Earlier this summer, I somehow convinced myself that I was about to lose my neck.
I wasn’t exactly sure how, but I just knew as punishment for smoking way too much weed lately, my fate was to become a windpipe-less Negro like Heathrow in Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral. (Sorry to the cultured folks who read that sentence and just cussed me out in their heads, but the shit was on Amazon Prime. It’s not like I’ve been able to go do hoodrat shit with my friends outside in the last six months, so I’ve been watching all types of shit; shout out to Keanu Reeves killing people, P-Valley, and American Gangster: Trap Queens. And if you’re booing and hissing about Amazon Prime: Beloveds, God is working on all of us, and I really needed to get some pandemic-related shit as fast to me and mine as possible.)
My fears eventually caused me to seek medical attention — but not in the form of rushing to urgent care in the middle of the pandemic so I could actively court the ’rona. I have a cousin that happens to not only share my affinity for men and thotty things but has a medical license. He informed me that although I am a damn fool for having him examine my windpipe and the rest of my neck on FaceTime, I could chill. My neck was not about to fall off.
Apparently, that tension in my windpipe and rising stiffness that sometimes felt suffocating wasn’t even the result of smoking a lot of weed. The culprit was anxiety, which weed can help with. I could rest easy, he said, but maybe stop fucking with whatever strain I had been smoking — and just in case I become convinced all over again that I’m dying, I should get an oximeter.
I’ve stopped telling grown people how not to court death. I don’t even bother anymore. I just make sure my delivery man keeps his mask on.
What? We all have a right to be anxious. After all, the person responsible for our fates in America routinely slurs his words and still believes the virus will simply “disappear.” And if you live in New York City, you remember the months that you were besieged by the sounds of sirens going off all day and night — audibly reminding you of the pain, suffering, and death surrounding you. I was just trying to do whatever I felt could calm me down.
But his advice made sense. If my botanical indulgences are to the point that I worry they’re contributing to a problem, then yeah, maybe it’s time to pause for a bit. So I did.
For a week.
It was a nice week and shit, but it was all I could muster.
What got me back smoking so fast? It wasn’t an itch so much as it was the neverending June fireworks show. I just needed to sleep. Shout out to “The Hog” (that’s a strain, not the dude who brought it to me) for helping me find rest even with that noise level. This time, though, I laid off just a bit — as in no longer allowing myself to be suckered by Leafly reviews that claim “four blunts a day is okay.”
I just need to treat trees the way a responsible adult treats edibles. (I do more of those now, too. That’s maturity.) But I’m convinced that my anxiety cure wasn’t even the weed; it was turning off the news and social media.
Make no mistake, in this pandemic, I’ve found elements of the news comforting — particularly MSNBC anchors. I appreciate Joe Scarborough literally yelling at Donald Trump (because he knows Trump is watching). The same goes for Joy Ann Reid, who adds a much-needed Black perspective in covering an administration that literally doesn’t care if many of us reading this site live or die. And I don’t know how it happened, but even I love a Bush alum: Nicolle Wallace, I am so glad you have two hours. As much as I appreciate them all, I felt a lot lighter when I knew less about how much the country was burning.
As for social media, well, it depends on what kind of pain we’re talking about. On Twitter, it’s insufferable arguments about nothing to pass the time. On Facebook, it’s conspiracy theories being spread by kinfolk you never liked or middle school teachers and classmates who both got left behind. On Instagram, there’s apparently no such thing as a pandemic — or depression.
There’s good to be found on social media, too, but the longer this pandemic goes on, the more I can’t help but fixate on the selfishness and nastiness of people. It’s bad enough I have to be subjected to imagery of our subjugation at the hands of the state. Now it’s also goofy-ass people fighting science with conspiracy theories, never realizing they’re acting like all the people who end up dying in movies like Contagion and Outbreak.
It’s all too much to take at one time, but I can’t simply ignore the internet since it factors into my livelihood. The same goes for the news. I’m trying my best to take everything — including weed — in doses. But dammit if I worry about falling into another neck crisis.
Some of my friends have mistaken my grim outlook for the remainder of 2020 (and potentially 2021) for pessimism. It’s not. I believe that in the end we’ll beat this. Trump can try his best, but you can’t attempt to kill a population without expecting retaliation. And one day, the coronavirus will not stoke as much fear as it does presently.
That day’s not here yet, though. According to a new forecast by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, the American death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic could reach nearly 300,000 by December. Europe may be teetering towards a second wave, but we’re still stuck in our first.
What is there to be thrilled about? Yes, I find joy wherever I can. I wake up every day bopping — including when I’m smoking. (It’s why I prefer sativa.) I’m even personally excited about some things. But I’m less worried about me than I am about what’s all happening around me. How cruel people can be. How easy it is for them to selfishly ignore the suffering of those around them, thinking it doesn’t matter because it’s not happening to them directly.
I’ve stopped telling grown people how not to court death. I don’t even bother anymore. I just make sure my delivery man keeps his mask on. (God bless the weed couriers — they always know the mask has to stay over the nose to work.)
Perhaps smoking weed isn’t the best way to handle living through the dumbest parable ever, but at least I’m not partaking in activities that could literally kill other people. I wish the president and select governors could lead the masses to do the same, but I’ll never smoke anything that could make me believe that. Nonetheless, should I get that stiff feeling in my neck again, I now know what to do.
Get an oximeter.