Just want to quickly say the reaction to my first column was insanely awesome and humbling and made me feel really good, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for the other shoe to drop.
Seriously though, I’m so glad you guys liked it and found some utility in it. It also goes without saying that having my spiritual girlfriend Marianne Williamson quote tweet the piece referring to me as “Miracle Max” will remain for me — until the day I predecease you — a singular, mountain-top moment in my life.
In this second installment, I address questions about quitting weed and hooking up with a rock star. Keep in mind I am doing this column from the vantage point of someone who is far from having everything figured out. I’m not some pretender to perfect living, but at the ancient age of 43, I have managed to learn some lessons — mainly through repeated pain and suffering — and it brings me no small pleasure to be able to impart them to you.
Dear Eve 6 Guy,
Is weed ruining my life? I smoke very mid-grade weed every evening after dinner. (You’re not my doctor — I have no reason to lie to you.) But it feels like lately what weed has helped me with — momentarily forgetting about the cruelty of the modern world and the seemingly endless list of impending global catastrophes — is also starting to affect things I want to achieve, even in the sober light of day the next morning.
Weed is really just sapping my motivation to do things both big and small that make (or would make) me happy. I want to finish learning Spanish. I want to switch jobs, maybe become a teacher like the rest of my family. I feel like it’s really killed any regular recreational creative activities I used to do — playing guitar, learning piano, improving my drawing, etc.
In short, it makes me not care about anything, even the good things. I’ve taken long breaks from weed successfully in the past, so it's not impossible for me to stop. When I don’t smoke, I feel stressed out by the world but maybe find more joy in the things I like. Is there a way to continue using it as a salve for the pain of existence while not going full-blown anesthesia on things that illuminate the joys of existence?
You delved into some mindfulness practices in your previous column that resonated with me and seemed like a viable alternative. But with practicing awareness of things to be grateful for, don't you also become more acutely aware of anxieties and stress? How do I balance all this? Is consuming any substance every day doing it too much? I want to care more about the good and care less about the bad, or at least the bad I have no control over.
—Blunted Brightness in the Bay Area
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Hi Blunted Brightness,
Weed is the perfect drug. I mean it’s the perfect drug for people who like it and function well on it. I am indescribably jealous of these people. Weed makes me feel bad. Not just a little bad, but deeply, existentially nervous and weird.
That didn’t stop me from smoking it nearly every day for like a decade. It made me feel bad but a different kind of bad than I was feeling before I smoked it. I wasn’t doing the “definition of insanity” thing where I would expect a different result. I mean, it was still insane, I guess, because I knew the result I’d get, which was two-thumbs-down not good. I kept ripping bowls anyway because a different kind of bad was preferable to me than normative bad. Maybe because there was some comfort in being able to change the way I felt, even if it made me feel worse.
Alcohol, on the other hand, made me feel awesome. It gave me that ahhhhh feeling and capital-R Relief. It worked so well on me that drinking became my only priority, and it started to systematically destroy my life, which is why I had to get sober. When I see my friends who love weed smoke it, I imagine it probably works on them the way alcohol worked on me. And to be able to get that feeling, that Relief, from a mind conditioned to heat-seek for negativity, from a drug with a fraction of the consequences of alcohol… what a blessing.
There is nothing wrong with granting yourself a post-supper reprieve from the madness of living under late capitalism.
That said, smoking weed isn’t always a consequence-free activity. As illustrated above, it affects everyone differently, and if you try hard enough you can let it fuck your life up pretty good. I know people who have.
But enough about me and my friends. Let’s get into your situation. First off, there is nothing wrong with granting yourself a post-supper reprieve from the madness of living under late capitalism. A behavior only becomes pathological when it starts to negatively affect your life. People can be in denial about this. They can pretend a thing isn’t negatively affecting their life because they’re afraid of losing said relief mechanism. That’s not you though, and that’s good. You’re capable of being honest with yourself.
What to do: Give yourself one month off weed starting on the date this column drops, 4/20. When you finish your dinner, become a witness to your desire to get high. Become curious about it. Not in a way where you’re trying to figure anything out. I’m not talking about analysis — more like, “Oh, here’s this familiar feeling again; that’s interesting.” Don’t judge the impulse as good or bad — just notice it and the accompanying sensation in your body and don’t try to will it away. You want to create some distance between your sense of self and your craving to smoke a bowl.
Now do a thing that will bring you pleasure, even if the pleasure at first feels muted without the weed. Don’t expect it not to feel muted. Notice the muting of pleasure with the same curiosity, and watch a great movie anyway. Or even better, open a book. If you’re like me, you’ll experience some resistance to opening a book, too, but notice that resistance and do it anyway. See it as challenge that you go approach with willingness and curiosity.
Regarding the world and how fucked up it is: Sure, no argument here. Lotta bad stuff happening. But to swing from there to “only bad stuff is happening” is a cognitive fallacy. There is good in the world. There is good in you.
Another exercise that can help align your perspective is to take a small action to help another person. Check in on a friend; ask them how they’re doing and listen without talking about yourself until prompted. Something small. Something without any grand overarching pretense to saving the world. Send flowers to your mom. You get the vibe.
Appraise your month off weed honestly and holistically.
Lastly, be gentle with yourself. This is a lot easier said than done, so it’s okay to cheat. A good way to trick yourself into a gentler perspective toward yourself is to imagine someone else, maybe someone you find a little bit annoying, and try to look upon them with an aspirational grace. You don’t have to be perfect at this — the desire to do so is often enough.
See how you feel on 5/20. Appraise your month off weed honestly and holistically. Have you been better able to live according to your values? Are you getting more done? Have you been able to create access to peace of mind, however temporary, without the dank weed? If you have, then maybe keep going.
If you find that you miss being able to flip that relief switch and that your life hasn’t markedly improved, that’s okay, too. You’re not mainlining crank, you’re enjoying a little after dinner puff — it could be way worse. Just try to approach this experiment with honesty and as much objectivity as possible, and no matter which way the bag shakes, it won’t have been time wasted.
The Eve 6 Guy
Rock star rendezvous
Dear Eve 6 Guy,
My favorite band is helmed by an obscure but well-regarded musician whose music has been deeply important to me since I was a teenager. I briefly connected with him on a message board when I was in my twenties, in the early aughts. We’d occasionally chat about music, until we lost touch online when the site hosting the message board became obsolete.
For reasons related to geography, I’ve only seen him play live a handful of times, but he’s always been very friendly to me at shows, remembering who I am and details about my life that I wouldn't remember if I were him.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I started using Twitter, where it turns out this musician is pretty active. We began messaging each other every week or so, at first usually just quick music-related notes. That’s since evolved into personal — but not too personal — conversations. I always let him initiate because I don’t want to come across as an overeager fan, though he refers to me as a friend.
I travel a lot for work, as does my partner of 12 years. We have an agreement that we can occasionally have sex with someone else while we’re away on business as long as we’re safe, discreet, and don’t work with or live near the other person. In a couple months, my job is sending me to a city where the musician will be playing a show, and he suggested we should grab a drink afterwards. The thing is that I don't know if this drink is just a drink.
The musician is an attractive man, and if he’d like to hook up, I’m sure it would be fun.
His DMs have never been flirtatious, but he often likes my more suggestive selfies, which he doesn’t appear to do with his other female fans (I peeked at his Twitter likes). He is recently divorced and does know that I have a partner, but not about the arrangement that my partner and I have.
The musician is an attractive man, and if he’d like to hook up, I’m sure it would be fun, and how many people get the opportunity to sleep with their favorite rock star?! I'm not worried about developing romantic feelings for him, as I’m very happy with my partner and have taken advantage of our agreement a few times. Plus, in the past I’ve navigated friends with benefits situations without any emotional hiccups on my side.
What I am afraid of is the possibility that sex will somehow make things weird on his end, and we’ll lose our little online friendship. Or, more importantly, I’ll lose the connection to his music that has been a huge part of my life for decades.
So Max, as a musician who engages frequently on Twitter: What's the etiquette here? Do I casually mention the arrangement my partner and I have? Do I point-blank ask what his intentions are before I meet him? Or do I assume a drink is just a drink and leave it at that?
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Not cool of you to out me like this! JK, JK. Okay, this is good. It’s a good question, I mean. First off, it sounds like you know a lot about this artist, and you’ve probably already done this, but in the off chance you haven’t, I would google their name followed by the word allegations and make sure nothing gnarly comes up.
Of course, different genres of rock tend to have stricter protocol for what constitutes bad behavior. For instance, DIY fans will cancel guys from bands for, like, breaking up with their girlfriends over the phone. Something like that may not offend you, but maybe it does and better to have all the intel before deciding to bone.
Next, make sure you’re honoring the parameters of your open relationship fastidiously. It sounds like you are, but human beings are also really good at rationalization, so it’s worth taking a second look. What if after you bone this guy, your relationship with him becomes more complicated? What if he develops feelings for you, or vice versa?
If it turns out this rock star is bad at boning and/or has an unfortunate personality IRL, will it have been worth it?
Just because previous instances of travel sex haven’t turned into emotional events doesn’t mean this one won’t. This has the potential to be different because, after all, you’re talking about one of your favorite musicians here. This is someone who has already emotionally impacted your life. You probably couldn’t say the same for other people you’ve slept with while in your relationship, and there is something fundamentally unnatural about it. It’s a different dynamic.
If you’ve moved through the criteria thus far and decided, yes, it is absolutely worth it, I would advise asking yourself one final question. If it turns out this rock star is bad at boning and/or has an unfortunate personality IRL, will it have been worth it? Will it have been worth it to have the magic of the music you love demystified in such a way? It’s one thing to talk about separating the art from the artist from an anthropological distance, but it’s going to be more difficult after sleeping with him.
One thing you might want to do if you do decide to fuuuuck is do the demystification beforehand. Remember that this guy is a guy. Nothing more, nothing less. For every song he’s written that moved you, he wrote 20 that sucked ass and never got recorded. He eats and sleeps and gets diarrhea sometimes. He’s a corporeal being who put in the hours necessary to get good at something, that’s all. He’s not special, he’s just a musician.
My editor has asked me to insert some personal experience here because he’s a sadist and likes it when I humiliate myself. Since the age of 19, I’ve spent a good portion of my life on tour and had all sorts of encounters with people. Among these are memories I cherish that feel like dreams but weren’t, and then there have also been some supremely awkward adventures.
One that comes to mind is a time that I struck up online banter with someone. It was kinda flirtatious, but not overtly so. Anyway, they came to a show, and we hung out for a bit afterward, and it was fine until they asked me to come back to their place and I declined because I was in a relationship at the time.
Before it appears as if I’m trying to paint myself as a paragon of virtue here, let me just state emphatically that I have not always been faithful while on the road. Not proud of it, but it is what it is. Touring is strange and tinged with a sort of unreality that can make it too easy to rationalize and compartmentalize romantic encounters in the moment — and then the moment passes, and you feel like a giant piece of shit.
He may just think you’re a good person and want to be friends.
But back to the story: This person got red-assed mad at me when I told them I would not be going back to their place. Like legit pissed. You, dear writer, seem very sensible, and I’m sure this would not be you, but hopefully this anecdote serves to appease my editor and illustrate the importance of jettisoning expectations.
All this being said, from the way you’ve described him, this guy sounds pretty cool. I think you can consider all the criteria above while also taking his invite for a drink at face value. He may just think you’re a good person and want to be friends. Try not to get too caught up in expectations to the point where you will feel let down if that’s all this is.
If it would make you feel more comfortable to tell him about your open relationship and ask his intentions, there is nothing wrong with that. Just be ready if his response isn’t what you want it to be. In closing: Assess the risks and decide if they’re worth it. If they are, manage your expectations. Go with the flow and have a good time!
The Eve 6 Guy
Have a question for the Eve 6 Guy that’s tech- or internet-related (Grindr woes, Twitter drama, etc.)? Send it to Eve6guy@inputmag.com.