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Hey all. The following took place late February, early March if memory serves (which after the all the bud I've smoked, it does not.) It was a Friday night, and a snowstorm was brewing. I've provided a bit more back-story than is customary, but that's just the kind of storyteller I am, so just rest assured that this IS in fact going somewhere. All the names have been changed to protect the (not so) innocent, and also out of respect for the privacy of others. Enjoy... and you really might want to get a snack. *ahem*
It started as all good noir films should. Late at night, with the menacing storm clouds above threatening to bury the whole town with snow. The air had a nice snap to it, a crisp cold that kept you aware without chilling you to the bone. I'd had a bad week. Not bad in the sense that I was overwhelmed with the oppressiveness of the establishment, and the unfair shittiness of life in general, but a general sense of ennui that would constantly pervade my conscience in the dark lonely hours where I didn't have anything else to do. So when Will said that he was holding an indie film festival at his house on some idle weekend night, I jumped at the chance. Not so much because I wanted to be with that crowd, but because I just needed to make the scene. Not just wanted mind you, but actually needed to be there. I felt like if I didn't do something that weekend, the dull feeling I had inside would rise up and crush me under its weight. If I wasn't there, I'd probably just watch movies myself anyway, but I was driven to the brink of madness by the overwhelming compulsion to, if nothing else spend a few hours in the presence of my peers, eating junk food, laughing at jokes, and generally just getting out of the house. So when Will gave me an invite to the film festival, I jumped at the chance like rabid dog tearing into a flank steak. Yeah, it had been a bad week.
Now one thing you must understand about Will is that he is the self-christened indie King of Vermont. An indie musical group or book or any media for that matter simply just doesn?t become famous in this neck of the woods without the King Will seal of approval (for the record, he does not refer to himself as King, that's just my addition. He hasn't quite earned the arrogance for that, although I'm sure he's working on it.) It started with groups like Mogwai and the Postal Service, and games like DDR. In the years since he's become an indie kid however, things have gotten kinda ridiculous. Exhibit A: Avoir Etre. A French documentary, presented without narrative of any kind, about the life of a class of preschoolers in the rural outskirts of France. Now, I am a film student, so I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the film, and how the director used long shots and stretches of dialogue typical of the documentary style to get around using voiceover (the telltale sign of weak scriptwriting, see Adaptation for more details.) But that still doesn't take anything away from the fact that I spent 2.5 hours of my life watching a French film about PRESCHOOLERS!!! No matter how I try to justify it, I still kind of hate myself for sitting through the whole thing. It should also be mentioned at this point that Will's latest swing into the nether regions of indie-insanity was brought about by a new girlfriend who just happened to let slip that she liked indie culture too. The fact that Will was putting me through this so he could have an audience to watch him get into this girl's pants hurt my mood. The fact that she was buying it hook, line, and sinker hurt my mood. The fact that I will never understand why someone could do something purely for social gain hurt my mood. But it was the fact that the only reason I haven't bedded one of the glassy-eyed heifers inhabiting the halls of my school was because I didn't do things for social gain, because I wanted to be loved for who I was, and not what people thought I could be; the fact that the reason I felt so lonely at all times was because I was just trying to hold onto my humanity... that just outright killed my mood. That was about the final nail in the coffin. Luckily, that's when James called about the mushrooms. Told you this was going somewhere.
In the future, I think I'm going to measure all drug dealers I meet by the standard James set. He's a straight shooter, he's always honest about prices, weights, and all the other things the common street dregs tend to screw you over on. If he's holding a bad roll pill, then he'll say so in the interest of having a happy customer base rather than outright profit (at least that's how he acts around me, I might just be special.) James and I get to talking after the showing of Avoir Etre, and he stays in the foyer of Will's house, calling what must have been over half the numbers in his cellphone asking around for anything even remotely psilocybin related. After about 20 minutes of dialing numbers, he finally finds someone downtown. So myself, my best friend Matt, James, and another guy Terrence all get in a car and go downtown. Matt and I give James our cash, and split a bowl with Terrence in the car while we wait. I purposely refrain from having more than a toke or two, since MJ has a very negative effect on me when I trip. I just wanted to get the film festival out of my head, and get on somewhat more stable emotional footing before the trip. I was feeling fine, and although I won't dare pretend to having the amount of psychedelic experience as 95% of the people on this board, I have discovered that I am a pro at manipulating my thoughts and emotions while tripping. This isn't bragging on my part, it's just a simple statement of fact that I have just about complete control of my psyche, body, and actions at anything below a level 5 ego loss trip. I was feeling good about things. James came back into the car with the shrooms, and I began to inspect them by the combination of moonlight, streetlight, and headlight that I've only seen at midnight in downtown VT. I look at them through the bag and my eyes immediately open wide...
When I first began researching mushroom grows after my first trip, one of the first facts I read in the PF guide in the Erowid vaults was that as a mushroom matures, it loses psilocybin concentration. This means that the smaller mushrooms are often much more potent than their size would indicate. It was the opinion of PF that the small aborts were the best and most concentrated (memo to newbies like me, pics and explanations of aborts can be found here. As I looked at these shrooms, I saw that they were the size and proportions of aborts. All of them. There was no damage on them that I could see, Therefore, according to PF, I just bought 3.5 grams of the finest shrooms I could buy. I've since read conflicting opinions on the matter, but I still don't care. I thought then, as I do now, that they were/are the perfect mushrooms. I don't care if it was the placebo effect, because to my eyes I'd just found the first mushrooms that were truly, in every sense of the word, magical.
Terrence and James dropped off Matt and I at my house (I currently live at home, but my parents redefine the word chill and if they caught us tripping there they wouldn't mind as long as we kept the noise down so they could sleep.) I read from one poster on the Shroomery that grinding the things in a coffee grinder and drinking them with juice would make me "swear that your mushrooms tripled in potency." That's the exact quote I read, and I believed it (besides, while I don't mind the taste of mushrooms, eating 3.5 grams handful by handful is a pain the the arse.) We mixed them with pineapple/orange juice after grinding them. The most irritating part was getting the crumbs and shake off the sides of the glasses we were using. Immediately after ingestion, we both began to feel the pre-trip anxiety that usually doesn?t set in for a few minutes (Matt was surprised especially, since due to his higher body weight shrooms take a while to work with him. Or maybe it's just his imagination. Either way we both knew we were fucked.) We moved into the living room and Matt and I immediately began turning on different combinations of lights, getting just the right amount of dimness, but plenty of illumination throughout. We both sit down by the heater, start playing with the cat, and commence speaking the language of the mushroom. Which is to say speaking volubly, and at great length about nothing of importance whatsoever. Flitting from topic to topic like bees moving to different flowers, we both notice that at T+20minutes we are both seeing motion trails that don?t' usually appear for us until about 60 to 90 minutes after ingestion. After much conversation (or what we thought was a lot) we got ready to take a walk. Outside, it had already begun to snow.
When tripping in wintertime, I've always enjoyed how putting on the requisite layers of clothing has always seemed like preparing for a spectacular quest. In this case, I had the nice warm black camel hair trench coat that has somehow become a status symbol of mine in the past few months. Looking in the mirror checking to see how messed up I look before I go out, I smile. I'm no narcissist, but I look GOOD with huge pupils. I might get contact lenses made up when I'm rich and famous so I can look like that all the time, just because I like the fashion statement. With a green cap on, and black coat, I'm ready to take on nature by the horns. Matt and I step outside at the same time, standing side by side for a minute staring at the sky and the trees. Matt always has more visual trips than I do and I'm more introspective than he is, probably having to with his being an graphic artist and my being a writer/director. We walk for a few minutes down the street, and I get lost in the patterns the new snow makes in the road. Suddenly I stop dead in my tracks, put my arm in front of Matt almost clothes lining the poor guy, turn both of us around and whisper in his ear:
"Matt, I want you to listen to me very carefully. There is a goddamn FACE in the road staring at both of us. So we need to work together to get past it. When we turn around, just cover your eyes and run for about 50 meters as fast as you can. Do you understand?"
He nods his head in understanding, realizing how severely I'm tripping balls. He turns around peeking over his shoulder, and suddenly his head snaps back, his eyes wide as they could go (that's very wide.) He saw it too. We turn around and run like the hounds of hell have been loosed at our heels, both of us giggling like mad. We stop after we pass it, laughing at how hard we're tripping. It was a beautiful night out. The snow was falling through the beams of light cast by the lampposts, creating a beautiful atmosphere of a tribe of creatures who changed the land to house them, instead of living on the land obeying the rule of nature. Smiling, we double back and go to a bike path behind my house. We didn't notice the face on the way back. How soundly we defeated the face! Truly we were the masters of our destiny! Behind the house, I noticed the pattern that the tree branches made when the moon beamed through them, and these patterns made me glad, for although man had scarred the face of nature with his homes and lights and roads, he preserved the beauty of the natural world for all to see. And that's when I heard it...
A sound I heard only once before. On a salvia 10x trip. A deep, reverberating sound of a frequency so low, it was felt more than heard. But it was loud. Loud enough that my ears picked it up and my soul shook with its fury.
A sound brought on by Lady Salvia, heard when I was drifting alone in the space of the ether, breathing slowing down. Heart stopping. Peace over me. I was Dead.
I felt the chaos of being one single molecule drifting around, being changed, reincorporated. And then there was Pain. Agonizing pain as I became part of a larger whole. Growing, stretching, screaming with a voice I didn't have. Each other particle was like me, composed of a memory. More and more were added to this whole, which resolved itself into my eye, then my head, then eventually, my entire body. A spark, an explosion within my own skull, and I was back in the real world, with the gravity effect of Lady Salvia bearing me down so hard my parents (who were sitting for me at the time, I told you they were chill!) had to help me to a couch, and got me an icepack for the face (was it mine? I can't recall.) That was burning up with no sweat coming out.
Of course, this was all just flashback, and at the time of the trip with Matt I was still feeling great, in that dreamy observational mushroom plateau that so many people like. I just kept hearing this sound, like God beating a drum the size of the universe, and recalling how things had gone to shit the last time I heard it. I should've stopped then. I should've gone into the house, made Matt comfortable, and chilled out with some music and called it a night. I guess that's why they call it "hindsight."
Matt was very cold at this point (not as many layers on as I) and so we went back inside. We sat by the heater for a time more, and soon I got my favorite piece of glass, my chillum; a fantastic straight piece that can be hidden in a pocket perfectly in one smooth motion. The fact that it has a bowl the size of Utah doesn't hurt either. I can't recall if it was Matt who packed it, or I. It really doesn't matter. We had maybe 3 hits between us before both of us completely lost all fine motor function. I looked up, and Matt had Mardi Gras beads around his neck, and I saw something come over him. A Revelation. Ego loss. Matt was truly in touch with the world around him, and completely at peace. He began listing things off that he saw:
"There's the cat! And here's the couch! There are lights! AND THERE'S POT!!!"
Always coming back to the latter. It became an Anvil Chorus for him. A triumphant refrain. There was the world. There was Matt. And THERE WAS POT!!! Looking at him on the couch, I had the image of some sort of Samoan God, or Buddha resting at peace. Tears began to leak out of his eyes and stream down his face. Tears of joy. Tears of utter ecstasy. I saw that he was right. I went into my own mushroom litany that I received from the higher powers on my own first trip, "It's all going to be okay." And I saw now the harmony that these two disparate statements made. It's all going to be okay, and THERE'S POT! I smiled and looked away, glad that my friend was able to enjoy mushrooms on the same level that I was. I looked away, and stared into the lava lamp perched next to the television.
That was a mistake. I needed to stay focused. I needed to stay sharp. MJ is a wonderful, wonderful plant, but the simple fact is that it slows your mind down, and makes it harder to do anything that requires mental agility (and anyone who says otherwise you have my full permission to slug them in the stomach for me.) And getting yourself out of a bad trip requires nothing if not mental agility. I began to enter what I call an "introspective thought tunnel" although I've heard it accurately described by others as a "mental loop." I lived a life outside of mine. I was still me, but I saw through other body's eyes. I lived their life in what felt like a few seconds, but... it hurt me. Not physically like salvia, this was different. This person who-was-not-quite-me didn't do anything with their lives. They almost made it. They came close to success, however you define success. But they never made it. It happened again. It was the same theme, but a different life. Disappointment. Anticlimax. Again. I knew intuitively I had to snap out of it, but it was like breaking free of a set of handcuffs. Again and again I was born, lived, and died. Like the salvia, but on a much faster, larger scale. I became a singular multitude, housing the souls and memories of many within my mind. Each life took only a few seconds or fractions of seconds to live, but each time it was the same feeling of mourning something that never was, or never could be. Every fear I had was being exposed. It was like putting a belt sander against my soul. I began to gnash my teeth, and bite my lips, tongue and mouth. It should have hurt, but it did not. Finally, I knew I had to snap out of it, and somehow I stood up and got a glass of water for myself. Matt was still sobbing in the throes of rapture and I still felt good for him. I began to feel a bit more normal. What happened next, I'll never know. But it was like a cross fade into a new scene in a movie. I faded out and back into consciousness at the same time, and when I came to I was in my bed with no shirt on, it was two hours later, and Matt was shaking me awake looking as frightened as I've ever seen him.
"Am I dead?" He asked me.
I shot awake as fast as I ever have, and quickly went into Emergency mode. I took stock of the situation; parents still asleep. Computer on. Matt freaking out. Never actually having talked someone down from a bad trip before, I tried to remember how it was done. Establishing a sane communication with him was the hard part. He kept muttering to himself in a very disconnected way. "Shrooms are poison," he told me. "Never do shrooms again." he said in a very conspiratorial tone of voice. "Matt!" I said a bit harsher than I intended. "Are you alright?" Start with the easy questions first I guess. "Parents!" he retorted. This was going to be harder than I thought. After several minutes of verbal dueling, with myself asking questions (getting more patient and sympathetic as I fell into the role of trip guide more effectively) I put my foot down. "Matt," I said firmly. "Are you going to die tonight?" He seemed to sober up immediately. "No." He said calmly. "Then Matt, I brought a sleeping bag, some blankets and pillows down for you. I desperately need some sleep. Just wait here till you come down, and then make a decision what you want to do in the morning." This was technically incorrect, as it was already morning. 4:30 in the morning to be exact. Matt curled up on the couch with the sleeping bag, and seemed to go to sleep. If I had a shirt on yet, I don't remember it. I went up to the computer to see what was happening. Firefox was open to the somethingawful.com forums, the crackhead clubhouse to be exact, and the post Matt wasn't sober enough to finish went a little like this:
shrooms poison never do shrooms dieing parents am i dead? help me bad shrooms bad batch
It was like a creepier take on e.e. cummings. I powered down the computer, and crawled back into bed, wearing the stone I use to finish roaches. It has the Rolling Stones logo on it, and it's been a sort of a family heirloom for quite some time now. I wear it on a hemp string like a necklace. I got lost in thought laying back in bed staring at the ceiling. My teeth felt like they had been ground away into chalk dust. Virtually all the skin on my lips had been bitten off. I couldn't get the taste of blood out of my mouth for all I chewed up the insides of it. I felt like I was beaten with sticks. But aside from that, I felt pretty damn good. I felt great as a matter of fact! At 5:30 I went downstairs again to see Matt sitting at the dining room table writing on a piece of paper. I was wearing a dirty pair of jeans, my pupils were the size of quarters, the shirt I finally put on was open and unbuttoned, and the stone was dangling out. Matt and I locked eyes for a few seconds before I opened my mouth and said:
"Matt.... what the FUCK did we do last night?!"
At about 6:00 Matt passed out for good on the couch. I was still pretty jittery though. I decided to take a walk in the woods by myself, and brought Dark Side of the Moon to keep me company. I realized my parents might wake up soon, so I decided to leave a note explaining things a bit. I've since saved the note I left them, and I reprint it here verbatim (FYI: Mick is my step dad):
I'm out for a walk trying to clear my head after a crazy night. I'll clean up any messes/spills associated with it when I get back, which should be in only a little while from now. Don't mind Matt. That boy has had a rough night, and he just needs a safe place to crash and gather his bearings. Remember the night with the Salvia? Yeah, it was like that. I'll be back in the house soon. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding in this matter.
Love Your Son
P.S. THIS IS GOING TO MAKE ONE HELL OF A TRIP REPORT!
And with that, I left.
The snowstorm that started last night was still going on in the morning. It was probably because of my abnormally large pupils, but the day seemed unusually bright for a Vermont winter morning. There was no wind, and everything was very quiet except for a few birds and animals here and there. I began to walk. After about 15 minutes I realize that bringing music was silly, because NOTHING could top the beautiful soundtrack of nature. All in all, I was immensely enjoying the psychedelic afterglow when suddenly I heard a noise. I turned around to see a black standard poodle galloping toward me. Why, that looks an awful lot like Matt's dog! And if Matt's dog is here then it's probably out on a walk. And who could be walking his dog except... MATT'S PARENTS!!! FUCK! I do the rational thing, and immediately run as fast as I can in the opposite direction, trench coat billowing in the breeze behind me. Goddammit how many people do they know wear a black trench coat with a green cap?! Curse me and my stupid fashion statements! I began planning an escape route. And that's when it clicked...
I began to think on a different level than I had my entire life so far. Usually I think on a logical level, but now in my post-mushroom haze I found myself relying on instinct rather than what I could observe around me. Every muscle in my body began acting in tight unison. My body became immune to the cold wind made by my running, and the cramps caused by sudden physical exertion. Remember how I said the trip was like having a belt sander put against my soul? It was like that belt sander scraped away all the extraneous junk that was keeping me from reaching this level of awareness. For that moment, something crystallized in my awareness that I hadn't known was there before. Smell, taste, touch all combined in my mind to create a picture of the world around me. I knew what I had to do. I cut through the woods, away from the paths I knew Matt's parents would follow. The snowfall hid the trails, but it didn't matter. I was going on muscle memory and instinct. Adrenaline coursed through my veins. I came to a steep valley with the sides covered in ice. There were trees lining the way down, and so I made a split decision and jumped at one. I grabbed hold with one hand and swung to the next tree, feet barely touching the ground. Swinging from tree to tree I made it to the bottom in one piece and set to scrabbling up the other side. When I made it up I realized as of 24 hours ago how suicidally insane I would've considered doing what I just did. I had to think on the run though. No time. Had to get home. Had to be safe. I sprinted the last 800 meters home.
I was panting when I walked through the door. Matt was still asleep. I went upstairs to see my parents waking up. Mick had come down and saw the note I left. My mom asked me, "So, did you have fun last night?"
For the first time that week, I smiled.
-------------------- Battles of wits are impossible with the unarmed.
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