Pot: My Drug of Choice by Simona Place

“Simona Place” is a pseudonym for a 40-year-old female freelance writer and painter. Recognizing her identity as an artist from her first cannabis experience, she applies its capacity to produce introspection, to address adolescent angst, stress, motivation, and the artist’s special sensitivity to the visual world.

The first time I used pot and got high, I knew for sure – that first-time high confirmed it – I was not like most people. It was a strange kind of comfort. It assured me that my intuitive notions were real. And that the reality I saw, high or straight, was not quite like everyone else’s.

My friends, that first time, my “corrupters,” were Cindy and Barbara. We were all about 15. They got giggly and hungry. I got introspective, perfectionistic, and keenly observant. They laughed uproariously at my meticulously formed Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, pointing at their cookie sheets splattered with sloppy droppings of cookie dough.

“Oh, she’s not high”, they said to each other between hoots of laughter.

“Don’t worry”, they consoled. “It doesn’t always happen the first time.”

But they were wrong and I was too shy to argue. I knew I was high. And my cookies were my little artistic creations, lovingly shaped. I wanted more than something to eat. Something formed by my hands must look gorgeous, perfect, symmetrical. It was the first dawning of coming to know that I was, and would always be an artist.

Appearances have always mattered greatly to me. I see what most people do not. My sense of vision can override all my other senses. (While birthing my first-born, the labor pains abated for a time while I examined the unusual earrings hanging on my midwife’s ears.) Under the influence of pot I see even more – not hallucinations, but the fact that trees of late summer are tinged with red and a dusting of grey and spring green is brightened with pale pink. While high, I see the confused sadness of an overworked teenager who serves me french fries with a tight smile, or hear the meaning of original sin in a baby’s cry. I appreciate with greater depth the agony of our humanness and the ordered disorder of our natural world.

I don’t smoke with Cindy or Barbara anymore. No one laughs at my creations anymore, either. I’ve grown to 40 years and still occasionally smoke pot. Most people seem to like other drugs: nicotine, caffeine, Prozac, or alcohol. I don’t enjoy any of these. Some might say I’m un-American. But I prefer introversion, rather than extraversion. Today’s popular drugs enhance outwardness. Pot does the opposite. As an artist, it is what happens inside that matters most. I see what I see, but my work is to bring forth my vision, my inner eye’s opinion.

I’ve come to accept my artistic nature, my sometimes disturbing vision. I can see I am not alone, and that some people understand me. When I was in my mid-20s, a clerk in a gift shop in Amana, Iowa, handed me my package with a forthright gaze and told me she saw something in my eyes. I lowered my head in bashful discomfort.

“You’re an artist, right?” she asked. I nodded yes, but not convincingly. I was nothing, yet. I departed her shop quickly, feeling eerily understood, yet painfully exposed. I was not ready to accept who I was.

Smoking pot helped me accept who I was and “being different.” In my teen years, I used it to escape, be part of the cool crowd and to alter my painful loneliness. But, later as an adult, it released my growing mental prowess. I grew less inhibited to think and then to consider speaking my thoughts. After so many years of learning what was boringly necessary, finally in college I could think differently – and be rewarded for it. Pot helped me to think with an open and inquiring mind. And to appreciate that that kind of inquiry made me beautifully unique – it made me who I was. It made me realize that I had to be an artist. It would take many more years to truly become one.

When I was high, I saw myself as I truly felt I was: a thinker, that Rodin sculpture, pensive, unsmiling, lost in contemplation. I had moved far away from my high school crowd of friends who thought themselves clever for coining such phrases as “What tha fuck” and then using them liberally. While I was deciphering Joyce’s Ulysses they had signed up for the Navy, married gas station owners, went to colleges known for good ski instructors.

Nowadays, when I smoke pot, usually solo, my mind soars off in crazy ascensions. The perspective I gain – the view from another side – is always worth something. Smoking pot loosens my synapses, allowing new thoughts and ideas to pop.

If I am especially stressed out, with deadlines, piles of rejections and dirty dishes, children shrieking and a ringing phone, pot helps me put these small disturbances into perspective. After the high wears off, I stay peacefully relaxed and can feel my muscles are softer, my blood coursing more smoothly. That feeling can last for months.

Pot is also a great motivator. By getting just slightly high, I kick my gears into first and can glide through a day in fifth with much gentler movements, because although I see TOO much – while high, I can accept it better. And then when straight, I remember that although I see it all much too clearly, that’s okay, my struggles are my own, but also just like anyone else’s. A few tokes of pot can clear out a depression like a good strong breeze pushes a clot of fallen leaves aside on a dark pond.

But most importantly, pot helps me to explore BIG questions like why old clich├ęs seem to get truer the older I get or what my essential purpose is. When high, I am better able to look at myself (non-critically and with humor) with that same scrutiny I apply when I look outward.

A friend once told me that my eyes go on forever. I know they certainly need room to roam. I dream of oceans and endless grain fields. My eyes lead my mind to travel with my thoughts and to examine all that I encounter with a surgeon’s accuracy. I am an idea miner. And like those who dig for gold or diamonds, I know the air might get thick, the atmosphere can be toxic, the walls could cave in. Pot helps me handle it all, without a hangover, a crippling addiction, permanent afflictions, or deadly diseases.

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