Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ten Years A 'Head

My favorite scene in Poltergeist, and my favorite pot-smoking scene in film history.

The first time I smoked cannabis was on December 9th, 2002, just a few hours after a classroom presentation I gave on the medical benefits of marijuana. Despite being a twenty-one year old Emerson College student, I had never actually smoked pot myself. After the presentation, I was consumed by a fear that I would get a poor grade. After class, armed with my newfound knowledge of the effects of cannabis, I became consumed by a desire to finally toke. Miraculously, a friend from out of town called me up when I got home that night and offered to visit my apartment to share a joint. He’d offered many times before, and I had only ever turned him down. I was always adamant that pot should be legal. I was equally adamant that  it would never appeal to me. But, that night, I took him by surprise with a resounding “YES!”.

My friend came over and I smoked an entire joint with him in a matter of minutes.  But I felt nothing. He told me he was “blazed”, and I lamented that I was clearly so uptight and anxious a person that not even marijuana could relax me. It was only after he’d burned through the whole joint that I realized none of it got into my lungs. In mimicking my favorite smoker, Bette Davis, I had failed to realize that cannabis is to be inhaled, not puffed. So my friend pulled out a glass pipe and packed what was left of his supply into the bowl.

The glass pipe was much more effective.

We watched the South Park episode "My Future Self ‘n Me", in which the character of Stan is taught to fear that he’ll grow up to be a lethargic pothead. It was my friend’s first viewing, but I had already seen it myself several times since taping it off TV. Yet, during this viewing, I laughed harder than ever before. Subsequently, I was laughing not at the show but at the hypothetical image of myself, at what a stereotype I must have looked like: giggling away like an actor playing a stoner. Despite my abhorrence for living up to stereotypes, I enjoyed the feeling immensely, and felt an instant connection to the free love and transcendental spirituality that I associated with pot-smoking hippies. After my friend left, I immediately ran to my computer and Googled “marijuana legalization”. I landed on the homepage for The National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws—the fine folks who call themselves “NORML”. I had supported legalization for years, but this was a different experience, for I felt like a different, more genuinely happy human being. I had been taking SSRIs since I was sixteen, and after four and a half years of treating anxiety and depression with a daily dose of chemicals, I suddenly felt alive and at ease and unprecedentedly so. 

Several weeks after that first joint, the friend who brought cannabis into my life showed up in the early hours of January 1st, 2003. I had just watched Flashdance, my favorite film, to launch the year that would see the movie turn twenty. After that viewing, I was feeling incredibly creative and ambitious and inspired and ready to take on the world. So when my friend surprised me with a 2 AM visit just after the movie was over, I couldn’t resist the chance to smoke again. Although the first night of smoking brought something out of me that affected the rest of my life, it was that post-Flashdance toke that really launched the life chapter ahead. 

As I look back, I can see that years ending with the number “3” brought about positive, life altering changes for me. The Year 1983 gave birth to Flashdance, Madonna’s first album, and my only sibling, Jennifer. In  1993, I deepened my love of cinema like never before, and finally began to understand, and slowly accept, my non-heterosexuality.  But 2003 was THE year that changed my life. It was when I stopped being obsessed with a high school classmate I crushed on for far too long. It was when I completed my first feature length screenplay, and took a leave from Emerson College to develop as a writer on my own. It was on April 22nd, 2003 that Madonna released her most honest and underrated album, American Life. Almost exactly six months later, I entered my most important romantic relationship, one that I swear the Universe was foreshadowing the very first time I heard "Nothing Fails".

That year remains a high point for me--no pun intended--because it was when I most enjoyed the process of becoming an adult. And what sparked it all--pun intended--was the introduction into my life of the world's most wonderful plant.


  1. This is what Bill Hicks referred to as a positive drug story. If you want to call cannabis a drug that is. Bravo. Thank you!

  2. Let's make 2013 another wonderful year!