Monday, December 04, 2006

So, what was I doing in Key West - well, to the shame of the conference organizers, I was not smoking weed. Out of all the public defenders to send to NORML's (National Organization for the Legalization of Marijuana Laws)national conference, our office sends the non-toker. Which, of course, was fine for me - I met my friend Ruth (the recipient of my first Socks that Rock feather and fan socks) in Fort Lauderdale, and we drove up the coast to Key West. She convinced me that I would rather drive with her and see the Keys than take the 20 minute flight I had scheduled - but, unfortunately, we hit the road after sundown, I couldn't see shit, and it started to rain while we had the convertible's top down. Ah well. At least I was still in Florida. Ruth and I went sailing, had a few spectacular dinners, and after she left, I made use of the manmade beach next to the hotel. I also took in the Conch Train and got my bit of history, and I went to the Key West Xmas parade - very odd to be singing about sleighbells and snowmen in 83 degree weather.

But, from the second we stepped into the Norml compound, all you could smell was weed. Unbelievable - these folks started smoking at 8:30 a.m., and smoked round the clock - at the conference, at the restaurant, at the bar, you name it - they lit it. Now, after Ruth left on Friday, I didn't hang out too much with these 70's potheads, not because I don't smoke, but because they were for the most part, well . . . I won't say it - but, let me just put it this way. I was the only public defender at the conference. Everyone else was a member of the private bar - and man were they high on themselves. Crack after crack after crack about the dumb pd, the ineffective pd, the pd this, yadda yadda . . . enough already. The ugliest part of the conference was the ethics portion of the program "how to collect your fee" where ethics were on a sliding scale with how much money you were making on a particular case. There were only about five woman at this conference, and no African Americans, except for one presenter on the last day, who gave his schpiel and took off. The signs that hung around the conference said, "Stop Arresting Responsible Marijuana Smokers" and by the end of the conference, it was clear who they meant - stop arresting us, the rich white men. Before the conference I was on the fence about legalization. I definitely think it has a legitimate place in the treatment of cancer patients, and others who suffer from debilitating pain as a result of disease. But, as far as recreational use - not if its just for these guys.

If you've never been to Key West, every night there's a party to celebrate the setting sun. The sun sets every night in Philly too, and sometimes, in the summer, over the Art Museum, it's quite spectacular. But, I never really think about it. It happens every night, so what? After Ruth left, I went to Mallory Square, the center of the party, which, in this off season, was not so crowded, and grabbed a seat on the dock, my feet dangling over the Gulf, almost close enough to skim the top of the water. And, I watched as the sun went down. Is this really something to sing and dance about every night? I thought, in my somewhat glum outlook in the new A.K. era, and I thought, you know what - yeah, why not? why shouldn't it be? I told Kenny recently, when he was boo hooing about something, in any given circumstance you're confronted with choosing to be happy, or not to be happy, and you always choose to be miserable - why not try choosing to be happy? And, at that moment, I chose to be happy, enjoy the sunset, and the accompany reverie, and ever since Friday, sundown, I've definitely had the attitude, the sun's going down, the sun will come up, and life is indeed good.

Brrrr - it's cold up here! After spending four days in tropical Key West, it certainly was quite a shock to the system to return to blustery Philly. So, for anyone who's suffering from winter blues, and needs a bit of sunshine - here's a Key West sunset just for you:

12 comments:

JoAnn, Wynnewood, PA said...

Welcome home. Guess you didn't knit much in Key West - hard to knit with a contact high! Sounds like you could have had a better time but at least it was warm - and away.

Lisa said...

We lived in Key West when I was a little kid--you described a sunset perfectly and took me way back to childhood! Thanks for sharing about your trip!

Liz K. said...

I was in Key West last summer, and while I wouldn't call it exactly family-friendly (I was with the kids), I had a great time. Like you said, I choose to be happy, when faced with a choice. Although I like to call it, "The Type of Fun Philosophy of Life." As in, watching the sunset is a type of fun. Being in Key West, a type of fun. Smokin' weed is a type of fun. But all types of fun are not for all people all the time. My smokin' days are behind me...now I content myself with a sunset over the Gulf and a bourbon.

Welcome home.

Maureen said...

In sharing your thoughts on making a choice for happiness you've articulated something that's been rattling around in my head for weeks.
You're right that it's a choice, and it's one we should all make more often.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had a chance to enjoy some beautiful sunsets. The pictures are lovely.

I hope you haven't given up podcasting. I miss my Knitty D and the City fix.

Kathy said...

We spent the holidays in Key West 4 years ago, and for a non-family friendly town...it really was. There's a fun attitude about the place, even without the pot, and life just slowed down. Why don't we celebrate the end of each day and the beginning of another? Something to think about. I think I'll celebrate the end of today with some knitting.

Sounds like the crowd at the convention were a bunch of winners, or losers! Yuck.

Theresa said...

Every night in San Diego people stop on the beach for the sunset and applaud . . . as if the sun is doing it for show?

Wendy said...

Welcome back! We probably should have asked you to bottle some warm air and bring it back north ...

Anonymous said...

Your office sent you to NORML?

I'm a PD in Lancaster, PA. My office wouldn't DREAM of sending us to such a conference. Hell- if we want to go to NACDL stuff, it's on our own nickel.

This is why the PDs offices elsewhere in PA are so jealous of the Defenders Assoc. Well, that and Philly judges who occasionally follow the law.

scott, KS said...

strange. I am a PD member of NORML/NLC and attended Key West once.had a good time and got good information. There were a number of PD's and ex-PD's present when I attended and I never felt any exclusion, put-downs, etc. Had a blast. Just like with NACDL or Bar meetings, yeah, there are a lot of folks with money to burn, and some egos, but that's lawyers, not just NLC/NORML. Of course, I am also cannabis and hippy tolerant which helps....

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