Honesty Is The New Irony When You're Totally Wired and Utterly UnChill
Plus: Recipes for guilt-free espresso martinis and pumpkin affogatos so that you only harm yourself
This is The Weed Witch. Feeling stuck somewhere between the real world and the spiritual world? Where truth is stranger than fiction? This is a newsletter dedicated to lifestyles of the credit poor and un-famous. For the healers and dealers, saints and sinners. The friendly guide to cosmic survival in the Age of Psychic Death. Stream-of-consciousness tales, scrappy DIY craft ideas, and divine wisdom from free-thinking societal outliers, a.k.a. the weed witches. An idea sampler platter and content wildcard for your inbox.
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This week I want to talk about mental health. Over a coffee, which is a food drug that is apparently very bad for depression. That is why I included two recipes at the end of this for an espresso martini and pumpkin affogato—because we can’t uplift ourselves without bringing everyone else down.
Neither are good for your health and both are considered to be “amateur hour” orders by hospitality pros, but I believe sometimes we have to treat ourselves when the world deprives us on our own heroes’ journeys.
Seasonal shifts have become wildly unpredictable as the world’s collective eco-culture changes, but it doesn’t take an expert to see that the leaves beginning collect in yellow- and orange-speckled piles signal a long winter ahead. Should I start crafting again? Should this become a crafting newsletter? I like Craft Cult with Rosa Escandón, so I’m going to plug her newsletter here now.
We’re wading through Libra season, desperately trying to find the balance, knowing that beneath the surface, a tremendous amount of anxiety lies ahead, making this an opportune time to start working on your immune system and prepare to live in a time capsule. At least that is how I am preparing after a chaotic 2020-2021.
I write this to you from bed, where I do most of my writing because I have an apartment that is not conducive to being a writer despite the fact I am most certainly living in an apartment that is haunted by the ghost of one. This doesn’t mean that the ghost of the writer is a successful one. In fact, I took the time to look it up on the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. No one of importance lived here…until now!
This apartment is too small. Pies cannot be baked here—there is not enough space on the sill for them to cool. You will never see a pie baked on here until I have secured enough motivation to completely redo my apartment, or one of the Bravo shows where they flip your apartment comes in and turns this place into a cool dorm like MTV’s Pimp My West Village Apartment. Except everyone will be wondering why it’s a grown ass woman and not a 20-year-old NYU student as the Sex and the City music queues up. Eff me.
In my book, every day is World Mental Health Day, so I’m going to ask you to use the gift of your imagination to envision that it’s just you, me, and Oprah. Go on, tell us: Did you take your meds? Which category of mental illness(es) do you have and where do you fall on the spectrum—and which spectrum are we referring to? Do you prefer uppers or downers to “keep things in balance?” When was the last time you did something “just for you”? Or, in the words of David Ferrier: “How the f*ck are you still alive?”
Here is a tissue, because you probably started crying. Or laughing. Until you cried, I mean. This is the Carly-Oprah Imagination Show, after all, so crying with Dr. Phil is part of the deal. Actually, screw it. Let’s go get new tattoos.
I feel so hard for the people of corporate America for World Mental Health Day—conveniently a “holiday” about mental health and wellness awareness that happens to fall on a Sunday, rather than a federal holiday during the work week when everyone is actually stressed, which would be the ideal opportunity to address this global epidemic that is seeping into our homes and communities. I’m not going to lie, you will probably see this on a Monday—the day that is now known as Indigenous Peoples Day and is no longer a bank holiday.
According to mental health professionals, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do what feels good. Write down three things you’re grateful for, take a bath, make iced tea, craft, go for a run, or just do something nice for yourself and a friend who could use some cheering up? Sometimes we need the reminder. Or, according medical professionals, just microdose LSD.
Sorry I’m late to the party, but hopefully we can acknowledge mental health beyond the marked holidays. Sometimes, all you can do is laugh, when laughter is the best medicine in a country with no universal healthcare and a lot of lax gun laws.
I made a playlist for this, by the way. It’s about grinding.
As a food person, I can’t help but think about food-drugs and nutrition impact on our overall systems. Coffee, a stimulant, is a common food drug. Psilocybin is a less common food drug that is both an ETF and growing in pop culture. Chocolate is a food drug. These impact our senses and sensibilities. In the overall scheme of what’s “good” and “bad” about any of these is a matter of so many factors—particularly as we approach another SAD-COVID winter. If the thought of another bout of prolonged isolation makes you anxious, you’re not alone.
For some time, I had become very interested in learning about the future effect of terpenes on “taste memories” and mental wellness, particularly after COVID robbed some people of their ability to taste and smell for months—or permanently. Smell and taste have a direct connection with dementia and terpenes are currently being tested to combat Alzheimer’s. According to the Mayo Health Clinic, approximately 90% of those affected with COVID can expect improvement of taste within four weeks. Unfortunately, some will experience a permanent loss.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I reached out to Chris Kelly of AbScent, a UK-based non-profit devoted to helping individuals recover from smell and taste dysfunction. For World Mental Health Day, they published a study on Altered smell and taste: Anosmia, parosmia and the impact of long Covid-19. Kelly started the organization as a parosmia patient who just wasn’t getting the answers, had to retrain herself to taste and smell (she now develops smell kits and courses), and advocates for this neglected population in the medical community who often have to find one another in Facebook groups.
The neglect of our chemical senses is not new; their alteration in long term health complaints such as Parkinson’s disease, acquired brain injury and cancer has often been overlooked. There are few helpful interventions and a relative lack of interest in food hedonics or food related quality of life issues [10, 11]. As a result of the relative neglect of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction, and lack of concern in the medical world for the emotional impact of altered eating and smell distortions, people are seeking help and support outside of medical care settings.
It’s the epitome of WebMD self-diagnosis of trying to figure out how to deal with this debilitating illness that impacts senses that many individuals barely consider what a tremendous gift these are on the day-to-day—and can crush the whole world of a sommelier, chef, or other culinary connoisseur.
And then there’s the depression of that. The loss of appetite and loss for life. What a tragedy to not enjoy the sensory pleasures of eating. Speaking of things I’ve eaten recently: Blue Marble has a “bread and roses” themed rosewater ice cream studded with pieces of biscuit to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Women’s Labor Movement. It seemed a bit late, given the anniversary was this past spring for International Women’s Day, but given the situation in Texas prompting reproductive rights discussions again, it seemed like a comeback was necessary, I suppose?
Objectively, I kind of think the flavor is far too intense with the rosewater—like a Glade candle—and definitely a touch overpriced ($7.99), but it’s also somewhat of a cerebral flavor that you can’t stop trying to eat. It’s somewhat elegant, but it in an over-the-top way that makes you feel a little guilty because it’s a little heavy on the roses and light on the biscuits, and that feels like a bit of a metaphor for the experience of eating it, as if they were being glib to make something so decadent. That’s my official opinion as a professional judgmental bitch. Should I add that to my LinkedIn?
When I think about how crucial these senses are that people take for granted, it’s kind of incredible how much flavor informs everything from how we eat, drink, socialize, make memories, determine if things are safe to eat and satisfying the reptilian parts of our sensory brain. To lose that magical ability is such a fragile thing and among many unseen factors contributing to how many struggle with overall mental and physical health and wellness.
Why wouldn’t you learn how to taste and how smells work while you have the gifts? If anything, cannabis provides a unique access point to rethinking the way we look at smell and taste through terpenes. According to SORSE:
WHAT ARE TERPENES, AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
In the cannabis plant, terpenes are fragrant oils that are produced and secreted from the same glands that produce cannabinoids, which are called trichomes. Terpenes are the molecules that give the plant its odor and flavor and increase the cannabinoids’ efficacy. As is true with other plants, the qualities that terpenes bring to cannabis are impacted by soil composition, climate, and myriad other factors. Terpenes can help the plant repel insects and other predators, as well as attracting pollinators like bees. They also have antioxidant effects. Scientists have identified over 200 terpenes in the cannabis plant, and each strain has its own unique blend of terpenes.
Terpenes also have therapeutic qualities; they can play a role in a plant’s medicinal effects because of the way they interact with cannabinoids and help them enter the bloodstream. Scientists have found that when terpenes and cannabinoids work synergistically, their effectiveness in treating pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and infection is enhanced. Interestingly, terpenes are the basis of aromatherapy, a healing treatment that utilizes a plant’s essential oils to promote physical and emotional well-being.
To prepare my body for World Mental Health Day before another COVID climate crisis winter, as a ritual, I visited a Juice Generation, where I encountered a group of three sk8r bois making an expert assessments of their favorite Juice Generations. This one in Flat Iron is better than the one in Chinatown, apparently. I actually trust their opinion on this. After all, they were decked out in Supreme so that you can tell these are discerning brand loyalists.
My personal opinion is that I appreciate overpriced fresh pressed juices as a distinctive luxury to intaking liquid nutrients without having to do the labor of shopping or clean-up. I love juices so much. Except when I’m doing a satiric juice cleanse diary for a certain magazine that decided it was too risque and had to pull it.
I am actually an unfortunate Kit Kat loyalist, because I keep getting baited into buying their shitty limited edition flavors knowing they’ll never hold a candle to the Japanese Kit Kats. I just got the “Witch’s Brew” after recently trying a key lime pie. Do not buy these. They’re terrible. That’s brand loyalty. I love it so much that I hate it.
I think you have to have a certain threshold for mental illness choosing to live in New York by possessing some of these qualities yourself. After all, how else could you cope with sharing the loneliest crammed space among a collective of roughly 8 million individuals mostly peacefully co-existing among five shit-garbage-smelling boroughs? It’s classic Stockholm Syndrome (…but in New York City). I actually love it here so much, but there is literal shit garbage on the street. Actual shit garbage and it’s among the most expensive cities in the world. You have to be a little nuts to live here.
Once upon a time, these were called neuroses and I believed they were just a cultural norm I inherently have as a person of the Jewish persuasion after growing up among the cotton top Golden Girls of South Florida at the early bird specials in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, watching far too many movies with neurotic Jews and thinking, “In the right light, it’s kind of charming.”
Without the necessity of fast walking to nowhere or diners where I would take my anti-anxiety medication over a tuna melt (Phoenicia Diner has a good one) and a coffee, I sat in isolation crowded with with my thoughts until I finally gave up and accepted, yes, I am a goddamn mess. (But so are you). Happy World Mental Health Day.
Book of the Month: The Collected Schizophrenias
This month, I recommend Esme Weijung Wang’s book, “The Collected Schizophrenias” which I am reading right now. Growing up with a mentally ill parent whose diagnosis wavered, much like hers, has given me some comfort into seeing this process of her trying to find a label—and cure—for the stigmas of suffering from psychosis. Her determination, as both a patient and a writer, is inspiring. It’s been taking me some time to properly express how I feel as remembering childhood trauma is often a pretty painful process. But going through this is a hero’s journey into one’s own psyche, coming out the other end a little older, wiser, and ready to face the next challenge.
In the World of Weed
Shout out to Light Culture with David Hershkovits, who has two very cool interviews this week with journalist Madison Margolin of Double Blind magazine and filmmaker, cannabis entrepreneur of Curaleaf collaboration, B Noble Cannabis, and hip hop legend Fab 5 Freddy. Both interviews are pretty reflective of my own disdain with corporate cannabis culture, which has deteriorated significantly during the pandemic that impacted all of our social interactions.
Justin Bieber has a limited edition “Peaches” weed line with Palms with money going towards Veterans Walk and Talk, which advocates for the medicinal use of cannabis within military veteran communities, and the Last Prisoner Project, which is dedicated to criminal justice reform around cannabis convictions. According to Bloomberg, “Bieber, 27, has been open about how the pressures of child stardom and drug use contributed to his own mental health challenges. In a YouTube documentary series last year, he said he tried marijuana when he was 12 or 13 and eventually grew to feel dependent on it, though he said not everyone has the same experience.”
The Stone Age, an immersive exhibit on cannabis has just opened up, and I can’t even believe no one told me this. I’ve never felt more neglected in my life from an immersive exhibit I probably wouldn’t have visited because my entire apartment is a weed witch cave. Hope you had fun without me, jerks.
Many New York towns are dropping out of the cannabis race for space. Except upstate, with this look at cannabis retail stores operating on tribal land.
This is a helpful guide about ancient people and psychoactive plants.
Stop Hurting Your Bartender and Make an Espresso Martini & Pumpkin Affogato At Home
The ‘90s are still back and bartenders everywhere are pissed off because someone decided espresso martinis are hot. Other ‘90s trends that are back include: WASPS with headbands, teen mags, and trying to have a direct conversation with another human being without smartphones.
Among my small pandemic luxuries, illy sent over of their one-touch Y3 iperEspresso machines during Frieze festival as an official sponsor when I was broke, jobless and fairly traumatized from living two years in isolation like a trapped animal. It’s thin enough to sit in my apartment that lacks any counter space, and while I think an Aeropress or classic machine is far more ecologically friendly, I can’t deny that having fresh espresso at the touch of a button is kind of awesome.
No bartenders were harmed in the making of this espresso martini—which was too sweet for my liking and made me realize I am just not an espresso martini girl. That’s why I also included the pumpkin affogato recipe from Giorgio Milos, Master Barista for illy, which can be served two ways: with pumpkin gelato and with vanilla gelato and an artisan pumpkin syrup for the affogato purist. I recommend both with Witches Weed for Halloween—a hybrid strain I just discovered exists and seems like it was made just for me.
2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur usually Kahlúa
1 ounce espresso freshly brewed (or cold brew concentrate)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: coffee beans
Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker over ice. Shake until frothy. Pour into a martini glass. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Affogato with Artisan Pumpkin Syrup
1 tablespoon, plus 1 or 2 teaspoons (20-25 ml) illy espresso
1 1/2 ounces (40 grams) vanilla flavored gelato or ice cream (or substitute pumpkin-flavored gelato for artisan syrup)
1/2 ounce pumpkin syrup
Nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin spice seasoning (optional)
Prepare the espresso in a small cup. Put vanilla gelato or ice cream in the glass and drizzle syrup over it. Pour the espresso over gelato and syrup. Decorate with nutmeg or pumpkin spice seasoning. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and serve.
To make pumpkin syrup: Combine 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 tabelspoon spice mix and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract mix all ingredients together in a pan and set medium heat. Cook it for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Let it cool down for another hour, then strain it using a nut milk bag (for clear syrup, a fine strainer works as well).
Which sights and smells are you excited for fall? Discuss among yourself in the comments.
FAQ: "How Do I Make Weed More Equitable?”
Interested in helping to right the wrongs of the past towards a more equitable future for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ forerunners? Check out these organizations;
The Last Prisoner Project: Let’s get people out of jail for minor cannabis crimes and help reform the War on Drugs.
Cage Free Cannabis: Make sure your weed is doing some good to the environment, economy and repairing communities.
Cannaclusive: Calling for racial justice in corporate cannabis.
Women Grow: Creating safe, inclusive pathways for women in weed.
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