Not Quite Microdosing

It seems like every time we think we’ve got a handle on [how to best use] psychedelics, they squish out from our grasp and leave us researching in unforeseeable directions. Maybe they’ll help doctors understand schizophrenic patients? Kinda. Maybe they’ll help addicts get sober? Sometimes. Maybe they’ll get us to God more reliably? Possible. Maybe they’ll help the terminally ill transition to death calmly, with ease and comfort? Shows promise.

Then the 21st century threw us another psychedelic curveball. “Take the dosage down so low you can’t feel anything … and uh, keep doing that for a week or month.” Nobody – certainly nobody into psychedelics – could see this as something that would catch on. Using a psychedelic to be more ‘productive’ in your day-to-day life? Or as a means to something as banal as a slight increase in feelings of well-being? No way. Tripping was about critiquing, if not replacing, the mores and social tenets which have become obsolete. New ways of being. Not helping the post-industrial capitalism of patriarchy to work faster & smoother!

But, wait … using acid in order to be productive … now that doesn’t seem entirely bad. That’s just another way of saying approaching with intention, right? And setting intentions is always good. And … oh no ! … I have done that before!

Yes, yes. Living in the dorms. Eighteen years old. I set the intention to start and finish writing the first draft of an essay.

Although I didn’t know it yet, I was just about to declare an English Composition minor, to go along with my Psychology major. At the time, I had not only learned to enjoy writing, but I had learned how to write things that were also enjoyable to read. The format was ‘personal essay’ throughout the semester. Easy enough. I’m always running one story or another in my head – either a memory or a dream of the future. And the best part was that our class assignments went one draft at a time.

So with 5 copies (peer review) of the first draft being due in class at 10:00 on Monday morning, the plan went like this


10:00, Sunday night – I could take my one and a half orange sunshine blotter tabs (or, Sun Gods, if you’re from the Beach), lay down to sleep.

Midnight – Get woken up by the acid, stretch, then type&trip&type&trip&type until all the typin’s done. I know what story I’m doing, and I’ve been thinking about it for a few days, already, so it comes out pretty easy.

6:14, Monday morning – Get my second wind with the rising sun, so I could be there right when

7:00 –    the library opens. I’m there, ready, to print my story out.

8:00 – The mess hall opens for breakfast. I get first dibs on the best selection of the day.

8:45 – Tuck the paper copies (and my floppy disk) safely back in my room, do my calisthenics (push-ups and leg-lifts, mainly),

9:00 – go for a run,

9:30 – shower, maybe eat a little something.

10:00 – In class, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed. Hold it together until

11:15 – Class is over, walk calmly back to my room, get into my jammies, set my alarm for dinner-time and conk-the-fuck out.


And you know what? That’s exactly how it did go down. Worked like a charm. Worked so well, I tried it again, two weeks later on the next paper. I had a sense of I’ve got this down which applied equally to both the tripping part as well as the writing part. I knew my dose, and prepared better (snacks, playlist). And concurrently, I liked not having to wait until my essay was perfect, to turn it in. The ‘several drafts’ model took a lot of pressure off. I would start them all off with the working title “Brain Shrapnel” (did I mention I was 18?) so I could just get it all out. My classmates could give me fresh eyes to get some ideas about turning justabunchapages into an actual essay. Plus, I had subtle tricks like putting one profane word in each essay. That always seemed to get a good round of smiles and keep everyone engaged.

Since I was such a pro now, I decided to bite off a little more than I could chew, thematically. My next topic was a little less personal, and didn’t have the clear sequential narrative the first one had. My second not-quite-microdosing essay was a little more … open – a lecture-review turned cultural-contemplation. With a topic like that, it got a little … {winces} unwieldy. I struggled with it. Especially from the 2:30 – 4:00 hour. That was when I started to wonder if I should drop this whole essay and start over with a new topic.

Tripping, in a room, at night (all night), I got very into time and calculating if the fraction of the page finished corresponded to the fraction of the hour that had passed; Does the amount I’ve written look like about 2/3 of this page? because it’s almost 40 past the hour. I even briefly flirted with the idea of writing both essays, but the computer-screen-under-artificial-lights thing was not feeling so good to me and my pupils. Hence, my time calculations also included maximally-effective timing for lights-out darkness breaks. Those were either 10 or 20 minutes, lights out / eyes closed, accompanied by instrumental music. The idea was give the eyes a break by shifting focus to the ears, while giving the literal/word/concept mind a break by keeping lyrics away.

All these ever-shifting minutes would wrap up by 6:00. (The drafts, as assigned, were to be 4 – 6 pages, and mine tended to go long.) At which point I would open the window-shades as the sky began to lighten, reminding me that there is a sky, as the whole world seemed to have become my room. Or rather, my room,  it was easy to feel, was the whole world. Or maybe, at least contained it in some weird way. To salute the new day, I added a twist – a sunrise skin-up. I’d roll a joint, quietly, in faint morning light, have a very contemplative dawn-as-the-city-wakes smoke, and then (keep in mind I’m 18) do my workout so I can go out running in the gradually-brightening sunlight of a new day, breathing in all the wondrous rebirth of this epicenter of humanity!

Class went great. My draft, while still a bit all over the place, was coherent and got my small group into some engaged discussions. My teacher noticed that, if nothing else, I was coming in with 6 solid pages (with standard font-size and margins) and enough copies that no one had to share. I was putting in the work, she could see it, and when class ended, she told everybody that if they wanted any help with their essays, they could always ask her, the T.A., “… or Chris.” and gestured towards me.

That was the first time I was honored for something that I also enjoyed doing. I enjoyed writing, and enjoyed working at it, to challenge myself and improve. Her putting me on par with people who do this for a living? Wow. That meant something.

So the next day, I went to the registrar’s office and declared a minor in Compositional English. This was done with far greater pride than when I had half-heartedly declared psychology as my major, the year before. I finally knew what it was like to feel invested in something.




About Author

Chris in Portland
42 year-old semi-practicing head; weightlifting, urban yogi who works in a special education classroom and has been watching a lot of Kevin Hart and Gabriel Iglesias stand-up with my son, lately. BA in Psychology (English Composition minor), MA candidate in Conflict Resolution, focusing on dialogue facilitation. Concentrating on drug policy reform and cultural competence (equity) in the workplace, primarily utilizing the narrative methodology of storytelling.

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