Baking Up From The American Dream

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(Waking and) Baking Up From The American Dream

 

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I used to be a square.

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I used to be a corporate drone.

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I used to make good money.

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I used to consume in excess.

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I used to be an asshole.

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I used to condemn cannabis,

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but I think I know why…

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My story starts the same as most millennials raised in the working class.  My parents were both raised in the same poor neighborhood and slowly worked their way out, they got divorced, and I had the luxury of growing up in a blue collared house and a blue collared home.   My whole family works in local government; parks and rec for the men, the school district for the women.  

 

The rule used to be; get a job working for the public, you’ll put in 30 years and you’ll collect a paycheck and benefits, and thanks to retirement, you’ll collect these until the day you die.  I quickly learned that you don’t get these perks until the day you die, you die on the very first day, your freedom erodes immediately, replaced by an expectation, and they just medicate you until your skin falls off.

 

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Growing up in an environment where everyone works for the public, Marijuana was always portrayed to me as the monster at the gates.  I was taught that regardless of whose fault it is, if you get hurt or wreck a county vehicle, first you get medical attention, then you immediately get drug tested.  It just wasn’t worth the risk.  While I understand this logic, unfortunately I didn’t understand at the time that their reasoning did not apply to myself and my needs or equally important, my wants.  Different lifestyles afford different people the things they need, and despite what you read about college, dietary fats, or marijuana, the answer isn’t the same for everyone.   

 

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I had been brainwashed by propaganda.  I grew up during the war on drugs was surrounded purely by people who were scared of marijuana, scared of losing their government benefits,  income, and  retirement. Unfortunately the misinformed are usually stubborn. 

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I made an honest effort at being what I now call a “consumer” – a  person who works to pay for things because commercials tell them they should.  I had a great job, made great money, a nice apartment, a new truck.  That life is fine but the higher I climbed in the work force the more I felt like something was missing.  I wasn’t depressed or suicidal, I was just empty.  I finally decided to walk away from corporate life in December of 2015.  

 

Rebuilding isn’t easy, but when you walk away from something worth having, you know the stakes are high to make something better.  With all my free time I started Stand-Up Comedy and I knew immediately it was what I needed; something driven by creativity, allowing for autonomy, and accompanied by a lifestyle radically different from my own.  

 

 

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Marijuana weed from the devil's garden propaganda

 

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Development as a comedian is similar to the development of any skill, there’s a large curve up front and once that foundation has been laid it slowly becomes repetition, experimentation, and fine tuning.  Early on in comedy I moved back home with my folks (I just took a 65% pay cut to chase my dreams, leave me alone) and after a few months with them I was starting to get every artists’ least favorite question, “So what’s your plan?”  I was happy with my early development and I began taking it very seriously; it was the phoenix rising from the ashes of my old life, I had decided that $30K per year for telling jokes was a better way to live out my existence than $100K per year in a suit, tie, and cubicle. 

 

 I was not yet good enough to showcase for my parents, I knew that before I could lay out my plan for them my product needed development, so to buy myself some time I got a job with the local library district.  I learned firsthand the stifling of creative minds while working for the county.  My days were quiet and boring and my writing began to suffer, I needed to be silly again during a time I knew was crucial to my progression.  

 

I discussed my dilemma with a more experienced comic and he recommended weed, he told me he regretted his decision to not smoke weed as a young comic, and he felt that it could have excelled his growth exponentially if he would have capitalized on marijuana at a more formative time in his comedy career.  Maybe that’s not what he meant, maybe I heard what I wanted to hear, but I had made up my mind.

 

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I started with a preloaded wax pen.  I went with the sativa variant because I wanted to get creative and that’s what the internet recommended. Side Note: thank the internet for its unwavering wealth of weed wisdom, say that 5x fast… GO! 

 

 I completely underestimated the role that marijuana would soon play in my life.  The amazing cerebral effects of sativa’s instantly had a direct impact on my writing.  Formatting, editing, adding silly new punchlines, and finding new angles to explore premises all happened pretty rapidly, but marijuana ultimately helped my writing in a major way by first helping the rest of me.  

 

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With the wax pen and some time to sit around and think, I was able to mull over some of our society’s current topics and issues in my own mind and establish my own perspectives after considering the facts I could find.  

 

Through marijuana usage I was more open minded and accepting while exploring ideas that rivaled my own.  

 

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I think it’s very natural to categorize things simply as right or wrong based on personal experience, it’s how you make split decisions on what may or may not kill you.  However, in a civilized society the stakes are rarely flesh and blood, which affords us a rare opportunity, I would say a responsibility, to really consider things that we perceive as harmful and try to understand them.   Excuse me while I go on a high tangent but educating ourselves on things we disagree with is equally important to us as a society, especially in turbulent times like ours.  Applying that train of thought to different ideas has helped me to write new jokes, broaden perspectives on older material, and ultimately enjoy life more.  

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Whenever I am unsure of something I get high and think about it, as simple as that sounds it’s made a huge impact on myself, my art, and my interactions with other human beings.

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As I started to enjoy smoking more, I moved from the pen to herb because the various strain options.  Like a Jack and Coke drinker starting to explore neat top shelf bourbons, I started to get excited about different strains.  The different effects are fun to explore and my budding (yup, intended…sorry) excitement has also contributed to my productivity.  Stoners have a way of coming together.  

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For centuries people would break bread together, we millennials grind green.

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Just as our ancestors would share the wealth of a good crop with their neighbors and develop a stronger bond in the process, sharing good crop with good people has lead me into so many interesting conversations, opportunities, and friendships. 

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I have been lucky enough to meet fellow stoners with different artistic pursuits who are all brave enough to innovate and challenge norms, breaking the rules not to stir things up but to streamline the process.  The internet lets us experiment and we’re high enough to try weird stuff.  

 

I see the same concept being used in the Marijuana industry and it excites me. Entrepreneurs are taking charge and not only being brave enough to try new things, but doing so unapologetically.  

 

Seeing it makes me want to innovate with my stand up.  There are so many young, motivated, and innovative people around me and I’m able to see other people turn their passion into a final product, then immediately rip it to shreds, start fresh, and make a better one.  Seeing this pushes me to do the same with my act.

 

Building a healthy relationship with cannabis has become the keystone of my life, awkwardly wedged into the top but somehow holding it all together.  I woke up from what I had been told was the American Dream life and cannabis is helping me along the way.  I have learned that there isn’t always a clear cut path, but enjoying the view while you’re lost will help you forge a new path that you can be proud of.

 Cannabis makes the view all the more enjoyable.

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Note to smile marijuana leaf

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Alex Conn

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