It was my birthday, November 22nd. I worked at Accolade. On my way home, I stopped at the Adia office to pick up my paycheck. Adia (now called Adecco) is staffed by patronizing, sickly-sweet sorority types, girls who take business administration and other non-majors because they don't plan on working once they're married anyway. People whose entire lives are about being fake are perfect for this job. They'll say anything to keep the money coming; the rent on a temporary worker is typically over twice what the worker is paid. Along with my check, they handed off some kind of maple pumpkin thing to me for Thanksgiving.
When I got home there was a message from one of the Adia girls I'd just seen. When I reached her, she told me that Accolade didn't want me working for them any longer. Something about wandering around the building too much. Furthermore, Adia was no longer interested in representing me; she proceeded to explain that none of the people I'd worked for, none of them, had been happy with me. Any friendliness or praise I'd noticed coming from my co-workers was a mistake.
The real reason I was fired was for being in the middle of a resource war. It went down like this: I had a friend in Accolade's art department, and he let me use his computer after hours to play Doom. I was doing this when a lead tester came over and said he needed the machine. I logged out and made to leave. Then my friend reappeared. He said I didn't have to surrender the computer. So I launched Doom again. The tester came back, started yelling at me, then my artist friend started yelling at him. The next day I was fired.
Accolade really was a worthless company. They only made sports games, basically only endless rewrites of 'Hardball,' (except for the pathetic 'Bubsy the Bobcat'), and EA Sports was beginning to snow them under. They were losing money and looking for excuses. They were later gobbled up by some French company that made database software. It was at least as interesting as any game Accolade produced. I might also have been fired because Accolade, unsurprisingly, was populated by jock assholes who thought they were still in high school.
As for the talk about all my employers hating me, I knew it was bullshit but was too shocked to say so. If I'd been fucking around at work I wouldn't have cared, but I'd been trying and thought I did a good job. And part of me could believe it... many people in school had pretended to be my friend. So I gave up. It was months before I looked for work again, and before I realized just how depressed I was.
Now it was December. Wolfie invited me over to his apartment to hang out. He was one of the people who'd curiously vanished when John pronounced me insane, but he'd been good to me at other times and I still wanted to be his friend. I kind of wanted to sleep with him, too. His roommate Andre was there, along with Booga, another acquaintance. We hung around and talked and watched TV. It might've been a cookout.
After dark I got ready to clear out because everybody else was going to see Nine Inch Nails. My roommate was supposed to go too, but he bowed out... was I interested in the ticket? I said I couldn't afford it. But they were giving it to me. Yeah, sure, I'd take it. I was sick of hearing about Trent Reznor, but I didn't want to be by myself. We drove to downtown San Jose.
It was desolate for a NIN concert, half the floor empty. It was impossible for me to pay attention to the concert because I had a hole in my sneaker and beer or piss or something was seeping into it... I wandered around the floor looking for a dry spot. Everybody I'd come with was on LSD. On a giant silk scrim, a dead fox in a pile of leaves decomposed itself into existence, as Trent breathed the words to 'Hurt.' I had a moment of displacement, one of those occasional episodes where I stand back and wonder how it is that I've come to this place and time in my life. I could not explain. I lived in a strange town with no job and no close friends, and a future with little clarity. This was not how my life was supposed to go. The music heightened my sense of alienation. A kingfisher jabbed a minnow out of a pond, shattering the still of the water's surface, and Trent was done.
When we got back to Wolfie's place afterward, I asked if I could have some acid. Booga was telling me the last few weeks that I really should try it; I was curious enough that I'd researched it while temping at a pharmaceutical company. Pharmacologically it was safer than alcohol, I learned, and I decided I'd give it a try the next chance I got. So they gave me half a tab and I waited.
And waited. They said I should notice something in about fifteen minutes, but an hour went by and there was nothing. We watched old Amiga demo programs as I grew impatient. I said 'Nothing's happening,' about ten times. Andre is so laid-back that I doubt he noticed. My annoyance jangled upon Wolfie and Booga, who were well into their trip. Wolfie surrendered another half a tab to shut me up.
Andre went to bed; Wolfie and Booga went into the other bedroom to have sex, leaving me alone to play Doom. I didn't mind, but it was too bad about the acid. Except... the picture on the wall was suddenly very fascinating. Look at that. Hmmm. And then ten minutes passed, looking at this picture. The lamp was quite interesting too. Nice lamp. Kind of a retro thing going on. I wonder if it's vintage. I played a little Doom. Someone told me that if you took enough acid, you couldn't even see television, that it wouldn't register as images, but I had no visuals at all, just a growing sense of fascination and ambivalence.
"I think it's happening," I whispered to Wolfie as Booga sucked him off. I'd let myself into Wolfie's darkened bedroom because I had to share this information. I felt bad for implying that they'd slipped me shitty acid and wanted to let them know it had taken effect. Wolfie was amused but disinterested. My attention was drawn by a mobile, illuminated by what little light made it through the heavy curtains. I thought I saw it pulsate. After a couple of minutes Wolfie quietly suggested that I leave and let them get back to it. "Oh... sorry," I said. "No problem," he said amiably as I slipped out and closed the door.
I stayed up all night. When I grew bored with Doom I got online and talked to whoever I could find. I cornered this guy I knew named Jamal and had a lengthy conversation with him. Usually I avoided him, because conversations with him ended with his exploding and blaming me for everything wrong in his world. I seemed incapable of affront or offense. I didn't tell him I was on acid... his ignorance of this fact amused me. "You're really friendly tonight," he said.
Since it wasn't much of a trip, coming down was easy. But I found the morning sun awfully bright. My roommate Paul, the guy whose ticket I got, drove me home. He thought it was great that I'd dropped acid... he'd been wanting to try it-- I probably got his share of that as well. I hid behind my dark glasses, complaining about the light. I asked Paul not to let on that I'd been up all night... I wasn't ready to have my other roommates know I was doing drugs. When I got into my room I lay down and my body shut off for ten hours.
It had been interesting, but also lacking. Everybody talked about the hallucinations they had while tripping. I'd had one visual that I wasn't even sure I'd had. So it would have to be tried again, with a higher dosage. It wasn't for fun, I told myself. It was a science experiment.
On an evening later that December there was a knock on my bedroom door. I opened it to find a grinning Andre. "Merry Christmas," he said, slipping me a tiny foil packet, and disappeared. Happy holidays to me.
Four tabs of acid. Certainly enough to produce quality hallucinations. But four was a lot to do for only my second time, I felt. Let's not go crazy here. I took two. That way my next trip would be at least as good as this one. I waited until midnight so there would be no witnesses. The plan was to stay in my bedroom... I was afraid if I went out the cops would find me wandering.
It came on very fast. It was either better than the stuff from the NIN concert or its onset hastened with increased dosage. There was a sort of mental tape hum, a sense that I was a witness inside my own head, not just watching my surroundings but watching myself watching them. Then the visuals came.
Any pale, flat surface became painted with slowly-spinning pastel crystalline scales. I noticed these while staring into the bathroom mirror; the wall beside it was patterned with them. My face didn't distort, no matter how long I looked, but it was strangely compelling. I returned to my room to find the television had changed. A late-night religious station was on and the preacher's face was rubber, comically elastic, oddly fitting to the nonsense he spouted. I was incapable of resolving the stereo picture... I heard the echoey sound of the two channels out of sync. To my horror I found that every speck of dust, every pubic hair in my bed was ultra-accentuated and actually wiggled and twitched as though alive, as though performing for my benefit. I turned off the overhead lamp so I didn't have to see, leaving the room in the glow of my TV and monitor.
An Arcane Device CD was in the player when I put on the headphones. I already loved this album but now it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. I curled up on the floor and listened; occasionally I would get to my knees and look out the window. The clouds in the sky seemed to have organized themselves into a regular but fluffy geometric pattern; as I clutched the windowsill and watched in thrall they inverted, sky becoming cloud, cloud becoming sky. It was too terribly beautiful to watch and I ducked down to the floor again.
I got online to talk with people; I wanted a repeat of last time. But I soon learned that I couldn't stay focused on any subject for more than two or three minutes. My mind refused to stay interested. I found this really disturbing. My conversation was fragmented, aimless. I wondered if anyone could tell I was on LSD... or would they just think I was drunk? Phrases became stuck in my head, resonated. I couldn't control my thoughts.
Coming down was unpleasant. By the time the sun was up there were no visuals, just an itchy quality to my perception, like something scratching around in my head. Paul was playing this Pizzicato 5 song over and over and it put a coarse edge on things. I wanted to tell him "Please turn that off, I am on acid," but I was keeping my trip a secret. I lurked in the background, still unable to sleep, thumbing through an H. P. Lovecraft book while he talked with his friends. Again the damned sun was tormenting me, even inside the house.
I never took the other two tabs. The trip was too disconcerting to be considered recreational. Perhaps if I'd been with friends it might have been fun, but I couldn't see how people did this every weekend for entertainment. It was kind of wasted on me. The next time I moved house, I flushed the rest of the acid down the toilet... I had visions of some yokel cop pulling me over and somehow finding its elaborate hiding place. I regret that, and wish I was doing acid right this minute.