So… who smokes?

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My school is known for its large percentage of stoners. There’s no way of knowing exactly how much more drug use happens at my school than at others, but it’s a reputation we proudly uphold. And thinking about the last post I made, I’ve been curious to test whether the number of my classmates who have smoked is truly as low as 1 in 5, the popular figure cited on anti-drug websites.

Enter my somewhat unscientific study of how many of my classmates have ever smoked. My school is close-knit and everyone knows everyone’s business; however, there are still some kids whose smoking habits I know nothing about. Below, green is for non-smokers (signifying inexperience), pink is for smokers (because pink and green is my favorite color combo), and murky brown is for the unknowns. All of the students in my classes are seniors, with the exception of orchestra, which is about 1/4 underclassmen.

AP Economics: Generally regarded as the hardest class in the school. On the flip side, this year it attracted so few students that nearly all the applicants got in.


15 smoke, 13 don’t, and I’m not sure about 3. So far smokers have a plurality, but as browns could go either way, the race is close.

AP English: A medium level class with a famously lenient teacher. Lots of people applied, so the selection process was a little rushed/random (e.g. the genius kid somehow didn’t get in, but the kid with a 3.2 and 1800 SATs– not that they’re an accurate measure of intelligence, but still– did), and the class is on the large side.


21 smoke, 9 don’t, and I’m not sure about 7. But even if every brown were green, smokers would remain in the majority… showing that more smokers choose to take the less serious class? That teens like to read literature while lit?

Art, the notorious class of 12th-grade stoners. About half the students attend the class on any given day, and we spend most of the time listening to music and eating junk food, courtesy of the teacher.

art111 smoke, 3 don’t, and I’m not sure about 2. Actually, four people left the class in January, at the start of the new semester– one took AP Psych, one took martial arts, one got a free period, and one got suspended and is doing an independent study. They all smoked; if I included them, the percentages would shift to 75% smokers, 15% non-smokers, and 10% not sure. Also, the students of Art smoke more regularly than do the students of AP Econ.

Orchestra: the dorkiest class in the school, hands down. The students are typically “good kids” and relatively quiet; most are virtually unknown. However, a handful of the orchestra kids are among the most well-known in the school.

orch12 smoke, 13 don’t, and I’m not sure about 4. Of the smokers, about six (including myself) are in the fairly-regular-but-still-casual range; two deal and get stoned every day, and four are the typical “Smoked twice in sophomore year” bunch. It’s common knowledge that only about one-fourth of orchestra students have ever been to a party; the ones who go out on weekends are the same eight who smoke. So, what are the others doing with their time? Only three other seniors (out of 12) are taking at least one AP class; most orch students earn between a 3.0 and 3.5 in non-honors classes. A B-average is by no means a bad thing, but I have to admit I’m a little surprised that the grades aren’t higher. I guess I always assumed that the stereotypical “good kids” were hard studiers, but perhaps they’re spending their at-home Friday nights playing video games.

Conclusion: Of course, relatively few of the smokers are true stoners, but far more than 20% of kids at my school have touched weed. And our academics are among the highest-ranked in the city (no pun intended), which goes to show you that casual drug use isn’t synonymous with deemed failure.


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April 3, 2009 at 4:47 PM

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Being a teen sucks, #10

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#10: Weed = Meth = teenage pregnancy, STDs, squalid life of living on the streets.

Scare tactics. Anyone who has smoked pot will become a heroin addict, because didn’t you know that marijuana is the gateway drug? Also, being stoned means you have no control over yourself.

The high feels great, the side-effects are relatively minor– marijuana is simply too attractive for some teens to pass up. And because making a legitimate case against weed is difficult (just look at the conflicting scientific results that come up when you Google “marijuana harm studies”), groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America take an increasingly alarmist stance in their PSAs, creating horror stories that link getting high with stealing, shooting up, being slutty! Even the most plausible ads, like those that stress the “altered perception” that results from marijuana, are risible. So… why were we smoking this, again, if not to reach a different feeling from normality? Does this mean that consuming large quantities of alcohol impairs my judgment? Should I not drink, eat three pot brownies, and drive??

The majority of anti-marijuana campaigns insult my intelligence and that of my classmates. In junior year I attended a mandatory assembly on National Meth Awareness Day (yes, it does exist), which covered all drugs in one go (lumping together all designated drugs, another thing I dislike). Somewhere in the PowerPoint presentation came a slide illustrated with The Cycle of Drug Use, in this case, weed. It proclaimed that smoking leads to poverty, which leads to dealing and prostitution, which leads to homelessness and ultimately more drug use. As stated above, I dislike the way these campaigns equate casual smoking with these serious problems, as well as how the campaigns judge the aforementioned prostitution and homelessness as demonic, dehumanized evils. I know some people in the projects who are proof that most of us are only one or two disastrous instances away from losing our homes… a parent walks away, grandma needs medical care but has no insurance, mom loses her job… and many of the homeless in San Francisco are veterans who never received help with their mental illnesses, simple as that. Hard drug use is more of a side-effect than a cause of homelessness, let alone marijuana.

Smoking anything is bad for your lungs, and may increase your chances of getting lung cancer. If you smoke several joints a day for fifteen years, you might have a greater risk of getting a heart attack or having a stroke. And of course, if you blindly take anything and consume it, there’s a chance you’ll consume other things along with it. But though pot smoke may possibly be more toxic than tobacco smoke, people who smoke weed tend to inhale a lot less than cigarette smokers– one wouldn’t smoke sixty blunts a day, the equivalent of three packs– thus diminishing the total toxicity in weed smokers’ lungs. And weed happens to be the least addictive of drugs: social addiction, yes; physical addiction, not likely. So the moral of this story is that anti-drug groups have to exert a lot of effort to market marijuana to teens as unattractive, and do so at the expense of logical, scientific, and journalistic integrity.

P.S. On that same Meth Day assembly, the speaker concluded that drinking alcohol is a valued tradition because the Romans drank wine, but that opium and marijuana are crass because they don’t have the same historical weight. Yeah… Eurocentrism, much?

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March 28, 2009 at 1:01 PM

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Being a teen sucks, #9

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#9: Alcohol, or lack thereof (sometimes).

I like drinking. I like the taste of vodka and gin, the warmth that cognac brings. And though I’m under 21, I usually have no difficulty procuring alcohol, whether by having older people buy for me, using a fake id, buying from a place that simply doesn’t care, or stealing from parents. However, on several occasions I have found myself dry and without means, perhaps in the wrong neighborhood (Parkside) with the wrong people and not a lot of cash. And sometimes drinking really is about getting drunk; when you need to be drunk, you need to be drunk.

I don’t like drinking cheap beer, even in a pinch, because cheap beer tastes like ass. Enter my tried-and-true last resort: artificial extracts. You can buy them at Safeway for under $5– I get the McCormick/Schilling kind; it’s better than the Safeway brand– and the lovely FDA requires extracts to be a minimum of 35% alcohol. Some are twice as potent. With flavors you can go in a couple of directions: 1) buy a small bottle of orange extract and mix with orange juice… it’s almost like a screwdriver, if you swallow quickly; 2) buy vanilla extract and mix with warm milk for a more night-cappy taste. Remember, never drink extracts as shots (you’ll probably get sick, not that I’m imbecilic enough to have tried it) and don’t drink as much as six ounces of extract without taking a break.

We are going to need lots of cognac. The best. Hennessy.

They taste fine, but there’s no question that drinking extracts is dorky and pathetic, best reserved for the most dire of times. I await the day in 2012 I no longer have to rely on other parties and/or sheer luck to get my White Russians.

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March 22, 2009 at 8:11 PM

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Being a teen sucks, #8

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#8: Newspapers like to create sensationalism about deemed “dangerous behavior” for teens.


My reasons for not sexting are twofold: 1) I only got my first cell phone last summer; therefore I’m somewhat behind on all things texting, and 2) since getting a phone, I haven’t met anyone compelling enough with whom for me to sext. However, I wouldn’t say I’m completely disinclined to sexting; I have in the past sent some dirty notes and emails to boyfriends. And this brings me to my first point of defense for sexting: that young adults have and always will express to each other some amount of interest in sex, which isn’t some sort of deadly epidemic to be contained.

By the time I had my first long-term boyfriend, email had nearly replaced the phone as my friends’ primary medium of communication– Facebook was soon to come– and while I stuck to the occasional raunchy email, some of my friends typed dirty via instant messenger. Before this, it was paper: notes in class (often still used; extra points if it’s in a language the teacher can’t understand) and letters. Read Love in the Time of Cholera and you’ll see the naturalness of young adults expressing desire on paper. For this reason I take offense at the all too common sentiment that teenagers should not be sexual beings, period. Lately, the newspapers that have covered sexting as well as the famously judgmental Tyra Banks have eschewed and belittled the sexuality of young adults, painting to various levels of subtlety all sexually active 16-year-old girls as nothing other than sluts. Sadly, I have read nothing condemning boys to the same scrutiny; it seems that establishing young women as sad victims of a downward spiral of so-called dangerous activity gains more readers than presenting a balanced story. While it may be true that today’s youth is more sexually open than that of fifty years ago– our ads and tv shows are certainly getting steamier– teenage sex is not a new phenomenon, and should not be reflexively denounced.

I think the strongest argument against sexting is that anything digital can gain global exposure (e.g. girl sends naked pic to boy; boy sends to all his friends). I certainly wouldn’t want any compromising photos of me or messages sent by me to circulate the internet; that’s why I don’t plan on sexting with anyone too new for me to trust.

But if we’re talking about internet scandal, licentious pictures and texts are hardly the only fodder for gossip. Born in ’91, I grew up with the internet, with my first email address at ten and my first instant messaging screen name at eleven. Though I rarely anymore email friends, now preferring (degenerating?) to use the phone, I’ve sent emails to several people about my intimate feelings: confessions, problems with friends and boyfriends, etc. If any one of my friends wanted to embarrass me on the internet, they could easily forward several years worth of my musings about a hot teacher or a regrettable hookup to virtually the entire school. While my Facebook page is private (only those I permit may view), anyone with a camera could upload a picture of me smoking, thizzing, or drinking to a public form, jeopardizing my college acceptances and my future jobs. Thankfully I have not yet been embarrassed by the internet, but I have been upset by off-line gossip nearly as harmful as forwarded sext messages. Ex-boyfriends have betrayed confidences, friends have unwittingly told secrets, mercifully few strangers have passed on gossip. Anyone should be careful when it comes to sexting and who to trust, but this ultimately comes down to cautious use of all kinds of both digital and non-digital communication. For essentially, all relationships involve a certain level of vulnerability, and it is impossible to completely protect oneself from vilification.

Additionally, most of the stories I’ve seen portray young men as the cruel forwarders of private pictures, failing to note that women are as capable of such malice. I know I have taken advantage of things told in confidence: when an ex of mine spread the untrue rumor that I cheated with multiple partners, I mercilessly retaliated with a very true story about a foreign object and the boy’s painfully tight orifice.

I’m glad that some newspapers, such as my very own San Francisco Chronicle, are dismissing the sexting sensationalism. I love this quote from Marty Klein:

Sexting is the latest way adults are getting panicky about teen sexuality and for mainstream culture to get panicky about technology. And when you mix the two together, there’s always a lot of anxiety and misunderstanding.

I hope other publications choose to more carefully examine sexting, rather than to mindlessly reproduce stories without any substantial content. Or better yet, they could turn their focus toward legitimate news.

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March 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM

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I Hate Twilight, postscript

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Today, a bunch of helicopters woke me up.

You see, the Hot Topic at my local mall had the brilliant idea of hosting a meet-and-greet with Robert Pattinson, the star of the new Twilight movie. Apparently the first helicopters brought the star and his entourage; the second batch held reporters. The only problem was, about 2,500 too many fangirls showed up (it’s becoming more and more clear that when it comes to Twilight, they just keep coming and coming). I’m not sure what saddens me more: that fans who waited up to six hours to meet a guy who plays a vampire were turned away, or that they were turned away from Hot Topic. I noticed that about a third of my classmates were mysteriously absent from school today; I sincerely hope they were smoking or vacationing with their families, not at Stonestown.

Also, is it just me or does Pattinson look more like a werewolf than a vampire? I’m not sure if this is a promotion picture or how the actor usually looks, but I think he’s too brawny and tan to be a vampire.

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November 10, 2008 at 6:44 PM

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Quick update

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The Democratic donkey consoles the Republican elephant.

The Democratic donkey consoles the Republican elephant, 1930.

Happy voting day (that is, if you haven’t voted early or by absentee ballot). I’m working the polls right now, happily missing school and thinking about voter fraud in Florida.

I saw wayyyyyy too many asses on H-day. While there were some really inventive costumes (the wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Frida Kahlo, Michael Moore), the slutty sailors, cops, and cats quickly outnumbered them.

However, it was a good night. The weather was great, considering the rain forecast, and when my school’s major party turned out to be lame I hit a bigger, better one. And you know what? I did get some ass, even in my delightfully shapeless paper bag.

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November 4, 2008 at 11:07 AM

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Being a teen sucks, #7

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#7: We can’t vote.

Technically 18 and 19 are teens, too, but right now I feel as though the country is separated into two spheres: those who can vote and those who can’t.

I mean, come on– I’m a citizen and I’ve never committed a felony. I’ve read and watched the debates, suffered through the monotonous conventions, and I even buy the New York Times because as much as I love the Chronicle, it doesn’t really have any news in it. I know not to trust the polls too much, because most of them are completely NOT random samples, and I know that as much as I root for Obama, he is really, really centrist.

Most of my classmates– the ones in the APs, at least– also know what I know. Some say that the VAP/VEP turnouts are not declining as the media claims, but the fact remains that the US has never had strong voter participation. I wish I could take some apathetic non-voter’s spot.

p.s. please, no more Joe the Plumber.

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October 29, 2008 at 6:09 PM

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