DEALING WITH STRESS? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #23

How To Deal With Stress 101

And now, it’s mostly legal!

UXBRIDGE ON THE RITZ! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ritzy

Amidst the Sturm-und-Drang of life in our dinky little town, we suffer from what most forgotten towns suffer from.

We have nothing going for us.

Uxbridge has no work or hope of meaningful employment. There are no malls with big stores that hire people for living wages. No budget, sidewalks (except mid-town, which is one street (Main Street, of course). There are no streetlights, though we do have one traffic light. No public transportation. Not buses, trains, or trolleys or even a taxi. Someone said there’s an Uber driver somewhere, but I’ve never seen him or her.

On the street where we live.

There is no bookstore (we had one, but it went out of business). No greenhouses or nurseries. No places to buy clothing unless you count the Salvation Army (often the most fashionable offerings in the area). No quaint coffee shops (but lots of donuts).

It’s a mosaic because we don’t have any murals. But it’s an old one and it’s all about shearing and marketing wool.

We have some restaurants serving among the worst food you can imagine. We’ve got one really good (and ridiculously expensive) sushi joint we can no longer afford. We used to go there when it opened and prices were normal, but people discovered it and up went the prices — and they opened two more restaurants in other towns, too. There is one other Asian eating place — just over the Rhode Island border — which has sushi as well as pretty good and almost affordable Thai and Vietnamese food. It’s only a mile and a bit from home, so when we go out — rarely — that’s where we go.

Otherwise, the ‘American’ restaurants think garlic and black pepper are too spicy. It’s all brown gravy and white bread bland. We have a couple of Chinese restaurants that change owners regularly. New chefs start off with decent food, discover no one EATS decent food and promptly delete all spices from all foods.

I love Chinese food and fortunately, I know how to cook it, else I would be forced to drive fifty miles to someplace that recognizes the difference between Hunan, Mandarin, and Cantonese, et al.

Take a walk along the river

Our other local “restaurants” are pretty good at making burgers, fries, and serving cold beer. Mostly, beer.

The little white house with the big red tree

Three years ago, Massachusetts passed a bill allowing pot shops in the state. They have been wrangling over taxes and shmaxes and what about stoned drivers and is it moral? Meanwhile, the citizens have been getting downright irritable that we still didn’t have any way to buy any.

Between the “medical marijuana” bill we passed, we seem to have also said, “Aw, nuts, bring on the ‘just for fun’ dope, too.” We all own more land than we need around here. Mostly, the soil is too stony and rooty to grow normal crops. It’s truck farming. Cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries in June, and squash forever  … and a few places grow corn … and of course, dairy cows.

Plus lots and lots of apples. Orchards everywhere. We really do grow amazingly good apples and anything we don’t eat, the horses are happy to finish off for us. Did I mention horses? We grow big horses. Clydesdale and Percherons, each horse the size of a 10-ton truck, but gentle as a kitten. Just don’t step on my paw, please.

About three months ago, finally we opened our first two pot shops. one somewhere in a sleazy part of Boston and someplace not far from the crossing into Cape Cod — near Plymouth I think, but I could be wrong.

During the first two months, these two TINY little shops brought in more than 2-1/2 million dollars — each.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Suddenly, all the people who doubted pot was something we ought to have here in Massachusetts began to sing folk songs, buy bongs, and whistle a happy tune because — hey, that’s REAL MONEY. No kidding. Money in huge quantities. The only reason there wasn’t more money coming in was the shops kept running out of dope.

The Canal and river

No problem. Spring is coming.

Anyone with a piece of empty land is going into the hemp-growing business — or renting their land to someone who’ll do the growing and pay them to use the property.

Last night, on the local news, they announced the next two locations for the new pot shops. One will be in Pittsfield, the town in the Berkshires where no one wants to live, and … are you ready? Really ready?

UXBRIDGE.

No shit. There it was. On the map on the big television. Dead center of south-central Massachusetts and hyper-convenient to our neighboring border states of Connecticut and Rhode Island — where they don’t (yet) have “enjoy the munchies” dope.

UXBRIDGE.

I’m sure everyone was sitting and looking at the screen and saying “Where the hell is Uxbridge?” Nobody knows where we live. No one ever bothers to visit us because “Where the hell is Uxbridge?”

Well. Now we are someplace. You will come here to buy marijuana.

We’ll have a permanent traffic jam in front of Hannaford’s and every doughnut shop will be overrun by stoned people looking for stuff to eat. Dear lord! There will be no parking because who needed parking?

Our one lane, each direction Main Street will be full of expensive cars and stoned people who have hiked in from Boston and the Cape. We are actually only an hour and a bit from Cape Cod, but no one knows that … yet. Soon, they will know.

They will build coffee shops and bake pies. Someone will open a bakery. Stores will sell widgets no one needs that cost too much money. Maybe the price of our house will finally rise in value. Is it possible our taxes will drop?

Nah. Taxes never drop.

But more people might move in. We might get a trolley or a bus or a train stop. It could happen. And they could fix the sidewalks and put in some streetlights!

Uxbridge Commons

I’m dreaming of a stoned Christmas, unlike any I’ve ever known.

There was a time in my life when I dreamed of legal pot and at least I’ve lived to see that happen. And who’d have thought in UXBRIDGE?

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” She chortled in her joy.

Talk about ritzy.

RITZY has come to UXBRIDGE!

DON’T BOGART THAT JOINT, MY FRIEND …

Speaking of being in the zone, “Have you considered marijuana?” floated past me on the conversational breeze.

It was my cardiologist speaking. Was I in the Twilight Zone? No, just him suggesting pot might be the perfect drug. For me. It would deal with a variety of issues. He wasn’t suggesting “medical marijuana” because though theoretically we have it, actually we don’t. Yet. Maybe someday.

72-Three-Amigos-Amherst-May-GA_002

“Uh, yes,” I said. “The downside, other than the price tag, is coughing. Coughing hurts.”

“Take in more air when you inhale,” he said. “You’ll cough less.”

Right.

I grew up in a world where getting busted for having a couple of joints in your pocket could land you in jail for a very long time. A world in which marijuana was the gateway drug to a life of dissipation and degradation. Which would end with you face down in a gutter in some part of town where even the cops won’t go.

Now I live in a world where ones doctors recommend smoking pot.

My mother was born in 1910 and passed in 1982. Growing up, horse-drawn carts were far more common than automobiles. She was a child during World War I, a married woman and a mother in World War II. She survived — somehow — the Great Depression and marched with friends and family in a spontaneous parade of celebration when the New Deal passed. Even though the Depression didn’t really end until the war came and brought employment to everyone who wasn’t fighting.

72-Amherst-River_057

By the time she passed, there was cable television and home computers, two cars (at least) in every driveway. One day (I was a kid) I shouted “Oh look, a horse and cart!”

She looked bemused. “When I was your age,” she said, “We used to shout “Look, a motor car!”

And today, my doctor suggested I smoke pot. What a world, eh?


In Whose Zone?

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED MARIJUANA?

“Have you considered marijuana?”

My head spun. Twilight zone? No, just my doctor suggesting pot as the right drug for me. It would deal with a variety of issues. He wasn’t even suggesting “medical marijuana” because though theoretically we have it, actually we don’t. Yet.

marijuana in my dreams

“Uh, yes,” I said. “The downside, other than the price tag, is coughing. Right now, coughing is a bit rough.”

“Take in more air when you inhale,” he said. “You’ll cough less.”

Right.

I grew up in a world where getting busted for having a couple of joints in your pocket could land you in jail for a very long time. A world in which marijuana was the gateway drug to a life of dissipation and degradation. Which would end with you face down in a gutter in some part of town where even the cops won’t go.

Now I live in a world where one’s doctors recommend smoking pot.

My mother was born in 1910 and passed in 1982. Growing up, horse-drawn carts were far more common than automobiles. She was a child during World War I, a married woman and a mother in World War II. She survived — somehow — the Great Depression and marched with friends and family in a spontaneous parade of celebration when the New Deal passed. Even though the Depression didn’t really end until the war came and brought employment to everyone who wasn’t fighting.

antique car

By the time she passed, there was cable television and home computers, two cars (at least) in every driveway. One day (I was a kid) I shouted “Oh look, a horse and cart!”

She looked bemused. “When I was your age,” she said, “We used to shout “Look, a motor car!”

And today, my doctor suggested I smoke pot. What a world, eh?

LEGAL MARIJUANA IN MASSACHUSETTS?

In response to today’s Daily Prompt, ripped from the headlines, one of today’s stories in the Boston Globe reads as follows:

Marijuana advocates eye legalization in Mass.

An effort has been launched to both get a question calling for the drug’s legalization on the 2016 ballot and to raise enough money for victory.

I kind of wondered what happened. I mean we passed a referendum making medical marijuana legal more than a year ago. We passed it, we talked about it and as happens to much legislation and good intentions in this commonwealth, it was never heard from again. I think we could legalize it and have an equally impressive result, that is to say, nothing. Nada. The good news would be that there would be no more busting people for smoking a joint at a concert … or would it? I suppose it would depend on how the law was worded. But I somehow doubt it would make it more available to most people. Or cheaper. Or better quality.

Why not? Because this is Massachusetts. Not only (to quote Tip O’Neill) is all politics local, but all politics is more than slightly corrupted by a long history of entrenched political chicanery. Boston has the original party machine. Okay, maybe we share the honor with New York, assuming you consider it an honor.

marijuana in my dreams

So they can eye legalization, but that won’t do me or my baby boomer buddies much good. Even if they pass it, they will find a way to keep it from being easy to buy or even moderately available. By the time they finish with the legal mumbo jumbo, it will be easier to go find the original illegal sources and buy some there. Because otherwise, it will be just like trying to get MassHealth. You’ll fill out a thousand page form, send it in, and they will lose it. You will fill in another form, send it and they will tell you it’s too late to meet the deadline (because they lost the first one). Eventually, they will — with snail-like slowness — start to process the application. If you don’t die first, a year or two later, you’ll get some fantastic medical benefits, or in this case, weed. Except the price will be so high you’ll realize the illegal stuff was a bargain in comparison. The taxes alone will exceed the original non-legal price by hundreds of percent.

Dream on, you aging hippies. It aint’ gonna happen here in our lifetime.

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Now that Barack Obama is re-elected, where can I get some pot?

Yesterday was a very big day here in Massachusetts. Of course, it was a big day all over the country, for obvious reasons … but around here, especially so because we made medicinal marijuana legal.

As someone suffering from degenerative spinal arthritis and more, this is fantastic news. Until now, my choice for pain relief has been Tylenol (generic versions thereof) or Demerol (most narcotics make me sick; Demerol is the exception). Tylenol, generic or original will eventually do in your liver just as effectively as alcohol. You can be a teetotaler and wind up with cirrhosis of the liver, which is pretty pathetic. You don’t even get to be a drunk before your liver rots.

I can’t take ibuprofen or any of the NSAID drugs because of my long history gastric ulceration and other issues. So mostly, I grind my teeth, use ice packs, take drugs to sleep and hope I get 5 or 6 hours. When I’m awake, I try to ignore the pain or I can bore everyone to tears by complaining, so usually I ignore it — with varying degrees of success. I have gotten as good as anyone ever has at ignoring pain and if it were an Olympic event, I might get a gold medal. But the pain level keeps increasing. Sustaining my nonchalance isn’t working out all that well.

I’m getting less mobile. Day by day, there’s less I can do. The condition is not new. It dates all the way back to my teen years when falling off horses did some serious damage. Yet I managed to have a pretty normal life until a couple of years ago when everything started to get much worse.

It was the cancer drugs. Those drugs screwed up my system in so many ways I can’t even count. Whether or not I’ll be able to shake off the after effects of the drugs is a question no one seems able to answer. I can hope. The spine was already bad; the drugs speeded up the disintegration.

The stenosis and spondylolithesis (also known as anterolisthesis) makes me walk crooked and that has snowballed into bursitis in both hips. It turns out the hip bone’s connected to the spine bone, etc. So my back hurts and in trying to make it hurt less, I’ve made my hips hurt like hell. It’s not life threatening, but it sure is unpleasant … and it makes finding a comfortable position in which to sleep kind of tricky.

To wrap it up succinctly, I am having more and more difficulty walking, even on level surfaces. Stairways and uneven ground are Hell. Next month, I have an appointment with my wonder-working doctor to see if he has a little miracle in his bag of magic tricks to help relieve some of the pain. Meanwhile … hey, don’t Bogart that joint, my friend.

I know smoking dope is not going to make the pain go away, but, with a wee bit of luck, it will make me not care. It might even help me get more than 4 hours of sleep. I’ll settle for that.

Under the Massachusetts law, patients with HIV, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, or other conditions can obtain a card from the state permitting them to purchase the drug. They will be allowed to have a 60-day supply. They can appoint a caregiver to get the drug on their behalf. I’m pretty sure that level 5 arthritis with stenosis and disk degeneration will probably make the cut especially combined with cancer and the inevitable anxiety that accompanies the rest of the mess.

Still, I’m optimistic. I may be sick. I may be getting old, but finally, at long last … I can be all of those things … and stoned. Which might be enough to make forget the rest, at least for a little while.

Don’t let my flippant tone fool you. I’m thrilled. Life has been getting more and more physically challenging. It has gone from inconvenient to uncomfortable, from uncomfortable to constant pain. It’s taken a full 45 years to do it, so I’ve had a good run, but I could really use a little help.

I had been trying, with a high degree of success, to avoid watching political advertisements or any of the debates. I read the transcripts of the debates and other stuff, but this has been a very distasteful campaign. I was so successful at avoiding the whole thing that I didn’t know medical marijuana was on the ballot until I turned my ballot and realized there were two more propositions on the back. One of these was the proposal to make medical marijuana legal. You know I voted for it.

And it passed! Wow! There’s hope!

Supposedly, the way this will work is the Department of Public Health will write rules within the next four months. Once the rules are written, the law can be put into motion. As outlined on the ballot, there will be at least one nonprofit marijuana distribution center in each county, with up to 35 allowed in 2013. Worcester is a big county with a high unemployment rate. I think they’re going to need quite a few. They may eventually have to fight Dunkin Donuts for the really good locations. Come to think about it, they should put them next to each other. Just for convenience.

The park on the river in the middle of town.