Strong Medicine

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Last week was a long and stressy week. I’m anxious about everything right now. Last week more than some other weeks, each additional thing just added another layer with no time to level out or come down from the last thing. I probably should have realized it would be an anxious week when I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Monday because I hadn’t taken the trash down to the road the night before and I might miss the trash pickup. Mind you, the trash pick up has been happening between 10 a.m. and noon for the last twenty years, and also I don’t actually care if we get the trash picked up every week.

I was anxious about work meetings, whether I had prepared enough, whether my presentations were good enough (hint: I don’t care about powerpoint presentations even more than I don’t care about trash pick up), whether after the next board meeting I might find my job had been deemed unnecessary.

I was anxious about Tabby’s leg wound, whether it was not healing well, whether I was bandaging it too loose or too tight, whether it was getting too wet in the five minutes of rain we had one night, whether the bandage would somehow come unwound and scare both Tabby and Niño into running through the fence and I would find them hogtied together somewhere in the back woods in the morning.

As I said, a stressy week, with periods of escalating craziness.

My most relaxing activity, always (except for when they fight), is to hang out with the dogs. So we spent a lot of time outside in the dog yard, generally with two dogs in one yard and the third dog in the other to avoid any possible fights. As always, I spent a lot of that time taking pictures of them. Also as always, sometimes the pictures were good and because even the worst ones – especially the worst ones – made me laugh. Laughter has been in short supply this year. It’s fair to say that one of the things I miss the most about people – about being around people at all during the pandemic restrictions, and also about specific people I haven’t seen in a long time, and people I will never see again – is laughing with them.

Ask me for a memory of most of my family members who are gone and the first one I think of will involve laughing. The kind of laughing at nothing that you can explain in a way that sounds funny, but in the middle of it you can’t stop and the harder you try the more you laugh. Laughing with my sister over the letters we wrote to our grandmother when we were really little and barely knew how to write. Laughing with my mother in a Thai restaurant over a silly poem until we genuinely thought they were going to ask us to leave. Laughing with my aunt over actually funny movies (the first time I saw Young Frankenstein was with her) and over movies that were so terrible we couldn’t stop laughing (The Abyss). Laughing at my father laughing so hard at his own joke that he could barely get the punchline out.

It’s hard to make clear why those moments were so funny. It’s probably just as hard to make clear why the photo of Boo at the top of this post made me laugh that hard, even if I zoom in closer.

Let me try to illustrate with a little story.

Last summer, which now feels like ten years ago, we were in Colorado and I had the chance to meet our son’s girlfriend for the first time. We planned a dinner for an evening after the kids got off work. Rose and I had bought some edibles the first day we were in town, because, hey, Colorado! And we were on vacation! And going to a music festival later in the week! We had the genius idea to try them out the very same afternoon of the dinner.

They were gummies, and we decided to each have one instead of splitting one, which sounded reasonable because they are really tiny. It turns out that even in the case of tiny gummies it’s really important to understand a) potency, b) your own personal (lack of) tolerance, and c) that some things have changed a lot since you were in college.

Also it turns out when you consume edibles it takes a lot longer than when you smoke for the effects to kick in, but oh joy, they also last a lot longer. Rose’s reaction to this was to get comprehensively ill and lock herself in the bathroom for either 30 minutes or 6 hours, it’s hard for me to say because I maybe lost my sense of time altogether.

In the middle of all this – Rose locked in the downstairs bathroom, me frantically googling “How do I counteract too much THC,” the girlfriend arrived. Now remember, we were supposed to go out to dinner. Dinner was very much out of the question, but saying this and explaining why was beyond my powers of reasoning or speech just then. I spent some time making getting-to-know-you conversation (I think) in the kitchen while Rose (who had already met the girlfriend) remained in the bathroom, with me periodically going downstairs to check on her and then going back to the kitchen and trying to act normal. Finally, Rose and I had a panicked conference through the bathroom door and decided we had to come clean. “We” being me because she was not coming out of the bathroom any time soon.

I went back upstairs and said something like “I’m kind of embarrassed to say this but we can’t go out to dinner tonight because we made a rookie Colorado mistake” and our son said “Oh no, altitude sickness?” and I thought – yes! Altitude sickness! It’s a total out, plus they will feel sorry for us! But what came out of my mouth instead was “Um, no. We had an error in judgement with some edibles.” Fortunately, the girlfriend thought this was really funny, and showed me a hilarious video called “What to Do if You’re Too High on Weed” which made me laugh in that laughing entirely too hard way. I can say that I’ve watched it again since then, and it really is funny. Probably more funny if you’ve ever had the experience, which I can’t actually recommend.

Now that I think of it, there’s some pretty good advice in that video for anxious times in general, starting with “You may feel like you’ve gone permanently insane, or like you’re dead. Here’s the good news: you’re alive, and your sanity is probably intact.” Some practical actions include breathing fresh air, staying hydrated, watching silly tv, and calling a trusted friend (“Talking things through can do wonders, and remind you that you’re a person, and not just a cloud of terrifying thoughts”).

If you haven’t guessed by now, that photo of Boo is a near exact replica of my face that evening, I’m sure of it. I’ll take my laughter where I can get it these days, and it’s nice to know the dogs will never mind when I look at pictures of them and laugh so hard I start to wheeze. I may not always remember how to relax, but they do.

16 thoughts on “Strong Medicine

  1. Oh laughter!! Reading this next Wonderful Monday story has brought forth those few precious times of uncontrollable giggles with my mom. Rare and radiant as a gemstone.

    Now to find that video!

  2. Fine “parental” moments there. I’m dying at the thought of Rose not coming out of the bathroom…I want to read her version, too. Rashomon in the bathroom. Oh, I do feel the pressure and I miss laughing so much. I cling to Zoom giggles…

    PS, such an eloquent dog nose…

    • We have a new measurement in our family thanks to this fine parental moment. I found this out when our youngest said her new jeans were really high waisted – “higher than you on edibles”

  3. Oh, I’ve so been there. Except it was 1978 and hash brownies. To be fair, I didn’t know they were hash brownies. (I just thought they were … badly made?) Ate them anyway because I was ten hours into a twelve hour day and I was starving. I ate two … that I will admit to eating. Might have been more? Stoned for DAYS. Scary-stoned. Couldn’t function, stoned. At the time I was working for a wholesale paraphernalia company. I’m sure nobody noticed. Your story cracked me up, but it also reinforced why I don’t ever want to be that high again.

  4. To Anna B – I spent a lot of time in there just enjoying the feeling of water running over my hands. Asking Tessa if I had been in there for HOURS. And then drawing the obvious conclusion that “THIS STUFF COMPLETELY DISTORTS ONE’S PERCEPTION OF THE PASSAGE OF TIME!!”

  5. Oh, how I needed that laugh! Rose in the bathroom, your calculations about how to not let on just how Rocky Mountain High you both were… Thank you for the guffaws, the giggles, and the up-close photo of Boo. Who does that doggy dog funny adorable face all on his own. And Quinn’s belly. It felt good to feel lighter while I read your blog.

  6. Years back I was feeding a friend’s cat while she was on vacation. I decided to browse her freezer, hoping to score some ice cream, when I found a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies. She’ll never miss them, I thought, taking one and then two. I ate them in the car on the way to a supermarket. I shopped and waited on line to pay for my basketful when suddenly everything seemed odd, slowed down or was it speeded up: I couldn’t decide. I drove home very slowly, Maybe there’s something wrong with me, I thought, and then I remembered my friend put grass in her cookies. Maybe I should go to the ER for an antidote, I thought. Nope, my friend was a lawyer. I couldn’t give away her baking habits. I drove home to Ira who took care of me and tried not to laugh.

    • I love this, particularly your slow drive home and Ira trying not to laugh. We had friends tell us a funny story about an edibles fiasco by some friends’ kids in CO several years ago, and we thought how silly those kids were. Little did we know.

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