How to Make Magic in the Kitchen

(By Smoking Pot)

by Jesse Vernon

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I would love to share a spliff with Betty Crocker. Especially her 1965 incarnation (the hottest), with those delicate pearls, her flipped bob, sharp eyes, and flirty smirk. She'd sit on the counter while I did the work, doling out wise guidance ("Grease your pan with unsalted butter") interspersed with anachronisms ("Peanut butter cookies are a favorite with men and children"), her blazed grin and glazed eyes defying her corporate creators.

See, baking is magic disguised as domesticity. And magic should always be done high. First, take a hit (or two). Then take a bunch of ingredients that can't hold their own (unsweetened chocolate scarred my childhood), combine them in a particular order with precise measurements, swirl them around with instruments of varying shape and composition (wood here, steel there, silicone intermittently), and apply heat. In the time it takes to smoke a bowl, your gooey brownish blobs will have transfigured into little glistening disks of delight. Ta-da. Even the most epicurean of potheads has fallen prey to the lure of the quick and easy munchie fix, but the restorative powers of any off-the-shelf sugar bomb are paltry in comparison to a treat of your own creation.

While pot expands the breadth of my senses—mundane textures become fascinating (slimy, elusive egg whites; silky, billowing flour), common smells become seductive (melting butter, caramelizing sugar)—it also finely hones them. My sober friends would be surprised to learn that a lot of my best snacks are made under the influence. The neuroses-enhancing side of pot is helpful, especially if you're already a details person: With near-neurotic accuracy, I've learned to heed Betty's direction (her Cooky Book is my holy book) and create bites of perfection. As long as I remember to set the timer.

How to Keep a Better Home and Garden

(By Smoking Pot)

by Brendan Kiley

I was 15 and not so good at gardening, which was too bad because gardening was my job. Being outside was nice (when it wasn't November) and I liked the idea of being a gardener (like Gregor Mendel), but the actual gardening could be crushingly dull—especially weeding the perennial beds at the neighbors' house where I worked on Saturdays. Starting was easy, but I'd get restless and rush through the job, leaving weeds in my wake.

Rick, the other gardener, was studying graphic design at an art college. He was a nice guy, but my lousy work ethic frustrated him. "You're a good worker when you want to do something," he would say. "But when you're bored, you're useless." Then he'd go back to talking about music and girls and stuff.

One Saturday, he solved my problem. We went into the woods and smoked some pot out of his small, silver pipe.

The garden I stumbled back into was not the garden I'd left. It was brighter and richer, I paid more attention to textures and colors, and the plants seemed to have grown personalities while I was gone. The work was suddenly fun, my attention span seemed infinite, and lunch came faster than ever. (That afternoon, eating chips and salsa was like discovering a continent.) Pruning roses, transplanting Crocosmia, turning the compost piles—it was all fun, fun, and fun. I could sit out in the dirt, let my mind wander, and happily weed my life away.

Gardening was the gateway drug. Eventually I learned pot improved all kinds of chores: laundry, sweeping, scrubbing the bathroom. A puff is to my patience what a can of spinach is to Popeye's muscles. Don't want to do the dishes tonight? Just hand me a joint and a sponge.

How to Get in Shape

(By Smoking Pot)

by Christopher Frizzelle

I n middle school, I quit swim team, watched my parents' marriage self-destruct, and ate a lot of Cheez-Its. I would stack them between my fingers and eat the stack. One day after school, I unsealed a jar of Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts and ate it in a sitting. Then for dinner: Taco Bell, Burger King, or pizza. Military family. In the suburbs. Trying to save money. In high school, my brothers played sports and stayed in shape; I started the school newspaper and literary magazine, and produced them almost single-handedly (with the assistance of Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts). You get so fat that, at a certain point, not eating another homemade chocolate-chip cookie isn't going to do you any fucking good—you're so far gone already, and it's not like you have any friends to impress, and it's not like you can come out of the closet in your shitty town anyway—so you just go ahead and eat it. The next time you see a chocolate-chip cookie, you do the same calculation. By the time I was 17, I was six foot four, 280 pounds. I used to say, "I'm big boned." My older brother would say, "How big can bones be?"

If you start running every other day after school, you notice very little change. It wasn't until I kept running and stopped eating—almost entirely—that anything changed. I always knew it was a corrective measure and not a long-term solution, though. Simply avoiding Taco Bell and Planters Dry Roasted Peanuts doesn't do it. If your body has been very fat before, your body would like to be fat again. The only thing to do is to make working out a regular part of your life, a three-or-four-times-a-week thing.

Lifting weights is, of course, boring. Goddamn, it's boring. Here, pick this up and put it down again and again and again and again and again—times a million. I tried lifting weights for years and could never stick with it past a month or two. Then one day, a friend confessed a secret. REALLY?! Right before going to the gym? Don't you have trouble breathing after having all that smoke in your lungs? Don't you get tripped up while warming up on the treadmill? Don't you accidentally drop things on yourself? He insisted I try it, and we did—and lifting weights, and running, and the state of my biceps have never been the same. Pot takes any rote activity (see also: parenting, cleaning, baking) and turns the boringness into mental candy. It makes time stretchy. It limits your ability to focus too long on anything, so you don't get stuck thinking about how repetitive something is. You can run forever: Between the pot and the music in your headphones, you're on a bodiless plane of existence. Pain is kind of fun, so you can lift more than usual. (Be careful.) And, because you're breaking the law, you've got a secret—a mischievous habit, a private rebellion—that you associate with going to the gym (a corporate, brightly lit, rule-bound environment) that happens to make the gym really fun.

I'm in better shape than ever. I finally have muscles. The last of my love handles will be gone soon. People always ask me about having been fat, about how I lost it, about how I keep it off. Some friends simply think I'm unusually dedicated to health and fitness. The truth is, I've just been smoking a lot of pot.

How to Be a Better Parent

(By Smoking Pot)

by I. Havenoballs*

W hen my daughter was born in December, my life took the expected course correction. Excessive drinking, video games, smoking pot, chronic masturbation—save for that last item, each weapon in my free-time arsenal was dismantled, melted down, and converted into things like bottles, diaper bins, and tools to combat meconium.

Recently, however, smoking has started to make a bit of a comeback. Gone are my days of waking and baking, but one thing I've learned over the past eight months is that when it comes to the mind-numbing repetition of playtime, a little puff makes the experience not just bearable, but enjoyable. It helps keep me sane—and during the first year of parenthood, sanity tends to be in short supply.

Take my daughter's current obsession with a set of cheap plastic cups. These cups vary in size and color, and she can spend hours having me stack them in the proper order just so she can quickly unstack them. It's a game that never gets boring for her; every time the cups are stacked, it's as if they've been stacked for the very first time. And during these extended sessions of monotony—first green cup, then blue cup, then red cup, then yellow cup, then orange cup, then rinse and repeat—a quick hit of pot can cut through the stress and noise that comes with new parenthood and instead keep me focused, patient, and engaged with my daughter's development. And that, really, is all that matters.

How to Become a Writer

(By Smoking Pot)

by David Schmader

O ne of the traits I inherited from my German-on-both-sides family is a deep drive for certainty, tidiness, and order—three things in short supply during the act of writing, or at least during the early stages of writing, when making a mess is the point. Brainstorming, jotting down half-formed ideas, banging out messy first drafts—these tasks made my skin itch. Saddled with a brain obsessed with finding the Right Answer (or as Germans sometimes call it, the Final Solution), I found myself paralyzed by the possibilities, as my would-be happy playground of creativity morphed into a gulag rigged with a million ways to be wrong.

And then I smoked pot. For some people, pot means munchies and moving in what feels like slow motion; for others, stress and sleeplessness. For me, pot is the perfect stupefier, slowing down my frantically racing thoughts—OhmygodwhatamIgoingtowrite andhowamIgoingtowriteitandwheredoIstart andwhatdoIincludeandhowdoIincludeit?—to the point where each thought can be addressed individually, while leaving me with enough brain power to do the addressing. Properly stoned, I could wade through the swamp of messy imperfection that lay before every finished piece and finally start writing.

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Before long, I was getting paid for my writing—a lucky break that came with an implicit invitation to become a professional pothead. Luckily, the work doesn't pay enough to support such an arrangement, so eventually I set about learning nonpot methods of stupefying my answer-seeking brain. Mundane things like sitting still for 15 minutes and breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. But there's no denying that the welcome mat to this new way of being was a big wad of pot.

How to Be Better to Your In-Laws

(By Smoking Pot)

by I. M. Whipped*

T he only thing worse than spending time with your own family is spending time with someone else's family. Sober.

For years, I was dragged to Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Easters with my wife's family, which is about as right-wing nutso as you can get without joining a militia. My father-in-law is a Fox-News-loving, we-need-a-border-fence-now, George W. apologist. He is a mountain man. I am a city slicker who works for an artsy-fartsy homo newspaper. We have little in common.

Normally at family functions, I'd sit in the corner, try not to make eye contact, and only make small talk when escape was not an option. There was never any booze, making all my other problems—social anxiety, a psychological aversion to family time—agonizing. Then Christmas 2006 happened. As gun-nut uncles, pregnant teenage nieces, and trailer-park-dwelling grandparents held hands and prayed to baby Jebus around the living room of a suburban home, my wife, my sister-in-law, and I snuck out, drove around, and smoked out of a gross, resin-stained glass pipe until we were suitably baked and alarmingly affable. It was a Christmas miracle, and it has since become a holiday tradition—a permanent solution to any anxiety about spending time with family.

Now, septuagenarian aunts' and uncles' stories about internal family battles seem like fascinating epic poems, sitting on a couch and staring into space is no longer a chore, and engagement in small talk is less teeth-grindingly awful. Smoking pot hasn't made me like these people any more, but it makes my wife not want to strangle me so much now that I'm perfectly willing to sit and talk to her dad about computer parts and the benefits of FAT32 and NTFS file systems for the better part of an hour. And if I get stoned enough, I barely remember I was there at all.

How to Have a Better Sex Life

(By Smoking Pot)

by Ari Spool

H aving sex on dope is almost everything your parents said you should never do, with the exception of eating ice cream for breakfast. But we all know by now that the things your parents specifically railed against are the things your parents were totally doing when you weren't looking.

The reasons your parents were (are) having all that sex on all that dope: (1) It just feels better, and (2) you can tell the other participant what you really want to do without feeling shy. When my roommates go to bonetown after smoking a blunt in the living room, I hear slapping. When they are sober, it sounds boring—not even any moaning. And they've been dating forever; they know each other inside and out. Stony sex is way easier and cheaper and hotter than couples counseling or being instructed to dress up or other weird things that couples on TV do when "the magic runs away." Also, I don't know about you, but I get all pouncy and am way more liable to look at you next to me on the couch with popcorn on your shirt and give you that look. I am thinking "RRRAAAWWWRRR MAKE ME NAKED!"

This is way healthier than the drunken "RRRAAAWWWRRR," because I already know you. We were just getting stoned on the couch together, we're at least buddies or probably even dating, and pot hasn't made you look any hotter than you actually are (weed doesn't give you drunk goggles). I am making a much more educated and safe decision, with no weird, shameful walk home in the morning. And there's no rush. Take it slow, baby.

I honestly don't know why you would ever have sex without getting stoned first. Those fun sex jokes are more likely to happen, and maybe there will be tickling. You have no one to tickle? Well, it makes masturbation better, too. I'm talking to the dames. Maybe you're kind of nervous about it? Like, you just bought this new dildong and you are looking at it and, let's be honest, you aren't sexually attracted to it. And you are gonna do WHAT with it? On weed, that weirdness goes away. You just nod and proceed to make yourself happy enough to never shoot up any fitness centers, ever. recommended

* Pseudonyms for Stranger writers who are wusses.