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Chug! Chug! Chug!

Chugging beer is a skill I’ve never acquired; I’m not any good at doing shots either. I would have been better off improving these skills than chewing my fingernails off studying for exams.

Choking down the Chinese herbal tea formula — animal parts, twigs and all — that my acupuncturist devised is now part of my routine. The full grocery bag that I brought home yesterday held a week’s worth of herbs in seven bulging lunch sacks.

Coupled with D’s warnings about the tea’s vile taste — in China the saying is that if a tea tastes good, the formula isn’t good — and the potential of vomiting, the smell the bag emitted was ominous. Even better, it takes an hour to cook and I have to drink it after dinner, but three hours before bed. Mmm, we ate a tasty dinner with the odoriferous concoction simmering on the stove.

The recipe takes four and a half cups of water and is supposed to cook down to one cup; I wound up with two. Afraid that I would change the tea’s potency if I let it reduce to a single cup, I reluctantly took on the challenge.

Even without a chorus of frat boys cheering me on, I drank it all. It was truly awful but not as gross as I expected. Until I hit the bottom where all the sludge accumulated. Still, no vomiting and no horrendous aftertaste (unlike beer).

I see D again today (my insurance covers 45 acupuncture visits a year, so I’m going to cram in as many as I can). I hope he can impart the secret to making only one cup; I don’t think I can repeat last night’s feat.

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“You’re Gonna Be So High”

Saturday was a warm and sunny day at Vegoose, the music festival where we spent the weekend. Although everyone around me was standing and dancing, I laid in the grassy field outside of Las Vegas with my eyes closed, soaking up vitamin D.

I’d been a good patient and remembered to take my Chinese herbs with me to take throughout the day. I needed two doses of four of each of two kinds of herbs. Space in the backpack was at a premium so I crammed all 16 gel caps into an Advil bottle.

I realized my fatal mistake when I remembered to take my first dose — the two different pills are almost identical. To sort them into the two required doses, I had to sniff them all, looking for the ones with the stronger scent.

After a few minutes of this, a friend leaned down to tell me that everyone one around us was staring, trying to figure out what kind of cool new drug I was taking. My hands shaking, as they always do, signaled to onlookers that I was desperate for my fix.

I threw back all eight pills at once and a man said, “You’re gonna be so high.” Little did he know that less headache pain was the only high the herbs could offer.

Lying back on the grass, I couldn’t stop smiling. Everyone around us thought that I was on a massive dose of some mind-altering drug. And there was no way I could convince them otherwise. (“No, really, it’s medicinal Chinese herbs.” Who’d believe that?)

I laugh now imagining the stories told to friends about the drugged-out woman at the Raconteurs show.