A Stoner’s Trip

DISCLAIMER:  This is fictional story.  It is an instalment of a series of fictional stories involving drug use as a central plot theme.  Reader discretion is advised.  The provision of this story over the Internet, or through any other means of communication, is not to be interpreted as a suggestion or recommendation to use drugs.  The reader assumes any and all responsibilities derived from his or her actions.

2008 07 01, Recalling My First and Only Mushroom Trip, by George Bookman (.txt)

As of late, Boris and I have been trying to recall the events surrounding what was my first and, thus far, only ’shrooms trip.

The conversation initially arose when Boris mentioned that it had been over two years since he had last used ’shrooms.  I suspected inaccuracy in this statement, since I knew he had used ’shrooms with me, and since I had believed that to be around a year and a half ago.

Boris seemed convinced that he had used ’shrooms at least one time after the time him and I used them, and that said last time was over two years ago.  Thus, his conclusion initially was that I had used ’shrooms no later than late June of 2006.

Considering that my first high on marijuana occurred in April of 2006, I found this claim very suspect.  So, we began considering other factors.  We came to the conclusion that of this particular set of friends, Laurel was the first to start hanging out at his apartment.  I was the second.  Kelly Paul (no relation to Ron Paul, unfortunately) and her boyfriend Sam, as well as Han and his girlfriend, came after me.

We came then to the conclusion that it could not have been before October of 2006.  Following this revelation, I recalled that it had been cold outside when this trip occurred, which at first seemed to confirm in my mind that it was late 2006.

Boris also knew that he had recently bought an Alex Grey poster and DVD prior to the ’shroom trip.  After looking through his receipts, we concluded that the trip had to occur on February 6th, 2007.  (I admit, however, that I still wonder about that date.  It would mean we did it on a Tuesday night.  Odd.)  Thus, we confirmed that I was right—his last ’shroom trip was not over two years ago.  Whereas I had stated it was about a year and a half ago, we discovered that it was less than a year and five months ago.  Eureka!

So, with no further ado, here is what I recall from that night.

In official attendance were Boris, Han, Han’s girlfriend Karen, Kelly, Kelly’s boyfriend Sam, Sal Booking, “Vegan Erik” (who I’ve not seen since that night), and I.  I few people showed up unexpectedly, probably under the invitation of Han—neither Boris nor myself knew that they would be there.  The others trailing in and not staying long were Mary (a floor-mate of Han’s), her boyfriend and her brother.

Since the mushrooms grow in unsavoury places, the taste thereof is quite bad.  Once we divided up the ’shrooms relative to the amount we paid therefor, the question then came to the manner in which to consume them.  Boris had suggested putting peanut butter on them.  I then, using that idea, came up with the concept of a peanut butter and ’shroom sandwich.  Unfortunately, Boris did not have slices of bread, and I therefore had to use a bun.

For his own consumption, Boris decided to test the holding-your-nose trick as a means of masking the taste.  He considered his method quite successful, whereas I considered mine quite ineffective.  My “sandwich” tasted horrible, and moreover took a long time to prepare.  I recall Mary walking by as I was preparing my sandwich.

I don’t recall her or her companions staying long after.  I do think Boris was a bit unhappy with their presence, because of the nature of what we were doing that night.  Partakers included Boris, Han, Sal, “Vegan Erik,” and I.  I don’t recall if Karen partook, but I seem to think she had not.

I distinctly recall that nothing seemed to happen for a long time.  The drug was clearly effecting Boris and Hal, and I was sitting there impatiently.

When is this supposed to take effect?

I paid all this money, and nothing’s happened.

I haven’t gotten my money’s worth.

After some time, realising that nothing was happening to me, Boris went to his room and got me an extra ’shroom “on the house.”  I was appreciative.  Total, I consumed about 4.1 grams that night.

It was only after consuming this last ’shroom that anything started to take effect.

I started obsessing over the cost.  Until this night, I had never paid anything for any drug, whether it be pot or alcohol.  I had always figured that one good test of self-control would be monetary.  So, now that this barrier had been broken, I didn’t know what to do.  Would I do this often, would I pay each time, how much of my money will I end up wasting on this drug, where is my future headed?  I was worrying and obsessing so much, for what must have been at least five minutes, and nobody was offering any good advice.  Then, suddenly, someone pointed out an obvious fact that I don’t have to use ’shrooms again.

Voilà!  No problem exists because I have the option of not using again!

Why I wasn’t able to figure this out sooner, I know not.  Well, actually, I do.  The ’shrooms had begun taking effect.  That’s why.  Once I realised the options open to me, I could better relax.

But, because I was going on and on about money, “Vegan Erik” decided to make an argument against money, by holding up some of his and saying, “What is this?”

“Fiat currency?” I respond, realising to myself that this un-backed paper money has no intrinsic value, and is only valuable insofar as it is demanded relative to it’s supply.

“No, I mean, what is this?”

His question made no sense.  “Paper not backed by either gold or silver?  A means of exchange?”

He was trying to make the point that money doesn’t mean anything, but was not very convincing.  Regardless, to prove his point, he gave me two twenties.  “Hey,” I thought, “that was cool.”

So by this point, I knew I was stoned.

We went to watch Boris’s new Alex Gray DVD.  Those familiar with Gray’s paintings know that they often include little details, maybe little swirls of fire or whatever, or many repeating eyeballs—things like that.  While watching this DVD, which just showed us various Alex Gray paintings while Gray gave us a voice over for each one, I could see little movements in these smaller details.  The overall paintings remained relatively the same, but the minor details seemed very animate.

At first, I didn’t realise that those minor details weren’t supposed to be moving—I thought that it was part of the DVD.  I commented how cool I thought this experience was, and Han, looking somewhat scared, responded with surprise.  “This?  You like this?”  I presume he was happy a bad trip, at least at that time.

Then there was Boris.  Boris is sometimes antsy, and this night was no different.  If anything, he was more antsy than usual.  I saw him pacing back and forth in his apartment, looking like there was something he needed to accomplish.  If I recall correctly, I told him to come and sit down, to relax, and to enjoy the DVD.  I think he did this, but didn’t stay for long.

On the DVD itself, Alex Gray’s voice-overs made no sense to me.  But, I could not tell if they lacked coherence because of my stoned condition, or because they were inherently nonsensical New Age mumbo-jumbo.  I suspected the latter.

At some point, either Kelly or Han state, “I wonder if he,” referring to Alex Gray, “knows that what he’s saying is complete bullshit.”  Clearly I was not in the minority here.

One quote of his I’ve found online goes as follows:

To bare our souls is all we ask, to give all we have to life and the beings surrounding us.  Here the nature spirits are intense and we appreciate them, make offerings to them—these nature spirits who call us here—sealing our fate with each other, celebrating our love.

I could appreciate this sort of statement in poetry or perhaps even a song, but not if it were to appear in some sort of essay.  I’m a son of the Age of Enlightenment, which came prior to romanticism and transcendentalism and focused on reason.  Moreover, I was in no condition to even partially understand these statements.  So, as far as I was concerned, the voice-overs contained nothing but some alien poetry to accompany my visual experience.

Boris doesn’t like any light getting into his room when he sleeps.  So he’s set his bedroom up to ensure that no light gets in through the window.  For this reason, we sometimes call his room The Dark Room.  This night, he was spending some time in The Dark Room, so I went to join him.

We talked some.  I think topics included Laurel, who he loved and still loves (even though she does not also love him.)  I also wanted to talk about a topic that was giving my a higher level of anxiety that night than usual: the ambiguity of my future.

I noticed to Boris that his future seemed quite set.  He had an apartment, he had what appeared to be a steady income competing in poker tournaments for cash.  It didn’t appear to me that he had much to worry about.  I, on the other hand, found myself stuck in something I hated: college.  Moreover, I had no specific goal for what to do after college.

Boris informed me that his future wasn’t as certain as it appeared, that poker was never a guarantee, et cætera, et cætera.

I do not recall what prompted me to leave The Dark Room.  Perhaps I had to go to the bathroom.  Perhaps I was merely curious as to what was going on out there.  Perhaps Kelly and Sam were leaving.  For whatever reason, I made my way back into the main apartment.

Throughout the night, I found myself needing to procure pieces of toilet paper with which to blow my nose.  Eventually I decided to simply bring the toilet paper with me.  For the rest of the night, I carried the toilet paper with me, and deemed it my “comfort item.”  As long as that role of toilet paper was there, I had what I needed.  I was good.

I still had my thoughts, however, and they were certainly roaming.  It struck me that everything seemed to come down to the number two.  There is uncertainty about everything.  For example, you never know for sure what another person’s motivation is.  You might be able to react one way or another, but you never know which reaction is the best one to employ without knowing the true motivation.  You may guess, but a guess can be right or wrong.

This “two”-phenomenon seemed to appear in every place.  One could go with market-based propertarianism, or with egalitarian-based communism.  If you go with the latter, you get equality, but you also get mass poverty and mass starvation.  If you go with the former, everyone is better off than under the latter system, but you then lack the equality.  Each system has its own trade-off.

The “two”-phenomenon can be more basic as well.  Things can get bigger, or they can get smaller.  You can divide the size of something in half forever, for example, and never reach the infinitesimal.  Conversely, a fractal can always be part of a bigger fractal, which itself can always be a part of an even bigger fractal, and so on, without ever reaching infinity.  (See my experience with salvia, as an interesting parallel can be drawn between this concept and said experience.)  Similarly, and straight line seems to have only two possible directions.

Everything seemed to be trapped by this phenomenon.

I proceeded back into The Dark Room to discuss this with Boris.  Closing the door behind me, I deprived myself of any light.  I knew the large bed was before me, and I knew that Boris was on part of it.  The trick was getting onto the bed without making physical contact with Boris.

The fact is, I wouldn’t have minded making physical contact.  I would have viewed such contact as being completely asexual, and thought to myself as I was finding the bed that I would enjoy it for just what it would be: physical contact with a friend.  A hug, perhaps.  But, I figured I didn’t want to make my friend feel all weird by hugging him in the middle of his all-dark bedroom, so I proceeded to avoid physical contact.

I then told Boris what I had been thinking about, the whole “two”-phenomenon.  I told him that I had ruled out any possibility of escape.  Not even suicide, would be an escape, I said.

Coincidentally, I saw two overwhelming reasons not to commit suicide.  One reason was that I, as an anarchist, would hate to die knowing that statists would then use my death as “all the more reason we much continue to fight and win the war on drugs.”  Blah.  The war on drugs has caused more deaths than any drugs ever have, and has wasted billions of tax dollars in the process.  But I digress.

The other reason suicide had to be ruled out is that it was no actual escape from the “two”-phenomenon.  After all, one is either alive or dead.  There are only two options, and thus even in death, one is still trapped by the number two.

For the record, I was not seriously contemplating suicide that night, but rather musing over the concept of it.  I have never contemplated actually committing suicide, but I don’t mind musing over dark thoughts.

At some point in the night, Boris pointed out to me the utility of The Dark Room.  In this environment, said Boris to me, you are able to see colours dance about.  I gave the darkness a look and, lo and behold!, he was right.  I could see, very faintly, colours dancing into spiralling fractals.  I presume it was so faint because I had only consumed 4.1 grams of psilocybin mushrooms.

At some point in the night, Boris, Sal, and “Vegan Erik” decided to go for a walk.  (I do not recall if Han and Karen were still there; perhaps they went on the walk as well, perhaps they stayed in the apartment, perhaps they had already left.)  I was going to go on the walk with them, until I remembered that it was somewhat cold outside.  I figured, why should I suffer the cold when I’m in this state of mind?  If it were warmer out, sure, but since it’s not, I might as well stay inside.

So, I laid on the floor next to Boris’s computer and turned on “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus.  I figured the song might seem darker than usual given my state of mind.  I don’t recall if it did.

The only other thing I recall from that night was sitting in Boris’s kitchen later.  “Vegan Erik“ was there, and was asking a bunch of annoying question.

“What is that?”

“You mean the light?”

“Yeah, what is it?”

“Um, electro-magnetism?”

“Yeah, but where does it come from?”

“Wires?  Electricity?  What are you asking?”

“Where does that come from?”

I got the point, I didn’t feel like talking about it.  I think my head was aching a little.  So, I excused myself and left the kitchen.

I ended up crashing that night on Boris’s couch.  Boris had stated previously that you’re never really back to normal after ’shrooms until you’ve slept, and I found that to be generally true.

None of the thoughts I had that night were really revolutionary.  I had been thinking about game theory for some time, and was in fact taking a course thereon that semester.  It was from this that the “two”-phenomenon became a prominent theme of my trip.  My overall impression of ’shrooms from that night was that they were not really much more interesting than marijuana, but that may have been a result of my relatively low dosage.

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