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The Blues and the Abstract Truth
by Oliver Nelson
Citation:   Oliver Nelson. "The Blues and the Abstract Truth: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp72587)". Jan 4, 2010.

3.5 g oral Mushrooms (dried)


Background: I am a 20-year-old who has had extensive experience with psychoactives: primarily with opiates/opioids and pharmaceutical sedatives, but also with cocaine, amphetamines, and marijuana. Until my experience with mushrooms in late May 2008, I had never ingested any substance whose primary effect was hallucinatory. In the month prior to this experience, I had used prescription Tramodol (at a dosage of 5-6 50mg pills) and prescription Vicodin (at a dosage of 3-4 500mg/7.5mg pills) each by themselves on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. I maintain a vegan diet, I have no history of significant physical or mental illness, and I am generally fit and healthy.

A fellow musician whom I work with, upon finding out that I was open to trying new substances, offered me half of a 1/4 oz bag of psilocybin mushrooms that he had just purchased from a friend. Despite smoking pot once or twice a day, he had never eaten mushrooms and was looking for someone who he was comfortable with to join him on his trip. We agreed on a date later that week, and met up at his dorm room in West Harlem at about 9PM.

The Experience:

Being inexperienced with mushrooms, we made several serious mistakes in the process of the trip, but ultimately, both of us recognize it as an overall positive experience.

T + :00: We eat the dried mushrooms, which taste slightly gamey. They aren't nearly as repulsive as I had expected, but we still need a little orange soda to wash the taste out of our mouths. I have prepared my psyche, and am in a very positive state of mind, ready for wherever the mushrooms take me. My friend, on the other hand, has trouble getting the mushrooms down, and makes it clear that he is worried that he's going to vomit. In the back of my mind, I know he's setting himself up for defeat, as nausea later proves to be his foremost concern until he begins to come down.

T + :10: I have a sudden, unexplained attack of the giggles. After a minute I cool out.

T + :15: My friend has put on 'Shake Your Body Down To The Ground' by Michael Jackson. I get up and start dancing. I feel like I've had a couple of drinks.

T + :25: I keep thinking I see things out of the corner of my eye. I look at the ground and swear for a second that I see a few ants, but I am mistaken.

T + :30: At 30 minutes almost to the second, I look down at the floor and it appears that there is a large, oddly shaped puddle of water. I reach down to touch the water and realize it's not really there. It suddenly grows significantly in size, and twists into what I can only describe as a paisley design. I hear my friend say 'whoa!' and realize that he is beginning to experience visuals as well. We leave his dorm room (our first mistake) in a laughing fit, and enter the elevator. My limbs already feel very heavy, and I have a general warm feeling, similar to the effects of smoking pot.

We reach the lobby of his dormitory, where I become INSTANTLY paranoid and uncomfortable, as a result of bright fluorescent lights and the presence of several people that I don't know, including more than one security guard (do they know that I'm on mushrooms?). My paranoia subsides when my focus shifts to the diamond-shaped designs on the lobby carpeting, which have begun to fade and shrink. I am astounded by how fast the effects of the mushrooms are manifesting themselves, but I manage to keep my composure until we reach the street outside.

T + 1:00: We are trudging around the West 120's, in complete awe of the things that we are seeing. I would divide the visuals into three categories:

TRANSPARENCY - The most common visuals. Nearly every large, prominent, flat surface - namely, the pavement beneath our feet and the outer walls of the buildings we pass - appears transparent, as if in fact made of glass. Immediately beneath/behind the 'glass,' there is a pulsing, twisting, unfolding sea of complex geometric designs. I see Tibetan Mandalas and an abundance of Meso-American-style picture art (e.g. Mayan stone carvings, the Mayan calendar, Toltec face designs), as well as less-interesting mathematical fractals and soft spirals. Each tiny object in this vast field of hallucination is very colorful, and seems to be unfolding outwards and upwards towards me, as if a fresh, unique bud on a blooming flower.

MORPHOLOGY - The second most common visuals. Inanimate objects seem to 'morph' into other objects; for instance, the entrance to the 125th st 1 train becomes the mouth of a huge silver dragon, its escalator a metal tongue pulling people up into its stomach. Another common aspect of morphological visuals is a 'blooming' similarly present in the transparent visuals; for instance, a series of old chewing gum spots long since stamped into the pavement shrink and fade into tiny spots, always the polar opposite color of their original manifestation. These visuals each appear for a few seconds, until I begin again to giggle and they disappear.

INDEPENDENT VISUALS - Pools of glowing green goo, sparks shooting from car tires, and water dripping up, down, and across surfaces.

T + 1:15: I am experiencing significant physical delusions. My entire body feels wet. My clothes feel like they are melting off of me. I am experiencing extreme time distortion. It feels like we have been walking around for 2 or 3 hours, when we only left the dorm 30 minutes ago. I take a seat on a curb to collect myself. My friend seems to be going through the same stuff, and takes a seat next to me. I am laughing my ass off but am also experiencing slight psychological discomfort-I keep having to check whether I've pissed my pants. I have never had urinary control problems, but for some reason I am continually afraid that I am going to have, well, an accident. I am very congested and every 5 minutes or so I hock up a large lugie. I have drymouth similar to the kind I used to experience when I smoked pot regularly. I look up at the elevated subway train, and as it passes it seems to lift off towards the moon. Moving objects are extremely blurry, and my friend complains that he is nauseous.

We decide to stop by a bar party celebrating the release of a movie my tripmate had composed the score to. We see a colleague of his outside. Although I am in a now-constant fit of laughter, I am nonetheless uncomfortable at his presence...looking into his eyes, I know that he has no idea what we're going through, and based on his conversation, it is clear to me that he has little to no drug experience and cannot connect with us on any level. I decide to enter the loud, packed bar. I get the feeling that everyone is sizing me up. I navigate my way to the bathroom.

Upon entering the bathroom I realize that I am much more comfortable on my own. I look in the mirror and watch my face distort, as if I am watching through a fishtank as someone on the other side tips back and forth. It is quieter here than the bar or the street, and I feel safer. I realize that mushrooms are not a social substance-they are HEAVILY introspective. I start to think I should find some place to spend the night alone. I wash my hands and return to the main room.

T + 1:30: We leave the bar (thank God) and stupidly decide to stop by a gig where a trumpet player friend of ours is performing. My limbs are exhausted, even though we've walked less than a mile. We enter the tiny, well-lit venue, just as a song is ending. My tripmate knows a lot of cats here, and the vibe is slightly more relaxed...but his high profile in this environment brings attention to me, and I am once again innately uncomfortable.

The trumpet player is trading long, rubato, cadential phrases with a trombone player, and I am suddenly scared shitless. For a minute I am surrounded by jungle animals, and the bandstand is the site of a screaming match between a baboon and an elephant. I giggle a little, but I feel like something is seriously wrong. As the trumpet player progresses towards the end of his statement, my tripmate (raised 2nd baptist, service every sunday) calls out 'Hallelujah' and 'Go ahead!' as if he's a churchgoer interacting with a soloist in a church band. The trumpeter, a close friend, responds in kind. My friend shakes his arms wildly and lets his tongue loll out of his mouth in true Pentecostal manner. His friends are laughing and digging it all. Meanwhile, I don't know what the fuck is going on.

The attention paid to myself and my friend is making me extremely uncomfortable. I am hitting a rough patch in the trip, and as the band starts its next song, it gets worse-I suddenly realize that this is some kind of traditional New Orleans jazz band performance, with an emphasis on the traditional cabaret aspect of the genre...1920's-style dance, the vocalist singing into a tin cup to produce a radio pan sound, odd costumes, strange lyrics, stranger instrumentation (trumpet, trombone, tuba, banjo, clarinet, vocals)...not what I need at the moment. I play jazz professionally and would've had no problem with this - if not for the mushrooms. I leave the club and my friend follows a few minutes later. I tell him we have to return to his dorm, and that I'm freaking out. He expresses his nausea once again, and agrees that returning to the dorm would be the best thing for both of us.

T + 2:00: We are in his room once again. I feel drunk, and visuals are at their most intense. I begin to think I see other people out of the corner of my eye. The walls of his dormitory are pulsing, and I remember distinctly that at one point they appear to be tipping inwards towards me. My tripmate spits into a glass and I feel raindrops fall all over my arms and legs for 15 seconds. I am more comfortable here, but not at a satisfactory level of comfort, as I would really like to lie down, and his only furniture is his bed (which he occupies), a desk, and a very stiff computer chair. He puts on a Snoop Dogg record, and I just...don't feel right. I make a tough decision, and explain to him that I think I should take a cab back to my sister's place across town. He understands, and sees me off.

T + 2:15: I am on my own waiting for a livery cab outside his dorm. I am paranoid-I feel like everyone is looking at me. The transparency visuals have changed from pattern-based visuals to random-object-based visuals. Instead of looking down and finding a boiling mass of patterns, I see random objects of a roughly uniform size, fading in and out of existence...a toaster, a phantom of the opera mask, a heart-shaped box of chocolate, a frisbee, a baseball glove. I decide that the livery cab that I called is taking too long, and proceed to walk around the corner to catch a yellow cab. The people that I pass stare at this point I KNOW that I'm moving in a weird manner, it's no longer simple paranoia; I don't care, I'll be home soon. I mumble the address to the cab driver. He is a Haitian cat and seems to know what's up-we lock eyes and I know that he can dig what's happening in my skull. I put the Outkast record 'At/liens' on my ipod, sit back, and enjoy the ride.

As we drive through central park I see an unending line of tiny cabs driving right along side us, each with a tiny, happy looking version of myself waving back. I am enjoying the trip again now that I'm in a comfortable place. Visuals are still one point I am convinced that I see Andre 3000 (of Outkast)'s face coming out of the seat cushion next to me. He invites me to bring my girlfriend, and come live with him.

T + 2:45: I arrive at my sister's place. She wakes up to let me in then goes back to bed. Visuals have diminished in frequency and intensity over the past 15 minutes. I am hungry, and as I am cutting apples, the inquisitive, introspective portion of the trip begins. I play Chris Potter's 'Follow The Red Line' on my ipod and begin the process of reflection. I feel less intoxicated, and more and more like I am in the ending phases of a clean codeine or morphine high. I am relaxed and comfortable, and fairly warm. The vibe is so much better here. I feel safe and comfortable. The edges of objects seem to vibrate slightly, and perception of their size is altered.

T + 3:30: My trip is waning. I have a sudden yearning for beautiful art. I sit down on the couch, put on some favorite classical pieces (Dvorak, Bach, Shostakovich string quartets) and search the web for famous pieces of art. I am drawn particularly to Monet. In looking at his 'Impression Sunrise,' which depicts a sunrise over a harbor, I am convinced that I can see giant moving cranes behind the clouds of paint, as well as vague shapes of boats, one after another, stretching out to the non-existant horizon. Whenever I look up from the computer, I think that I see smiling faces peeking out from behind the various corners of the apartment. I am reflecting on personal problems in my life, and how lucky I am to have had the opportunities that I have. I silently thank the invisible whatever for my family and friends. I am growing tired.

T + 4:15: Visuals have stopped almost altogether, although objects still look...weird. I am relaxed, content, and have resolved to change certain negative aspects of my life. I occasionally hear popping or buzzing noises. I put on the discovery channel and begin to drift off to sleep.

T + 16: I wake up on my sister's couch, midtown East. I go for a walk in central park and feel amazing. I care less about little inconveniences in life, and have a general feeling that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, and that I will enjoy some degree of success. I find great happiness in things that I had otherwise overlooked in recent months- the taste of good coffee, a stranger's smile, a great record. I don't really have the urge to talk to anyone. This attitude hangs with me for about two weeks, and the influence of the experience has hung with me much longer.

If I take mushrooms again, I am going to curl up on the couch with a couple friends and drink lemonade until I pass out.

Exp Year: 2008ExpID: 72587
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 20 
Published: Jan 4, 2010Views: 107,558
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Mushrooms (39) : Various (28), Difficult Experiences (5), First Times (2)

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