When Did Weed Get So Complicated?

When I was a teenager, you know how you could tell who the real potheads were?

They checked for stems in the baggie before they bought their dime bag.

That was it. That was the sole criteria.

Oh, I mean, some people knew vaguely where their pot was from – “like, Jamaica” – but those guys were so into pot that jarring them away from weed-related conversation was like trying to hip-check a locomotive off a track. They were the kind of folks whose decor consisted entirely of Grateful Dead posters and bongs.

Mostly, weed was just, you know… weed. You knew a guy who could get it for you. You paid your money and you got a tiny packet full of weed – not Pineapple Kush, not some superhero name like White Widow, just Weed. And you smoked your Weed, and it was either good or not depending on the dealer’s sources that month, and that was pretty much the consumer experience.

Now?

Jesus.

Thanks to legalization and fetishization, I no longer speak the language of marijuana – which, if you’ll recall in my caveman days, used to be just one grunted word of “WEED.” There’s strains, and sativa levels, and sleep-marijuanas and pain-fighters, and all sorts of other aspects I’m completely unaware of.

Marijuana’s always made me paranoid. But now I’m paranoid when people merel discuss it, because they’re discussing these elaborate breeds and I’m trying to pretend that I’m the sort of hip guy who’s not going to interrupt their 301-level discussion with my kindergarden questions.

Yet interestingly, I don’t feel guilty about not knowing this stuff.

Instead, I find it fascinating that a culture’s grown up around it.

I mean, when I was young, there was pretty much “BOURBON” and you drank one of three brands. Now, in this beautiful hipster world we live in, there’s small-batch and single-barrel and mashbills and favored distilleries, and I speak the language of bourbon fluently. And it’s not that culture didn’t exist when I was a kid, but it was mostly confined to the snobs and the makers.

Now everyone’s a snob and everyone’s a maker and it’s kind of wonderful, seeing this exploration.

I mean, certainly someone knew the marijuana strains (in their infancy though they were) when I was a dumb teenager, but that sort of knowledge was hard to get – you either had to buy a book, which meant you were interested enough to pay money for a book on a topic you didn’t yet know, or you had to know a guy who could educate you. (And man, lemme tell you, when I was growing up, pot dealers were not the sort of people you wanted to have give you an education.)

Now? If you’re interested in marijuana, “weed strains” will get you a list that you can traverse at your leisure. The Internet demolished the barriers to learning, so now you can become reasonably educated on marijuana or bourbon or film noir in an afternoon.

Wonder why everyone’s a hipster these days? It’s because knowledge has become so wonderfully free. You don’t have to trudge to a library – you can roll around in endless knowledge on obscure topics and come out a winner.

Which, in turn, is a stimulant for further knowledge. Because you have more people able to look up their topic of choice you have more people who can get excited to become experts, and then the knowledge grows like a sativa strain, or whatever the fuck it is.

Which means that yeah, sometimes I wake up and find myself completely ignorant on a topic that used to be pretty simple, yet evolved into a dizzying complexity. But I find that joyous. It means people are exploring and playing, and that delight is creating all sorts of subtleties I might not have noticed before.

It means I’m an idiot when it comes to weed, of course. But if I liked smoking pot better, I could learn.

That’s actually a joy.

I Become Monogamous At Airports

I was dropping my sweetie off at the airport, which is always a hands-on experience: thanks to their chronic health conditions, they need to have a wheelchair just in case they run out of steps. And I’m not leaving them until I’m sure they’re seen safely off to the gate by an assistant.

This last time, we had a chatty attendant trying to get us transportation.

“You two really like each other, huh?” she asked, noting the way Fox and I kept holding hands.

“Absolutely.”

“It’s nice. Seeing people happy at the airport. You going back with her?”

“I’m going back with them, yes,” I said, applying a little stress on the proper pronoun to hint at their preferred gender, but that was – as predicted – overlooked.

“How long you two been dating?”

“Four years.” Followed by a little flare of astonishment from both of us, because we just hit four years and frankly, we’re both still a little stunned that this is going so well.

“That’s nice, that’s nice.” And then she leaned in, conspiratorially: “So when’s the wedding?”

“Oh,” we both said simultaneously. “No wedding. We’re… not that sort of people.” And those who’ve done this dance before can see where it’s going.

“Really!” she said, leaning back, impressed. “Wow, you see a lot of couples who say that, but usually one of them doesn’t look so happy. Yet you both look radiant. What is it? Y’all been married before?”

At which point, I faced an ugly choice:

These were my last moments with Fox, who I wouldn’t see for an unknown period of time because my schedule is in great uproar right now. And we didn’t know how long until the wheelchair attendant cruised up to us, which meant we could be separated at any moment.

I could educate this cheerful woman, and she was already full of questions, and I have no doubt there would have been a brief-yet-incomplete education on alternative lifestyles and all the usual questions and probably dealing with a bit of that vaguely-frowny scrutiny as she dug in to determine whether we were that happy….

Or I could dodge being someone’s teachable moment for the day and squeeze out a dribble of intimacy with my sweetie before I left.

I tucked my ring hand in my pocket.

“I’m divorced,” I said, and she nodded as if that explained it all.

The sad thing is, this isn’t the first alternative history we’ve had at a transportation dropoff. When Fox used to take the train, there was a conductor there who knew us as star-crossed lovers, monogamous and happy based on the way I ran eagerly to Fox to hug them. They asked us little questions about our life, each of which seemed innocuous, right up until we realized the impression they’d built up of our lives was based on thoroughly monogamous assumptions.

Fortunately, my wife is pretty cool with discovering that we’re divorced – or, in one notable occasion where I completely panicked, dead. It’s a joke. She gets it.

Because there’s a lot of talk about “coming out” as poly or gay or trans – as if it’s a thing you do once, and everyone on earth gets a little engraved invitation delivered to their door from alt-sex Hogwarts, and you never have to do it again.

But the truth is, every time you meet a stranger you have the option to come out. And it’s worth it, when you can do it – you can make someone read all the essays you want on the rights of genderqueer folks, but none of that will ever be as impactful as someone they think well of on some level coming out to them.

(And honestly, there could be a whole other essay written on why “Hearing it from someone you know” is more potent, because yes it’s unfair, but it’s a combination of “Humans generally learn from stories, not facts” and “Humans are generally more interested when there’s personal stakes.”)

It’d have been nice if I’d felt like educating that chatty woman at the airport. But the teachable moment also has costs – costs of safety (a lot of trans and gay people can still lose their jobs by coming out to the wrong person), costs of emotional effort, costs of spending time doing 101 level classes when you’re trying to sneak in one last wistful look with a person you love.

And it’s a balance everyone has to strike. Because the cost of me not teaching this woman is that she clearly remains unaware of “non-monogamy” as a potential story for the narratives she constructs, and that participates in a subtle form of erasure because she gets to do the majority of thing of painting over all non-traditional relationship styles with her assumptions.

It’s a cost I was willing to pay that day. I’ve had other days where I had the spell slots open to cast “Educate Mono” and had productive, if befuddled, discussions, and those were good. The value of the teachable moment is great, but there’s also the critical aspect that it has to be willingly given.

And too many people fall on one side or the other – “you HAVE to teach, ALWAYS, when you have the opportunity” vs “the teachable moment is bullshit, never do it, let them Google it.” And I think both of those aspects are short-sighted.

Do the work when you feel up to it. But don’t feel bad if you’ve got other priorities at the moment.

And until something changes drastically, when I drop Fox off, I’ll a different person to suit the situation. I’ll blend in to squeeze one more kiss out of my time with them before they leave for a few weeks. And so will they.

Because we’re always given the option to come out. And it’s not wrong, in any moment, to decide that you’ve got better things to protect.

The Sol Majestic Is Out Today! Go Forth And Consume Its Delicious Words!

So after months of anticipation, my “Anthony Bourdain meets space-opera by way of Baz Luhrmann and Wes Anderson” book The Sol Majestic is out for purchase. And if you like:

  • Food Network-style investigations of fine cuisine in space
  • Delicate gay romances between two awkward teenagers
  • Families coming together to create great art and great people
  • Mysterious casks of alien yeast

THEN THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.

So many of you have already supported me I feel guilty asking y’all to do it again – but if you want to help this weirdie little book spread its wings and fly, then there’s three things you can do:

  1. Purchase.  Buying the author’s books is the greatest thing you can always do for them, since it encourages publishers to buy more books and keep their careers going.  The Sol Majestic is available at pretty much any bookstore – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells (where it’s a staff pick twice over), and various indie booksellers.  (I don’t care where you buy it, as long as you did buy it, and thank you.)
  2. Promote.  There’s a lot of books out there, and a single Tweet or Facebook update saying, “Hey, {$Author} has a book out today!” helps a lot.  People mostly buy books recommended by their friends.  You even mentioning it is a stealth recommendation, so your social push helps more than you can know.
  3. Review.  Retailers push books that have more reviews.  They say that 50+ reviews on Amazon is the magic number.  So even if you don’t like the book and leave a negative review, that helps the book.  (And of course to my mind, you’re not obligated to like it, although most of the people who liked Flex/et al seem to also like this book.) So when you’re done, figure out how many stars it’s worth and type up a sentence or two.  It really helps.
  4. See The Author On His Book Tour.  This year I’ll be in Denver (tonight!), Ann Arbor, and San Francisco. Showing up to say hello convinces book stores that hey, it’s worth having this person out here.  Also it makes a socially anxious author like, you know, me feel less anxious knowing you’re coming.

Anyway.  Below are all the links for The Sol Majestic. Thank you if you choose to mention it anywhere.  If you purchase it, I hope it satisfies this hunger for an odd set of tastes you didn’t know you had – much like the famed restaurant The Sol Majestic itself.

Excerpt of The Sol Majestic

Buy The Sol Majestic at Amazon

Buy The Sol Majestic at Barnes and Noble

Buy The Sol Majestic at Powells

Buy The Sol Majestic at Indie Bookshops

My Own Green Relationship Flags

There’s a good meme going around that says, “Fuck red flags in relationships. Tell me about some green flags, the flags that make you go FUCK YEAH THIS IS HEALTHY BEHAVIOR.” And since the meme encouraged me to add my own, I would also mention:

Making Space For Each Other In Group Conversations.
If a couple is like, “Oh, you have this great story, you should tell it!” or directing attention back to their partner during a raucous conversation when their point had been overlooked, that’s a win for me.

Proactive Checkins That Aren’t Definitive Denials.
Saying, “I don’t know about that, lemme check in with my sweetie and see if that’s an issue” is music to my ears – mainly because it tells me that a) they’re attuned enough to their partner(s) that they know when something is likely to require a discussion, and b) they’re not proactively turning you down because they’re terrified of their sweetie’s dismissal, they’re just wanting to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

Accepting That The Stupid Things Can Matter.
Sometimes, things irrationally bug you so thoroughly that it would take way more effort for you to untangle all the panic and/or irritation than it would for, you know, your partner to stop doing that. A partner who can look a thoroughly silly request in the eye – “I know it’s silly, but you rolling up the toothpaste the wrong way makes me feel disrespected” – and say, “Cool, I’ll stop that” is teh sexxors.

Conversely: Acknowledging The Stupid Things.
A partner who doesn’t have to back up all their quirks and tics with firm logic, rearranging the universe so that it suits all of their personal desires, is a wonderful thing. Usually, “I am a strictly logical being” translates to “I am very skilled at arguing, and I will elevate my preferences to absolute law while undermining your delights.”

It’s nice to be able to say, “I like the toothpaste better this way” without having to navigate a twenty-bullet Powerpoint presentation entitled “WHY MY TOOTHPASTE ROLLING TECHNIQUE IS OBJECTIVELY SUPERIOR.”

Ignited Delights.
Partners who actively look for things to love in their partners’ hobbies are wonderful. I’m not particularly knowledgable about quilting, nor even that into fabric arts – but I’ll happily go to a quilting exhibition while my wife explains to me all the reasons why this quilt is made by a quilting master.

You don’t have to love what your partner loves, but you should at least be cataloguing the reasons why they love it.

Unselfishly Speaking Their Love Language.
If someone’s not particularly into touching but realizes their partner thirsts for cuddles on a bad day, giving big snuggly bed-hugs is a total victory in my book. If a laconic person is married to a “needs words of assurance” person, them struggling to put their love into verbal forms is beautiful.

As I’ve said before, Your Second Love Language Is Always Scripted, and it feels weird when you want to bring your partner flowers but what really speaks support to them is “Scrubbing the floor and paying the bills.” But those who make that effort are the ones who tend to be really worth the time.

I’m In Chicago Next Week! And Denver The Week After! Come Visit?

So the announcements for my book tour for The Sol Majestic (this is your last week to get the preorder swag!) are running late thanks to a whole bunch of personal issues – I mean, my daughter’s getting married, I’m building a wedding trellis for her, yadda yadda. But I will be in Chicago next week with Sarah Gailey and their upcoming book Magic For Liars, which I assure you will be the next big thing: I’ve read it and it is awesome.

In any case, if you wanna help, RSVPing to the event on social media will do wonders.  In this age of “We all interact only through Facebook,” clicking the “I’m going” or “I’m interested” button boosts the event and gets more people going.  So even if you know you can’t go, saying “I’m interested” (or even better, sharing the event with your buddies) helps your authors of choice a lot.  

Chicago, next Wednesday at 7:00 pm:
Volumes Bookstore
1474 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622

Denver, Tuesday June 11th at 7:00 pm:
Tattered Cover, Aspen Grove
7301 S Santa Fe Dr, Unit 240, Littleton, Colorado 80120

Ann Arbor, Tuesday June 18th at 7:00 pm:
Literati Bookstore
124 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

San Francisco, Saturday June 22nd at 3:00 pm:
Borderlands Books
866 Valencia Street, San Francisco, California 94110