January: Marijuana

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Thirty minutes into my month’s resolution of giving up weed, I got high as balls.

To be fair, I had already surrendered the battle before the first shot was fired. See, January 1st is New Years’ Day. Like most 23 year olds, I celebrated the previous night by getting blasted. And despite what About.com might tell you, the best cure for a wicked hangover is—to put it bluntly (see what I did there?)—weed. So logically, I celebrated New Years’ Day by moving my mattress into the living room, watching the first two installments of Rush Hour, and getting higher than Felix Baumgartner.

My relationship with marijuana has been a dynamic one. I didn’t smoke for the first time until I was out of high school and didn’t smoke regularly until a couple years after that. But at my peak in college, I was objectively a stoner. The facts clearly supported it. I consistently smoked before/during/after any activity involving cooking, movie watching, cleaning, grocery shopping, paying bills, golfing, proving abstract mathematical theorems, and conquering 550 piece cat puzzles. If we’re talking specifics, I once paid $9 for an ice cream sandwich. Yep: that high.

When I entered the working world, I came to the startling realization that taking bong hits at 2pm was no longer feasible, and reduced my smoking intake from a few times a day to a few times a week. However, with a little persuasion, I could still be easily convinced to indulge my favorite vice. Which might explain why I made it a grand total of 30 minutes into January before breaking my New Years’ Resolution.

However, I recognized January 1st for what it was: a hiccup. Thirty-one days in a row is the same regardless of which date it starts on right? So I embarked on the journey.

The first few days breezed by. I went to work, came home, read a book or watched a movie, and went to bed. Nothing fancy there.

But three days in, I had a particularly hell-ish day. On top of dealing with a pissed off client, I couldn’t seem to get anything done at work and slid into a foot-dragging-droopy-headed-Charlie-Brown sort of mood. In such cases, my pot of gold (2-for-2 on weed puns!) at the end of the rainbow is usually a fresh bowl of weed. As I walked in the door and dropped my backpack, I felt a pull in my stomach. Instinctively, I started going through the motions—even so far as groping in my closet to the usual paraphernalia hiding spot—before I had to stop myself.

It was a telling moment. Either I turned left and did what felt natural or turned right and continued with the resolution. I turned right. It took some willpower, but the minor victories were starting to pile up. Maybe this month was doable.

Since my roommates never smoke and since my usual smoking buddies were also on hiatus, I could feel the wind at my back. With a particularly forgiving environment, it was smooth sailing two weeks into January. But that soft breeze turned turbulent when it meant an unknown force: Santa Cruz.

Honestly, the writing on the wall should have been clear. Camping trip. In Santa Cruz. With a preemptive Costco snack run. You don’t exactly need a magnifying glass to see “WEED” scrawled on the wall as well.

So when I found myself sitting in a tent in one of the marijuana capitals of the world, all it took was the flick of a lighter and the site of a blunt before I crumbled.

I got baked. And it was good.

In retrospect, I wish I would have put up more of a fight. It was my first true test and I failed harder than Biz Markie at a swim meet. But at this point, my persistence reserve was running dry. The way I saw it, sitting in a tent with a bunch of giggling stoners took priority over a New Year’s Resolution. Those are made to be broken, right?

After returning from the middle of nowhere (cough, Santa Cruz), I resolved to get back on the horse. Despite the fact that my roommate constantly goaded me to throw in the towel and smoke since I had “already lost,” I kept it up. Food was eaten without enhancement. Cleaning was done sans pleasant haze. Movies were watched sober, which was fine excepting a few slow ones (War Horse, I’m looking at you). The month came to a close, and to make up for the Santa Cruz blunt extravaganza, I extended the resolution a few extra days before celebrating.

And that should have been the end of it.

As I alluded to originally, this month was intended as a one-off experiment. A mini New Year’s Resolution. Did I have the willpower to replace a bad habit?

But halfway into my marijuana-less month, it developed into something more.

Every day at around 3pm, I drop what I’m doing and go for a walk. This has a number of benefits. It helps me recharge, it’s a nice break at the height of the day’s doldrums, and in paradoxically stepping away from work, I often solve a few key business problems. On January 13th, I closed my laptop and went for my usual pilgrimage down San Francisco’s Market Street. But my mind wandered and—for reasons I’m still unsure of—I thought, what if I keep this going? What if I give something up every month?

The ideas flooded in. What if I abstained from alcohol? What if I gave up spending? What if I didn’t listen to music? How would my life be different? Would it even be possible? A 15 minute walk turned into 30 minutes. My head was bursting with questions and my steps quickened.

A few minutes later, I leapt up the stairs to my workspace, opened my laptop, and immediately created a Google Doc titled “12 things to give up.” Within minutes, I had written 12 items accompanied with months in which I would attempt to give each item up. With the exception of a bit of shuffling and a substitution (because, let’s face it, giving up the internet when you run a business on the internet is a bit ridiculous), everything stayed exactly the same.

So there it was. Staring me in the face. “The Twelve.”

The experiment looked thrilling. And challenging. And intimidating. But I knew I had to do it.

So on January 31st, with my first month coming to an end, I decided to close one chapter and open another. I liv­­e in San Francisco, a city with more farmers’ markets than fast food restaurants. It was time to attempt something that I had ridiculed others for. Something that I had publicly acknowledged I didn’t have the guts to attempt, even for a day.

February would be meatless.

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