Of Hempfest

Simpsons Hempfest

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There’s are only handful of places that I know I don’t belong: hardware stores, the zoo, prison, and a satanic chapel. This weekend I experienced a new place that isn’t exactly me – Hempfest in Seattle.

I don’t smoke. I don’t have an issue with people who do, so long as it’s not in my car or house, but personally I’ve never truly enjoyed smoking. And please don’t give me that, “But why? You’ve never smoked have you? You just need to try again,” bullshit that I get every time I turn down a joint or hookah. I don’t feel the need to explain my smoking history with people or justify my choices, calm down folks, calm down. So you can imagine how at Hempfest, a festival that literally exists to praise getting high and all of the gadgets involved, is not a place that most people picture me in – in fact, many laughed when I said where I was.

In the beginning, we were nothing but cattle being herded along the streets of downtown Seattle. The men in charge of controlling the chaos had to yell phrases like, “Bags to the left! No bags to the right!” all day long. For the most part people seemed to prefer the, I only shower once every two weeks to preserve water, look. Lots of dreads, organic loose ill-fitting garments, and tie-dye. I can’t say that it was a dashing style on anyone, but man were they ever excited. Everyone was super pumped, ready to cross that threshold into the festival so they can smoke, buy pipes, hang out with buds, and eat some serious munchies.

When standing in the long line my surroundings were what I expected. Piles and piles of dirty hippies getting high, and street merchants trying to sell “brownies” and “rice-crispies.” What I wasn’t prepared for the was the extremity of politics at the festival. Turns out that Hempfest is not just a merry place where stoners go to buy bongs, grinders (still not sure why these are necessary), and ugly hemp shirts – it’s a goldmine for politics.

When the human cattle drive was reaching an end, in the distance I saw picket signs near the entry gates. The signs said things like FEAR GOD! REPENT YOUR SINS! amongst other ‘damn you all to Hell’ language. I was fascinated and appalled. I’d never seen so many angry and delusional people, did they think they were going to touch the souls of the burnt out stoners and peace loving hippies with cries of hate and abomination? I hate Christian’s like that. I was raised Christian (my family is very religious) and while I may not consider myself devout, I still loathe when the crazies make the sane people look bad. If the sign holders would check their Bible, then they’d know that only God can see the sin in someone’s heart, making their picketing not only rude but far from Biblical – just saying.

Once passed the angry Christians there was a different type of politics. It was a liberal explosion! Everywhere I turned someone was trying to get me to sign something. People were giving passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and anti-corporations who just want to steal money. A truck drove through the festival path (as if it wasn’t already crowded enough with humans) saying how important Hempfest is and why we should be free to smoke what we want. I must have turned down at least 40 flyers. Politics were unavoidable.

I’ve never been good at meandering, I’ve always been the, step out of my way – I’m on a mission, type. But at Hempfest I was forced to go slow, as my friends stopped at every booth that sold glass pieces. So while they shopped, I stared at the crowd. I must say, it was quite the sight. People were absolutely fearless to be themselves, and I respect that. I saw a pregnant woman with a pot leaf painted on her belly, lots of bright rainbows, fuzzy boots, belly shirts, bras, ‘I heart dope’ sunglasses, and to my surprise, children. It didn’t matter gender or age, everyone wore whatever the fuck they wanted.

Despite the police walking around people still smoked freely (apparently it’s only a problem if they use a bong, I don’t see why it makes a difference). Those that weren’t shopping sat around in circles, letting the smoke take over. I’ve never seen so many red eyes. If I smoked I guarantee I would have got more into the festival, but from my sober mentality it was the biggest street fair I’ve ever seen, the chaos stretched out for a couple of miles – and this fair had a definite target audience.

There’s one thing I’ve would have bought if I wasn’t completely broke, a handmade hula hoop.

At the third stage they played dub-step. On little side stages were dancers, but not go-go, or even slutty hippie dancers. They were hula hoop dancers, and I gotta say it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The girl who caught my attention had more of a hip-hop vibe than the other. She controlled her hoop with grace as she threw it around her effortlessly. I stared at her for about five minutes before continuing my slow walk through the festival. I’m officially obsessed and need to learn this skill.

Eventually I resumed my role amongst the cattle, walked past the picket signs, and marched up the steep streets of Seattle. But despite my out-of-placeness, it was an entertaining day.

 

Of a Washingtonian’s Social Life

Me and Nicole

Me and one of my besties, Nicole. Initially her and I were not friends, now we think we're both pretty awesome.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the quirks that seem to be shared by 99% of those around me. Namely my fellow Washingtonians, whom if my life goes according to plan I will no longer be living near, at latest, by next Fall, I’M COMING BACK NEW YORK!! (the city this time, not Amish country – thought I should clarify). There’s the more obvious traits, coffee habits and an extreme aversion to the umbrella that I’ll never understand – it was literally designed for our climate, yet, it is a sign of weakness to actually use one. But the most fascinating thing about Washington is the social climate.

We’re very polite, pretty much all the time. Canadians come down to the States and say they like shopping here because we’re all so nice. I always smile and joke about how that’s because we’re all 70% of caffeine. Even customers who yell at me at work for (being forced) to sell them a membership, say thank you after I hand them their tickets.

We all smile and nod as strangers pass by, if it’s an acquaintance we’ll throw in a peppy, “Hey how’s it going?” maybe a quick hug. The following responses are respectable: good, fine, tired, busy, late … and/how-about you? repeat cycle. Note how they are all one word responses, we don’t actually care how you are doing and you don’t actually want to tell us – but it would be rude to not acknowledge their presence. Nobody wants the following conversation to occur:

Person A: Hey how’s it going?

Person B: Not good, my cat/grandma/lover/car just died.

Person A: Oh … I’m sorry

Person B: Yeah, I’ve been really depressed. Are you free to talk?

Person A: I wish I was but I’m actually running late. We’ll talk soon.

Or

Person A: Hey how’s it going?

Person B: Great getting married tomorrow!

Person A: Wow, Congratulations

Person B: Thank you, well … let’s hang out soon!

The word soon is our saving grace. It has the ability to be manipulated to mean yes, no, or maybe depending on context.

The thing I’ve learned from living with Washingtonians is that sometimes the best thing I can do, is lie. Or rather, imply a maybe. Here’s a real world example:

Me and Erin

Me and one of my other besties, Erin, she's the one I quoted ... she's also awesome.

I was out drinking and dancing with several friends. I was the driver, it was 2AM and I wasn’t good to drive yet, and I had three incredibly drunk ladies surrounding me. Our friend calls us, wanting us to stop by his house. Saying, “no,” was ineffective, he just keeps pleading. So we start to say, “we’ll try,” and “maybe,” even though we have no intention of actually going over. He accepts this – probably knowing that we weren’t actually going to come over, that’s not the point, the point is (much like the word soon) we might try. Might.

After we hung up the phone I mentioned the social rules we just followed. My friend Erin said, “That’s how you have to deal with a Washingtonian, especially a drunk one.”

The phenomenon is exactly why when I transferred to Western as a Junior it was hard to make friends. I’ve always been a very social person and I am not shy (outside the world of romance) but moving back to Washington after a year and a half in Amish country New York – I began to question my social skills and doubt how awesome I actually am. On the outside everyone was very pleasant, we would talk about hanging out, but we never would. It felt like I was asking people out on dates just to have friends. Maybe this (and the lack of sunlight) are key to why the depression rate is so high around here.

But please don’t be fooled, we’re not all bitches, and we do actually want to hang out. It’s the making it happen that’s the hard part.

However, once you’re in, YOU’RE IN, and they got your back. Also, the too-much-too-soon factor that people tend to frown upon in other places I’ve lived seems to get thrown out the window – most people will tell you almost anything (within reason).

After I got past that pleasant but frustrating social barrier I found lovely people to hang out with. These people are hilarious, outgoing, and outspoken … I love them dearly.

Of A Top Hat

In my nonfiction class my professor gave us an in-class prompt to write about an article of clothing. I this amused me so I shall transcribe it here. It’s nothing spectacular but amusing nonetheless.

Top Hat

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My Top Hat

So much more than a top hat. It was a cheap Goodwill top hat. A top hat that had a sticker inside it proclaiming “Not appropriate for those 14 and under.”

It was black. It was plastic with a low quality ribbon around the base. The brim curled up an inch. The flat top of the hat was a few inches shorter than the legit one’s you see in period films.

It was amazing.

Yes I still have it. No I haven’t worn it since that night two Halloween’s ago.

Except for when friends come over and decide it must come out of hibernation. Particularly my friend Nicole. She’ll put it on and it comes to life. It becomes the star of the show – surprisingly, an excellent dancer.

When I wore it those years ago my costume was undetermined. Some said I was a dancer, others presumed vaudeville act, and some thought sexy business woman. All in all that Halloween was a dud. With the exception of a brief dance party at the Christian frat in Seattle, where Nicole got so plastered that she passed out and a half-naked Native American took care of her. We later found her lying in the hallway with a folding table as a blanket.

But my hat was a hit. As I said, it stole the spotlight.

After all, it’s a great dance partner.

Of New Year’s Shindigs

New Years Party

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Happy 2011!

Yesterday a large portion of the world was hung over left thinking that the night was either worth it or it wasn’t.

New Year’s Shindigs are generally something people are super excited about, annoyed by, or they freak out that they won’t have any plans. Granted there’s probably a few in betweens but I rarely see those people.

Everyone has the same basic options:

  • Family gathering
  • House party with dancing
  • House party without dancing
  • Sober night
  • Drunken night
  • Hit up a club
  • Watch fireworks on TV
  • Go see real fireworks
  • Stay up till midnight
  • Don’t stay up till midnight

December 31st is a night where the whole world is at risk of being severely disappointed. I know I’ve had my share of terrible New Year’s Eve experiences where I had no set plans and nothing exciting happened. Worse yet left stuck with the parentals at midnight. For to me a family gathering is the epitome of a depressing welcoming of the New Year. I can understand the appeal of some family bonding with board games and fireworks on TV. Just not my thing.

Last year I was in a car accident (no broken bones) but I was still sore so my evening consisted of wine, sex, and relaxing with the boy friend.

This year I was super excited. Being on the rebound, my plans had to be spectacular which they were. I went with a group of girls to the Experience Music Project (EMP) New Years Indulgence in Seattle. There was a crowd of around 3,000 people, three different levels, choices of comedy acts, live band, DJ or bar environment. We drank, danced, and took photos. Some of the girls gave out their phone numbers, some got free drinks, one had a hard time escaping a guy, one disappeared until the night was over, I found a wand on the floor (and kept it), I kissed one of my girlfriends at midnight as well as some guy named Justin, it took us an hour to finally get a cab (it was 20ish degrees outside), overall the night was an epic success.

So this year started off with a bang. Here’s hoping the rest of the year is just as awesome.