Legalize It (Am I Really Writing About This?)

I thought I was pretty witty back in the day when I said that surrealism is the accurate perception of the world as it is. I wasn’t talking about elephants on stilts or melting clocks. I was talking about plain, ordinary reality. We cushion the blows of its weirdness through our relentless illusion and hope and general obtuseness, but it’s just all around surreal.

I live with three hairy dogs. They are large. The smallest is 60 pounds. I am a little person and the two I walk with most of the time come up to my waist. Yep. We trudge through life as if that were the normal state of affairs for every 65 year old lady. In fact, every single person trudges through their life as if it were “normal” but there is no normal. There is only relentless weirdness.

Here’s weirdness. We have a legal drug, booze. Booze is a cheerful glass of wine at Thanksgiving for some, the propulsion behind a deadly automobile for others, and death itself for others.

An estimated 88,0009 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women9) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). Source

But it’s legal. Anyone over the age of 21 can buy as much of it as they can afford and drink it as often as they wish.

My brother was a hardcore alcoholic who died in his 50s after a horrible life and tremendous physical debilitation and at an extreme cost to the people of the states where he lived. He often said, “If pot were legal, I wouldn’t be a drunk.” I would add, if pot had been legal, he might be alive now. That would be really nice. The other day I donated some money to one of my brother’s old friends who’s got meningitis and has no insurance. Her children wrote me a thank you, “Hugs to the Kennedy family.” Yeah. That’s me, Dusty,  Mindy and Bear. I felt so sad at that moment. No one wants NOT to have their brother. But that’s booze for you. “You don’t understand, Martha Ann. I like being drunk.” Drunk to death. Fuck you, Jeff Sessions.

Marijuana, in contrast, is not physically addictive and has never (directly) killed anyone. There are a couple of people (literally 2) known to have died of marijuana use — being high brought to the surface underlying physical disabilities. AND my experiments with it made me think I was dying (or that someone was coming TO KILL me) all an argument for me not to use it, but here are thousands of people who actually derive measurable benefits from it. But it’s illegal, according to federal law. A short, logical explication of the dangers of marijuana use can be found here.

I find that surreal. It’s also surreal that I, after forbidding hundreds of college freshmen from writing a “Legalize Marijuana” essay am doing that right now so, moving on, with one more point. People have ALWAYS liked to intoxicate themselves. While early beer and mead were low in alcohol content as their main purpose was to provide pure, non-disease laden ways to prevent dehydration in a world of putrid water, there are enough drinking songs and odes to wine from all cultures and all times to prove people like being intoxicated. So, logically, is it better for people to be intoxicated on something lethal or something that’s not lethal? That I have to ponder that point is surreal.

There’s so much surreality in this world. It’s surreal that people have taken to painting rocks, people who never painted anything in their lives. It’s surreal that Sarah Palin was EVER a serious candidate for anything. It’s surreal that fascism is rearing its ugly head, it’s surreal that people don’t know what fascism is because, it seems, at some point, our education system stopped making kids watch black and white films of liberating Nazi death camps. I saw them twice a year. It’s surreal that there were Nazi death camps. It’s surreal that our recent presidential election was apparently hacked on all sides, a rain of dirty politics only possible in this era. It’s surreal that after finding Colorado too small, too confining I left in my late 20s only to return at the end of my life to a small Colorado town that’s stuck in the 70s. It was surreal that I went to Switzerland to stay in an 17th century barn (remodeled to an apartment) in the area in which my ancestors lived, and my hosts were from Australia. It’s surreal that I wrote a novel describing the lives of my ancestors before I knew they were my ancestors.

Well, the list goes on. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of surreality in your day to keep you occupied and perplexed.

On a cheerier note, a song that’s been in my mind. It’s weird. You might call it surreal.

19 thoughts on “Legalize It (Am I Really Writing About This?)

    • I don’t get it. 😦 I wish they would devise a test that could identify babies as at risk for alcoholism and they would not be able to buy booze when they grew up. It would be on their ID card or drivers license.

  1. I don’t think I really got “surreal” until I lived in Israel where the standards of the country and the actual functioning of the country were hilariously different. I’m not talking about serious political issues: I’m talking about the simple realities of getting stuff done in a world where every single thing is layered in more bureaucracy than anyone imagined possible. There’s no “just do it” in Israel. There is only a Mel Brooks cum Kafka surreality that make you laugh (a lot) … or sends you back home to you homeland in tears.

    I went home, but it wasn’t the craziness. It was more that the people I really cared about were back there … and the economy was such a disaster, there was little hope of making a life, much less a career. And of course, the man I had married during a fit of unmitigated idiocy who I needed to unmarry ASAP and be at least an ocean away from.

    But who thought it would be even worse here? Did I for a moment imagine that however lunatic my life was in Israel, it was going to be ten time crazier in the U.S. in 2017? Who though about 2017 anyway? After Halley’s Comet passed, what more could show up?

    • Oh Halley’s comet. Driving up to the Laguna mountains with a colleague/friend and his temporary wife at 2am with a giant homemade chocolate cookie to share. On the top Four telescopes pointed in the right direction and the ex saying “where did you get the idea for that cookie anyway?” And single moment of life is almost too surreal to ponder 🤔

      • It was my 39th birthday. Everyone was high as a kite. We wandered into the Judaen desert and finally found it … then discovered we could easily see it from the sidewalk in front of the apartment in which I lived. I wrote about it. It was my only published item in The Jerusalem Post.

  2. Oh, Frank Zappa: we seem to have walked the same musical path off and on during our lives. I both laughed and sighed at your examples of surrealism. Then I remembered waking up this morning and thinking, “It’s odd that I come from a Mormon heritage, was raised with six siblings who have an average of 5.6 children each, have a brother who is sixty-five and has forty grandchildren with more on the way, and I am childless.” Now I wish I’d thought, “It’s surreal.” And yes, booze being legal and pot not is the height of surreality.

    • I just figure some people need to be childless so other people can have all the kids they want. I kind of sort of chose it having been — always — serious about what humans do to the planet. I even heard, back when I was in high school, the zero population growth guy, Paul Ehrlich, speak. I was a good “nurturer” to those who came my way needing that, but I was fine never being anyone’s mother. But even that is surreal given the biological imperative with which we’re born. :p

  3. Oh, and there is the tobacco industry as well. Lots of money earned for the few, lots of illness and too early deaths for the many. And there is Monsanto… and food that actually isn’t food at all… and lots of other things…
    Surreal! Oh yes!

  4. About the only time that isn’t surreal to me is when I’m deep in the wilds feeling the sun and sweat on my skin. Preferably with a gentle breeze.

  5. The world of surrealism is new to me as I have recently joined a creative writing class….any valuable tip you would want to share with beginners like me would be welcome 🙂

    • Oh yes. Good writing is writing another person can understand. Great writing is when another person doesn’t only understand, but also feels and experiences. There is no formula for this, but it’s useful to learn the tools. Don’t listen too much to the criticism of your classmates because writers are all competitive and insecure. Write for your own pleasure; joy in writing, telling a story or writing a poem, is the most lasting and most real reward.

      Surrealism works a lot better in painting than in writing, I think, because of the immediate effect of a painting but not everyone agrees with me. 😛

      • Thank you so much, that was really helpful; and you are right, writers can be very insecure and competitive. I used to get really demotivated earlier by their harsh criticism but I won’t let them discourage me anymore. Thank you so much for the encouragement again.

    • Very interesting idea about (mechanically) writing a poem (random word generator). I like your poem; I can’t really critique it, though, other than to suggest letting it simmer for a while (don’t look at it) and then, if you come back to it with fresh eyes, take out the words that don’t add meaning. Often those are adverbs (strange but true) and qualifying words (sort of, kind of, somewhat, etc.) A teacher I had in high school gave me good advice — write sonnets because even if they fail you learn a lot about language and the tools of poetry (metaphor, simile, symbolism, etc.) The most important thing is don’t stop writing. ❤ Good job!

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