I don't know if you know this, but Chris and I aren't really "ballers". We do not "ball". We take out high-interest loans with no intentions of paying them back and busk on the Internet for your spare chicken scraps. Which I believe is the exact opposite of "balling". Due to our anti-baller status, we can't really afford "insurance" or "proper medical care" and have to live like "high-class hobos", traveling from Cosi to Cosi filling up our Jansport backpacks with bread samples and complimentary pads of butter for the encroaching Winter. In lieu of medical benefits, we thought we'd spend an evening in my apartment just trying out a bunch of wacky shit that could potentially improve our mental and physical well-being. It's not the most clever thing we've ever done, but then again when the precedent is set with MSG, pussy dye, and bum wine, I guess it doesn't really have to be.
TEST #1: BINAURAL BEATS/iDOSING
According to Wikipedia: "Binaural beats or binaural tones are auditory processing artifacts, or apparent sounds, the perception of which arises in the brain for specific physical stimuli."
In Other Words: You listen to some queer noises and get high. Or lose weight. Or quit smoking. Or fall asleep. Or wake up. Or lots of things.
What You'll Need: A laptop/iPhone/iPod/mp3 player, a pair of headphones, access to a website with downloadable and/or streaming binaural beats (we used this one and this one), and a calming environment to relax in. To set the mood in my apartment, I turned off all the lights, tossed some throw pillows on the floor, and lit a musky incense stick.
Then I boldly stuck my hand up the front of Chris' blouse and felt up his tittays. And guess what? I'm telling everyone.
Step 1: Pick Your Desired Effect
We started small—I tried "Coffee Break" (considering earlier that day I woke up at 1pm, took 20mg of Adderall, drank a Redbull, ate a moderately-sized sandwich, and immediately passed out again for a few more hours) and Chris tried "Relaxation" (considering he was a ball of stress and anxiety from the lack of work we had done that day due to my sandwich/napping.)
"'Coffee Break' will help you ward off drowsiness and feel alert in minutes. If you need to wake up quickly, this recording is exactly what you are looking for. The 'Coffee Break' track uses high Beta waves that will help you overcome tiredness.
"Using a combination of Beta, Theta, and Delta waves, along with soothing waves in the background, 'Relaxation' will literally wash away your worries, giving your body and mind the time needed to restore balance and mental strength. At the end of the track you will feel peaceful and calm."
For our second round, we both tried "Out Of Body" from healingbeats.com.
Step 2: Plug In Your Headphones, Lay Down, Close Your Eyes, and Press Play
VERDICTS:Have I ever told you about Giant Camel’s relationship to the news? He has no interest in what’s going on in the world at large, but does like to be shocked, so he somehow has the news on his phone set up only to show him stories featuring certain keywords: murder, arson, rape, killing, beheading, disemboweling, “oh God the humanity,” “there were kids in that grain silo,” and “white people making problems for themselves.” Filed under this last, he read something a few months ago about “iDosing,” a new moral panic about children downloading binaural beat track from the internet and getting “high” from them. Isn’t that just made for Oprah? It has everything she likes: potential for addiction, something scary on the internet, and America’s Youth. Anyway, during Meg’s and my experimental session I chose a relaxation track with soothing ocean waves in addition to the beats. I was more relaxed afterward, having lain down in the dark with ocean sounds in my ears for twenty minutes. Then during the Out of Body one, I tried really hard. I had a friend in high school who was very rational and scientific except for her firm belief that she had been able to leave her body several times during childhood, so I was willing to try. Those binaural beats, by themselves, do make your body feel weird. I tried to loosen the ties to my body, I tried relaxing, I tried to gently push my “self” out my navel, but all I could think of was the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa has an out of body experience and Valentine’s Day 2002, when the aforementioned out-of-body friend and I sat in a parking lot in her Celica eating a large Whitman’s chocolate sampler and listening to Cypress Hill.
Tulane Chris’ Final Verdict: I miss Dhriti.
I give "Coffee Break" one "meh" and three solid "feh's". It kind of sounds like you're standing in the middle of a freeway and cars are whizzing past you in both directions. I mean, I guess I felt more awake by the end of the track, but I think that's mostly because I was lying on a hardwood floor for 15-minutes thinking, "Huh, it kind of sounds like I'm standing in the middle of a freeway and cars are whizzing past me in both directions."
I really, really wanted "Out of Body" to work. I can totally get down with this sort of hippie-dippie-reiki-rah-rah bullshit. I worked at a socially conscious, New Age supply store for a summer in college and I kind of got into it. It was such a weird job. We had to say "namaste" instead of "thank you" after every transaction and I never didn't feel like a total asshole when I did it. Looking back, I have no idea why they hired me. I wasn't an accurate representation of their clientele at all. They asked me what I knew about organic cotton during my interview and I distinctly remember muttering something about pesticides and wishing my skirt was about four inches longer and very much an earth tone. And yet not only was I hired, I was given keys to the store and put in charge of closing (alone) every night, despite the fact that I was 19 and about as responsible as a meth head with $40 and a vicious case of ADHD. It was a sweet gig though because I didn't have to work with anyone and customers never came in, so my friends would just drop by and shoot the shit over the Tibetan prayer flags and meditation tapes and figure out what we were going to do that night. This only backfired once when the owner unexpectedly dropped by right as Talia rolled up, saw the shop door open, rolled down all of her car windows, blasted Nelly's "Hot In Here" and repeatedly shouted, "MAY-GAHN! GET YO ASS IN THE CAR, GURRRRRL!" into the shop. Luckily for me, the owner was batshit crazy and either didn't notice or didn't care. And when I say he was batshit crazy, I don't mean that in like a, "Ohhhh, people who own their own businesses are crazy! LOL! Boo Boss #1! Boo Boss #2!" kind of way. I mean he was literally crazy. He had Multiple Personality Disorder, which I was warned about by his wife on my first day of training and told to just "go with". One of his personalities was Ghandi, and he'd routinely call me up and ask how business was in a full-blown Indian accent and I'd have to be like, "Oh, hi, Mahatma..." I'd think this story was made up if it wasn't a completely accurate description of my summer of 2004.
I 100% forget why I brought any of this up. YES—iDosing. So, yeah, I feel like that job gave me an appreciation for New Age bruhaha and I really wanted to have an out of body experience or get high from iDosing. Unfortunately neither happened. But not for lack of trying! I was totally in a zen place and the "Out of Body" track had started to freak me out, but then I was immediately taken out of the moment by Christopher Turner-Neil a.k.a. THE LOUDEST HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET. God bless him and God bless his heart, but the entire time I was laying there, all I could hear or concentrate on was Chris' breathing, and coughing, and wheezing, and sniffling, and the CRINKLE CRINKLE CRINKLE of his shirt every time he moved, and the little "Psssst! Psssst!" noises he made at me when he was done and I wasn't. Christ. Although full disclosure: he did offer to go in the bathroom while I tried it again in silence, but frankly at that point I had a raging headache from listening to that crap for 20 minutes and just really wanted to move on.
So, Meg's Final Verdict: Abrasive waste of time.
Crestfallen from that failure, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
TEST #2: MARIJUANA
You put the big hand in the little hand, put the strap and BOOM—it's Sunday night. Moving on.
TEST #3: NETI POT
According to Wikipedia: "A neti pot is a small pot used to flush out the nasal cavities by using gravity to draw the flow of saline."
In Other Words: You shove salt water up one nostril and it comes pouring out the other.
What You'll Need: A neti pot (available at GNC, CVS, Walgreens, blah blah blah), saline packets, and water.
Step 1: Fill Neti Pot With Lukewarm Water
(I like to think I'm not a stereotypical "stoner" when I smoke—I'm not all "TIME IS CYCLICAL, MAN!" and falling in love with Ben Harper, but it's worth mentioning that this step stupefied me. Chris told me to fill the pot with lukewarm water, so I turned on the hot water faucet about half-way. A few seconds later I tested the temperature and it was absurdly hot, so I turned it down a little. I let a few seconds pass, tested it again, and it was still too hot. I turned it way down so only a trickle of water was coming out, and it was still burning hot. I mean...I felt like I had just found a flaw in the universe or discovered a government conspiracy or something. Chris and I had this glorious, wordless exchange where I looked up at him—speechless—my eyes bugging out all, "HOW THE FUCK DO YOU MAKE LUKEWARM WATER?!?!" and he raised one single eyebrow at me, sighed, and turned on the cold water faucet slightly. I was like, "OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Yes." I don't know. It was one of the more embarrassing moments in my life.
Step 2: Pour In the Saline Solution and Stir Until Dissolved
Step 3: Bend Over Until Your Face is Over the Sink and Holding the Neti Pot in Your Right Hand, Put the Spout In Your Right Nostril
Step 4: Turn Your Head to the Right Until Your Left Ear is Above the Sink and Water Starts Flowing Out of Your Left Nostril. Drain Whole Pot.
Step 5: Repeat on Other Side
Step 6: Douse Your Bathroom in Cleanser and Try Not to Vomit
VERDICTS:You know those little specific rules you get raised with, that stick with you even as an adult? My father’s main one was “Never wear a short-sleeved shirt with a tie” and my mother’s main one was “Never ignore a sinus infection.” For once, she had an excellent reason: her great-aunt had ignored a sinus infection, and it had Gotten Out of Hand. The infection ultimately made its way into the bone, and the doctors had to take out half of the bone in her forehead. She had to wear a football helmet to protect her brain until they were able to put in a plate.* So after watching Meg’s little display – “Don’t talk to me. Don’t make me laugh. Aaaaaaaaaah. Aaaaaaaaaaah. Okay. Oh God. Okay. How much is left?!” – I was eager to see if the neti pot helped my cold, so it wouldn’t Get Out of Hand and Eat My Face Bones. Well. The saline got caught behind the globs of mucus in my face. I didn’t understand what was going on at first, I just knew that water had gone IN but not come OUT. Complicating the matter is the fact that it’s almost impossible to intuit how to rotate your head to make everything flow right: you’re supposed to rotate it as though looking over your shoulder, but that doesn’t “feel right.” Not to put too fine a point on it: I had to snuffle out huge globs of mucus-saline froth into and around the sink as Meg commented on how gross it was. Gross, yes: but after I snortled and snarfled and frithed and frothed I did feel a hell of a lot better. It’s not graceful, but sometimes–apparently–a man needs the inside of his head rinsed, and to my knowledge the neti pot is the only game in town.
*This sounds made up but it’s totally not.
Tulane Chris’ Final Verdict: Unpleasant but xX LOL EFFECTIVE Xx
Alex has been trying to get me to use a neti pot for well over a year now. He (and I feel like the rest of the world) swears by his, but I've always been too scared to try it. The first time he told me what it was I thought I was going to pass out. I mean, the water goes in one nostril and out the other. I didn't even know that was an option. I understand my sinuses like I understand my vagina—fluids go in, fluids come out, and everything in between is God's work.
Before this little experiment, I first had to come to terms with the fact that I was probably going to die. Because nothing in the world would surprise me less than if I died via getting high and drowning in a neti pot. Nothing. I spent a fair amount of time prancing around my bathroom nervously saying, "Oh, God—my mom's gonna be so disappointed in me," over and over again until I made Chris promise that if I did die, he'd pull some Casey Anthony shit and punch me in the tit, dump me in the Potomac and be like, "THAT POOR ANGEL—SHE WAS MuRdErEd!" to cover for me. We shook on it and I began. And it was startling. That's the best way I can describe it. It's a startling experience. The first few seconds feel like you just snorted a giant eight-ball of indoor swimming pool, and then all of a sudden the stinging goes away and there's a stream of fluid coming out of your other nostril and it's incredibly disorienting. And it goes on like that. For a while. To quote Chris, "it's a lot like losing your virginity: you very quickly go from 'OMG!' to 'how long is this going to last?'" When everything was said and done, it defiantly lubricated my sinuses (not to mention cleaned the hell out of my nose ring!), but it wasn't the life-changing experience everyone makes it out to be. I'm going to continue to use it for a while to see how it combats the congestion from my lingering Tulane Chris Fever, but I'm not sold.
Meg's Final Verdict: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Syndrome—a lot of hype and not a lot of delivery.
TEST #4: EAR CANDLING
According to Wikipedia: "Ear candling, also called ear coning or thermal-auricular therapy, is an alternative medicine practice claimed to improve general health and well-being by lighting one end of a hollow candle and placing the other end in the ear canal."
Wikipedia Goes On to Say: "According to medical researchers, it is both dangerous and ineffective."
We Say: OH.
What You'll Need: Ear candles, a plate to catch wax drips, and a pair of scissors
Step 1: The Fuck If I Know
Uh, the box didn't come with any directions, which feels wildly negligent considering it's a product you light on fire and stick into your person. It also makes the ominous "BE SAFE" warning on the top flap kind of adorable and confusing all at the same time:
Assumed Step 1: Cut an X Into a Paper Plate or a Pie Container If You're Smart and Don't Want the Plate to Catch on Fire
Assumed Step 2: Stick the Candle Through the Hole, Plug the Bottom with Your Finger, and Light the Top
Assumed Step 3: Wait a Few Seconds For the Cone to Fill With Smoke and Remove Bottom Finger. (Smoke Should Be Coming Out, As Pictured.)
Assumed Step 4: Stick Candle In Ear. Protect Head From Dripping Wax with the Plate/Pie Container and a Horribly Unflattering Black Shift Dress You Bought From H&M to Wear to Your Sister's Bachelorette Party But Never Wore Because You Look Homely and It's Fucking Miami Draped Over Candle-ee's Head
Assumed Step 5: Wait Approximately 20 Minutes. Watch an Episode of Clone High To Fill the Uncomfortable Silence Between You and Your Writing Partner.
Assumed Step 6: Blow Out the Flame Once It Reaches a Few Inches Above the Plate
Assumed Step 7: Cut Open the Candle
Assumed Step 8: Marvel At What Apparently Isn't Earwax/Toxins In the Least
VERDICTS:I’ve been meaning to try ear candling for years, ever since my summer fling with “the 30% guy.” I called him the 30% guy because I only had to operate at about thirty percent capacity to impress him. It was the relationship equivalent of those college classes where you just have to show up for three tests and pass two of them. 30% guy was also the only person I’ve ever known who “broke his sinus” – he got punched in the face during a mugging, and so it cracked the little sinus in his cheek which made the whole side of his face inflate when he breathed. Anyway, 30% guy swore by ear candling. He had terrible allergies and told me that all you had to do was just candle your ear and all the congestion just spiraled out, magically, like Pandora’s box. The reality was less exciting. After doing Meg’s ears (I wish writing partnerships didn’t involve things like “doing each other’s ears”) I lay down for her to do mine. Imagine lying on a hardwood floor with a warm stick in your ear while watching “Clone High.” That’s exactly what it’s like. Having the stick in your ear feels good in a kind of unsettling way, as though your body is determined to make the most of somebody putting something in some orifice. If the candling had worked, I would have expected the inside of my candle upon dissection to be full of cold-related “toxins” and “secretions” and “ear crap,” but it looked more or less like Meg’s, and subsequent exploration with a Q-Tip revealed ample wax left in the ear.
Tulane Chris’ Final Verdict: Bullcorn
Seriously, what I took away from this is that it feels completely amazing to have something in my ear.
Meg's Final Verdict: SUCCESS!
Investors: POSSIBLY YOU??