Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome to the next 9 months. No, not pregnancy.

I just finished my first week of school, into my third year at Portland Community College. I made sure that this would be an easy transition term so as to better acclimate to the busy times that is college life. So, I have a couple of English courses, and a History course; approximately one class per day. So far, it is a well-timed week.

As for the classes, two of them are exactly what I wanted, and for the most part they are not letdowns. My History teacher does say "Uhhh...." and "Ummmm..." a lot, and seems to lose her train of thought, but at the very least she seems to know her shit. She has mad qualifications out-the-ass like a P.H.D. in Political Science, an M.A. in Russian History, etc... On our Syllabus', she listed her schooling and achievements, and the part that made me laugh was the title of her dissertation: " The Role of the Catholic Church in Elaborating a Counter Hegemony in Opposition to the Dominant Groups in Brazil and Poland." I guess the thing that makes me laugh is the length and precision of it, not the content. However, I'm sure that all dissertations have titles like this, and my laughter is out of ignorance. Makes me want to come up with dissertation titles for fun. "Mascots of flavor: a comparative behavioral study between the suave, sophisticated, and effete Cheetah of Cheetos (tm) brand cheese sticks, and the bold, masculine, patriotic and heroic nature of Tony the Tiger of Frosted Flakes (tm)." The paper would be a breakdown of how these mascots are really metaphors for certain society's values; the Cheetah is France (obviously!) and the Tiger is America (obviously!!!). Putting anything in dissertation speak makes it sound official and professional. Yup, just pulling things out of my ass on this one. That's the second usage of that idiom, I've noticed. Things are coming out of asses in this paragraph.

The other class that I am enjoying is my Film Studies class. It is categorized under English, and it's my second time taking a Film Studies class. You see, I needed to have 16 credits worth of English, and I suspected that a Film class would be less obnoxious than a Poetry or Drama class. It actually is, but that's mostly because of the teacher. In someone else's hands, it could be extremely pretentious and over-the-top, but it works with this one particular teacher. This particular class is called "Film as Art," and we started out with "Casablanca." The list includes other classics like: "Citizen Kane," "Apocalypse Now," "Psycho," and "The Battle of Algiers." Like I said, it is the teacher, he addresses people as if they were adults rather than children -- even the ones who are fucking children.

And that leads me to my other English class, which is a Drama as Lit class. Much like my previous Fiction Lit class, it feels like someone somewhere is playing a joke on you. It's just a bit too whimsical and silly for my taste (a trait which seems to be a pre-requisite for English teachers), and the curriculum is set up to allow tweenage blowhards have the floor for way too long. The few bright bulbs who are assured their voices are gold just let the bullshit flow, just to have it stink and linger. It's that painful, trust me. More on this as it develops.

Gotta keep it short. This is probably how it's gonna be for the remainder of school, with time restrictions and all. Until the next annoyance...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pancreatic shock: the doughnut test

[I started this late last night, but didn't quite finish it since I was losing the battle between consciousness and Tylenol P.M. So now, here is the complete post.]

So yeah, was feeling bored and my sweet tooth was acting up, so I decided to brave the piss-Portland weather tonight along with the hell that is 82nd avenue to get a dozen plain-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I couldn't tell you approximately how many miles away Krispy Kreme is from where I live, but it is basically on the other side of town and it took a good half an hour to get to. What made driving especially nerve-wracking tonight was that the humidity caused by the rain made my car windows fog up. This, along with wipers at high speed, blinding headlights, buses, and assholes crossing in the middle of the street, made it a treacherous journey. All for some fucking dognuts, eh?

I finally get there, then go through the drive-thru to order my dozen. As is usual with Krispy Kreme employees, the kid on the intercom sounded extremely bored or stoned, his voice barely audible and sounding like he's too tired to even enunciate. No one will ever accuse him of being patronizing, that's for sure. He was so tired and weak/stoned that he couldn't even hold onto some of the quarters I paid with. "Don't worry 'bout it," he slurred after noticing me opening my car door to rescue a few of them. So I didn't. I drove outta there back onto the street of nightmares, going north.

However, since I was already out this far in Southeast Portland and I desperately wanted to get off of 82nd, I went into close-in Southeast to get gas, as well as a dozen at the new Voodoo Doughnuts on N.E. Davis and 15th. My bright idea was that I would do a taste test and report my findings via blog post, which is pretty much what I'm doing. However, there were a few details that I thought would hamper my very important investigation: I bought plain-glazed at the Krispy, and bought the "Voodoo" dozen at Voodoo (which means that the employee picks whatever doughnuts from the rack behind them, and by my observation it looked like what was being picked were the surplus doughnuts). This meant that I would be comparing plain glazed with the zany variety pack. I didn't even think of this while I was at Voodoo, I just asked for the representative baker's dozen. Also, it's hard to find a doughnut there that one would recognize, and that's supposed to be its charm. When I got the doughnuts back to my house, I found a plain-glazed in the Voodoo dozen, so ultimately I was able to do the test.

Even before I arrived at Voodoo though, I was having reservations about the place. I had had Voodoo doughnuts at their original location in Old town, and I never really cared for them. They were quirky to be quirky, or downright disgusting to be funny. Nyquil glazed or Pepto-Bismol glazed doughnuts,... no shit. Seems like a cruel joke, as if to say "I can't believe you actually paid money to eat this -- did you think a Nyquil doughnut was going to be delicious?" Or "Hey, if you can eat this without vomiting you must be really drunk -- now get the hell out of here!" I've never tried either of those flavors. Instead, I had ones like the Grape Ape, which is some sort of grape cereal and grape frosted doughnut, or a maple bacon bar, which is a traditional maple bar with two pieces of crispy bacon on top. The bacon maple bar was pretty good, but the grape ape was just strange. I guess this sort of clouds my objectivity in a proper assessment, but I was hoping that this time they would prove me wrong.

The doom metal was blasting through the entryway when I walked into the place, which was filled with two mobs of people at the counter, one middle-aged mustachioed guy playing pinball, and another younger guy on his laptop (doing homework?). The interior was decorated sparsely, with newspaper clippings, what looked like a music poster of a now extinct hawaiian lounge singer, and a velvet picture of Kenny Rogers. Strangely enough, Voodoo's interior closely resembles that of Dot's, the bar over on Clinton St. Or maybe that's not so strange -- it has the same clientele, and basically has all the trappings of bar culture minus the booze (with the exception of a few frosting flavors like Jack Daniels or Jagermeister). The phrase "quintessential Portland establishment" would be appropriate here, which tends to be code for young and hipsterish.

So, I got my employee picks and got out of there. Back to my house, where I unloaded my treats and set out to settle this all-important matter. The Voodoo dozen was a very colorful array, each doughnut coated with candy glitter, or cereal, or shredded coconut -- and the one plain-glazed. After wolfing down the plain-glazed from each, I must say that the Krispy Kreme is still the tastier doughnut. It's richer, it has a better texture, it's cooked more uniformly. I realize that these traits are probably a result of their industrial doughnut machine, but nevertheless -- they taste better. In the plain-glazed category, they have Voodoo beat.

The Voodoo doughnut wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. It wasn't what one would expect from the renowned shop with its high reputation and fanaticism. And yes, it's true that people don't go to Voodoo to just get any ol' doughnut, and it's true that Krispy Kreme doesn't do as good when it goes beyond its plain boundaries. Krispy Kreme's "cream-filled" are filled with a substance more like cool-whip, and their chocolate glaze doesn't taste like chocolate, it just tastes sweet, and is cloying. Still, the true test of a food establishment is to test their basics, their fundamentals. It's a competency test. If they can't get that right then how good can they really be? Starbucks is a good example of this. Their plain coffee always tastes burnt, probably because they spend all of their time on foofy fucking drinks that taste less like coffee and more like milkshakes. Countless breakfast places that I've gone into have ambitious menus, but when I ordered a classic eggs over medium/bacon/potato dish, they fucked it all up. Many restaurants are like that too; so concerned with dazzling the shit out of you that they forget how to cook a steak or a hamburger properly. These type of places are either being pretentious, or always have an eye on the trend of markets. And sorry, Voodoo Doughnuts is no exception.

I know that I am supposed to be supportive of local establishments, but they just don't cut it. It's not a place to go to when you're in the mood for a doughnut, it's a place to take out-of-towners to when they ask "What's up with the 'Keep Portland Weird' bumper stickers?" So yes, in this case, I am saying that the cookie-cutter corporation trumps the local eccentric funhouse in terms of flavor.

There you have it. My opinion on doughnuts. Incredible.

4 more days till school starts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"I Don't Like Mondays."

One week and starts next Monday.

So, this is my last week of absolute lethargy. After that, no more spending the entire day looking up stupid shit on the computer: looking at Ebay, re-runs of Hell's Kitchen, or what have you. Time to get serious.

Yeah, sometimes having too much free time is poisonous. In my case, it has caused a lot of self-conscious thought, which has led to self-doubt. Not the greatest thing to be feeling when your in college looking for a career and shit.

I'd wondered if this had to do with my age, just about to turn thirty, but then I remembered that I always got this way when I came to a complete stop. I've always been told that thirty is a magically debilitating age; makes you think 'bout stuff like: where am I going, where have I been? I don't know, I feel like this is stuff that's been floating around my brain ever since I can remember. Chalk it up to insecurity.

I have found a pattern in my jobless sprees: I tend to quit jobs in early Summer or Spring after previously saving at least a three month "cushion." Soft and pillowy, like a Sopapilla of freedom and unemployment. Then, I spend the majority of the time doing somewhat pointless things, all the while procrastinating about job searching and resume writing. Then, I get to the point where I currently am at: barely any money left, slightly depressed, questioning just what the fuck it is that I'm doing with myself. You'd think I would've learned by now.

Fortunately, I've been able to at least spot this pattern and realize that I get over these moods rather quickly once things start moving again. Not too long ago, I would've made some impulsive move just because I was feeling a little down: selling all of my belongings, living in my car, moving away, or traveling. You know, the less-bold equivalent of outright train hopping and street living. Maybe the phrase "yet stupid" should be interjected somewhere in that last sentence.

I know why I make these brash decisions. It's a fear that some awful cloud of depression is lurking just around the corner. The kind that was so crippling when I was young. I can only describe it as the feeling one has when coming down off of a very long acid trip with no sleep. Imagine that everyday for three years. Sort of like being perma-fried and being acutely aware that everyone thinks so too. It truly felt like a mental disorder; actually, it felt like what I imagine schizophrenia feels like. At the time, I couldn't see an end in sight, so naturally, my thoughts were very, um..., dark. How's that for a euphemism? I have kept that cloud at bay since, and maybe it's not really there anymore. But I get goosebumps occasionally.

I sometimes feel like a robot or a wind-up toy that is just off-track. There needs to be a point or a focus for my brain to function. A path to work towards. And yes, money certainly comes in handy when considering this. Hell, money is usually part of the goal. Maybe that exposes me as a compromising, conformist piece of shit. However, if you've endured many a dry spell, then you quickly grow tired of the periods when you have little money. Relative poverty is not a badge of honor anymore.

This makes me think of what two entirely different authors had to say on this point. On one hand, Charles Bukowski wrote a poem ( the name of which I couldn't tell you since this was years ago that I had read it) which basically said that it didn't matter where you were, or how healthy you were, how rich or poor, or what kind of headspace you were in: there will never be a perfect time to be creative, and that it's foolish to wait around for it.

On the other is H.L. Mencken, who wrote about this concept, calling it the "Greenwich Village complex." Here is his take on it:

"Poverty may be an unescapable misfortune, but that no more makes it honorable than a cocked eye is made honorable by the same cause. Do I advocate, then, the ceaseless, senseless hogging of money? I do not. All I advocate -- and praise as virtuous -- is the hogging of enough to provide security and ease. Despite all the romantic superstitions to the contrary, the artist cannot do his best work when he is oppressed by unsatisfied wants. Nor can the philosopher. Nor can the man of science. The best and clearest thinking of the world is done and the finest art is produced, not by men who are hungry, ragged, and harassed, but by men who are well-fed, warm and easy in mind."

Right now I'm leaning towards Mencken's take on it. That could be because I enjoy Mencken, and can take or leave Bukowski. Obviously -- I don't even own a book of his to pull a quote out of.

Do I consider myself an artist then? Well, sort of. I have an artist's one-track mind, and the tunnel-vision needed to achieve certain outcomes, since the process could seem extremely tedious and tiresome to some. I possess that sort of mad urgency for completion of projects, and my imagination is a better friend than most. I'm indecisive, a bit neurotic, and I grow bored with things quickly, alarmingly so. I think those are some good qualifications.

Pardon my weird mood. Trying not to sound self-pitying here, since I have no right. Just musing about boredom and its consequences.

In the ol' memory bank

Remember these?

     I was a big fan of these cards when I was a kid, and had collected quite a few of them over the years. Fortunately, I was smart enough not to sell them when I got tired of them-- I kept them all in a box and forgot about them until recently when I was rifling through my old bedroom's closet in my parent's house. I say fortunately for two reasons: 1) though a meager amount, they are still worth something, and inevitably their worth will continue to rise, and 2) they're one of the few things that I kept around from childhood, so they carry an even deeper nostalgia than any other thing that I own. The latter part of that sentence makes it seem like my box of Garbage Pail Kids is my most treasured possession, which is not the case, I promise. It's just that they take me back to my old run down house; to the corner-store that was run by the very friendly, but extremely hyperactive hippie lady with hair down past her ass; to when a quarter was a substantial amount of money for candy or a package of GPK. They take me back even further in memory than, say, watching an episode of Twin Peaks, or reading the letters from an ex-bandmate, who unexpectedly fled back to the East Coast while we were still renting a practice space. An explanation is in order, I know.
     When I was living in Medford, Oregon, I was commuting to Ashland (the nearest southbound town), to work as a line cook at a restaurant called Brothers. And a guy named Stephen, one of the cooks at Bros., turned me on to the Twin Peaks series. At that point, I had vaguely remembered bits of it on the USA Network, but had never actually followed the story. Stephen and his girlfriend Nora were both David Lynch fans, but were especially keen on Twin Peaks. They even had this Rolling Stones cover hanging in their bathroom:
They assured me that I wouldn't be disappointed in the show, and that once I started watching I wouldn't be able to stop. And then came the perfect opportunity to sit around and guiltlessly watch every episode: Stephen and Nora asked me to house-sit for two weeks while they were in Germany. And that's exactly what I did, plowing through all 29 episodes (the hours spent watching it almost equated a work week). I lived about a fifteen minute freeway drive away from their house, and this was a house-sitting job that involved feeding two feral cats, so it required me to stay there instead of merely checking up on the place. Like I said, perfect opportunity to sit around. 
     Oh, and a quick note on the cats: if you haven't ever had to deal with a feral cat, and you get the opportunity to do so,...boy, are you in for a treat. Shortly before they left, Stephen and Nora reminisced about the awful incidents they'd had with these two jet-black nightmares to, ya know, put me at ease. And they warned me that the cat with the white tuffs of hair growing out of its ears was the meaner of the two. Apparently, just walking behind "white tuffs" while it was eating its food was a threat to him, which would cause him to emit this gurgling, low Ohm-like sound and then turn around and swipe. The other cat did warm up to me a bit, and would even sit on my lap while I would be watching Twin Peaks. However, the minute I tried to get up from the chair, it would be a problem. Knowing that this was a feral cat, it kinda made the experience terrifying. So yeah, the experience soured me on playing with wild cats. 
     So, anytime I watch an episode of Twin Peaks, it takes me back to this specific period in my life. And so far, I can find nothing else, apart from actually travelling down to Ashland, that can achieve sort of the same effect. And even then, it's still not the same. It encompasses more than just the house and the cats: it includes the job, the town, my friends at the time, the general mood I was in, etc... So, when the Gold Edition DVD Box Set of Twin Peaks came out I considered it a worthwhile investment. 
     As for the saved letters from the ex-bandmate, those were from the period when I had just moved up to Portland. I had put up a flyer in Ozone Records, searching for a drummer to start a project with. Brainmower, as was his online pen-name, responded and even had a practice space in NW Portland where we could play at any time of the day or night. As a matter of fact, our first get-together was around 3 A.M., and we played till about 8 A.M. This we did a few times a week for the next six months, until we needed a cheaper practice space. Then onto Shurgard Storage, where we had a silent agreement with the manager, of that particular set of spaces, that we would never be there after 9 P.M., when the gates closed for the night. Mad dashes out of the lot before the gates closed were frequent, and made the whole thing kind of fun. But it came to an end when I arrived at the practice space one day only to find the majority of Brainmower's drumset there and a note bidding me farewell:
     "The music shit in here is yours. Use it well, Took some drum shit as you notice. Yo, if I go back to NY and start some shit, you have a place in my band, or with us at gigs. NY Hardcore roots beeotch! See you later bro."
     Apparently he was in Bellingham, Washington at this point, and later went back to his hometown of Albany, New York. From there he contacted me a couple of times before he went on to permanently live in Barcelona, Spain. Here is one of his letters, typical of his style: 
     "What the fuck is up son. Well, I guess you aren't actually my son, but if you were I would be proud because you are a real hard worker. Pardon my feeble attempt at humor.
     The CD in here is the 4 song At War With Shadows shit, called Healing is not an option. Its pretty fuckin' good, some nice riffs on songs 1 & 4 in particular.
     I'm playing guitar with this bands guitarist in a different band, we are pretty much a joke though, largely because I am in the band and my life is a fucking joke. Well, I'm not all that dismal I guess, but the whole east coast winter no money driving a falling apart '86 Taurus shit is a bit wack.
     I need a fucking new Benz, 7 sluts on my nuts, and a house in the Hollywood hills. Actually, what I really need is to be raped in a third world prison, until I learn the true nature of suffering. My little pussy life is no where near as brutal as it gets.
     You know My Little Pony? We need a product on the market called My Little Pussy. I think it would be a hot item.
     Anyway, I got to bounce, oh fuck, hip hop slang in my dome, cannot remove,
     I'm working on making some money on the internet here, but if that doesn't pan out pretty soon I might just go out there and start sucking cocks on Burnside. It would be a change of pace at least. Uh, well hopefully it won't come to that. That's it for now I guess, its fucked up man, it's too expensive for people to cross this fucking country yet they say the war with Iraq could run 60 Billion dollars! What the fuck man. We are supposed to be stationary tax revenue provides for the war machine. This country has all the fucking money in the world for fucking annihilating shit, but most our cities don't have one fucking community center where people can work on music, sculpting, whatever kind of shit. All of that is so within reach, maybe its not the government fully though, I guess most people are fucking selfish, afraid and not wanting to be a part of a group effort.
     Damn. Rambling on like a motherfucker. I want to write a book called This Country is a Lying Piece of Shit. Kind of stupid, but I want to make it readable from 5th grade to adult level. I'm going to back up all my sources though so it can't be dismissed by the academic types. Feel free to email me shit you think should go in it.
     Some fucking day, I will be in Oregon again, and I will shred mad East/West coast style. It's weird man, past, present, future, wow. I am going to write you a book right fucking now. If I had a penis the size of God's I would fuck the sun, and put out the light for these grovelling maggots and become their Lord.
     Maybe someday, see you later in the land of volcanoes and cappuccinos.   Brainmower."
      I still laugh when I read these letters, and they are yet another item that takes me back to a time period that I might have forgotten about, or at least would only have a vague recollection of, if it weren't for these things still in my possession. They help to flesh out the details.
     And in this whole convoluted mess that is my story, I guess I am placing importance on objects and their personal significance. Call it a defense of materialism. I've gone through many cleaning out periods in my life, when minimalism was important to me, and my possessions felt like pointless clutter, and therefore the majority of what I owned went into the trash or to a charity. Many times I felt like throwing away the letters from my friend, since I was already throwing away every notebook that I had scrawled lyrics into, every existing cassette tape of music that I had created (since I was embarrassed of it), every photo I owned, every book, and so forth. I'm glad that I didn't. More often than not, I find myself regretting that I deliberately threw something away out of immature modesty. Not saying that you should keep every little scrap; maybe just to have some foresight as to why a particular thing might be better kept than destroyed.
     I still underestimate the diminishing power of memories. 
     It's strange how this blog post morphed into something entirely different than what I had set out to write. I was gonna try reviewing Art Spiegelman's Maus, but instead got onto the subject of Garbage Pail Kids. I guess it's not too much of a stretch: he created Garbage Pail Kids. 
     Maybe next time.

( By the way, my computer seems to be a bit fucked right now, and so I'm not exactly sure how this post is going to look since the preview doesn't match up with my draft -- at all.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

You Know Nothing!

Just playing around with YouTube embedding. This is a video that my friend emailed me some time ago: about two women who have apparently lost, or squandered, their wealth and now are adjusting to normal people life. I can't tell if it's fake or if it's real. Regardless, it's pretty funny. You can almost feel sorry for the woman on the left, but the one on the right is just so washed up and bitter that it's hard not to view her as the embodiment of everything shallow. And if you want to know why she is wearing something that ridiculous on her head, she'll tell you why:

This is what happens if you are a night owl...

So this is kinda strange. I never do this, but I decided to get stoned. Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement: I took all of two hits. Not exactly stoned, more like what comes after a body high. However, nowadays that's all I need. Hell, this is the first time hitting a pipe in, say, five or six years for me.

With that being said, I don't exactly own paraphernalia anymore. So, I thought: what could I use? Well, the first thing that came to mind was a soda can, after drinking a Hansen's. To make that contraption, you just crush the can in its center, prick the flattened area with a pin a couple of times (this creates the wind tunnel), and this serves as a bowl. Then, I thought of using an all-aluminum foil pipe, the one that requires some origami skills. Then I remembered, any vegetable or fruit can serve as a pipe. So, a carrot it was.

The carrot pipe is easy to do, and if you have a couple of kitchen tools you can make a pretty nice one. I just so happened to have a melon-baller for the bowl, and then used a chopstick to hollow out a stem. I wish I could take a picture of it.

This process of making a pipe triggered all sorts of memories. You see, back in the day I was what you would call "a fucking pothead." So, inevitably, pipe-making was of particular interest for me. I wonder if I can generate a list of different pipes I made, hmmm.....

Fimo clay was an easy way to make a pipe back in the day. You would let your creative skills mingle with your mechanical skills and then have something beautiful to show for it (or at least your hippie brain would convince you of this). Bake it for a couple of hours till rock hard, then put a screen in it. Unfortunately -- come to find out -- it's really toxic to burn that Fimo shit, and inhaling it is even worse.

A quick trip to the hardware store could produce enough little connector pieces and/or plumbing angles to create a metal pipe that would start to scald your hand if you held it for any longer than a minute. However, a trip to a Garden/Feed store could provide one with the parts to make a water-pipe (more on why I called it a water-pipe in a bit). All you needed was about a foot of large clear plastic tubing, a rubber stopper to put in the end of the tube, and the metal bits and pieces to make a stem and bowl -- usually the same style metal parts in the hardware store. Just cut two holes: one for the stem, and one for the carb. There you go: Feed-store bong.

I've discussed the flattened soda can pipe, but one can also make a pipe out of a plastic litre bottle. However, it is used for making a Gravity Bong. You just cut the last quarter of the bottom off the bottle and install a stem/bowl in the top. Fill up a sink full of water. Then, slowly submerge the majority of the bottle in the water, fill the bowl, light it and slowly raise the bottle. You will see smoke collecting in the cylinder as you lift it. Before the bottle comes all of the way out of the water, take the stem out, put your mouth around the spout, then push down and inhale. Instantly, you fill your lungs with more than they can handle. So you cough, and cough, and then remain paralyzed for a few good hours.

Unfortunately, I can't remember any more pipe recipes off-the-top-of-my-head. And here I thought I could be a worthy addition to a brand new edition of The Anarchist Cookbook. Does such a thing exist? Last I checked, the original author became a born-again Christian who wrote some long screed on about how wrong and stupid he has been all his life up until now. Now he has a wife and kids, and, presumably, doesn't have the spare time to tinker with lead pipe bombs and instructions on how to kill people with your bare hands. His life story via customer review came off as a bit condescending and, paradoxically, just as extreme as his preface to the Cookbook. If I hadn't already thought that he was an idiot, his long-winded diatribe confirmed it.

So, back to why I called a bong a "water-pipe." When I was seventeen, I worked in a head shop: I'm gonna assume people know what that is. I basically safeguarded all sorts of pipes, some cigars, rolling papers and machines, and UA (urine analysis) cleaners. They were all encased in glass as if they were precious jewels, and I needed a key to open each case.

I also had to police customers on their proper shop etiquette. It alludes to its use as an illegal activity if you call a bong a bong, rather than calling it a water-pipe. So, it was safe to assume that the only head shop in a small conservative town would be scrutinized, and probably by undercover cops. Therefore, I had to be strict and introduce the word waterpipe into the vocabulary of the hescher/piece of shit customers that frequented the place. There was also a sign that read: "Waterpipes Are For Tobacco Use Only." And that brought a lot of problems with it.

Typically, it would be some bright bulb who would make some sarcastic remark about the phrase "For Tobacco Use Only." It was amusing at first, to see what little it took for someone to feel clever, but it quickly got annoying. It was on a daily basis that I would get some ingenious comment on the silliness of that slogan, and one day I decided to break customer service character to tell a young kid how fucking ridiculous he was being. I pointed out that this was the only head shop in town, and that there might not be one in the future unless he started acting his age and respecting the establishment by calling them fucking WATERPIPES! And oh, by the way,... we fucking get it, alright? 

Near the end of my tenure at The Smoke Shop, I was having these sorts of arguments all of the time. If it wasn't someone yelling at me for believing that the digital scale he purchased was faulty (which turned out not to be the case, he just didn't know how to turn the damn thing on), it was someone blaming me for their failure of a work-related drug test because of the pre-urine analysis cleansing smoothie we sold. We carried three smoothie flavors: "victory chocolate", "no sweat, berry!", and "We'll be back to work in no time banana mango." Of course we didn't.

Another UA alternative was this stuff called Klear. Klear came in two vials, and instead of drinking it, one would empty the contents into their UA cup after filling it. This destroyed, I presume, any THC molecules floating around in your piss. Unfortunately, if you used too much, it would completely transform your urine into something more akin to all-purpose cleaner. So that didn't work for too long, and I believe it was those sort of products that started the whole UA officer standing in front of you while you piss. 

What was kinda strange about working at the head shop was the fact that I had already quit smoking weed at that point. Got tired of it. Got tired of the people associated with it. And then here I was, immersed in the paraphernalia trade and reaping none of the benefits. That's alright though. I don't miss it, and even now it is just ok; not great, or wonderful, or anything like how I remembered it from my middle-school and high-school days. Well, now I'm getting too tired to think. Till next time.