Letting Go

Pardon the alliteration. But why on God’s green ganja smokin Earth did I quit smoking pot?

It was holding me back.

In high school, I used pot for the best reason of all, peer pressure: I wanted new friends. It worked.

But in my case, despite new friends, lucky enough, I didn’t like the way pot made me feel. Plus, somewhere along the way, I grew bored of the people passing the joint. I wanted more from myself. As a concession to my ambition, I gave up smoking pot.

Why did I give up smoking cigarettes? This answer is a little more complex.

Truth is, I was never a big cigarette smoker, unlike my brother, who still likes to dabble. But giving up cigarettes was hard, way harder than I imagined.

It took me 7-failed attempts. When something you’re not even that into takes 7-failed attempts to quit, you know someone’s getting rich.

And It Ain’t You, Cowboy.

I was broke, living on Saint Marks Place, struggling at my first gig in advertising, paying off debts from playing too many years in a going nowhere band.

Is there any other kind?

Got my hands on the autobiography of PT Barnum, thinking I’d learn how to blend my background in performance with my newfound desire to be the most successful huckster in the history of advertising.


Instead, what I took away from the book was how PT Barnum got himself out of debt. Every single day, for the duration of 1-year, at the beginning of his 30’s, he wrote down absolutely every single thing he spent money on.

Every single day, for the duration of 1-year.

At the end of the year, through force of discipline and a newly acquired understanding of where all of his money was going, PT Barnum developed a perspective for how to realistically cut down his overhead, and free himself of debt.

I was done being a sucker!

You wouldn’t believe how much money people spend each year on cigarettes. I’d like to say I gave up smoking for reasons related to health or a fervent desire to take back my freedom from Big Tobacco.

Truth is, my newly acquired understanding of where all my money was going told me cigarettes were a treat for the affluent. Lucky enough, at that point in my life, living on Saint Marks Place, with an unemployed dominatrix and passive-aggressive junkie, I was the opposite of affluent.

The cigarettes had to go. So did the dominatrix. So did the junkie.

Somewhere in my early 30’s, for the first time in my adult life, I was able to afford rent, without the help of a girlfriend or roommate.

I was free. Now the real problems started.

You see, quitting pot, quitting cigarettes, getting out of an unhappy relationship, letting go of loser friendships, those are easy problems to see. Anyone can see those problems.

Of course, seeing a problem and dealing with a problem are two very different things. But I dealt with my problems, and on the other side, I discovered new, more complex problems.

What do I want to be? Is advertising really my destination? God help me.

How do I want to take care of myself? If I make a change, do I have to go back to living with roommates? God help me.

How do I flip the switch from boy to man? Or do I live my life in an extended adolescence, keeping myself in the center of everything, never learning how to give and take focus, clinging to the baton and never passing it, stepping on necks to get a leg up instead of lifting everyone up around me.

How much longer can I keep running away? If I keep running away, will I miss the opportunity to know my family as a man?

God help me, the last question was a biggie.

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8 Responses to Letting Go

  1. Claudia says:

    The Dom, The smoky junkie, and me sounds like a great title for a short story. I hate to sound like a cliché but here it goes. Life lessons are the greatest education money can’t buy. The mistakes we make in our lives create a foundation for who want to be and what kind of life we want to live. What we consider a great life other’s might see it as mediocre. I say fuck-it live and let live. I find that the problem can sometimes be family and other outside influences.
    I can’t ever live up to my mother’s expectations although I’m the best thing that ever happened to her. But I can see why because she thinks I’m perfect. I’m the eldest of three and I should know better.
    I feel like I became an adult at the age of 11 and missed out on the fun and irresponsible ways of life. The problem is that now at 43 I can’t act 11. Although, I sometimes will throw tantrums and act like a spoil brat I know that it’s “inappropriate” and I once again should know better
    I can’t go back in time but what I have learned about myself no one can take away. I feel like people want to change me, “you can be a better version of yourself” Yes, I can but I like who I become.
    I like that I can express myself and that I have an eclectic group of friends and that I can adapt to different environments from the ghetto to the high class. Hahaha
    Do I want to be a cookie cutter version of whatever the idea of what a woman my age should be living like? No, not really. Do I sometimes compare myself? Yes and then I become hard on myself and that is not helping anyone. My reality is not bad it fits me well.

    Yesterday was an exhausting day for me so I apologize for the clichés.

    • Gregor says:

      There are no cliches in your writing, Claudia. If there are cliches, I don’t see any.

      Maybe it has to do with the way you twist big ideas into your life story. Whatever the case, it makes for easy reading.

      So fuck it, give yourself a break.

      I agree about family, they’re hard to please, and all too often, they keep your mistakes on file for future abuse.

      I get the idea of good intentions, but it’s a big, big mistake to try and protect the people you love from the mistakes life throws their way.

      Character is revealed in how you react to the things you want but struggle with, and all too often, fall short of.

      Turns out, the 3 of us, living at 17 Saint Marks Place, in a 1 bedroom apartment, were hooked on equally destructive nonsense.

      The dominatrix was hooked on holding herself down, since her parents stole her sense of dignity. The junkie was hooked on drug abuse, since the world he lived in had an easier time processing drug abuse than homosexuality. I was hooked on “parent money.”

      My parents were trying to help me out by supplementing my income. Instead, they confused me. Even worse, the influx of money I hadn’t earned, and didn’t know how to assign proper value, was a scent hustlers could smell on me.

      All too often, these hustlers used the illusion of friendship to cozy-up to me. They crashed on my floor. They surfed on my couch. They’d borrow $20 with no intention of paying me back, since they thought I didn’t need the money.

      As if my money is for someone else to count.

      Fuck that. Fuck them. Fuckers.

      On another note, I have to admit, at this point in my life, I don’t see the difference between “high class” and “ghetto.” I don’t see the difference between mediation and open mics. I don’t see the difference between a corrupt judge and street trash.

      I look for laughs. I look for candor. I look for the meaningful lesson from my failures, which are bountiful.

      • Claudia says:

        I love to read your blog it makes me happy.
        I forgot to mention the money part. My relationship with money is like my relationship with men. Not existent, I don’t understand it and it does not understand me.

        • Gregor says:

          Kurt Vonnegut said, “I say in speeches that a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit. I am then asked if I know of any artists who pulled that off. I reply, The Beatles did.”

          If my blog makes you happy, then I’m doing my job.

  2. TMV says:

    Lindsay Lohan told Oprah that she was only addicted to alcohol and she used cocaine about 15 times. She said she got rid of all her bad influencing friends.

    Here’s a question: if Lindsay Lohan really did cut all her toxic friends out of her life … why was she spotted hanging out with a rehabbing hotel magnate who was busted for heroin in April?

    Lindsay and pal Vikram Chatwal were photographed out in NYC Tuesday, reportedly shopping together … you know, buddy stuff.

    FYI, Chatwal was busted in April after cops say he tried to get on a plane with cocaine, weed, heroin and various prescription pills. He struck a plea deal that let him avoid jail if he completed 12 months of in-patient rehab. Chatwal’s been to rehab AT LEAST 4 times since 2009.

    When our reporter caught up with Lindsay, she said “I’m not drinking anymore. I can use heroine because I’m not addicted to that.”

    Read more: http://www.tmz.com/page/2/#ixzz2chpEHlY3
    Visit Fishwrapper: http://www.fishwrapper.com

  3. TMV says:

    Bradley Manning, the Army private who was sentenced this week to 35 years in prison for releasing restricted government documents to WikiLeaks, has announced that he would like to be known from here forward as Chelsea Manning, and intends to live as a woman. In a statement, the former soldier said:
    “I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition…. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name.

    It was confirmed by TMV that Manning did not give up all that secrete information for the good of the world, rather, Chelsea Manning leaked the information because she’s a big fucking yenta.
    Have you seen Chelsea lately?

  4. Cassy says:

    Haha!! Here’s another reason why Ripple loves to work with you guys!

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