Well, I did it. I went to the desert and took LSD for the first time. And I could very simply describe what it was like in a single, short sentence. Indeed, I've thought about what I'll say to people in conversation, if and when they ask. Because I won't always be able to ramble on endlessly, like I can in a blog post. I'll have to have some kind of succinct reply. So here's what that will be: It was the most profound experience of my life.

And if the person asking me is curious, and has a few minutes, this is what I'll go on to say: It was the most terrifying thing I've ever been through. I thought I'd lost my mind. I swam in and out of states of panic and semi-psychosis. I threw up multiple times. For three and half hours (out of the twelve hours the trip lasted), I was convinced I'd overdosed and had irreparably damaged my brain. I was one hundred percent sure I'd have to be committed to a mental institution, because I'd never be sane again. There were stretches of time so unbearable I wanted to kill myself.

That being said?

Those hours of horror were also shot through with the most incredibly sublime, the most indescribably beautiful moments I've ever known. I saw, felt, and knew things that made me literally cry out with disbelieving joy. I screamed with laughter - actually screamed - as blissful tears ran down my face, about happiness, about the beauty of friendship and love. I saw myself and my life in ways I didn't know I could, and experienced gratitude and self-love on levels that the words "feeling" and "emotion" can't come close to capturing. I've spent the last two days thinking of how I'll even attempt to explain what acid was like for me. And the best way to describe it, as ridiculous as it sounds, is that I had a consciousness-gasm. I had no idea it would be like that. No idea.

Me being me, I have so, so much more to say about it. In fact I don't know that I'll ever shut up about it, because it changed my life. And yeah, I can imagine the eye rolls a statement like that inspires. Believe me, I'd have rolled my eyes too. But that was before I ingested somewhere between two and three hundred micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide.

But me being me, I have to do things in chronological order. And before I can write about Joshua Tree, I have another awesome thing to share, to jot down in my humble digital scrapbook. Because on Thursday night, the sneaky little squirrel that is Krista threw me a damn surprise dinner party. Sneaky. Little. Squirrel.

A few weeks ago when she found out I'd be gone for my actual birthday, she asked if she could take me to dinner the night before I left, to celebrate early. Sweetest thing ever, that she'd want to, and so unnecessary considering I see her all the time. I'm of the opinion that if I'm lucky enough to see my friends on the regular, the last thing I need is a big official fuss made over me on the Blessed Day of My Birth. Anyway, of course I happily accepted her invitation and was looking forward to a chill night of drinks and sushi at our spot, before I went home to pack, sleep, then hit the road with Terence.

Well, after she set that up with me the little squirrel went and reached out to Terence behind my back, to see whether he'd help up the game by inviting Kerry and Ross. Which he did. So on Thursday, after a day of super-excited texts from Krista (which were cheering me up like crazy, since I was feeling a little weird about the big four-oh), I met her downstairs and we headed to the restaurant. Only when we walked in, she steered me away from our usual place at the bar and to a table, where my boyfriend and dear friends were waiting for me with drinks, freakin' presents, and a vase of my favorite flowers (peonies).

So, yeah. That's what the lovelies in my life did for me on Thursday night. I started crying immediately of course, which freaked everybody out a little bit, but there was no helping it. I was just blown away. Terence and I had just seen Kross a few days prior on Memorial Day, for a barbecue at their house. And again, that was plenty for me, in terms of celebrating anywhere near the week of my birthday. And yet there they were, both of them so busy with work and with so little free time. But they had made time. And I mean, for Krista to have planned and executed a surprise like this was just too much. She is already always doing the most considerate things for me. I was just speechless.

I was also a little bit spooked, because I'm the kind of person who gets nervous blending friends together. I'm always afraid that it'll be awkward, which is dumb because my friends are all such great, outgoing people that it never is awkward. But I get nervous all the same, because I just always want everyone to have a good time. Well naturally, they all made fools of me. Krista and Kerry were brilliant, mixing it up, getting to know one another, melting my damn heart. A couple of acquaintances from the restaurant showed up and joined the party, and the seven of us were solid for a good four hours. Dinner, drinks, shots, then we migrated to another bar downtown for more of the same. Krista even brought her camera and took the time to get some great shots of everyone I can't wait to see. It was all just fucking lovely, and meant the world. Best and most surprising send off ever.

Oh, and the presents. Getting gifts embarrasses me, because just seeing my friends assembled is gift enough and also I'm forty damn years old and don't need presents. But Kerry got me a beautiful ring, hammered gold in a really neat organic shape that kind of sticks out, and which I can fiddle with (perfect, as I'm a big fiddler). A few months ago at dinner with her I'd lost a ring, a cheap silly thing that didn't mean much. And I didn't realize it at the time, on Thursday, but that must have been what was on her mind when she picked it out. So freakin' thoughtful. And Krista, that sneaky little squirrel? Oh, no big deal, she just secretly did a photoshoot with Chaucer and made a book out of the portraits. Check. This. Shit. Out:

Unreal, right? She apparently coordinated with Terence, to have him walk Chaucer one morning when I was asleep, to a building around the corner with a good backdrop. Terence then supplied the captions, which are some of the silly things I say to Chaucer when I'm nuzzling on him. She then edited the photos, did the layout, had it published, and even ran to our building's sister property on Thursday to pick it up, when the delivery guy found our rental office closed.

Ridiculous. The people in my life are ridiculous. They're also damn photogenic:

That bitch in the dumb headband is too lucky for her own good.