Legalized

It was a gangbusters night at the pub New Year’s Eve. Nearly 500 people made their way through the door over the course of the evening, dumping cash and guzzling down booze. When the clock struck midnight, weed became legal in the state of Illinois. As it happens, one of Chicago’s few recreational dispensaries was only a few blocks from the bar and it opened at 6am. Since I didn’t get off of work until nearly 5am (and then drank heavily for 30-45 minutes after the doors were closed), I thought myself perfectly poised to get in before the rush, grab exactly what I wanted from the selection that had yet to be depleted, then bounce the fuck out happy and high as a clam (I’m assuming clams are big smokers).

In my slightly drunken stupor, I missed the bus stop and ended up coming at the place from the north. “No line!” I thought to myself. “Nailed it!”

As I got closer, I could see the beginnings of a line hidden on the south side of the building. By then it was about 5:40am, and I made it a little over three quarters of a block before finding the tail end of the throng of folks waiting for their weed. It was probably about 25 degrees, and the fuckers at the front had been there since midnight, which shocked me because stoners aren’t known for their forethought.

I took my place in line thinking, “Well I’ll wait until the doors open, see how fast the line is moving, then bounce if I think it’s taking too long.” At first, the line went at a decent pace. They were letting people in 20 at a time, so we’d move in big chunks. I imagined that most people there that early had a fairly decent handle on what they were looking for, so they weren’t wasting their time perusing the selection. Since I come from Cali where this shit’s been around a while, I knew my order well before I got in the line – it made sense that these early birds did, too.

I passed the time shooting the shit with the middle-aged folks around me. Everyone was in good spirits despite the biting early morning Chicago cold. Many of these folks had been waiting a whole lifetime for the day they could smoke themselves silly within the comfortable confines of the law, and it was finally here. Soon, the sun started to peak over the horizon, and I could tell the line wasn’t going anywhere for a while, so I offered to go grab coffee for my new friends while they held my place.

Initially I was excited to see a local coffee shop closer than the Starbucks, but of course they didn’t open until 8am that day and it was only 6:45am. I walked the extra couple blocks to the chain store that I’m significantly less fond of, its lights were mostly off inside, but I could see two barristas doing their opening shit, so I tapped on the glass and pointed at my watchless wrist. They held up seven fingers, so I waited by the door until they unlocked it. I got the coffee and a cheese danish (the guilty pleasure that I refuse to ever give up), and enjoyed watching the colors of the sky change while I waited for the bus.

When I got back to the line, I was hopeful that my little group made it farther along. “Maybe they’re already inside!” Silly optimism. They had barely moved at all. As if he heard the sigh of disappointment, a man who had successfully made it through the line drove by in his minivan, waving his canvas tote around outside the window and shouting, “EVERY DAY! EVERY FUCKING DAY NOW!” with so much joy in his voice that you couldn’t help but get swept up in it. The line cheered and clapped for him, and was reinvigorated to continue the standing and waiting. By that time, the line wrapped around corner, then went three blocks north on the adjacent street.

It was fucking cold. I couldn’t feel my feet. Dress socks are never the right call in winter unless you know you’re going to be inside, but in my defense, I very much thought I would be. They passed around hand warmers, and I immediately shoved it to the end of my shoe. Because there were so many people in line, we only got one each, so I had to alternate which set of toes I thawed. The coffee and the alcohol got me out of line three times so I could relieve myself in the alley, which was a much more justifiable breaking of the law before the sun came up, but no less necessary even after it did.

“You could totally just leave and come back later,” cropped up in my mind from time to time, but at some point I had been there too long to not see it through. Just before 9am they moved us into a different line so that we could give our phone numbers for followup when it was our turn. Bars opened early for the special day, so me and my little contingent went to warm up at one of the nearby drinkeries. Carafes of mimosas were $14, so I got one and turned down the offer of a glass in favor of drinking straight from the source.

Across the street was a highly-rated breakfast joint, so I pushed past the line of respectable people with kids and shit, and found a seat at the bar. I shot the shit with the young man sitting next to me. His tie dye shirt made it obvious that we had some things in common. I was my usual drunken ass of a self, making the bartender make me an old fashioned with maple syrup instead demerara. It was a’ight, but I was also too drunk to know. I honestly don’t remember if I paid my tab there or just walked out, but the breakfast sandwich and the service were solid, and I was a douche, so I certainly hope I paid and tipped well.

Around 11am, when I was about to give up and go home, I got a text telling me it was time to get in yet another line, as it was nearly my turn. “If my drug dealer made me wait five minutes in the cold, I’d be like, ‘Fuck this, I’m calling somebody else.'” I joked with the people in line 3 of the day. I finally made it into the dispensary, and spent about ten minutes procuring my shit. By the time I got out I thought, “Well fuck at this point my bar’s open again!” So I walked back there to tell my tail to my coworkers and friends and have a few more half-price drinks before heading home.

The combination of weed and alcohol kept me there longer than expected. Eventually I was woken up at the bar by a close friend who lived nearby. She had had a full night of sleep, so she was ready for some fun. I drank with her for some ungodly amount of time, told and retold my story of the morning to anybody who would listen, and shared the spoils of the battle with anyone interested in partaking.

In the retelling of my evening, my coworker said that his favorite part was when I picked my head up, looked at him eyes half-mast, and said, “Man, I’m so tired right now.” He noted that I could just go home. I did not.

I walked my friend to her apartment, then struggled for probably 30 minutes to get into her computer with every possible iteration of her password. She passed out sitting on the kitchen floor with me while I typed and retyped that shit more times than I can count. She lost her phone at some point in the evening and needed to get up for work early the next morning, and an alarm on the computer seemed like the only viable option. Finally I thought, “I bet this chick has an old clock somewhere in this apartment,” and found it after only a short time of rummaging through her nightstand.

I got her off the floor and took her to bed. Apparently that woke her up, though, and when someone insistently says “Kiss my pussy!” you don’t just turn and run. What kind of gentleman would I be if I didn’t muster up what remaining energy I had to comply? By 9pm I was finally on my way home. Obviously, I don’t remember much about that bus ride, but I’m sure I gave the homeless folks a run for their money in terms of how haggard I looked.

I don’t regret the time I spent being a part of such a monumental occasion, but I can say with certainty that I don’t care what drug they legalize next – I’m not waiting in another fucking line ever again.

Keto Day 8

Oof. I drank heavily this morning. I mean… It was when I got off work, but that was at 6am and the sun had risen, so… Three light beers accidentally opened by the bartenders, two or three much better beers I intentionally poured myself, and about four shots of Jameson. Obviously none of that is keto-friendly, but there isn’t much that feels cooler or more satisfying than drinking in a closed bar after a long night.

I was feeling particularly good when I got home, and here’s what I had to say (edited to account for drunk grammar mistakes):

Am I supposed to believe that the version of me that takes more reverence in the sun shining through the leaves of a tree nearby, or gives more leeway to the actions of my hyperactive dog, or laughs off the little things with greater ease is somehow a worse version of me because that version of me is related to my alcohol consumption? What if I truly am a better person as a result of the influence of alcohol? Do the negatives associated with alcohol consumption warrant a complete disregard for all of the positives that alcohol has had in my life previously and to this day? Are all of the relationships I’ve hardened in the kiln of inebriation meaningless?

All good questions, Drunk Sean. Definitely worth pondering.

Anyway, the hangover has not been enjoyable. The water with lemon juice and Himalayan salt helped, but didn’t completely remedy the queasiness and it’s done absolutely nothing about my extreme unwillingness to do things. I took my dog on a long walk, though, so I’m feeling pretty good about my accomplishments for today.

I’ve been watching a lot of Tom DeLauer’s videos to guide me through this keto thing, and he has one on keto-approved fast food items. Thank heavens for that video and Postmates because there’s no fucking way I’m cooking anything today. Tom repeatedly made the point that these fast food options should only be used in a pinch, but so far as I’m concerned that’s what I’m in. Five Guys is on the way and my dog and I are hunkered down in the cool, dark cave that is my apartment – him napping peacefully, me watching the new season of Jessica Jones and dreading getting up to go downstairs via elevator to get my food. It’s raining outside. I call bullshit on it being summer.

The barbacoa is from the 24 hour Mexican place nextdoor to the bar, but Chipotle’s is probably pretty similar.

On Drinking – The Early Years

Yep, you guessed it. An entire blog post about water, juices, and sodas.

Sorry, no. Alcohol. I love alcohol. It has inspired some of the best and worst times of my life, and our relationship is far from over.

I was about eight when I took my first sip of Guinness. My dad used to throw these amazing Saint Patrick’s Day parties – we’d pack the house with decorations and food and alcohol and people, he’d hired step dancers to perform in our living room, we’d do a big singalong complete with sheet music where he’d play the guitar, and when I was old enough, I’d play the drum (not just me, but it was nice to feel included). I don’t remember liking the taste of the beer, but I also don’t remember being repulsed by it. Maybe it was the beer itself or maybe it was just the idea of being a part of the adult crowd that made it palatable.

I was fifteen the first time I got drunk. I was a camp counselor at the time, and I finally got invited to one of the house parties my coworkers were throwing while their parents were out of town. I wanted to prove I wasn’t just a nerd, so I committed rather heavily to drinking that evening. The first drink I poured myself was a screwdriver (the only drink I had really even heard of, yet alone made), and I filled the red Dixie cup about 3/4 with vodka and topped it off with a little orange juice (no ice). I also had at least one beer. Then someone said, “I bet you can’t chug the rest of what’s in this Jack Daniels bottle!” Turns out I could.

Overall I’d say it was a fun night. I saw my first set of pierced nipples at the same time that I saw my first pair of breasts. And also my second pair. Funnily enough, one of the owners of those sets is now happily married to the brother of one of my best friends. Anyway, at some point I got a call from my mom and what I thought I said while I paced along the tile floors in an attempt at a straight line was, “Hey, Mom! It’s so good to hear from you! I’m having a great time, and they said I could totally sleep over tonight, so you don’t need to come get me!”

Apparently, what I said was much more along the lines of, “Mom! Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom… IIIIII’m sssso good righ- now! You *hiccup* you don’ hef to come *hiccup* get me.” She was immediately on her way.

The drive home was rough. I was playing a lot of Dance Dance Revolution at the time, so when I closed my eyes, I saw a lot of streams of arrows and flashing lights. I had her pull over because I felt nauseous. I leaned out the passenger door for a bit before she got tired of waiting and insisted I drag the top half of my body back inside the car so she could keep driving. I vomited many times after getting back home. I did not understand why my mother, who up to that point in my life had always been very helpful when I was sick, was unwilling to lend me any sympathy that night.

After that, I swore off alcohol for good.

By 18, I was drinking fairly regularly. My friends and I would often skip school for the sake of just hanging out at home with some beers and cigarettes or weed. Generally, we utilized one of two methods for getting our alcohol. We shoplifted, which we had down to a sort of science. We’d go in, find one of the bottles on the back of the shelf that an underpaid grocery store attendant had missed, and after facing away from the cameras or moving to another isle, we’d slip it into our pants – usually the crotch. Then We’d buy something else so as not to raise suspicion by just walking back out the front door.

Or occasionally we’d have someone else buy it. One time, we stopped on the 101 freeway to help out a dude who was pushing his beautiful sports car along, hazards flashing. He had apparently run out of gas, so we pushed him all the way to the nearest gas station. He said he’d buy us whatever we wanted at the store. He drove some of us there and showed off just what his Porsche could do. I think we got up to about 120mph in some fairly heavy traffic. When we got to the grocery story, we loaded up a cart with about $250 of beer and liquor, which we then used to throw a rather impressive party at a hotel.

Quick aside on the hotel party. We rented out a two-story suite at the top of a hotel, then we slipped the gentleman who showed us the room an extra couple hundred bucks to keep the surrounding rooms empty, so we didn’t bother any other guests. At some point, we found my friend passed out in the closet. Concerned we said, “If you can here us, just raise your hand a little, man!” His fist shot triumphantly up in the air and we all cheered.

In college, the drinking got significantly heavier. The gas station down the street from the school was a notorious shithole, and they didn’t card. So I got the vast majority of my beer from there. I got my hard alcohol from my classmates, who employed fake ID’s or just were legally allowed to purchase it. We had hard alcohol handle chugging contests in our rooms that spewed out into the hallways of the dorm.

One time a friend passed out in one of our rooms, so we collectively picked him up and took him to my room where we used up multiple Sharpies on him. One of my friends drew and filled in black socks on his feet. He got the vast majority of it off by the next uniform inspection, but he missed a couple dicks behind his ears, which made for some very funny explaining while trying to maintain some semblance of military bearing.

Sometimes we would drive up to the nearest state college, where a friend of mine from high school went. We got so shitty on one trip that my roommate kicked a hole in somebody’s door and stole a toaster. At some point in the evening, I gave my keys to a friend because I was clearly too drunk to go anywhere. The next day, he was nowhere to be found. When I went back to my car to see if he had slept there, I saw all of the windows rolled down. The car was FILLED with vomit. His shoes were overflowing with the stuff. It was on the seats, it was on the steering wheel, it was on the fucking ceiling, but he wasn’t there.

I vaguely recalled him saying he was going to sleep in the bushes so we were going to split up to search the bushes nearby. Then I had a crazy notion, and popped the trunk of the car to find him in the fetal position, squinting against the bright morning sun. We cleaned to the degree that we could and drove back to our campus with our heads out the windows.

Some times were less funny. Sometimes I woke up in my bed with no recollection of getting there. Sometimes I’d drive on the wrong side of the road. Sometimes I’d crash my car. Sometimes I’d say things and do things that I very sincerely regretted the next day and for a long time after. Sometimes people I thought were friends would get violent with me out of nowhere. Sometimes I’d sit alone in my dorm room and drink by myself in the dark. And sometimes it was great. Box of chocolates.

The first few years of my relationship with alcohol were not all vomits and giggles. I was only 19 at this point in the story, so it was still mostly fun and fancy free, but it hasn’t and won’t always be that way, I’m afraid. Alcohol’s a hell of a mistress, and she can be fickle.

The Shark Limo

Screenshot_20181005-161552.pngPer my party prep SOP, I perused the aisles of the nearest Goodwill, looking for outlandish dayglow pieces that would really pop under blacklight. They couldn’t just be regular glow-in-the-dark pieces of clothing – they had to be nonsense enough to stand out in a sea of people aiming to stand out. Pro tip: the children and women’s sections have better party clothes by a mile and change than the men’s section.

I settled on a highlighter yellow pair of boy’s running shorts, and a neon pink puffy vest. I barely fit into both, so they were perfect. On my out, I also spotted a neon green hat with “VIVA” printed across the front. After wriggling myself into my new outfit and some concerted effort on the inebriation front, I was ready to go.

On the way in, I went past the bouncers searching people at the main entrance, to the side of the building, and slipped what I had into my shoe. I saw a guy next to me put his hand to his ear as I went back around to the front.

“Throw away whatever you have in your shoe. I’m not going to argue with you – just make this easier for all of us and throw it away,” the large, suited man said. Clearly he had been on the other end of the communique I walked away from.

“Damn fine work, gentlemen. You got it.” I reached down to my shoe, and simultaneously into my pocket pink pocket (in the vest – get your head out of the gutter). I pulled out a cigarette wrapper and threw it into the trash as I palmed the contents of my shoe behind my phone.

“Thanks for being cool about it – you good,” he said with a nod.

Sucker.

At parties in club or bar settings, I go into autopilot. I bounce between the bar, the dance floor, and the bathroom with fairly reckless abandon, letting Whim guide me around at its leisure. It’s normally too loud inside to have conversations longer than, “I LOVE YOUR OUTFIT!” And I don’t always appreciate the amount of spittle involved in those close-quarter convos.

This party was no different, and I found myself on the smoking patio for much of the night. I preferred it there – partly because of my nicotine addiction, sure, but mainly because I actually got to speak to people and get to know them. I’m a glutton for conversation with strangers, and I was feeling particularly ravenous that evening.

2am came screeching in behind the veil of smoke and alcohol I had erected in front of me. As we were getting booted from the place, the guy I was chatting with said, “You seem cool. You wanna come with us to the after party in my limo?”

Why yes, I did. I went to the club with friends, but the allure of a privately owned limousine was too good to pass up, so I was a shitty friend, and I said goodbye to the people I came with. I was down on myself about that for as long as it took the limo owner to pull out a magnetic shark fin that he stuck to the top. “How fuckin’ cool is this?!” he shouted. It was really cool. My mood improved.

The ride to the after party was rowdy. The attractive couple that owned the limo also owned a champagne gun – like a squirt gun that you could affix bottles of champagne directly to – and I was immediately shot in the eye with it. But dammit what fun! Scantily clad and covered in sticky, bubbly goodness, we danced and slid around the back of the limo, randomly yelling at passersby out the windows (how else would they know we were enjoying ourselves in there?). I was glad my outfit only set me back ten bucks – money well-spent.

We poured out of the limo and into what can only be described as a party house. It was a dark labyrinth with a different theme for each room and cushions packed into every available space. There was a DJ booth in the darkest depths, and I vaguely recall dancing, but again, most of my time was spent on the smoking patio.

My voice tends to carry, and it might have contributed to the cops finally showing up to shut the thing down. They wandered in and did their best to kick everybody out. They were largely successful. I wandered away, but because I didn’t have a ride, I just kind of meandered around for a while, then the cops left, so I went back inside and continued partying. The windows were all blacked out, so I was surprised when 10am showed up on my watch.

The next time I looked at it, it was 3pm, and I was just waking up. There were very few party goers left, and I was underneath a large area rug that I equated with a blanket at some point. I stumbled around until I found the guy who ran the party den.

“Hey, can I use your phone to call myself an Uber?” I asked.

“I don’t have Uber on my phone, man.”

“Okay, well can I download it, then use my card to get myself an Uber?”

“Sure,” he said finally.

I squinted my eyes as I walked out into the afternoon heat of the San Fernando Valley. I don’t think that I audibly hissed, but I might’ve. I had 45 minutes to explain my outfit to my driver on the way to the house of the friend I abandoned at the club. He was enthralled, but I had a hard time sharing his enthusiasm because I was now quite aware of how much I needed a shower. When the ride was over I thanked him for listening, apologized for the smell, and begrudgingly stumbled back into real life.

Maybe Try Going Up Less Drunk

It’s odd to have a travel blog when you’re not traveling. My process when moving to a new city or acclimating to a new lifestyle has consistently been messy, and moving here has been no exception to that rule. As many of you know, moderation truly isn’t my thing.

I’ve repetitively made my rounds to bars and night clubs and comedy shows and more bars, and it’s been a crazy week. Like most of my weeks, I suppose. For the sake of updating you, though, I’ve now done a total of four open mics since landing here. My understanding is that I will have to do more like 5-10 a week to be truly “committed to the craft.”

After the show Friday, the primary note I got was to just keep plugging away. Repetition, repetition, repetition. The secondary note I got was, “Maybe try going up less drunk.” I think both are decent pieces of advice. It’s hard to remember which pieces of which jokes struck the audience when remembering the evening as a whole is a bit challenging.

For me, one week is an impressively short time for the pendulum to have hit an apex, and begin its swing back in the other direction. I find that each critique and each bombing (the comedy kind, not the terrorist kind) only encourages me to push myself harder, work on my material more, and get out there to try it again.

Last night went better. I felt more nervous on stage, or at least I think I did. In any case, I remember feeling more nervous this time. Another thing I remembered was all of my lines, and I think that’s a start in the right direction. As for the direction of this blog, I think it will begin to take on more of a “repository for stories” role for me. I may not be doing anything worth sharing in this moment, as working on oneself tends to be less entertaining, but dammit I’ve done some pretty ridiculous shit in the past that should be written down somewhere.

Pulling from my past will also allow for a little more consistency with the pacing of my posts, so this too will develop into a sustainable practice. Or maybe this is all just masturbatory for me, in which case enjoy the show!

Here Comes the Bride – Me!

I have wonderful news! After four days of not having a functioning shower, I finally made the leap and spent $17 to use the showers at a gay bathhouse about three miles from my apartment. I considered a gym, but this was cheaper and I was too hungover to even pretend to want to exercise. While I was there, I met the man of my dreams and we’re going to elope this weekend!

Alright, I’m pretty sure that’s enough characters to get me through the preview on Facebook. I was going to make a joke about how I’m getting “married to comedy,” but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it (except for that sentence).

Anyway, I started my new job on Monday and I love my new coworkers, but being in another animal hospital definitely made it obvious just how much I love and miss my old coworkers. Y’all are wonderful, and I sincerely appreciate the support I feel you telepathically sending my way, and I’m choosing to ignore the anger at my absence that goes along with it.

I also went to my first open mic in Chicago, as I couldn’t reasonably say, “I had my first day of work” without having done both new jobs I came here to do. It went alright. I wouldn’t say it was a great audience (I’m not basing that on my experience – literally every comic that went up made note of it), but I was still able to pull some laughs out of them. I also abandoned my written material about half way through just for the sake of ranting a little. I think sticking to what I intended on saying is probably a better way to go from now on.

I look forward to more bombing and more honing of my craft, but more than that I look forward to meeting more Chicagoans. They have largely been ceaselessly kind and willing to placate me in my antics. Sleep isn’t that important, right?

 

Live Bugs and Too Much Beer

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If you were to say, “Yesterday was too much!” you would not be wrong. I woke up particularly early yesterday because I was scheduled to sign a lease for my new apartment at 10am, but I needed to deliver an assortment of live bugs to a friend of a friend before a certain time, and I wasn’t sure how long the apartmenting would take. I made it to Petsmart right when they opened, but apparently there’s a shortage of mealworms in the Chicago area. I called a nearby Petco, they said they had them, and apparently the staff at Petco likes to lie to people because they definitely did not have them when I got there. 20 crickets, 50 night crawlers and a bottle of freeze-dried mealworms would have to do.

Brief aside: I got a new apartment. It’s a third story (4th if you count the bottom floor) walk up in a very nice neighborhood in the northern portion of the city. Nothing makes you feel like you have a lot of stuff like having to haul all of it up 43 steep and winding stairs. The electricity wasn’t on, though, and won’t be until tomorrow, so I write to you from another hotel where I’ve consumed vastly too much room service food to combat yesterday’s hangover.

Back to yesterday. In exchange for the bug delivery (which I discovered was for a performer who was to eat them in front of an audience), I was given two VIP wristbands to the Lagunitas Beer Circus, which allowed me access and as much free beer as I wanted. I made friends with a couple ladies in the face painting line, and we went to their apartment for more drinking. After they switched into evening attire, we went to one of their friend’s houses. Shortly after arriving, the ladies followed the friend into a separate room, and one of the roommates asked me nicely to leave. I wasn’t given a reason, just told it was time for me to go. Now, I know I can be noisy sometimes, but I still feel like that was a dick move on their part, and I look forward to whatever opportunities going forward I get to shit talk them (like this blog for example).

I hailed a cab and moved on to the next place, which unbeknownst to me was smack in the middle of a street fair called Market Days in Chicago. It’s like a gay pride block party, complete with music and dancing and food and an overabundance of alcohol. I stayed there until they started moving the party into the surrounding bars, then I found a karaoke place close to my house to wind down the last couple hours of the evening/morning.

I ordered halal pizza to be delivered to me, and waited in the passenger seat of my car for it to arrive because I had had enough of those stairs, but according to the 4 missed calls on my phone and the lack of pizza remnants in my car/home, I’m guessing I fell asleep before it arrived. It is now 8pm, and I just now got up the energy to put my fingers on a keyboard. Good game, Chicago.