Tolerance Break

It’s no secret that I’m a raging stoner- always have been, probably destined to always be. 

I received an early education from my stoner mother and cemented my habits with stoner friends throughout my formative high school years. There’s this weird anomaly that most long-term pot aficionados can attest to, which is that stoners can always seek out and attract other stoners, no matter where in the world or in their life they happen to be. It’s a gift really, like a special extra sense is activated through the THC receptors or something. 

We tend to surround ourselves almost exclusively with fellow greenthumbs, because they’re usually the only ones that don’t hassle us about our bummer of a habit. They’re also the only ones who’ll sit and smoke a quarter ounce and watch two seasons of rick and morty and devour a diabetes inducing amount of sugary treats with you and not think anything of it. Basically, fellow stoners are the only ones capable of the extreme level of chill required to hang out with us. 

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m starting to think I’ve had too much chill. Smoking weed has been my primary hobby for the past fifteen years. It’s been great, don’t get me wrong, but now that I’m in my thirties I’m wondering if I should expand my interests some. 

The problem with a chronic addiction that it leaves little time or money for anything else so it literally becomes your whole life. Attempts to introduce new habits and hobbies are usually an exercise in futility because one week you won’t have enough money to get weed and pay for whatever activity you were planning on, so a choice has to be made, and that choice will always be weed. Another week you’ll be too stoned and forget to go. After that you’re just too embarrassed or bored with the whole thing  that you simply drop it forever, and resume your glassy eyed sloth pose on the couch, watching Gilmore Girls reruns and scooping milo out of the tin.

But  then one day you emerge from your hazy-brained fog enough to remember you were once a kid who actually wanted to do shit with their life. You were bright eyed and shiny-haired and you had the world at your dainty little feet. You dreamed of being a famed author, an Olympic runner, an astronaut. You even promised your dad that one day  you’d bring him back a piece of the moon, you lying little shit. You wanted to travel to faraway places and do strange faraway things, and now you barely go outside, not even to score your precious drugs, as your dealer now does house calls. 

I’m content with my life, but can I honestly say I’m living it the best I could be? Possibly not. Probably not. 

So I’ve made a decision. Starting next week, I’m going to take a little break. I’m not calling it quitting because that’s too big of a commitment and that word is heavy. But I’m setting myself the challenge of a minimum of seven stoned-free days, a weedless week. That feels achievable, and if after I’ve completed it I feel like I can keep going without it for longer, I will. And if I can’t, a week is still a good start, and I still will have completed my goal. 

If nothing else it’ll be a good tolerance break, and I’ll enjoy a more intense high when I do resume smoking. 

I’m secretly hoping, though, that this will mark the beginning of a break in this deeply rooted, and ultimately destructive habit. I am so attached to the ritual of getting stoned that it feels bigger than me somehow, and beyond my capability to cease. I need to prove to myself that this isn’t the case; surely, deep down inside, there’s some untapped source of self-discipline, even just a little nugget of willpower that will fight its way to the surface if I just try. 

So try I will, and I have a plan to boot. Luckily my fellow-stoner boyfriend is on board- it would be near impossible to attempt this without him. Our tolerance week will commence on Feb 1st, which feels like a nice clean date, and happens to fall on a Wednesday which is payday and score day. Every night we will have a scheduled activity for the after work hours, ranging from the gym, to going to the movies, to trying out new restaurants. On the Thursday I begin a 3-week meditation course which I’m hoping will assist with clearing my thoughts of weed. I’ve recently started doing yoga and I plan to step up my classes to three times a week. We will also have wine and sleeping pills on hand in case of insomnia. 

I’m both looking forward to, and dreading it. One thing I keep reminding myself of is that if boyfriend and I can avoid buying weed for just two weeks, we’ll collectively save $500. That’s ridiculous, and when you go deeper into the economic reality of our combined habit it’s outright anxiety-inducing. I guess that’s why we largely ignore it. But if I really want to make changes, I need to wake up to these harsh realities. I can’t afford to keep burying my head in the mull butter anymore.

I’ll keep you all updated on my progress, and I’d love to hear about your experiences with anything similar in the comments. Any advice is welcome! 

Wish me luck, lovely readers, I need all the good vibes I can get. âœŒđŸ»

How watching ‘Derek’ makes you a better person 

An avid consumer of media, I’ve always had a particularly passionate love affair with television, and the little window of escapism it offers to an otherwise drab existence. The bright colors, the beautiful people, the drama, the chaos, the neatly-packaged resolutions. It was all so much more appealing than my lame little suburban life in Australia. I was intoxicated with Hollywood glitz and glamour, and coveted the lives of my television counterparts.

Of course, my viewing habits have matured with age, and these days I find myself less drawn to glossy melodramas and inclined towards more substantial viewing  (that being said, I did waste five embarrassingly recent years of my life on ‘Pretty Little Liars‘, captivated by the endless riddle of A’s identity and the attractiveness of the leading ladies, all the while painfully aware of how ludicrous the show actually is). 

My quest for enlightenment and a life of meaning is often  thwarted by a tendency towards shallow frivolity, and evidence of this is littered throughout my Netflix watchlist. 

Television serves many purposes to many people- at its worse, it can be a mind-numbing, soul-sucking agent of dribble, used for biased agendas, exploitation, promoting shitty ideals and reinforcing negative beliefs onto the spongy brains of the uninformed. At best, it can be absolutely life-affirming. It can bring around a new way of thinking by shining a light on an issue or concept you had not previously encountered. It can inspire the biggest of belly laughs and move you to tears. The greatest example of this kind of show that I’ve come across is Ricky Gervais’s Derek.

I initially avoided this show based on the mistaken belief that it was, essentially, a piss-take on disabled and ederly folk. I was familiar with some of Gervais’s work but was unaware of his personal status as a prolific atheist, animal rights activist and humanitarian. I therefore had no reason to believe him above portraying a disabled character for a few cheap lols. Thankfully, after hearing a coworker constantly gush about the show and insist I give it a chance, I discovered I was completely wrong, and fell head over heels for this incredible character. 

For those who have yet to experience the magic of Derek, the basic premise is this; a middle aged man with undisclosed learning difficulties, lives in an aged care home, where he helps out with the general running of the place, but mostly provides support and love to the other residents and workers. The home is run by the huge-hearted Hannah, who is a living lesson in selflessness. 

 The hilarious Karl Pilkington costars in the first season as Dougie, the maintenance guy, who is basically just Karl with a bald-cap and even greater sense of disillusionment ( “Life is pain. From the moment your head pops out someone gives you a slap.”)

Rounding out the main cast is, Kevin the repulsive, drunken cretin who is spared from homelessness only by Derek’s insistence that he be allowed to stay at the aged care home, and Vicki, the teenage kleptomaniac who is forced to volunteer at the home as a part of a community service sentence. It all seems reasonably light-hearted, and is quietly hilarious from the get-go. 

We are drawn to this motley crew of underdogs and we find ourselves wincing with embarrassment and giggling uncontrollably at the situations they find themselves in.

 But a few episodes in, we discover that this is much more than just a clever mockumentary, this is actually a series with substance, and at its core a poignant message that should not be ignored. 


The key to Derek’s appeal as a character is his simplicity. He knows he’s a bit different but it doesn’t matter. One of my favorite moments  is from season one, when a council inspector enquires as to whether Derek is handicapped and would consider being tested for autism. “If I am ’tistic,” Derek responds, “will I die?” Hannah assures him no, he won’t die. “Will I change in any way? Or will I be the same person?” He’s told yes, he’ll still be the same and no, he won’t die. “Well, don’t worry about it then,” he says nonchalantly. Case closed. 

In another scene he addresses his ‘low intellect’ while talking about his late mother and the things she taught him. “She told me that kindness is magic. I’m not handsome or clever. But I am kind.”

 And he is, always, to a fault. To everyone, deserving or not, no matter how they respond in turn. He’s kind in situations that I could never be kind in, to people I could never be kind to. And as result, things change. People change. Kindness changes them. 

They become kinder people in return, they spread it around. I feel like this is a universal truth that we all understand at a fundamental level, but collectively, as a species, have sort of forgotten about. It took Derek to remind me. I would watch, tears streaming, lump in my throat, and be like, ‘oh, yeah’. 

They should be teaching it at schools. Sure, the humor is often R-Rated and Kev especially is offensive as fuck, but the occasional crudeness of the comedy provides the perfect balance to Derek’s earnestness. It makes the sincerity palatable, rather than shoving it down your throat like an after-school special. 

I can’t speak highly enough of this show. I’ve never wanted kids but I love Derek so much I’m almost tempted to have them, just so that I can make them watch it. 

Kev’s constant vulgarity is beset by occasional moments of brilliance – who knew that a character best known for lines such as “8 ounces of pure blood sausage coming atcha!” would also be capable of such insights as, “I’m a coward, a failure I guess. But I’m not a failure because I didn’t succeed- I’m a failure because I didn’t try.”

This theme, suggesting the deep-down goodness of everyone, is prevalent throughout the entire show. We witness it in the evolution of Vicki’s character from the first to second seasons. I initially thought she was a bit of a write-off, a useless ‘thot’ there to provide a bit of comic relief with her millenial-style airheadedness, as evidenced in her early exchanges with Hannah: “So what do you wanna do for a living?” 
“Oh, you know, Kardashians n’ that.”

And that’s the whole point, it’s so easy to write people off as a losers, unworthy of our time, we all do it. But after Vicki finds herself bonding with the residents and Hannah gives her 100% on her volunteer evaluation form, we see a different girl begin to bloom (“I’ve never got 100% on anything before,” she says tearfully). Hannah’s relentless kindness and belief in Vicki changes her, gives her the ability to believe in herself and quietly become a better person.

We are forced to face our own mortality through watching the elderly residents of Broad Hill on their march towards death, and heartened by the staff’s dedication to giving them as comfortable and dignified exit as possible. We feel a stab of shame as Hannah laments their plight, “Just because they’re old, just because they’re poor, they’re forgotten about,” and it breaks our hearts a little because we know someday we’ll be old and forgotten, and we vow to be more thoughtful towards the ederly in our lives and appreciative of our relative health and youth.

There’s a thousand other examples of unexpected kindness and life lessons in this show, my favorite involving Kev and a tin-can dog (I challenge you to watch that episode without bawling), but I don’t want to spoil everything for the unacquainted. Suffice it to say that every single character will surprise and move you in one way or another, and the underlying message always prevails: kindness is magic

There is really nothing more important you can do with your life than to be kind. Or, to quote Derek (who himself was quoting a Chinese proverb):
“If you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. If you want to be a happy for a day, go fishing. If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for a lifetime- help other people.” And if you want to be reminded on how to be a good person- do us all a favor and watch Derek. 

Grown Uprising 

 Something weird is happening to me. I don’t know how or why or when it started, but slowly, progressively, mostly against my will, I’ve started becoming.. dare I say it… an adult

I’ve tried to ignore it, but the signs have been cropping up for awhile now. I recently whipped up a cheese and fruit platter- for myself. That’s right, not for the benefit of a fancy visitor, it was just the snack my old lady brain desired, and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even Instagram it.

A few weeks ago, I set up a Direct debit for my phone account so now my bills are never overdue- which means my phone is never cut off. This is a revolutionary concept. Over the years the team over at the Vodafone billing department have become like a family to me- I certainly have more conversations with them than I do my real one. The automated ladies voices that informs me, ‘sorry, you have call barring activated’ is as familiar to me as my own mothers. I’m gonna miss those guys.

Last week, I broke a tooth, and instead of ignoring it for several months and allowing it to become a far worse and more expensive problem, I went and got it dealt with a mere two days later. Not only that, but I scheduled it for my weekend, so that I wouldn’t require any additional time off work. How’s that for an ethic?

Ive never had health, life, or home and contents insurance- but in what is probably the most telling hallmark of my incline into adulthood, I’ve been doing extensive research on the matter. I can now conduct entire fascinating conversations with other adults about policies, health funds, and assets, whereas a few years ago, a mere mention of any of those words would make my eyes glaze over as I backed away slowly.  

I think a big part of my resistance towards growing up is because of how terrified I’ve always been of it. Turning 30 used to feel like the most ominous thing ever, and now that I’m here I of course realize that it’s not as lame as I’d though it would be, but I feel like I’m betraying my younger self by not hating it. My instincts tell me to Fight the Power! Forever young and wild and free, right? Raise hell! 

So I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to act like I’m still a wayward youth. But I just don’t have the energy to do the shit I used to find enjoyable. The idea of spending a few hours, let alone an entire evening, in a nightclub, paying $13 for a shitty vodka in a mason jar that instantly gets spilled on you by a hipster dancing ‘ironically’ to a 90s pop dubstep remix, navigating my way through a sea of Kardashian-esque girls with fake boobs and hair and nails and lashes and lips and tan, and guys in their collared-shirts and Vans sameness, the pickup lines, the awkwardness, wanting a ciggy and having to squeeze into a sardine can of cancer with a thousand other banished smokers; I’d rather hang out in actual Hell, I think.

I used to think that living fast and dying young was a romantic and beautiful notion; I yearned to be like Kurt or Amy or Jeff or any of the revered ’27’ club, fellow misfits, people who felt eternally misunderstood, creative savants who lived their life recklessly, like a piece of performance art, crashing and burning gloriously right up until the bitter end. 

Thankfully I outlived 27 and outgrew my desire to die forever young and pretty. I realized that annoying phrase uttered by every adult ever –   “time heals all” is actually true, and now I can annoy the next generation by saying it to them . 

In fact, in the past six months, I’ve not only survived the transition into adulthood, I’ve actually taken steps to live even longer. I’ve quit smoking cigarettes, a habit I’ve held half my life. I stopped taking psychotropic medications and sleeping pills. I’ve started making healthy, home cooked meals at least once a week. I’ve made a conscious effort to drink more water every day. And the funny thing is, I haven’t had to make a huge effort to implement any of these changes, it’s like I just  started paying attention to my body and prioritizing my wellbeing, and once I did that the changes started to occur naturally. I’m practically a health guru at this point, and considering renaming my blog ‘totallywellness’.

So clearly I’m beginning to relax about this whole getting older thing, fancying myself as ‘reluctantly refined’. I told myself I’m aging effortlessly, gracefully, becoming a more well-rounded and capable adult without even really trying. Allowing nature to take its course, if you will. And feeling pretty smug about it, to be honest. After all, I’m doing way better than I ever thought I would be at this age- I’m not dead and I’ve never even been in jail.

And then… I make the mistake of going on Facebook. I scroll through the lives of my peers, dozens of whom have also hit that milestone age this year. A few jobless deadbeats, with children and drug habits they can’t handle, a few with mediocre middle-class existences. But what was surprising to me was that the vast majority of my fellow triple-decade compatriots are actually kind of killing it.

 One has a disgustingly cute year-old baby with the man of her dreams, and they’re this cool little nomadic bohemian family who spend half the year in their chalet (at a snow town called Mount Beauty, for fucks sake)  working at a ski resort, and then reside at their gold coast beach house for the warmer months.

 One is engaged to a model, has two gorgeous and well-behaved kids from a previous marriage, and is a doctor that owns his own radiology clinic and is currently doing pre-production on a feature film for a screenplay he whipped up in his ‘spare time’.

All of a sudden my ‘interest in health insurance’ doesn’t seem so impressive. Maybe I’m not as mature and adulty as I thought?  Im not sure whether to feel jealous or inspired by these examples of higher echelons of successful adulting. 

Oh, well. I’ll ponder it further while I go smoke some weed and eat fancy cheese. Fight the power! 

Okayness/

There’s this guy I work with, he’s a few years older than me and honestly he’s the most frustrating head-fuck of a person I’ve ever met. I won’t use his name as he’s totally the type of prick who would find out and sue me, so I’ll simply refer to him as ‘the colleague’. I’ll try not to go on about him too much as it makes me angry and I don’t have time, I could literally write volumes on him, in fact perhaps I will, and then take the hefty tomes to a therapist to help me deal with the years worth of shit he’s put me through. I mean, this is an asshole who orders for lunch hot chips with salt and vinegar- minus the salt. What a monster, right? My eye is twitching just thinking about it. Anyway.

So the colleague will amble into work every day, lanky and immediately irritating on sight, and proceed to log in and put his stuff away, without greeting anyone. Someone will inevitably call out, “Hey, colleague!” To which he’ll respond with an unenthusiastic “hey” in turn. Someone will follow up with, “how are you?” To which the colleague will respond, every single fucking day, five working days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, for the past five fucking years: 

“I’m ok.” 

This response is never elaborated on, nor is the question ever returned. And the answer is always the same. I’m ok. 

Like everything he does, including in no small part the way he breathes, I’ve become increasingly furious at this inevitable daily exchange. So recently, I confronted him about it. “Why just ‘ok’, colleague?” I demanded angrily. “Why never ‘great’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘tired’ or ‘shit’? Why are you always just fucking ok?”  The colleague, who forever remains infuriatingly unfazed by my spontaneous bursts of anger towards him, just shrugged. “I’m ok. I’m always ok.” I was seething by this point, all white knuckles and pursed lips. “But why, Colleague? Why? Why aren’t you ever more or less than ok?” Once again he shrugged his fucking stupid shrug with his shitty shoulders and said, “I guess its coz all my good days are behind me. I had a good year when I was twenty-three. But I’m, like 32 now. Now I’ll only ever be ok.” I found this as sad as I did annoying, and that’s one of the worst things about the Colleague, right when you’re ready to rip his stupid goofy head off and use it as a bowling ball to repeatedly knock down his lanky headless body, he goes and says something so pathetically sweet that your anger just kinds of simmers down and melts into a begrudging pity. Usually followed by a moment of shame for thinking of him so unkindly, reminding yourself that he’s 99% likely on the lower-functioning end of the autism spectrum but his stupid religious parents never got him diagnosed or treated, so it’s not really his fault that he’s stumbling about blindy in mainstream society, deliberately unaware of how burdensome he is to those forced to be around him. And then I usually feel angry at him for making me feel sorry for him and wasting another 10minutes of my life thinking about him and his stupid fucking family.

Again, I digress. The whole point of this, before I got lost in my intense feelings towards the Colleague (and now I’m furious at him again for hijacking my thought process), was to question whether at some point, is it acceptable to abandon striving for greatness and just embrace mediocrity? Is it ok to be just… Ok?

 I’ve accidentally spent the last decade working a reasonably enjoyable, but ultimately completely pointless job, selling CDs and DVDs. I love music and movies but hate sales and the corporate environment and most of the general public, and I’ve always felt guilty for not pursuing a more lucrative career path. 

This sense of guilt compelled to me strive for more, kind of- I climbed the corporate ladder, used my smart mouth to  kiss the proper assess and quickly wound up managing a multi-million dollar a year business with a staff of 30, by the age of 25. While doing this I also decided to study online and I obtained a diploma of counseling and another in training and management. And pretty soon I was so stressed and burned out that I wanted to fucking neck myself. I would literally cry myself to sleep because I had too many things to do and I was too overwhelmed to do any of them. One time I was so rundown and dehydrated I got a kidney infection. I woke up in the middle of the night paralyzed with agony, so I rang the house-call Doctor  who arrived at 4am and gave me a shot of morphine in the ass for the pain. I had to open up the store at 7am and I couldn’t get hold of any of the other managers to cover for me, so I literally had to open the shop high on morphine and battling a life-threatening infection- that’s fucking dedication, my friend.

Needless to say, I eventually figured out that management life was not for me, or for anyone really with a soul, so I stepped back down to a lower-ranking position and have never once regretted it. I haven’t really aimed for anything work-related since, and have stopped putting so much importance in my job. It’s just a fucking job, a dumb one at that, just a way to make the money that allows my existence to continue. In this case, I felt it’s ok to be just ok. 

We can’t all be special. We can’t all lead a magnificent life or leave an important legacy. Barely any of us will have any affect on humanity whatsoever or have our names in the history books. We are, as individuals,  less significant than a grain of sand in the ocean, but collectively,we make something vital and expansive, like all the single grains of sand combined to form a body of land, or how the drops of water flow together to create a sea. 

Ultimately I think it’s ok to be just ok, but only when it comes to the mediocrities of life, and that in itself is the tricky part; determining what is truly meaningful versus mediocre. I feel like so many of us put things on the wrong end of the scale because we are influenced by the values of others. Of course your boss is going to tell you that finishing some report takes precedence over getting home to your family; because to him, it is. It’s ok to not be cutthroat in the workplace; your work is not the sum of of your life; unless, of course, you have devoted yourself to caring, healing, or another  all-consuming, noble labor. It’s ok to be just ok with yourself at times- self-love is a lifelong journey, and the pressure to be happy all the time is bullshit, like the old man in the street who tells you to “smile love, it’s free!” when you were just minding your own business, trying desperately to get to the coffee shop before work even though you’re already running late, you weren’t even unhappy, and what kind of fucking maniac walks around with a smile as their default  expression anyway? Stupid old prick. 

On the other hand, I feel there are many things you should never be ok with being just ok. 

Whatever you are passionate about, whatever your thing is, be it writing, singing, making people laugh, fucking beat-boxing, be it creative or analytical or just plain weird, whatever pops those pleasure bubbles, you should try to be the fucking boss at. Once you’ve taken over, don’t stop- aim to redifine the game. Try to be the ultimate greatest in the universe at that thing you love; not for ego or physical reward, but so that you can spend your days on something fulfilling, so that you can put something out into the world that could change lives, so that you can enhance the existence of your passion by your unique contribution. 

If you create something out of passion, unmotivated by the possibly of notoriety or prestige but compelled to create for the sake of creation alone, there is no success or failure, and you couldn’t be ‘just ok’ if you tried. 

 One should also never settle for mediocrity when it comes to love, sex, and important relationships. Love should knock you off your feet and make you more terrified and vulnerable than you’ve ever felt. Sex should deprive you, at least momentarily, of your breath and speech, leaving you both exhilarated and exhausted. That kind of love and sex exists, and can be attained by just about everyone, so settling for anything less is just depriving yourself of one of life’s most beautiful gifts. I’ve certainly been guilty of it; I wasted years on a shitty relationship because leaving seemed like too much effort. I won’t ever get those years back but I also won’t waste any more. Don’t misunderstand me; you can’t expect an otherworldly, transcendental experience every time for everyone, but it is certainly the bar for which you should aim. 

Ultimately, I believe that the Colleague is, as usual, mistaken when he says he won’t have any more good days. We don’t get a quota, we don’t run out, we have however damn many we create for ourselves. 

If we want a more fulfilling life, we need to be ok with some things being just ok. Your lunch order won’t always be on time or even correct. Sometimes someone will spill shit on your new expensive blouse. Do you really have to get worked up about it? Seems to me, if you’re the type of person to wear ‘blouses’, you’ve already go enough to worry about.

 Essentially, spend less energy on life’s minor inconveniences and trivial pursuits (including the boardgame of the same name, that game fucking sucks) and focus it on things more worthy of your precious hours.  

For a long period, I didn’t write at all, although writing’s always been my one release, purely because it doesn’t bring in money and I couldn’t afford to waste a moment on financially fruitless endeveours. I imagine that more than half the civilized population are in the same boat- how many people can actually spend time doing things they enjoy anymore? How many are actually able to rise above the distractions and obsessions of modern living? 

 A beautiful writer once said; ‘how we spend our days, is, of course,  how we spend our lives’. I’ve had my share of bad days, probably more than my share actually, probably excarbated by my own inaction. I spent a lot of time desperately wishing to just be ok. When you’re in despair, getting back to ‘ok’ feels like all you could ever hope for, so when you get there, you stop trying for more. All your hopes and dreams end at ‘ok’, because you don’t know any different.

 It’s like someone wanting to have sex but not orgasm. Imagine going around your whole life fucking people with no concept of climaxing? Just being like ‘oh yeah this feels great I’m so glad I got laid’ and then stopping after like three thrusts and tucking your junk away and going about the rest of your afternoon because that’s all you know. Sure, boning is great, but we all know orgasms are next level great (and kind of the whole point). If we hadn’t figured this out, we would have been a short-lived and frustrated species indeed. We shouldn’t want to spend our life having climax-free sex or ok-days.

 So for now, I’m trying to first figure out what my standard of mediocrity is, and then each day aiming to do (even just slightly) better than that. Devote my time to people and pursuits that bring me the most fulfillment; be ok with putting myself first and being selfish with my time. Although in doing so, if  I do happen to affect someone else positively and they also end up having an above-average day, well, that’s kind of great. 

Except the Colleague. Fuck that guy.