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Me, Myself, and Why by Jennifer Ouellette

Me, Myself, and Why by Jennifer Ouellette

Author:Jennifer Ouellette
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Published: 2014-01-27T16:00:00+00:00


III

WHY

7

Feed Your Head

Mrs. Coplin: Why are you not wearing pants? Agent Paul: I had an experience, that’s why. I resisted at first, and then it evolved, and it continues to evolve for me.

—Flirting with Disaster (1996)

Iplaced my hand on the coffee table, fingers outspread, and watched in fascination as blue veins seemed to rise and float above the surface while an intricate web of colorful geometric shapes swirled across my skin like a dynamic tattoo. Then the edges dissolved into the table’s wooden surface, and those edges in turn melted into walls that seemed to ripple and pulse. When I closed my eyes, a vast, swirling kaleidoscopic scaffolding of geometric patterns snaked across my lids. I was Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, a waking dream state where there were no hard edges separating self and object, no cohesive sense of my own body in space and time, as if my molecules had been dispersed into the universe to mingle freely with the molecules of everything else. I could, with great effort, open my eyes and will my molecules back into some loosely bonded semblance of “me,” but the real world seemed harsh and over-bright. It was so much easier to close my eyes and sink back into the waiting embrace of the psychedelic void.

My mad excursion into Wonderland started just a few hours earlier, with a little white tablet that looked and tasted like a peppermint Altoid. But no mere breath mint ever broke down the walls of anyone’s reality so completely. Historically it has gone by many nicknames: purple haze, electric Kool-Aid, Looney Tunes, windowpane, blue cheer, and white lightning. These days it’s often called doses, trips, Sid, or Orange Sunshine. All refer to the same substance: lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), or acid, a member of the tryptamine family that is derived from ergot, a grain fungus commonly found in rye.

LSD belongs to a class of drugs known as psychedelics, coined from the Greek root words for “mind revealing” because of their ability to alter cognition and perception. Its best-known siblings include psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms; 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine (MDMA), better known as Ecstasy; peyote, made from the ground-up tops of a cactus called Lophophora williamsii that contain mescaline; and ayahuasca, a bitter tea made from the Brazilian vine Banisteriopsis caapi (dubbed the “spirit vine”), whose primary active ingredient is dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Most are classified as Schedule I substances by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and are illegal, but that hasn’t dampened their popularity.

Ecstasy is by far the most popular, but LSD has done a brisk business over the years, perhaps because it is fairly easy to make. Initially, people soaked sugarcubes in the substance, and then started encapsulating LSD in pill form, like my little mint. Next came thin squares of gelatin, dubbed “windowpanes,” before makers hit on the idea of using blotter paper: sheets of paper soaked in LSD, which is dried and cut into small individually dosed squares that the user could simply pop onto his or her tongue.



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