30 Days Micro-Dosing with LSD
“Now I understand why all the flower children from the ’60s eventually sold out, bought houses and watch Fox News.”
That’s a snippet from my journal entry on day ten of my experiment. The experiment in question is micro dosing with LSD—that is, ingesting a tiny dose of lysergic acid diethylamide every day for a month.
How’s that for a juxtaposition? Ingest the world’s most potent hallucinogenic substance, then go about the banality of daily existence in San Francisco: buy stamps at the post office. Fold laundry. Stroll down Mariposa street. Grab a hand towel at the gym. Rush to work.
Would that beautiful palm tree on the corner of Mariposa and Florida become a fire-breathing dragon as I walk by? No. A micro dose is tiny—in other words, micro. It would be like taking one single sip of cabernet sauvignon every day for a month. Doubtful you’d ever get “drunk” unless you happened to be a gerbil.
What is the point of micro dosing? Besides the infinite number of reasons limited only by ones’s imagination, my particular reason was the concept of neuro-plasticity—that is, the forming of new synapses and pathways in the brain, veering away from knee-jerk habits that characterize human behavior.
You know when you ask someone “how are you?” and their response is a robotic “good how are you,” regurgitated like a nugget of Oscar Meyer boloney from the exhaust pipe of a 1991 Ford Taurus? I usually want to punch those people in the face. But the funny thing is, I respond that same way sometimes. We all do! Why think or feel when auto-pilot can do the work for you? Ubiquitous, understandable, sickening, and what I aimed to neuro-plasticize away from for a month.
Prep Day: A mad dash to obtain the goods and figure out how to ingest micro doses of it. Is it ironic or fitting that I’m sitting here for 45 minutes doing a lot of math? The end result is a numerical triumph: Seven drops of LSD in 280 drops of tequila (regular water may degrade the molecular structure of the substance, my friend tells me) yields a 40:1 ratio. That means four drops of this mixture equals one tenth of a hit of LSD. A perfect daily micro dose.
Day One: Beach day! Floating in the Pacific Ocean is a glory unlike any other. This is the first time I’ve ingested any LSD in roughly two and a half years. The last time was in February of 2013, and on that particular night I broke off a relationship I was in (making for an extremely dramatic night). Would you believe me if I told you I ran into that exact person on this Day One of my experiment? No joke. The universe is already speaking with me. The doors of perception have been cleansed.
Day Two: I had some interesting dreams last night. (1) I’m hiking around Fort Point and see Andre the Giant running up to unsuspecting women and yelling “hey, cunt!” and delighting in their hysterical reactions. (2) Lucid dreaming for the first time ever, I see that I have the opportunity to have sex with myself, as there’s a duplicate of me on a bed. I think “damn I’m sexy” and start to kiss my duplicate’s ear. As I drag his body to the middle of the bed to rip his clothes off, I’m woken up by the sound of a cricket.
Day Three: En route to Harbin Hot Springs as a passenger in a one-way rideshare, I am in a shitty mood and my time constraints for the night are making it worse. I decide to let it go, and that sends me into the most exquisite flow state involving free entry, a ride home the next day from a friend that materialized like magic, and the typical myriad revelry that characterizes visits to this water utopia. This feels like the peak of my existence. (Note that Harbin Hot Springs burned to the ground a month later. Read about that here).
Day Four: I’m tired and horny. When “Weird Divide” by The Shins plays on shuffle, I really want to make love to my subwoofer. Later that night, when I’m perusing Tinder while buying a large tent from Costco.com, I get the distinct feeling I want to slit my own throat.
Day Five: I slept for 11 hours last night, and my dreams were plagued by ideas for this very story you are reading, specifically adding the line “everything was covered with a glossy sheen. Whose sheen? I don’t know, maybe Charlie’s” as if its utter brilliance warranted guaranteed emphasis in the article.
Day Six: My roommate says he can tell me the potency of my elixir by merely tasting it. I give him a few drops, and 15 minutes later he tells me my micro dosage is double what I’d originally calculated. This is after my decision this morning to up my daily dosage from four to six drops. Things are just getting messy.
Day Seven: “What is reality, really?” and other original thoughts.
Day Eight: I’m eating lunch at a cafe popular with tech people. Every other word I hear seems to be LinkedIn, which exacerbates the nausea I’m already feeling. The issue is further complicated by my Portlandia salad. It does taste great, but I can’t get over the fact that every cell in my body is engaging in osmosis-laden intercourse with a conglomeration of chopped leaves, bits of charred fat from a snouted pink mammal, the shredded flesh of a giant fish typically immersed for its entire life in salty sea water, curdled fluid mechanically extracted from multiple cows’ utters, and the “honey mustard” goo that congeals the whole mess. I eat it on the most beautiful coffee table in the universe, and I’m surrounded by ludicrously attractive young people click-clacking on their laptop computers while a disco ball hangs oddly above. I laugh, piquing the interest of the awkwardly fidgeting tattooed redhead sitting next to me. Signs of life.
Day Nine: I feel great! Yoga is a miracle! Consciousness is a gift! Scootering safely down Mission Street is pure bliss! Eating lunch at YAMO is remarkably unpleasant right now!
Day 10: Low. Slow. Sad. Won’t this become addictive, living daily on a substance that injects the spirit of the infinite into your perception? It feels slightly unstable. That’s probably more in line with the “truth” of a chaotic universe, but evidently humans enjoy stability. Now I understand why all the flower children from the ’60s eventually sold out, bought houses and watch Fox News. The universe is chaotic and cruel. Take control. Be cynical. Buy a house.
Day 11: The opposite of yesterday. Dancing is bliss, characterized by boundless energy and immunity to pain. The quartz necklace I’m wearing cuts open my chest and blood drips. I realize I’m able to manifest reality at whim. The way things are going right now, I want to micro dose for the rest of my life.
Days 12-14: Nothing noteworthy, except having sex on a beach and deciding to take two days off from the experiment, resuming on day 15.
Days 15-24: Burning Man, the grossly-misunderstood realm of surreal moonscapes, flesh-eating dust and motorized fire-breathing dragons. Micro dosing in a place where quantities of DMT, by volume, happen to out-mass those of mayonnaise and mustard combined, you can imagine the multi-series collection of books I might write about my experience. It is with a weathered smile that I tell you that such writings would focus less on my quirky anecdotes, more on the condition of the human heart and its ability to crack open and spew out glistening emotional butterflies after languishing for a few initial days in a sordid pressure-cooker of existential despair.
Day 25: What is the antithesis of Burning Man? How about an Orthodox Jewish Wedding in Los Angeles where there’s a curtain on the reception dance floor separating men from women. That’s where I’m at tonight, and “Dan, why aren’t YOU married?” is what I hear every 10 minutes for seven hours. I am not a drinker—except tonight.
Days 26-32: I’m at Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, a festival where I have this conversation the day I arrive:
Medicine Wolf: “Go to the teepee and find Balance Foot. Tell him Medicine Wolf sent you.”
Day 33: I’m pressing the button on my car key fob that unlocks the doors. I press once, twice, three times, waiting to hear a sound. Then I realize what I’m actually in the process of doing: entering my tent.
Days 34-40: I’m at Symbiosis Festival, a wonderland of bohemian art and DJ sets on man-made mini-islands in waters dotted by hundreds of beautiful skinny dippers. Still, the vibe here seems pretentious and crass—at least compared with the earnest and friendly crowd at Bhakti Fest. Trying to get comfortable in this atmosphere, where I’ll be working in the massage tent for the next few days of 100-degree weather, I’m reminded of a friend of mine who used to work at Disneyland. He was in the employee break area one day, where he caught the eye of Snow White. Between puffs of her cigarette, she looked at him and sneered, “What the fuck are you looking at?” Ah, the lands of fantasy.
Is my role here to give a shit? Withdraw? Rise above? All of the above, I suppose.
Here is the finest conversation I overhear at Symbiosis:
Woman: “Talk to the fire. The fire is listening.”
3-year-old girl: “I want marshmallows!”
Woman: “Ok, the fire heard you” as they whisk away.
On Day 37, I realize it’s Day Fucking 37. Well past a month, and a good time to stop guzzling LSD.
As I drive home after my five-week lysergic journey, I decide to stop outside of Modesto and eat lunch at El Pollo Loco for my first time. The food is mediocre. As I eat, I overhear a succession of job interviews with three candidates, one after the other, a few tables over. One applicant is a woman with four children, describing her previous experience working at Wendy’s and Burger King. What a surreal line I’ve just crossed.
Thirty minutes down the road, a truck has spilled a load of down feathers all over the highway, creating a dazzling flashback to my weekend. And as if to punctuate my eagerness to get back home and unpack (or perhaps to punctuate my return to the sordid banality of modern society, a thought I’ve been dreading for the past four days) I get a flat tire the moment I enter San Francisco city limits. I wobble into a shop and spend my last penny getting the tire replaced.
Experiments typically have a “control.” My experiment micro dosing did not have a control—what with spending two weeks in San Francisco then three weeks at three festivals in two distinct parts of California and one remote desert in Nevada, all the while immersed in a veritable hurricane of odd characters and unstable experiences.
I wouldn’t call my experiment a failure by any means. In fact, seeing as how LSD allows us to experience more of what really is—the chaotic infinite—my ludicrously colorful journey was a perfect slice of that chaos. Fittingly, I can’t give you any very specific details of how I changed or how my brain was remarkably neuro-plastified. Except that my clumsy-ass self is really good at standing on one leg now.
I wanted to inject some life into our increasingly lifeless culture. Everything is digital these days, people stare at their phones but don’t say hello, and feeling feelings is often considered taboo or a weakness. My journey sent me to God knows where, but I’m back feeling lighter, quicker, less analytical, and with a heart that’s been cracked open wide. Come find me, and you’ll get a really good hug.