friends in ayahuasca
Wednesday, April 26 2023
At some point in the middle of the night, Ramona went outside and started barking. So Neville ran out too. The barking became frantic enough that Gretchen went out to see, joined soon after by me. There was a large bear treed in the oak tree just south of the south deck (which Ramona never actually left). After getting Ramona inside, I helped Gretchen retrieve Neville, who was barking up the wrong tree further to the south. The dogs were so worked up that I put first a chair and then a piece of plywood in front of the pet door, since I know from experience that the dogs can blast through the pet door even when it's latched if they're motivated enough. We had trouble getting them to calm the fuck down. They'd be whimpering in the bed with us, so we'd open the bedroom door to let the down into the lower part of the house. But then they'd get frantic again and I'd find myself carrying them back up the stairs and closing them in our bedroom. Then the cycle would repeat. At some point, though, I somehow managed to fall asleep.
It was a dispiriting day in the remote workplace as I tried repeatedly to get a damn self-signed SSL certificate to convince Chrome that a website wasn't an imposter. All I had to do was get one website to convince one particular client that it was legit, but nothing I did seemed to work. Either what I was doing was impossible, or, if it was possible, the incantations I was using were the wrong ones. I tried enlisting ChatGPT, but the particulars of my issue were too tiny for that to help with. Meanwhile my colleagues are now using AI nearly as much as I do, though they're still in the "make it do entertaining stuff" phase and aren't so much having it do some of their work for them.
At the end of the workday, I started fire in the woodstove to drive out the chill in anticipation of a small dinner gathering at our house tonight. And then I installed a new air conditioner compressor in the Forester. The old one was full of bright green fluid and various other horrors that squirted everywhere as I removed it, possibly punching a hole in the ozone layer immediately above my head.
Our guests arrived as the rain was wrapping up my work and rain was beginning to fall. They were Fern and her friend Erica, who is a professional artist working mostly in collage. Erica had stayed over one or more times while we were in Costa Rica and Fern was housesitting. Over dinner, we learned more about how Fern came to know Erica. It turned out they'd met at an ayahuasca ritual and both attended a subsequent one within the past week or so. We had a fairly long conversation about ayahuasca and the things it's done to the people we've known. For Gretchen and me, it's been mostly a negative force, as it caused the head of the animal rights organization I'd been working for back in 2018 to do wackier and wackier things, first changing his name and then turning over control of the organization to a bumbling guy named Matt who, in a fit of dictatorial caprice, fired me and the rest of the database team. There is also the case of Juliana and Lee, a couple we were good friends with. After taking ayahuasca, Lee decided he didn't want to stay married to Juliana. Gretchen saw him at some point in Herzogs after that and he seemed very different, making strange and inappropriate comments about his genitalia among other things. For Fern and Erica, the effects had been much more modest. It actually turned out that Fern's neurophysiology isn't much affected by the active ingredients in ayahuasca, though she was moved enough by the experience to forge a good friendship with Erica.
Dinner tonight consisted of black and white Asian noodles, brussels sprouts, and slabs of fried tempeh. I especially liked the tempeh, which worked nicely with the noodles.
Later we all sat in the living room near the fire and at some point Erica heard Gretchen say something about Oberlin, and this made her wonder did we know her partner of 23 years, whose name is Shannon. Not only did I know Shannon (she lived in Harness Co-op while I was also living there), but I knew her well. When I was in a relationship with Leslie M. (1992-1994), she was living in a house with a woman named Allison who was then dating Shannon. So Allison, Shannon, Leslie, and I hung out together many times and did a fair number of things together. Somehow we all even ended up in the East Village of Manhattan together, where I remember eating an extremely spicy Thai dish. So yes, I knew Shannon. I even knew some about her more recent life, which involved fixing up houses in New Orleans. There had been posts on Facebook about this for some years, though at some point these posts stopped appearing.
What a strange chain of connections! Gretchen had found an Australian woman to housesit for us on a website. That woman had befriended a woman at an ayahuasca ceremony. And that friend-in-ayahuasca happened to be a in a long-term relationship with a woman I'd practically lived with back in the early 1990s.
By this point I was drinking gin with a minty tea bag from a coffee cup.
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