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Erowid Families and Psychoactives Interview Series
Dialog with Michael
Interview by Erowid
Spring 2002
Michael is usually very open about his use of psychedelics, and his personal website discusses them frankly. Although Michael is "out" about his personal use... when asked about his experience doing LSD with his mother, he took pause. Erowid interviewed him in Spring 2002.

Erowid: We're interested in speaking with people who have taken psychedelics with their family members, and what effect that may or may not have had on their relationships. You've mentioned before having taken acid with your mom. Can you talk a little about why you did that and how it happened? What lead up to it? What if any effect did it have on your relationship with her? Did you have any thoughts years later about that? Do you want to talk about that?

Michael: Yeah, I would. I realize it might be OK for me to out myself, but as I start thinking about outing my mom publicly, it might be different...

When I first took LSD I was 19 years old and I was coming down the next day - I'd had a pretty mind-blowing experience -- and I called my mom. I had a really good relationship with her - and said, "You know, I did this thing last night, I took acid and everything is completely different, I'm a completely different person." She just didn't really bat an eye, she was like, "Well, you don't sound like you're a different person to me."

Erowid: We're you living with her at the time?

Michael: No, I was in college, but my college was really near my hometown, and I saw her relatively frequently. So, the next time I saw her we were hanging out, and she mentioned, "You know, I'd be interested in doing that." She had kind of a history of drug use I that didn't really know about.

Erowid: So you mentioning it to her opened up the conversation? You hadn't known about it at all?

Michael: Yeah, we never talked about it or anything like that. When I stumbled across it, I trusted her enough to know that she wasn't going to kill me, so I just called her and said, "I just tried this thing and it's pretty amazing." And she was like, "Well, I'm actually familiar with that, and I haven't tried it in a long time, and I might like to try it again." That seed planted in my head, I started thinking about if I could arrange it. This was obviously really really early in my psychedelic career. I probably had only five or six acid trips under my belt when a couple of good friends of mine and I -- my girlfriend at the time and another really good friend of mine -- went out to my mom's house with my mom and my stepdad. It was a really wonderful experience; I didn't really have any problems. We went walking around the neighborhood and came back, it was good for my mom and Bob, they had a lot of fun.

It was something that we then decided to repeat later on. But this time I had invited a whole group of people to town to see this play that I had written that was getting produced at my theater. There were probably 25 people in town to see this play. We all went over and did acid in a group with my mom and my stepdad. I winded up doing a really large dose, and didn't have a lot of experience doing large doses before. We had everybody upstairs listening to Miles Davis, relaxing, and downstairs my mom and Bob were playing pool and listening to AC/DC, which is the kind of music that they listen to, they like hard rock and heavy metal music.

So, I went downstairs with a couple of my friends. At the time I had this habit of... I still, to this day, have this habit... of, when I'm nervous or just want something to do with my hands, I have a drumstick. At the time it was really something that I would twirl with my fingers when I was tripping, as kind of a way to channel nervous energy, and not really think about it so much.

I was downstairs sitting on the couch watching them play pool, and at one point, my mom just kind came right up to me, grabbed the drumstick, and said, "I've had about enough of you." And she tried to take it away from me. I had no clue what she was talking about. I wouldn't let her take it away from me, and finally she just kind of laughed, and went back to playing pool. It freaked me out completely, I had no idea what had just happened. My two friends were very freaked out, and we were like, "What the hell do you suppose that meant?" So one of my friends said, "Well you need to go ask her." I said, "no I don't, I need to get the hell out of here, I need to go upstairs."

That event kind of precipitated the first real serious hardcore bad acid trip that I ever had, and I went upstairs and managed to make life miserable for just about everybody. I never talked to her about it, and it didn't really affect our relationship at all, and I don't think she even realized what she had done. I'm not sure how hard she was tripping or anything like that, but that kind of was the end of it. We weren't going to trip together again after that.

Ever since then, my relationship continues to be really good, I view that event as just this kind of weird anomaly, where, as I analyzed it, I was like, "You know, people do weird things on drugs." I've seen it over and over again. But I wasn't quite prepared for the kind of primal fear that your parents can stir up. It was this sense of, "This is the primary caregiver suddenly no longer interested in me." Or, having something negative to say wasn't what I was in the mood for on seven hits of acid, I guess.

Ever since then, I've been very open with her. A few years ago I met my biological dad for the first time, we were hanging out in the airport, getting acquainted. I grew up thinking somebody else was my dad, and I then finally was told at a very late age that there's this other guy that had been my dad. As we were getting to know each other, it was very important for me to just be open. I wasn't going to fuck around, I really didn't care. If he really wanted to know who I was and what I was up to, then he needed to know that I was heavily into psychedelics, that I'd started a community that incorporated psychedelic use into its experience, and that I was part of this larger movement of people that were trying to chip away at all of these things in relation to psychedelics. He didn't really bat an eye, he's not a drug user by any stretch of the imagination, but he's also not particularly cowed by it.

Erowid: What about siblings, how have their experiences differed from your own?

Michael: My parents have had to deal with my younger sister, who got into all kinds of trouble growing up. Some of that trouble included hard drugs and marijuana and acid, mixing in the wrong kinds of crowds, from my perspective, me being judgmental. She definitely got in with the wrong kind of people, people who were stealing things, and crashing cars, and getting into trouble.

Erowid: How much younger than you is your sister?

Michael: I think she's 20, or just about to turn 21. [10 years younger]

Erowid: So when you were having your first psychedelic experiences, she was still a kid, and there wasn't any discourse at all around that.

Michael: No, in fact, my parents made it very clear that I wasn't to talk to Sarah about drugs, and I decided that that was fine. I moved away when she started to grow up, and there wasn't really an opportunity for me to be a mentor, on the ground, as it were. But eventually, my sister got wise about the Internet and found my website. I'm pretty open on my website. For me, it was the sense of just choosing to have the information out there and lead by example. It doesn't work when you try to tell some people what to do or how to do it; they're going to find out for themselves. My sister's definitely the kind of personality, the minute she senses some kind of authority, she's going to rebel against it no matter what.

Erowid: Did she ever mention your website to you?

Michael: She eventually mentioned that she'd seen it. It became clear to my mom that Sarah knew about me... Sarah uncovered my mom and stepdad's drug use, because they were still smoking marijuana. They don't do acid or E anymore because it gets their heart rate up, but they still smoke pot. And that's now something that the three of them share, is an appreciation for the fact that they're all pot smokers. That they all have to keep quiet about their use... But that's the community that they're all a part of, I guess.

Obviously, in the middle of the War on Drugs, there was a time a while ago when it seemed crazy to try and suggest that you'd be open with your children. Even just last week, there was a big thing in the paper about some kid turning in his dad for dealing drugs. Dealing drugs is one thing, doing drugs is another obviously, but it's that sense of, we want family members to monitor each other's behavior on behalf of the government, to make the government's job easier. At the height of DARE, everybody was kind of paranoid about that. Now, depending on where you live in the country it seems like it might be a little easier...

My parents did something I had a lot of respect for, even though I didn't take them up on it. I know a lot of parents probably do this. They get the idea in their head that you want to try alcohol because your peers are doing it or because you see it going on. I mean, there are so many messages in the culture that suggest alcohol is the way to go. Their attitude was, "When you want to get drunk for the first time, we'll buy whatever you want, we'll sit down with you, we'll drink it with you, no repercussions, you can have it however you want it."

Erowid: How old were you when that happened?

Michael: I was in high school. And I was pretty straight edge through most of high school. The crowd that I ran with was not interested in getting drunk every weekend, I maybe got drunk two or three times through all of high school. It wasn't until I hit college that I really kind of accelerated my partying. So I can imagine the same of approach being -- not necessarily at the high school level - appropriate for other substances. I have my own opinions, I'm not convinced that high school age kids need to be bothering with psychedelics -- and this is all extrapolating from me -- I don't imagine myself being mature enough to understand what I was getting myself into. I mean, 19 years old wasn't really mature enough. When I first did acid, I thought acid and LSD were two different drugs, I didn't know anything about it, and I just kind of leapt off a cliff. But I could see that approach working, with a college age person, or especially a mature teenager. Saying, "Well look, if you really want to try acid, or if you really want to smoke marijuana and have it be safe, and not worry about the repercussions from a "what's going to happen tomorrow," perspective, we can talk about it. You're not going to have to hide it from me." I could see that becoming a reasonable approach.