living and while I dread waking up, heading to work and standing in a warehouse for eight hours a day, I make pretty good money and my co workers are decent people. Plus if I didn’t have a job I’d lay around chain smoking cigarettes, getting high and stuffing my face with processed snack foods all day.

If I fuck something up at work, there are no drastic and immediate consequences like… say, a surgeon might have to worry about. I throw the shit in the trash and fix whatever was causing the press to run bad product. And I get paid double time to do that on Sundays.

Moral of the story is this: I work at a place that doesnt even require a highschool diploma and I make decent money. I’m content with that and not being a college graduate shouldn’t be a source of dread and anxiety. There are plenty of skilled trades out there that pay off in the end and life can still be enjoyable if you’re not bringing in six figures a year. Hail the working class.

Support Local Music

Last night I was out of town when I couldn’t handle the cottonmouth anymore and had to stop into a gas station for the cure. I grabbed a couple of Snapples because if they’re good enough for Jerry Seinfeld they’re damn well good enough for me, and headed up front to check out.

The skinny black dude behind the counter was oddly soft spoken and I was ripped out of my god damn mind so I was itching to get back to the car, crack open my tea and suck down Marlboro reds like I’m someone who can afford seven dollar packs of cigarettes. With that in mind, I was more or less in the standard “let’s hurry up and get this shit over with” version of autopilot.

Dude asked me if I was into football and, caught a little off guard, I responded with an obnoxious forced laugh followed by “eh, I’m really not a sports person.”

Naturally, there was a short but pronounced awkward pause. My fried brain was trying to figure out whether he was just making small talk or getting to a point about something. He asked if I was into hip hop and I said “yeah, kinda” or something like that and he handed me a cd. Said it was his group, so I looked down and checked it over real quick before grabbing my change. It was a single featuring a song about OSU football. Kind of lame, but the guy’s working towards something meaningful to him; he’s putting himself out there, and that takes some balls. I was about to turn around and walk out the door with my free demo when he blurted out “just a dollar.” Wasn’t crazy about paying for some random cashier’s elevator pitch, but it’s not like he was asking a fortune for it so I said what the hell and handed the guy a dollar. 

These days, anyone with a mid range laptop and Bittorrent can download FL Studio and become a “producer” so admittedly, I expected it to suck. And it did.

It was cool though; reminded me of all the local music we used to have in my home town not so long ago. Everyone had a band back when I was in highschool — mostly metal, and most of us sucked. But that didnt matter because it was fun as hell and we were unleashing our shitty teenage creativity. 

…and smoking a ton of mids but at least we were staying out of trouble. For the most part.

It was all pretty shortlived, in retrospect.

But until I ran into this dude, it had been so long since the venue down the street was the hangout spot that I totally forgot local music existed, what with Spotify and YouTube and hwhatnot. For five or six years though, it was all I listened to. 

It was raw and underproduced with virtually no shot at ever hitting the limelight, but it was fucking awesome and made for a one of a kind soundtrack to a lot of shenanigans. 

Final thoughts: support local music and any other creative shit you can get involved in. Its entertaining and being part of a community is priceless. Everyone has a place to fit in if you look hard enough. 

Common sense gun control

I’m not a political analyst. I don’t know the ins and outs of current gun control legislation across the country and I have no staunch beliefs on whether guns are good or bad. Hell, I’ve only ever fired a weapon on two or three separate occasions for no reason other than having been brought up in a moderately rural setting.

I’m just a skeevy stoner of a factory worker in one of Ohio’s small industrial suburbs. That aside, I have an obsession with reading the news. I love elegantly written blocks of information garnished with beautiful typography. I like to learn stuff. Random stuff. I find great pleasure in reading up on different happenings around the world almost as much as I love getting stoned and playing Pokemon Red until 8am on a god damn work night.

A few weeks back I took it up a notch and decided I might as well do my part in supporting the good ol’ fashioned black and white, printing-press-driven news industry and bought a subscription to the New York Times. Needless to say, the purchase was one of my bigger commitments of 2015 but I digress.

Once I started getting my Morning Digests and Evening Briefings I began to notice a pretty fucked up pattern, and pretty damn quick too.

We’re living in the age of ubiquitous LCD monitors and micro chips — a point in time where once deadly diseases are nearly instantly thwarted by miracles of modern science. We have so many different outlets of entertainment – so many gratifying things to do and experience, and so many opportunities for success and growing as individuals. As a species, we’ve got a lot going for us and yet we haven’t come very far at all in terms of violent, primitive behavior.

The past couple of years have sprung an epidemic of gun violence and generally speaking, all the signs are pointing in one direction: it’s too god damn easy for maniacs to legally obtain a weapon. Hell, you don’t even have to be completely batshit crazy to get shitfaced and kill some dude in a bar fight. Granted, you have to be a pretty fucked up person to even fathom the likes of that kind of thing, but you get the point.

We’re a nation obsessed with guns and they’re too damn easy to get ahold of. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but more times than not, at the end of each day I’ve read headline after headline detailing more and more mass shootings and there’s only one semi-solid solution that comes to mind for me.

Keep guns out of the wrong hands!

At the very least, why can’t we at least agree to enact more extensive background checks and mandatory psychological evaluations?

Sure, a hand full of crazy bastards will inevitably slip through the cracks but the way things are now, I can join a selling wall on Facebook and trade some dude up state a dirtbike for a .357 with virtually no effort. Hypothetically, I could message the gun nut down the road and arrange to pick up an SKS with a 30-round magazine for a couple hundred bucks completely under the radar.

Why the hell is that legal? I get that you could never regulate everything that anyone might want to sell directly to someone else, but it could absolutely be made into more of a process involving a paper trail. You have to sign over the title to the ’86 Mercury you sold to a co-worker — why the hell not the AK-47 you sold to the old man down the road?

My only point – and bear in mind that I’m no more than a layman; I’m only pitching a common sense plot here – is that something clearly needs to be done in lieu of all the gun violence bullshit that’s plaguing modern life. I’d just like to (at the very least) see more rigorous background checks and mandatory psychological screenings. Is that really too much to ask? Is that unconstitutional? I think not, and what’s more — for what purpose does one need to be able to acquire a firearm on demand? I don’t believe that there’s any reason as to why anyone would suddenly need a handgun right this minute. In other words, yes; background checks and psyche screenings are more time consuming bullshit to deal with but come on now. It’s better than outright banning guns and its at the very least a step forward in taking action against unnecessary deaths nationwide.

What’s your stance? I’m down for a healthy heated debate because this is definitely a huge issue.

An observation: Addiction, or something like that

I never want anything to be over. Doesn’t matter if it’s a high I’m chasing, romantic relationships, chapters of my life — whatever. I think that’s what defines an addictive personality right?

People often ponder, “what in the hell would ever compel someone to get addicted to hard drugs?” as if you make a conscious decision to become dependant on smack. No one does that; no one sits down and says to themselves, “hmm… I think I’ll go on a meth binge and see where it takes me.” No; you find a new poison, fall in love with the high and before you know it you’re railing percocets off the toilet paper dispenser in the stall at work because it turns eight to ten hour shifts full of bullshit and boredom into time-agnostic nonsense and illegal smiles. Skip ahead a few weeks and you can’t find the will to get out of bed until you get your routine doses of opiates down the hatch.

Or what about chapters of life? Everyone has their phases; I was one of the pot smoking death metal kids in highschool and we had a shitty band. That was awesome and it sucked when we all graduated, drifted apart from one another and started work on our own separate agendas. Then you make new friends; work friends. Then you quit, find a new job and turn the page onto the next chapter of your life.

People are temporary and drugs are bad for you, or something like that.

Lay Back

Ever since I can remember – as far back as middle school – people have been telling me how laid back I am. I’m not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult, but I’d like to think it’s the former rather than the latter. It’s weird too, because I have crippling social anxiety. I guess I can just pull it off better than other people, and I guess that also means it’s not very crippling after all.

It feels like it at times, but I’ve never been thrown into a situation that’s caused me to spas out and have a panic attack. Or maybe I have; I just dealt with it as silently as possible because what could be worse than a panic attack? People knowing you’re having a panic attack, that’s what.

I have so much anxiety that it cancels itself out in fear that it could become even worse. So it’s pretty much like I’m completely normal and stress free, just really twitchy and awkward at times. It can feel like the smallest things are the end of the world sometimes, even when I know it’s not. Still, my heart and mind tell me I’m in danger for whatever reason so my nervous system acts accordingly, in turn making me act weird as fuck. Or atleast it sure seems like it.

I overthink shit and worry way too much about trivial everyday fuckery, but I can still keep my cool. I don’t know how or why, but I do.

Maybe that’s why I’m always the one out of our group of friends who has to talk to cops or pissed off neighbors when shit hits the fan – even when it’s at someone else’s house, or we’re getting pulled over in someone else’s car and the cop tells me the dumb ass driver “can speak for himself.” Maybe I’m a manipulative sociopath; I have no idea. I’m not a psychiatrist.

However, I’d like to think I’m just Metal as fuck and that’s what keeps my zen in check.

It’s like an existential crisis. We’re just primates on a rock hurtling through space or whatever. So why worry about people judging you? At some point in life you have to wake up and realize that you’re not a special snowflake — and likewise that no one else is either.

Sure, some people have tons of money and that allows them to eat healthier, stay in better shape and sleep in an expensive bed in an expensive house with ten bathrooms. All that means is they were able to push themselves over the edge and put forth the effort and confidence to do something marketable.

The whole “American dream” thing about being anything you want to be might not be entirely correct but confidence is everything, even if you’re stupid.

Just look at Lil Wayne or Adam Sandler. They’re fucking talentless idiots, but they both have pretty awesome lives, all because they weren’t too scared to try.

It’s the simple things.

Tomorrow is my last day off before going back to work from a much needed four day weekend, so I decided to hit the sack early and get a few extra hours of sleep. All I want to do these past few days is sleep my ass off, thanks to the beautiful fact that I finally got a new bed after having been sleeping on a couch for the past three years.

So I lay down about 4am because, for me and my ridiculous second shift centric life, 4am is early. Maybe a little too early. Even though I have this bomb ass bed complete with a duck feather pillow and it feels like I’m sleeping on an actual cloud, 4am is too early for me to possibly pass out under any circumstances.

I turned the TV back on and watched Hank Hill talk about propane for a few minutes before heading outside for a smoke, and what I’m about to say next will shock you!

Alright, not really but there was an adorable stray cat hanging out on the porch. Little bastard was probably spying on me for five minutes before I saw him out of the corner of my eye. Which, naturally, about gave me a heart attack because you normally only see raccoons or the occasional possum out here at night — both of which are fucking terrifying when you’re baked out of your mind and practically blind from staring at an obnoxiously bright LCD screen in the deep darkness of an overcast country night.

So I panicked and rushed to find the flashlight app on my phone, positive that whatever was cautiously inching towards me was foaming at the mouth ready to pass the rabies on to me, but no. It was just a cat.

An awesome, lonely cat.

He did the standard adorable cat routine of bashfully rubbing up against my leg, followed by an overly enthusiastic fist/head bump that almost threw him completely off balance.

I didn’t shoe him off with a broom like some kind of crazy cat hating prick, so it’s probably safe to say he’ll be inviting himself onto my porch as often as he likes from now on. I’ll probably make it even worse and give him something to eat one of these days; who knows. His being there was a pleasant surprise, nonetheless.

I don’t care if you’re rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, black, white — atheist or zealot. Some things in life are bigger than our personas or bank accounts will ever be. It’s the little, simple things like that. Coincidentally bumping into a new furry friend at four in the morning is enough of a reward in itself to make you truly appreciate life and its totally random nature.