CAFFEINE – CIRCA 1987 TO PRESENT
First exposure was sometime during childhood, probably around the age of three (via some painkiller). Adolescence did not seem affected by caffeine, except for one memorable instance, at age 14: making coffee (for the first time) for my friend and I while my parents were out. When my parents returned they berated me. I began using caffeine strategically after college, at office jobs—drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, and again around 1 or 2. Around this same time, I began writing creatively, and for this developed a more sophisticated strategy for caffeine use; mental intake schedules, diversifying vehicles by which it entered my bloodstream (caffeine pills, different types of coffee/espresso, different brands and types of green tea, yerba mate, different types of soft drinks, and Mega-T Green Tea). I currently use caffeine once or twice a day—always with breakfast, and sometimes in the middle of the day, preferably from french-pressed organic coffee, double-shot Americanos with soymilk, giant iced coffees with soymilk from Starbucks, etc.
CIGARETTES – CIRCA 1998 TO PRESENT
My first experience was around the age of 14. There are no specific memories of this event. There’s a memory of smoking a pack of menthols while drinking orange soda in a gully in suburban Utah and jumping in a small river with a dangerously fast current to hide the smell and almost drowning, sort of. I was caught a couple times for smoking, and once my mom gave me a small booklet with ‘Joe Camel’ on the cover that detailed how to quit smoking. I’ve never had a smoking problem, I think. I don’t really smoke now.
ALCOHOL – CIRCA 1998 TO PRESENT
My first incident drinking alcohol occurred after a 2-month period in which I stole wine coolers and beers from my parents and hid them in different places around my room. I was 14 years old, in eighth grade. I invited a friend over one night after I had stolen enough. After 2 wine coolers the friend interrupted me, saying, “Hold on,” and vomited into a trash can. I vomited a lot into the toilet. The next day, like a dumbass, I put the empty wine cooler and beer bottles in our outside garbage bin without trying to cover them. My dad caught me as a result, but hid it from my mom for unknown reasons. Obviously there were numerous occasions later in which I made a complete dickhead of myself on alcohol. I’ve used alcohol regularly since the first experience, with peak times during my year in Europe and the year I wrote my first novel, when I realized it was good for reducing anxiety.
MARIJUANA – CIRCA 1998 TO PRESENT
Before the first time I used marijuana, I unsuccessfully tried to use it at least 10 times, every time having used fake marijuana. I was watching a Peter Jennings news report during the first time I used it authentically. I heard Peter Jennings repeat the same headlines. It was like the chorus of a song stuck in my head. At a grocery store, later, I couldn’t stop my internal monologue from repeating “sorry but you’re dead”—an Insane Clown Posse lyric that my friend kept saying. Walking away from the grocery store my friend pointed at a car and said “Haha look it’s your dad.” I saw my dad’s car. My dad’s car was stopped directly in front of me. My dad was staring at me. I stopped walking. I looked at my dad. My friend laughed and said “Sorry but you’re dead.” I looked at my dad. My dad was staring directly at me, wrist resting at the 12:00 position on the wheel, hand down. He was wearing Oakley sunglasses. I said “Fuck.” My friend said “Sorry but your dead.” I realized it was not my dad. I used marijuana regularly during high school, college, and sometime after college. I was addicted to marijuana in sophomore year of university. I quit smoking marijuana around the age of 22 when I realized that marijuana just made me berate myself and feel terribly embarrassed for my behavior, etc.
LSD – CIRCA 1999 TO PRESENT
I first used LSD in my freshman year of high school at a homecoming football game. A friend had taken it too, knew more about it than me, and when asked, told me to just stare at certain things. The friend pointed at a rail that had some paint chipped off it and said “Just look at that… it’s trippy.” I looked at the rail with some paint chipped off. Nothing happened. I was in front of the school after the game was over and must have been high because two friends were in front of me crying. I asked them why they were crying and they said because I had taken acid. “Are you going to tell my parents?” I asked. “I don’t know,” they said. I was afraid. On the way home someone in the car started screaming. We found an albino praying mantis in the car, stopped and let it out. In a friend’s room, later, I was lying on the bed and seeing in the corners nets of colors beating. A Nirvana poster was surrounded by color and moving slightly. After this incident there are no memories of taking LSD until senior year of high school. No one paid enough attention to notice I wasn’t getting dressed in the morning, just taking acid and going to school in my pajamas. I would walk in the hallways staring forward with a neutral facial expression. I was terribly depressed. My mom eventually found out.
MUSHROOMS – CIRCA 1999
I first ate mushrooms sometime during freshman year of high school. There is no specific memory of the incident. I used mushrooms semi-regularly for about six years afterward and stopped abruptly as the result of one experience. I had taken a very small dose and initially played Counterstrike. My performance was incredible. I was killing everyone. I stopped and listened to Boards of Canada while watching Windows Media Player visualizations. Later I was afraid because I was hearing explosions and people screaming outside my window. I was thinking about the poverty of Africans. I vomited in the bathroom, turned on the shower, and vomited again. I couldn’t stop hearing sentences repeating in my head. I tried to get in the shower and fainted. I woke up and crawled to the toilet and vomited. I was hearing demon-like noises coming from somewhere. I accepted my own death. I was having long tangential thought sequence things that would go from innocuous to terribly visceral in a number of convolutions on the original thought. I stood up and successfully got in the shower and fainted again. I woke up and got out of the shower. Later I was in my bed and sleeping. I didn’t eat mushrooms for a long time, after that, until I went to Sasquatch three years ago, where we found mushrooms and ate them. I had a good time.
FOXY – CIRCA 2002
I’ve taken foxy twice, both experiences when I was around 18. Memories of the first experience are mostly lost, except for the recollection of lying in bed, under covers, the lights turned off, terribly uncomfortable, seeing opaque, neon-colored cylinders that stretched from the floor to ceiling, their middles swaying like underwater. It had been very quiet. The second experience occurred with a friend overnight at a five-star hotel in the Wasatch mountain range of northern Utah, at a ski resort. I was looking at the drapes. The folds of the drapes were being weird. I couldn’t really concentrate them. We walked around the hotel listening to our headphones. From the atrium you could look up and see every floor of the hotel, all carpet and concrete, hanging plants and fountains. There was a giant tapestry on one wall. I was listening to Boards of Canada. In a snowstorm outside I was with my shirt off and my winter jacket open. I was walking up the bunny hill. My body felt incredible. I yelled something about beating nature. My friend was mad at me.
NITROUS OXIDE – CIRCA 2002
The first time I took this drug I was relatively inebriated. I was at a party at the apartment of a DJ from the rave scene in Salt Lake. Friends were around me—they knew I had never done nitrous before. They showed me how to do it with a balloon. I did it. I was sitting on a bed. One of my friends said is “Hey Brandon is everything echoing right now.” I couldn’t tell if he was repeating the sentence or if everything was echoing. I said, “Is everything supposed to be echoing?” There are no other significant memories of nitrous oxide.
MDMA – CIRCA 2002
I began taking this drug regularly around the age of 17, in the form of ecstasy, at raves and sometimes by myself or with friends in non-rave settings. I started to experience terribly disturbing hallucinations while high—closing my eyes I remember seeing humans decaying into skeletons in time-lapse and a nun’s face, for some reason—her eyeballs rolling while her skin melted away to the muscles, the muscles rotted enough to expose the skeleton—in a loop that I could not stop consciously processing. Concurrently I was unable to ignore a line of logic regarding the nature of the drug’s affect on me—how I felt positive only as a result of an object that was not myself. This all lead to the experience of being high meaning near-anxiety attacks characterized by thoughts like “Everything is not okay” and “Everything will never be okay” and tonal sensations that the nature of life was one of despair, helplessness, regret, shame, etc. I stopped taking MDMA for about three years. I resumed taking MDMA when I lived in Holland, cautiously at first, later becoming somewhat heavily involved with the drug again—my friends and I had started to get it in pure form, molly, in bags. We often used it at a squat that frequently held small, intimate parties, keeping small bags in our pockets, taking a little whenever we wanted, all night.
KETAMINE – CIRCA 2002
There are no specific memories of the first time I used ketamine, which was around age 17 or 18. The strongest recollection of ketamine use regarded an instance when I was concurrently smoking marijuana and inhaling nitrous oxide. I was in an easy chair and the popular high school band Sublime was playing on the CD player. I was with a friend. We were snorting lines of ketamine and then smoking marijuana from a pipe and blowing the marijuana smoke into a nitrous-filled balloon and inhaling and exhaling the nitrous-filled balloon until there was no more nitrous oxide in the balloon to achieve acute sensations of pleasure, [adjective describing state in which one is unable to comprehend anything], disorientation, etc. The first time I attempted this process my vision behaved as a compact disc sound when it skips—a single frame of vision replacing itself repeatedly for over 60 seconds, I think. Everything was vibrating. Obviously I couldn’t move. My friend was later vomiting in the bathroom a lot and I remember being particularly fascinated by the sound of it; it was like he was screaming at the same time as vomiting, which I found funny, and he was making, to a certain degree, demon-like noises. My time ‘with’ ketamine lasted three months at the most, but despite my attempts I never achieved a ‘k-hole.’ At a party, once, I saw a girl sitting in bushes and asked her what she was doing and she said “I’m in a ‘k-hole.’” While I have since stopped doing ketamine because of availability and lack of interest, I would do ketamine again because I would like to be in a ‘k-hole.’
AMYL NITRATE – CIRCA 2001
My first experience with amyl nitrate occurred around the time I was experimenting with LSD, MDMA, ketamine, etc. I was 17 or 18. Medically, amyl nitrate is used as an antidote to cyanide poisoning, and the drug’s Wikipedia page says that it’s “most often… used recreationally by men who have sex with men as a sexual enhancer.” I had attained a small, brown bottle of the drug from someone who had gotten it from a medical worker. The person showed it to me and said, “Just open the cap and sniff it hard, it’s so cool.” I did it. I got a head rush, fell over making a sound. My face and ears felt hot. The feeling lasted maybe 60 seconds. It was embarrassing. I bought it from the person. Instead of using amyl nitrate to have sex with other men for sexual pleasure, I used amyl nitrate for other people—going around parties and offering it up. I used it as social capital, which seems ‘piece-of-shit-like’ at this moment. I would probably never do amyl nitrate again because it seems ‘so retarded.’
DEMEROL – CIRCA 2001
I took Demerol, also known as pethidine or meperidine, as a prescription, which was given to me by a dentist for pain associated with a wisdom teeth operation, which is weird, because Wikipedia describes Demerol as such: “In fact, [it] is no more effective than morphine… and its low potency, short duration of action, and unique toxicity (i.e., seizures, delirium, other neuropsychological effects) relative to other available opioid analgesics have seen it fall out of favor in recent years for all but a very few, very specific indications. Several countries, including Australia, have put strict limits on its use. Nevertheless, some physicians continue to use it as a first line strong opioid.” I was seventeen years old. I had taken all of the Demerol, mostly resting on a white couch in my mom’s living room while high, and when I closed my eyes, I saw terrible, disturbing things on the back of my eyelids. Mostly viscera and gore, I watched weird time-lapse things play out tangentially in an extremely detached, but almost disbelieving manner; I remember thinking “Damn, this is sweet,” and simply “Damn,” “Cool,” and “Damn, is this really happening?” Dreams I had on Demerol were in the same vein—weird, bloody, worrisome, and characterized by the manic quality of a complete loss of control. I felt oddly content, however.
COCAINE – CIRCA 2003
Before having used cocaine, I had a low-level, widespread fear of cocaine, which now seems connected to my middle-class, suburban background. The fear was that once I used cocaine, I would have crossed some threshold into being ‘fucked.’ My first experiences with cocaine, which occurred when I was around 19, were generally negative. I consistently became depressed after cocaine use. After college, I seemed to grow to accept cocaine, maybe as a result of an increased ability to see past previous ideas I had been conditioned/ conditioned myself to believe, such as “Taking [‘hard’ drug] will destroy your life,” and to substitute them for more liberal and sophisticated ideas such as “Taking [‘hard’ drug] does not produce any inevitability, and if used thoughtfully, will not result in dangerous consequences.” At the same time, I was still affected by the idea that cocaine was something of an ‘older person’s drug,’ or something—a drug that was more classy, perhaps. Definitely ‘way more mature than weed.’ After I accepted cocaine back into my life, I used it somewhat regularly, with peak times when I was around 25, in karaoke bars of ambiguous sexual orientation. I did an entire session worth of filming for this short film I made with two friends, as an actor, camera man, and director, on cocaine:
ADDERALL – CIRCA 2008 TO PRESENT
I first did Adderall on somewhat of a whim after my roommate had given me one or two. My friend had obtained the Adderall from someone in his AA group, who had been selling his prescription for around five dollars a pill. I enjoyed the Adderall that day, experiencing an increased sense of productivity and delight in life. I was later able to attain more Adderall, this time from my roommate and a variety of other clandestine outlets, and began using it for social situations, as it enabled me to act more social, spontaneous, and—some might say—charming. Adderall also enabled me to consume more alcohol than I normally could without feeling as intoxicated, and for some reason, I felt that this was a positive benefit. I found, however, that my perception of my behavior while on Adderall may have been vastly different from onlookers’ perception of my behavior, well illustrated by the night I most likely completely alienated a girl I was dating because of my ‘extreme state of highness’ on Adderall, because by the end of the night, I couldn’t find her and we never spoke again. It was embarrassing. Generally, my Adderall use in public has seemed characterized, retrospectively, by behavior for which I’ve felt ashamed “for what I’ve done” the day to week after use.
SALVIA – CIRCA 2008
Before having taken salvia, my conception of salvia was that salvia was ‘really retarded,’ manufactured and produced for people in high school that got caught smoking marijuana by their parents and had to be drug tested and sent to embarrassing rehabilitation centers for ‘troubled adolescents.’ My friend had been caught by the police for smoking weed and was getting drug tested, or something, and was so addicted to weed that he felt ‘forced’ to smoke salvia. We smoked some in our mutual friend’s computer room. I think my eyeballs were pointed straight ahead but my vision kept rolling downward to my legs while my pupils remained pointing forward. My face and ears were hot and kind of stinging. I said “This is really uncomfortable” to my friend, who was sitting in front of me, I think, and he said, “Yeah, it really isn’t pleasant, is it?” I don’t think I said anything for the remaining 15 to 20 minutes of the experience.
RITALIN – CIRCA 2008
Ritalin was taken the first time I went to New York as an adult. A friend that I had met while going to school in Holland was in New York at the time. He had what struck me as an obscenely large prescription bottle of Ritalin, orange and wide, as well as a small squeeze bottle of what he called “Ritalin water.” We were somewhere in Manhattan with a mutual friend, drinking beer at a table outside a large sports bar, and then, a little later, after it had turned dark, in an empty dance club. I’m not sure I was on Ritalin then, but later, when we were at our mutual friend’s cramped, hot apartment somewhere on the Lower East Side, I feel sure I was on Ritalin, as my two friends were kissing each other and a lot of strange Polaroids were being taken. We were ‘railing’ very large, pink lines of Ritalin and writing what I later felt to be embarrassing, nonsensical captions on the Polaroids. At some point we moved to the roof of the apartment, where we leaned over the edge. We could see much of the city. We were drinking the ‘Ritalin water’ and talking a lot. Some time after the sun rose, I left the rooftop, but I was very confused and could not find the door to my friend’s apartment. I went back to the rooftop and asked where the apartment was. I could not understand what they were saying to me. The tone of my feelings had changed from ‘excited and happy’ to ‘life is not okay and will never be okay, life is a utterly bleak, your behavior is shameful and irredeemable’ and included a somewhat out-of-control desire to be away from all forms of human interaction. I do not remember getting back into my friend’s apartment, but being in her shower, which felt too small, but offered relief from people, and then attempting to sleep in her bed, where I had only lay there feeling uncomfortable and afraid. When my friends came in from outside, they wanted to go to a restaurant with someone I didn’t know. There, I couldn’t eat any of the vegetable sandwich that I had ordered, and everyone around me was talking. I wasn’t talking at all. I think one of them thought I was bad. I was shaking and sweating a little. Outside it was hot and crowded. I felt sure I would vomit. I was afraid of fainting. Eventually, I called the friend who I was staying with and went to her apartment in Brooklyn, where we ate popcorn and watched movies, which made me feel a lot better.
OXYCONTIN – CIRCA 2009
I was able to obtain Oxycontin from a friend whose father had Alzheimer’s, and way, way too many prescription drugs. She had a small bottle of liquid Oxycontin. Its cap had an eyedropper sort of thing, and we tended to use it all night, at bars, dropping an eye-dropper full in our mouths. We made no effort to hide our use. It tasted like Dimetapp. Oxycontin, I felt, gave me a sort of ‘insane power,’ where I would be highly social and talkative and able to drink a lot of alcohol. I mostly have vague memories of being on Oxycontin—vague memories of grinning and laughing and being loud, talking too much, doing embarrassing ‘hitting on-esque’ actions ‘to’ girls, and terrible hangovers the next day.
TYLENOL 3 – CIRCA 2009
I took Tylenol 3 one morning to combat an Oxycontin hangover. I quickly fell asleep. I lay on my couch for over 14 hours. I woke up a number of times but was so weak with sleep that I felt that I could hardly move my limbs.
DIAZEPAM – CIRCA 2010
I first obtained diazepam, also known as Valium, while traveling through Mexico and countries in Central America. I was initially afraid of the drug, mostly because of the context in which I had to take it—in hostels of various third world countries. However, it was easy to get, as I could find at least one pharmacy that would sell it to white people in whatever town I was staying. Usually the attendants grinned when I asked them. I first took it while drunk. Within 2 minutes of ingestion I felt dizzy. I said to my friend “shit, this is strong, should I have taken this much?” but the dizziness went away and I was pleasant, calm, and happy for the next couple of hours. I slept with an incredible feeling of peace and joy after listening to emotional music from my iPod. Over the next month, I took diazepam somewhat habitually. Disappointingly, my tolerance increased so rapidly that I found myself having to take up to four ‘units’ in one night to achieve the feeling that I had achieved during my first experience with diazepam, and I always had to do it while drunk, which worried me, because I heard that diazepam and alcohol are a potentially seizure-inducing combination.