Top 5 Books that Inspired Me

Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe. William James and Philip K. Dick. Welsh’s Trainspotting. Burroughs’s Junky. And DeQuincey’s Confessions of an Opium-Eater.

These are some of the authors and books that often come to mind when you bring up intoxicants in popular fiction and non-fiction. In thinking about the writing of Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs, it occurs to me that five works were particularly influential.

McGill-Queen’s University Press recently asked me for the top 5 books that inspired my while writing Strange Trips. I had a few thoughts. And you can check out my list over on the MQUP site.

The full article can be found here.

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Here’s the best song I can think of with ‘Top’ in the title.

Lyrics:

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the by-ways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looks
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll
If you think it’s easy doin’ one night stands
Try playin’ in a rock roll band
It’s a long way to the top
If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

Then, yes: bagpipes!!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks! Here’s another appropriate song for a ‘Top 5’ post

 

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London Calling

Every book has a back story. In the following series of posts, I share some thoughts about the inception, development, and completion of my new book, Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

From London to Saskatoon

The first phase of writing my second book, Strange Trips, began in 2010.

It was a brisk London evening on February 28th and I was up far too late. My PhD viva was the next day and here I was watching the Olympic Men’s Hockey Final – the United States versus Canada.

The Canadian team, thanks to Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal, ended up winning a tight game and I went to bed enervated. The next day’s examination was a success and I passed with minor corrections.

(Who’s to say how the viva would have turned out if that gold medal game had gone differently?)

After the day’s trials, I caught the Tube home and had a nice evening. My celebrations that night were relaxed and forward-looking. A good friend Morgan – who worked for Groupon at the time – asked about what happened next. Now that this phase of my life was complete, what were my prospects? Did I have a good crack at an academic gig? Did I want to stay in a university-setting?

I told him that I wanted to stay in the academic game, but that it was rough. Seriously rough. The market was constricted in the wake of the recession. I had published a few pieces, but nothing off-the-charts amazing, at least relative to other excellent peer scholars. I told him – honestly – that it would be a real f—— slog and that I was up for it!

We headed off to some pubs in Muswell Hill and continued chatting. Morgan discussed his passion for photography and video and music, while I blathered on about potential writing projects. Morgan told me about street photography and I told him about starting up a book about drugs that were (or could be) both evil and angelic.

That was how Strange Trips started. In North London. In Muswell Hill.  The night of my PhD viva.

It would take another nine years for the book to come to fruition!

Ultimately, The following day I got on a flight to frigid Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where I was working and living. While a book idea had formed, I still had some student loans to pay off and it was time to get back to work.

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So “London Calling” also serves as a section of my book.

In writing about heroin in hospice care and end-of-life care, I discuss how medical knowledge was transmitted between London-based physicians and Canadian doctors.

Thanks for reading!

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Fracture: The Paper Anniversary

Last summer, almost to the day, I fractured and dislocated my knee. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. I was playing (soccer/football) and the tackle was “reckless and ridiculous.”

Here’s my post from a year ago.

So, on the anniversary of the tackle and an injury that sent my life in new directions, here are a few thoughts about recovery.

Sorting out the injury

Rehab was the first order of the day. I visited the Glasgow Royal infirmary on a regular basis. This involved squats and dips and stretching and rubber tubes.

A selection of exercises

Yes, the NHS is understaffed and overworked, but the physios were tremendous!

I also had to get the extent of the damage straightened out. The doctors (and I) needed to go deep. Cue the futuristic MRI.

Once I received the letter, a weight was lifted. I was getting to the bottom of the injury.

So, I prepped myself. I was not pregnant. Check. I filled in the questionnaire. Check.

I left my family at home. And got psyched. As a “citizen in need of medical attention,” I felt like I was visiting the Elysium cure-all machine:

I went to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for the test and took some pictures along the way.

And

And

After I was stuck in the deafening machine for 35 minutes on a Sunday morning, it was determined NO SURGERY was required. No need to go under the knife.

Disruption

As you’d expect, the injury caused a massive disruption in my existence. Yes, my whole freaking existence. Both my personal and professional life was affected.

For starters, I became more familiar with ‘pain.’ Regular, recurring pain. Others, I’m sure, deal with higher levels of pain all the time – and have done so for years. It was new for me, though. It didn’t go away. It stuck with me, niggling. Persistent. I realized that I’d have to be stubbornly optimistic, too.

On a personal level, the pain and physical restrictions impacted how much I could horse around with my kids. That sucked. I occasionally fretted about the long-term damage to my knee and whether I’d make a full recovery. There was anxiety, in other words.

On a professional level, the disruption wasn’t terrible. It helps that I’m a writer and teacher and don’t have to be on my feet all day. Were this not the case, I might have considered worker’s compensation. I had to cancel on a few people and events, which was regrettable. On the positive side, if I can call it that, the ever-present pain in my life pushed me to think about types of pain, the use of drugs to dull the pain, and the future of my own research.

Goals

After I got my knee sorted out with the MRI and determined there was no need for surgery, I could start focusing on targets.  But what kind of goals did I have?

I settled on (again) some personal and professional goals.

On the personal side, I wanted to make up for the lost playtime with my kids. So lots and lots of horsing around in the back garden!

I decided that I’d focus on some running. I’m closing in on 40 and thought it’d be cool to try and run a 10 kilometer race in around 40 mins. A 40 in 40? Or 40 at 40? Something like that. I’ve kicked off the training. Stay tuned!

Professionally, I sought to build ‘pain’ into my research agenda. I couldn’t ignore it over the past year, so I channeled it. I talked about it more than I have in years past. And I wrote about it far more, as well.

You can read about pain and drugs, for instance, in my new book Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.

A Year On

It’s the ‘paper’ anniversary of my knee injury. It really was brutal. The bright side, I suppose, is I learned a lot about myself.

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Knee Songs

New Editors at Social History of Alcohol and Drugs

The ADHS is pleased to announce that the editorship of its journal, *The Social History of Alcohol and Drugs*, will be taken over by Prof. Nancy D. Campbell (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Prof. David Herzberg (Buffalo) and Dr. Lucas Richert (Strathclyde). The society would also like to express its gratitude for the work that outgoing editor, […]

via New editors for SHAD — Alcohol and Drugs History Society

ADHS 2019

The ADHS is excited to announce that its next bi-annual conference will be held between 12 and 15 June 2019, at the David F. Musto Center for Drug Policy Studies, Shanghai University, China. The conference will be organised by Prof. Jim Mills, of the University of Strathclyde and Prof. Yong-an Zhang of Shanghai University, who […]

via ADHS conference at Shanghai, 12-15 June 2019 — Alcohol and Drugs History Society

Big Pharma Round-Up V (#Cannabis edition)

https://twitter.com/DavidLenigas/status/948667879368642562

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Large Indoor Marijuana Commercial Growing Operation With Fans, Greenhouse, Equipment For Growing High Quality Herb. Cannabis Field Growing For Legal Recreational Use in Washington State

Sara Pascoe on #Resolutions

Sara Pascoe on resolutions

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/02/we-should-all-pick-achievable-resolutions-get-through-three-days-of-dry-january-and-youre-a-hero-to-me

For me it was a slang phrase that ruined it. A man was talking, and I was listening politely because he was a friend of a friend. “Friend of a friend” is an excellent expression, it passively clarifies: “I know them … but I don’t like them”. An “acquaintance” is someone we haven’t decided if we like or not yet. An “associate” is a drug dealer. A “friend of a friend” is an idiot at a party you must tolerate because apparently I can’t fulfil all Rebecca’s friending needs and she wants gatherings to be full of people from work and their boyfriends. This one was telling me that he wouldn’t move over from Sydney because that’s where his mates are. “Bros before hoes,” he says. A saying I thought even the most hardened misogynist used ironically. Of course, I admire the sentiment, saving our loyalty for friends over those we must tolerate because our genitals want to get to know them. But I was shocked that someone would speak like this. We were in a kitchen, not a poorly written sitcom. And then I became sad as I was reminded once again about the gulf of understanding that can exist between human beings even if they have a friend in common. And so already 2018 was ruined. Fifty-two minutes in.

When did yours go wrong? I wonder if you felt annoyed for expecting anything to be different? It all started out great with hugging and music, then at 1am you saw the Uber surge price was in double figures and wept as you realised: it got me again. Hope. We think newness can save us, we don’t realise that we haven’t changed – only the date has.