Citation: 77k. "A Lesson in Civil Engineering: An Experience with 2C-E (exp10583)". Erowid.org. Nov 14, 2001. erowid.org/exp/10583
After Burning Man 2000, I magically found myself in possession of a little foil packet containing 100 mg of 2C-E. This was probably something I'd never see again, so I had to make the most of these precious crumbs. This experience report is about two trips: first, a trip I took alone at the beginning of October 2000, and second, one I took with three experienced explorers in June 2001.
I feel it was worth reading the PIHKAL entry on 2C-E
because Shulgin's description for this substance is pretty much on the mark... even though some of those qualitative comments are on the wacky side.
My description of my first trip will be brief, because there was really a lot less 'meat' to it than my second trip. I'm including both trips because I find it interesting to compare one to the other, to illustrate the huge difference that set and setting can have on the course and content of a psychedelic experience.
trip 1 ------
This evening, I ate 22 mg of 2C-E in a gelcap on an empty stomach. Since this was my first time with it, I had no plans to leave the house and I had friends around to keep an eye on me. There was essentially nothing for the first half hour. There was a slow but steady increase up until t+1:15, at which point things accelerated. During this initial slow come-on, it seemed to have a lot of similarities to 2C-B, in that while there was not very much happening, I got the impression that there was a lot that could happen. At t+1:15 the 2C-E started to express more of its own character and the visuals got more interesting. I'd say that this acceleration stage continued until the peak/plateau was reached at t+2:00.
The quicker part of the come-on brought some nausea. A single medium-sized bong hit took care of it. I also started to wander around aimlessly, unsure of what to do. Listening to music didn't seem quite right, so I eventually listened to some other people have a conversation for a while. The 2C-E started to get more 'heavy', like my body was a little more encumbered. Visuals got more complex. They were reminiscent of 2C-B and DOM - surface alteration and blending of colors and patterns. There were no large-scale perspective changes, nor excessive vibrations or persistence of vision. The visuals seemed healthy, well-formed and captivating.
I wasn't quite sure I was having fun. But I wasn't at all bothered by this trip. I was with a small group of friends and had planned on really exploring this compound; I wasn't taking it for 'recreation.' So even though I didn't have the feeling of 'this is fun,' I still was very interested in what was happening and I saw no reason to complain. The lack-of-funness seemed to be due to indecisiveness about what to do and what was worth doing. I was tripping fairly hard, but I didn't know where to direct this psychedelic state. There was moderate time dilation.
Eventually I got around to listening harder to music, since there didn't seem to be much else that would hold my interest. This was a very good choice. 2C-E's music effects were also similar to 2C-B's. For me, 2C-B produces a very strong and unique expansion of sound into all the space surrounding the speakers and the listener, to the point where it sounds like all the air around me is emitting sound at me. Sound feels rich and full and very high-fidelity. With 2C-E, these effects were present but muted. More importantly, with 2C-B music can construct incredible mindscapes while still leaving me surprisingly conscious of the experience. 2C-E took this and ran with it, in a way that was stronger and more profound than 2C-B.
There was excellent synaesthesia. Music became less of a pure auditory sense. It narrated a detailed dream in all six senses, and things like the perception of the shape and position of my body were warped to conform to this dream. For a moment I became a character in one of these stories, and I felt and saw myself playing the role. Sounds were no longer sounds. Instead, a sound, riff or note progression was an idea or a theme in a cosmic narrative that was tuned to take me on a tour of my own mind. These kinds of music effects are common to many psychedelics, but 2C-E's rendition of them was impressive and really high quality. I didn't just disappear into the music; I kept a strong awareness of what I was feeling and exactly why I knew it was so enjoyable.
I spent several hours listening to music and had a great time. The plateau probably lasted until about t+5:30 or t+6. I spent most of that time listening to music. I spent a little bit of time checking out the visuals. Closed-eye visuals to music weren't particularly obvious. Instead, visuals were more dreamlike and conceptual than they were actually things to 'see.' Open-eye visuals, when properly stimulated, had a lot to offer too - the blending of color and blurring of outlines in some abstract paintings was very nice.
I did not find myself becoming very introspective or contemplative of the world. I think this may have been because I had a somewhat limited set of stimuli to direct my trip, since I had stayed inside. Also, I think once I had figured out how nice music was, I had subconsciously decided listening to music was what I was going to do for this trip. The 2C-E seemed primed and ready to take my thoughts elsewhere if I wanted it to; I just chose not to.
Visuals decreased fairly rapidly as the plateau ended. Then I started to get a nasty headache, which 1000 mg of Tylenol took care of.
I smoked some marijuana and entered a more entranced state of mind. Things around me looked more like a virtual reality rendition than the real thing, and it seemed like I was an observer of the scene happening around me instead of actually being there. Time was very slow. I was content to sit around and watch things happen and listen to more music.
The comedown hours were pretty unremarkable. What I remember most was that as I spent more time thinking about the peak period, I started to change my opinion from 'nope, didn't like that' to 'hmm, this was actually really good.'
The effects were mostly but not entirely gone by about t+10:00, at which point I tried to go to sleep, which I did after a bit of tossing and turning in bed. I felt fine the next day.
Shulgin had a comment along the lines of, 'I don't think I like it, since it isn't that much fun. But I intend to explore it again.' He is totally right. Afterwards, I knew I had a good time and I knew it was a good drug, but honestly I couldn't put my finger on why it was good, and I certainly didn't know why during the actual trip. It seemed like the 2C-E produced a nonspecific, broad psychedelic state that, on first glance, didn't seem that useful. But in this mild psychedelic plane there are deeply psychedelic tunnels and valleys that, when you find them, are definitely the place to be and to spend your time.
After this experience, I felt like I had a better idea how to use this drug. The proper stimuli seemed to be the key. The 2C-E needs a subject, a topic, to work on. And this brings us to...
trip 2 ------
It seemed foolish to hoard the remaining 78 mg of 2C-E. I chose three experienced friends, who I knew would appreciate such a rare substance, to go on a trip with me. The 78 mg was divided evenly among the four of us, by dissolving in water. After sitting for nine months, the powder had become much more tan than off-white, and it left a slight oily residue on the sides of the beaker. Hmm.
We wondered whether 19.5 mg would be enough. We considered having one person snort some, so the others could take 22 mg or so, but Flotsam and Jetsam's experience reports made it sound like a poor choice. Dissolving in water not only gave us the measuring precision we needed, it also ensured a slightly faster and more intense trip than using gelcaps.
We dosed at 3:30pm, and it did come on faster. By half an hour we all were sure things had started to change. We were sitting in the kitchen, talking, and as time passed we became more and more quiet. This foreshadowed the rest of our entire trip - during the hours that followed, we all had surprisingly little to say to each other. Verbal communication seemed unnecessary. We stayed together as a group, and it felt like what we experienced was already linked enough that words would just disrupt the mood.
At t+1:00 I decided to eat 0.5 g of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms out of a (silly) concern that 19.5 mg of 2C-E wouldn't be enough. I doubt the shrooms did much of anything, and 19.5 mg turned out to be plenty for everyone. Not long after this I puked, but that was over and done with quickly.
Our plan for the day was to take a long walk around the city. But we wanted to be sure we had safely settled into the trip before going outdoors among crowds of people, so we stayed inside for a while. At t+1:15 or so we decided to go into a darker room and listen to music. The kitchen was just too sunny. We chose U.F. Orb by the Orb. Immediately I was plunged into a time-dilated audio landscape very similar to my first 2C-E experience. The music was truly excellent; there is little point in elaborating.
Towards the end of the album I started to get restless, as did one of my companions. The music seemed to be a little less mesmerizing; I wanted to do something else. Soon thereafter the album ended and we all prepared to go on our walk. The day was fantastic. Sunny, mid 70's, light breeze. For the first ten minutes or so of our walk, I mostly concentrated on adjusting to the extreme brightness of daytime and the hustle and bustle of the city and all the people around me. I was never anxious or worried about walking around while so extremely high - I just had the usual, prudent wariness that any psychedelic gives me.
We soon came to a small park, surrounded by 10-20 story buildings. The grass! The grass was the most intense, saturated green I had ever seen. I am red-green colorblind, which mostly means that some shades of green look grey to me. So I was never too excited about green as a color. I could always see the green in plants, but now the green grass leapt out at me with all the power and purity of the more familiar red and blue. The leaves on the trees in this park were all kinds of subtle variations on the green theme of the grass. Some darker, some more reddish, some more translucent than others.
We lay down on the grass. I closed my eyes. I was surrounded by a dome of sound: birds in the trees, cars whooshing by, footsteps on the path nearby. The sound had a fantastic three-dimensional quality; I was reminded of DOM. All the subtle echoes, phase shifts and absorption of the concrete, grass, glass and air around me created mental images of the surroundings, like a cross between synaesthesia and passive sonar.
My body relaxed into the grass under me. If only the people around me knew what was happening in my head! If only I could see what was happening in other people's heads! I opened my eyes and looked up into the trees. I saw how different species of trees had marvelously varied leaf and branch patterns and silhouettes. I stared at a tree in front of me and let my mind work on its form and shape. It looked like coral, twisted and fractalesque, and then it looked like the branching of lungs. I saw the tree as a respiratory organ of the earth. It was INTENSELY alive! It was as if the tree had risen to stand, thrown its arms open and shamelessly exposed itself to the heavens, and from its skin glowed a tender crown of true green, the miraculous surface within which it built itself literally out of thin air. I think I am failing to describe the glory of the scene - my words cannot do justice to the perfection I saw in the trees.
I was caught in this moment of reverie. Such moments are one of the defining characteristics of powerful psychedelics. I found that primed for this state, all I needed to do was focus my attention on something for ten or fifteen seconds, and my mind would run wild, spewing forth an endless stream of free associations, ego trailing far behind, taking what few notes it could and shouting out any road signs it might pass on the way. And then seconds or minutes later I'd snap out of it, the endpoint of the journey - maybe in another dimension - still burning in the mind's eye.
I stood up and walked around this small park. I studied the juxtaposition of this green sanctuary with the comparatively drab buildings surrounding it. And I thought, what induced them to put a park here? What kind of planning went into it? How did they decide where to plant the trees, how to do the landscaping, where to route the roads? And then I felt like I was in a foreign city. I felt as if I had shed all the things I knew about this city, having lived here for years; it was as if I had just arrived from far away, with no preconceived notions of the territory, and my senses ready to take in something totally new. I sensed an extremely strong city archetype, theatrical or literary in its scope. I had been dropped into the middle of a novel whose dreamworld had been made real.
It was around this time when I realized that this was going to be a truly excellent trip, full of the effortless mental flow, childlike wonder and surprises around every corner that make psychedelics so worthwhile for me.
We resumed our walk and came to the city courthouse. I have always thought that this building is a stellar example of the poor architecture of the 1970s. In front of it is a large plaza of pure concrete, and off to one side is a bizarre quasi-mini-amphitheater of brick. There is no shade. There weren't many people here either, but it was a weekend. But I had seen more people elsewhere. A breeze caught some dead leaves and blew them across the plaza. I noticed that the 'amphitheater' had collected a bunch of dead leaves in its corners. The plaza seemed charged with some kind of negative energy that made it an unpleasant place to be, and the amphitheater seemed like a gutter along the edge that caught all the detritus from the plaza. I noticed that my mood had changed.
We walked down into the amphitheater, and I felt like I had entered a different world. I had a slight twinge of fear. I had no reason to be afraid, because there was absolutely nothing threatening around me. It seemed like people didn't go in here very often - it seemed 'more' deserted than the deserted plaza above. The unswept corners implied that this area was neglected by the groundskeepers. I think it fit some stereotypical idea I had of a place where unsavory people might hang out. We walked back out and across the street, and I felt much more relaxed as I turned away from the plaza. I had not realized how strongly my perception of my surroundings could change my mood.
This period was the peak of my trip. Visual effects were varied and good, but never really 'in my face'. What effects there were blended nicely into the entire sensory-perceptory package. A close look at grass or trees showed some motion and color fringing. It was hard to read a plaque next to a sculpture. And as I walked around, perspective was stretched. But these simple sensory alterations were subordinate to the perceptual changes I experienced. What mattered was what I saw in things, not just how they looked.
As I thought more about the city archetype and the way the city influenced my moods, I started developing a strong sense of civic pride. My thoughts turned to the contract between citizens and government, and what government on city, state and national levels provides for citizens. Look at these roads! These fantastic parks! There is virtually no trash on the ground. There is a water supply, sewers, a fire department and the police. I saw how civic infrastructure, provided by the government, enables human beings to grow, flourish and EVOLVE, by making it easy to survive and live one's life.
It made me feel proud to be a taxpayer. I thought this was fucking hilarious, and I actually laughed out loud at myself. Ordinarily I despise our government. It's certainly easy enough to hate it, considering who our President is and considering that we have atrocities like the War on Drugs. But for a moment I felt like a hardcore liberal. I was amazed by the good that could be done by a reasonably well-intentioned government. I was in awe of what I had, and the life that I could live, because I was a citizen of the United States of America.
It's the sort of thing I feel when I watch my city's lavish fireworks show on the Fourth of July. From my vantage point on the roof of my friends' brownstone, I can see the entire city illuminated and hundreds of thousands of people standing along the banks of the river. The fireworks are billed as a celebration of the independence of the greatest nation on Earth, and they fill that role admirably, but to me they are even moreso a celebration of the glory of the human race. Look around us, at what we, the people, can do when we put our minds to it.
Right now, I am finishing writing this experience report on November 14, 2001. I am remembering watching the World Trade Center collapse on TV. For the first time ever I have felt fear for my safety in my own bedroom; one morning in late September I woke up to the sound of a whole lot of emergency vehicles with sirens passing my building, and my first thought was, 'terrorists must have attacked my city.' (fortunately they hadn't.) And just yesterday in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance drove the Taliban out of Kabul, and the Alliance now controls half the country. Things are happening so fast that I don't even have time to form an opinion before that opinion is outdated and irrelevant.
What choice do we have in times like these but to look to our government, flawed though it might be? I love my country, but I do not trust my government -- yet to some degree I absolutely have to, because I cannot protect myself from kamikaze planes, anthrax letters or suitcase nukes. I have felt a return of that national pride that I've seen on 2C-E and the Fourth of July, but this time it's longer lasting and strangely bittersweet; I know better why some people hate America, and I have become even more uneasy with the U.S.'s domestic and international policies. I have a greater understanding of how to use what my government gives me, why it is necessary to have a government, and how to be critical of my government to correct its flaws. The 2C-E is what got me started thinking about all this, months before September 11. And now times are changing, fast, and I wonder what this beautiful city would be like if it were under siege.
Back to the trip...
We continued to walk, and reached the park that winds along the riverbank. All this time, we had spoken to each other very infrequently, mostly just pointing out interesting things we saw or deciding which way to walk. Each of us seemed to feel that our experiences were personal and probably difficult to share, none of us wanted to interrupt anyone else's concentration, and yet we all understood that our experiences were of similar power. We seemed to be confident that we were all in the same mental space, yet we never discussed it.
I walked over to a little floating dock on the edge of the river. The sun was setting, illuminating the tall buildings from the side. The pairing of the natural river with the synthetic city was a grand expansion on the themes I'd studied at the little park earlier in the trip. One of my companions pointed to a goose that was walking along the riverbank, and said, 'Mmmm, dinner.' Immediately I saw this thing as a walking roast. It was plump, moist and delicious. I became totally captivated with this goose, and then I saw it walking towards the rest of its group of geese. They were honking quietly at each other, slowly easing into the water, the flock flowing as a mass like a school of fish. They were absolutely beautiful and very tame, looking at all the humans walking by just like we were looking at them.
We eventually reached a friend's place, several miles into our walk, and relaxed for a while with a couple bowls of marijuana. It was probably about 8:30 now, or t+5:00. The 2C-E was still quite strong but it was pretty clear that it was going to start weakening soon. We were feeling a little more talkative.
Since we were still so high, it seemed appropriate to walk several more miles back home, via a different route. The sun had just about set, and the balance of the trip was slowly tilting from 2C-E to cannabis, so this walk was more contemplative and chilled-out than the mentally charged walk earlier.
Right after we started back, we passed an antique Jaguar convertible parked on the street. I hardly ever stop to look at cars, but this one stopped all of us dead in our tracks. I've never coveted an automobile, but I was suffused with lust for this sports car. I finally understood how driving this car could probably cause most adult males to have an instant orgasm. God, it was so beautiful.
We kept walking. Our path took us to the city's edge, along the harbor. We passed through massive elevated highways under construction, through an amazingly dimly-lit, sprawling park with sketchy-looking people, and across a bridge back into the main part of the city. This brought us to the city's Italian neighborhood. It was a Sunday night so the streets were pretty quiet. Once again we had entered a different land.
Shortly thereafter we walked by a group of elderly Italians playing some ball game I didn't recognize on a little field next to the street. They were laughing and seemed not to have a care in the world. The neighborhood exuded a welcoming, safe, rich residential feeling, the kind that takes decades to develop. I felt so totally relaxed that I, too, didn't have a care in the world. We sat on some benches and gazed at the waterfront. We spent five minutes tracking down a bush that filled the air with a sweet, flowery, almost intoxicating odor. We walked around, through and under a long and winding arbor overgrown with grape vines.
Finally we made it back home. The walk was about seven miles, and we were all pretty tired. One of my friends complained that his back had hurt for the past few hours. I was getting an awful headache. We smoked a few bowls, and I took 1000 mg of Tylenol. That did almost nothing, so I took 400 mg of ibuprofen too, which finally made a dent in the headache. It was around midnight, and we all eventually went to bed.
In conclusion: I think this was one of my best psychedelic experiences. It was a +++ level trip in all its glory, teaching me a coherent multi-hour lesson without ever getting out of hand. It was visually rich and mentally deep, and my emotions were very in tune with the wonders of the world around me. All the stars had aligned right... a nearly perfect day, a great group of friends to trip with, a no-nonsense drug.
I found 2C-E to be excellent - but I felt the need to put in some effort to get the most out of it. Things to remember if I ever do this again: Have a good plan for what I'm going to explore during the trip. Don't rush... set aside a full day to ride the drug from start to finish. Meditate on the things I experience, concentrate on my senses and let them guide my thoughts. Give the 2C-E the chance to lead, for it is a wise and worldly teacher that deserves respect.
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