Citation: Zam. "Meandering Towards the Emerald City: An Experience with MDA (exp9217)". Erowid.org. Sep 3, 2001. erowid.org/exp/9217
||(powder / crystals)
I've tried MDMA 11 times, with my first experience in the summer of 1996, the last few experiences getting less good. Three of the 11 MDMA uses were all under 100mg. I've tried MDE once and enjoyed it.
My partner loves MDMA and it had been a year since my last attempt to re-capture the positive MDMA experience (and 2 years before that) so I wanted to try something upbeat at burningman this year. Something to break up the heavy, constant stress I've been under for the last 9 months. MDA was available in fluffy white crystals and reports from folks who had tried the same batch were very positive. 10 of us got together and planned to swallow between 90 and 140mg each with one sober watcher.
At about 9pm I took 50mg of 5HTP with a variety of antioxidants (alpha lipoic, C, E, etc). At about 10:40, I took 130mg MDA (Zara took 90mg) with some chewable papaya enzymes to try to reduce stomach discomfort. We had both eaten a full dinner of lentil stew at about 8pm. The powder was dissolved in water with some more 5HTP and antioxidants and the resulting sour/bitter fluid chased with some water and chewable vitamin C.
There is a particular schtick that I've experienced tripping at burningman with groups which occurred this time as well. People fumbling about looking for items, needing to go to the bathroom, wandering around confused. It can be quite frustrating if one is goal oriented to deal with a group this large. For this evening, Zara and I decided that the point of the excercise was to let go of goal-oriented thinking and just enjoy whatever came.
After a few minutes of my feeling annoyed at the group 'process', I started to relax and danced around outside the hubbub, enjoying being near friends in this amazingly bizarre environment. I was standing under a huge, 100' across cargo net attached to a 30+ foot tall center pole, lit from underneath with colored spot lights and watched someone working on some project with an 8' across satellite dish that I didn't really understand. Out on the playa there was a great deal of activity, lots of brightly colored lights. Far across the playa, over a mile away, I could see the brilliant green towers of the Emerald City. One of the things I've learned over the years at burningman is that humans share some affinity with bugs. We flock to lights and pretty sparkling lights in the distance attract people like flies.
As the group started to finish up with restroom visits, I felt the first signs of effects. It felt very similar to MDMA coming on, a little change in experience of joints, a little sense of 'world view shift'. Its a sort of sense of internal spinning or perhaps movement in a non physical way as my normal thoughts and ideas undergo a reorientation. A comfortable and familiar yet unusual sensation. Its certainly difficult to describe.
We started to head out across the playa to the glowing green Emerald City a mile away and one of the members of the party vomited and doubled over. Others were starting to feel effects ramp up as well. One person said he felt 'weak in the knees'. We got underway and another member of the party vomited and felt queasy. The rest of us started to come up and settle into the warm lush space that ecstasy can engender. I felt the familiar, yet long missed, joy of being relaxed, happy, and cloaked in a sense of loving and being loved. No wonder people like the MD* compounds. Yumm.
The effect was mild and calm, much softer than my first few experiences with MDMA, which were amazingly powerful. Where MDMA caused me often to experience tactile pleasure, this felt somewhat more 'mental', however Zara and I enjoyed especially the feeling of wind blowing over our bodies as we stood in the desert on the way to the Emerald City. Hugs went all around as the group started to settle in and people paired off to say gushy, upbeat things about how much they liked each other. I noticed some star-patterning around lights and some distinct nystagmus (eyes jumping when i looked at things).
A couple of times during the experience, it was clear that I was mentally cloudy and had difficulty concentrating too much on anything terribly linear. I tried and failed to explain concepts a few times and felt my communications were often muddled. I was easily confused. When someone tried to tell me a story, I found it difficult to pay attention for the whole 3 minutes and lost track of what was being described. Short term memory was definitely scrambled.
From the start of the trip on (continuing for the next 2 days) I experienced a strong (and slightly unsettling) feeling of Deja Vu. The images of the things that were occuring felt like they had happened before or I had experienced them in a dream or had precognitive visions of them. Or, an alternative way of describing it might be that each event felt so much like it was supposed to be that way that it felt pre-destined to be and that I was just flowing downstream in the river of events. The campsite, the van we were sleeping in, the walk across the desert, most everything for the next couple of days was strangely tinged with this deja-fated-hue.
One of my recurring problems in my life is overcommitment and internal stress about missed deadlines, missed commitments, etc. When I worked for someone else, I used to delude myself by thinking that the stress I experienced was externally imposed: that other people were the cause of my stress and suffering. Over the last few years as I've developed my own business and become my own boss, this delusion has been shown for what it is. I go through long periods where I overcommit to projects, things go wrong and new projects come up and I never come up for air. The last 9 months of my life (since december 2000) have been like that, where every week or two some major thing comes up and pushes all the work down the stack. Server crashes, new projects, conferences, business meetings, money problems, etc etc etc.
This experience (and the whole trip to burningman) was intended to be a break in this cycle. I hoped to be able to come away from the trip with a little sense of perspective that seemed to have gotten lost with all the work. At one point early on, a good friend showed me a move his tai-chi teacher taught him, a standing chi-gung 'sigh', with arm, leg, back and hip movements and a long slow breath with a deep sighing noise. It looked ecstatically lovely and I tried to emulate it, which I was able to do to some degree. Sighing felt very good and that was probably the defining experience of the trip. The feeling of release of stress, of deep breaths, and no-worries smiles.
There is this element of my experience of MDMA, MDA, and MDE which is difficult to communicate to folks who haven't had the experience. Its the feeling that this feeling should make up a much larger portion of the normal human experience. It is a feeling of inner health, balance, a mental 'loosening' which feels so good for the overall human entity.
At just after T+2 (around 1am), the effects were noticeably not as strong. The group had splintered and 3 of us ended up together at the Mausoleum, certainly the high point for art for 2001 for me and many others. We sat in silence in the warm light at the back of the Mausoleum for a while before I wrote the names of some friends I wanted to wish goodbye (the center of the piece was a huge bin of wooden blocks to write the names of the dead on to be burned later in the week along with the entire structure).
As we wandered back to camp, we started to get cold as the effects wore off and the temperature slowly went down. By T+4 (2:40am) we were down and Zara slipped into bed and quickly dozed off to sleep. I stayed up for another hour+ and took 1mg of xanax to help me get to sleep (I have terrible bouts of insomnia normally and really wanted the experience to include some actual sleep). During the experience I took several more antioxidant-capsules and had some of the experience colored by an acidic vitamin flavor creeping up my throat. I had to eat some chewable vitamin C and crackers to get rid of the horrid throat feeling / flavor.
We were surprised by the short length of the experience so we re-verified with the source that he was sure it was MDA, which he said he was. The next day we went and found some of the erowid crew who were out on the playa incognito this year and had them test the powder with a Simon's Reagent test and a Marquis test. Our MDA powder turned black/purple immediately with Marquis and caused no color change at all with the Simons. To verify the Simons was working, we also tested some known MDMA and it had the same reaction with the Marquis and turned blue immediately with the Simons. Erowid took a picture of the test which is viewable
Of the 15 or so people who I've now talked to who have done MDA, none of them had experiences matching the duration listed by Shulgin and we're a little confused.
The day after for me was quite drained and after a little exploring in the morning, I spent most of the day zonked out in a chair or baking in bed. Previous experiences with MDMA have nearly all left me nearly useless the day after and this was no exception. I took some 5HTP and antioxidants but the effects were minimal, if any. We drank some port that night and went to bed early.
The next couple days were slightly drained, but I experienced less of the depressive symptoms I often get after MDMA. I did notice (as I had after the last 2 mdma experiences) that I had mild continuing nystagmus for the next 3 days. My eyes would suddenly jump away from the thing I was focusing on. It is/was vaguely reminiscent of Attention Deficit feelings.. inability to focus on visual things, faces, peoples eyes, because while looking at something, suddenly I'd find my eyes jumping away to something else. Non ideal but not horrible either. At Day 4 I had some draining interpersonal problems that left me feeling more exposed and isolated than I normally do, but there are too many variables to say much reliably.
Overall, I found the experience nearly indistinguishable from MDMA and would be hard pressed to tell them apart, but the reagent tests (which we performed twice) certainly made it clear that the material was -not- MDMA.
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