I... think I figured out how to do hard things???

The way I usually do things is I tell beeminder all the things I need to do and then it tells me what order to do things in. Ideally I just do the next thing it tells me to do until I have done all the things, but it’s pretty common for me to get stuck on something aversive and do nothing because I can’t decide to do something else while I’m being told to do the aversive thing, but I also can’t do the aversive thing.

Historically I have ‘solved’ this problem by never ever committing to doing anything hard. Recently I’ve been having somewhat less trouble doing things and have found that committing to a few hard-but-important things is worth the risk of losing a day to stuck-ness.

About a week ago, I started doing a different thing where I have a list of things I rotate between. The list starts with just beeminder, and when I encounter the beeminder item I do ‘one unit of beeminder stuff’ (this is well-defined, but the definition is complicated and beyond the scope of this post). Then when beeminder tells me to do something aversive, I break it down into a list of the smallest possible subtasks, and I ask my brain how much internetting time it needs to feel okay about doing one of the small subtasks. Then I put the aversive thing on my list of things to rotate between, followed by however much internet time my brain said it needed. Then I tell beeminder I did the thing, just as though I had actually finished the whole task.

For some reason this causes me to actually do aversive things. In the past week I have:

  • Emailed 20 professors I basically don’t know to ask them to look at my postdoc application (my advisor told me to do this; I had put this off for at least 4-5 days because D: D: D: )
  • Applied for all the jobs currently posted that I intend to apply for, including some that aren’t due for months. (I have been applying for jobs since mid-November and had never once applied for a job before the due date)
  • Wrote my entire poster for a conference I’m going to next week (which I really should have done at least a week ago)
  • Exercised 4 times (compared to, like, once in the past two weeks)
  • Went to goodwill to buy shoes, found when I got there that goodwill wasn’t open for another hour, and then actually went back an hour later and bought shoes (I’m not sure I can adequately express how unusual this is for me)

This is basically just a recombination of things I have done in the past that have mostly not worked. I’m not sure why it’s working. (I think it would certainly not have worked before about July of this year). ????

Gathering My Scattered Thoughts (My First Experience With LSD)

The day after my first experience with LSD, I spent a while gathering together everything I wrote over the course of the 8-hour trip. This was:

  • About a thousand words in a text file
  • Four audio files, totalling about 50 minutes
  • Three text messages to myself
  • Four texts to a friend who ended up coming over
  • Six Facebook messages to another friend
  • One Tumblr post
  • Two Beeminder comments

I’m glad for these records, because they’ve helped me reconstruct most of my thoughts over the course of the trip. Some of what I thought and said was pretty banal, standard stoner fare. When I was on acid, I was constantly having revelations. Only a few of them are still interesting now that it’s worn off.

Before I get into what I’ve learned, I have some practical advice for other people considering their first acid trip. I’ve only done it once; so don’t take my word as gospel. But I think the following are good ideas:

  • Don’t count on the acid taking a full hour to hit. Mine kicked in within half an hour of putting the paper under my tongue. Unfortunately, this happened to be in a pizza parlour. We got home before I was seriously impaired, but that was only possible because it was so close to my house. If we’d counted on a full hour, we’d have been in trouble.
  • Be around people you trust. You’re going to be suggestible, uninhibited, and overcome with big, powerful, and occasionally scary feelings. You want to be around people who won’t take advantage of you, and people who won’t screw around with your mind for their own amusement.
  • Having a sober person there to look after you is a good idea. Failing that, someone more experienced with acid and taking a similar amount isn’t a bad substitute.
  • You probably don’t want to go wandering around outside without sober supervision. You also probably don’t want to be outside during the first part of the trip, when it will be very difficult to pass as sober.
  • Start small. According to this dose chart, I had about 110µg. That’s plenty for a first time.
  • Don’t forget to drink water.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the actual trip. Thanks to all my notes, I have a pretty good idea of the chronology.

The first things I felt were giddiness and heaviness in my limbs. This was followed shortly by disorientation, closed eyes hallucinations, mild synaesthesia, suggestibility, and short attention span. I also had some dizziness, and wasn’t the best at walking.

For the first hour, the trip was pretty overwhelming. I wasn’t capable of doing much but lying on the couch, watching my closed eye hallucinations. I was barely coherent when I was talking, and each minute felt like an hour. I couldn’t believe that there was six hours of this in store for me. I could force my mind to focus, but only with great effort, and not for very long at all.

After the first hour, I was able to move around a bit, and hold a conversation, although I was still very disoriented, and my mind was wandering a lot. This is where I took my first set of notes.

They were simplistic, poorly spelled, and they almost entirely lack punctuation. They also aren’t very introspective – they just describe what’s happening and what I’m feeling. Each time I hit a key, it reverberated through my whole body, so I got very into the physical act of typing. I treated my laptop like a typewriter, pounding the return key after each sentence.

Eventually I got a bit more lucid, and began to talk to my friend a bit more, although we were both easily distracted. This is also where the Beemindering, Facebook messages, and Tumblr posts occurred.

What followed was an hour of pretty stoned talking, until we decided to listen to music. I was pretty capable of operating my phone to get the music, and took a few more notes at this point. These notes are more coherent, I was able to focus and exert higher function, I just didn’t enjoy it. I was having stomach cramps, and the more aware I was of my surroundings the more aware I was of the pain. In my notes, I talk about a painful clarity when I tried to be aware. It was much easier to let the trip wash over me and keep me numb.

Between this and the music I had a minor revelation about the substance of the acid trip. In the first two hours, I was learning to understand my brain in its new form. After this, I had some ability to choose how deep I wanted to be. If I concentrated, I could function like I was intoxicated on something more mundane, like pot or alcohol. If I relaxed, I could have closed eye hallucinations and deep revelations.

Listening to the music, I went pretty deep into the trip. I felt the music in every part of my body (despite it coming from tiny speakers), and saw crazy fractal patterns on my closed eyes. I felt all the walls around my personality come down, except for the very last set. I knew that if I let those come down, I’d be one with everything. I either wasn’t relaxed enough or hadn’t taken enough acid for that to happen.

After this, some friends came over, and I talked to them, inhabiting mainly the shallower waters of the trip. There were some fun experiences – a railing became part of my body for a while, and all the stars had halos around them.

I had two revelations that I still think are cool.

My first revelation deals with time. The natural time scale that we should interact on is seconds. This is how we interact when we talk. But technology forces us to think in terms of minutes. All of our texts come with a time stamp in minutes: 20:54, 20:55, etc.

On LSD, each second felt like minutes, and I had trouble disentangling the two time scales. I felt like it was late in the night when it was barely ten because I thought each second was a minute. This led to an odd, and artificial feeling of isolation. We had friends literally down the street, but we both felt a big gulf between us and everyone else in the world. By the times friends actually came over, we’d mostly got over this.

My second revelation dealt with the intimacy of an acid trip. It’s choosing a friend (or friends), and deciding to feel lots of euphoria and vulnerability around them. It’s nice to have a form of intimacy that hasn’t yet been gobbled up by the couple-industrial complex.

If you don’t mind the thought of losing complete control of your mind for an hour or two, and want to experience altered states of consciousness, I recommend trying acid sometime. Even if you have no deep revelations, it’s a pretty fun way to spend eight hours.

Animated Gif on my Beeminder Weight Tracker Page: Based on your height and weight, here’s what we figure you probably look like now.

Me: Yeah, that looks about right I guess

AGomBWTP: And here’s what you’d probably look like if you lost 18 pounds and reached your target weight

Me: Oh, cool, ok.

AGomBWTP: And here’s what we think you’d look like if instead of doing that you suddenly gained 50 pounds

Me: Uh…ok? That is very informative?? Thank you??