2023-01-17 MUD in My Eye
After detoxing from caffeine for several days, weaning down on black tea with no coffee intake, and no caffeine at all yesterday, I have had my first mug of MUD/WTR :rise this morning.
Whether or not it is like energetic angels winging me through my day remains to be seen, but these are my first impressions.
Getting low. Two people can devastate a little can pretty quick.
It tastes okay
I might even go so far as to say "good" or "pleasant" but I have definitely tasted better things. The makers do recommend customizing to taste, which I will do over time, but plain :rise is definitely doable. That is to say that, in the absence of any other additives, I could drink it and be okay. It does not have the same immediate flavor hit, or as strong a taste, as my regular coffee, but I may just need to skip watering it down.
As part of the making process, you fill your cup halfway, add the MUD, and froth with the included USB-rechargable frother. Then you fill it the rest of the way up with water. Maybe if I skip that last and leave it more potent I might enjoy it more—the espresso of MUDs. Perhaps I should microwave some milk, instead.
The other issue is that this is more of a suspension than a solution and some of the flavor literally settles into the bottom of the mug. The sediment is mentioned in the literature (I'll get to that) so I wasn't exactly surprised to see the thick, well, MUD at the bottom of the cup once I had finished the brew. You just add a little more hot water, froth, and polish it off. I have to say that that second go round tends to be more flavorful and actually better than the first go round. If I was constantly stirring I could probably forego the seconds and have an overall better first cup.
I have an approximate thirty-day supply with which to experiment, so we shall see.
I did try the :rest sample that came in the "ritual kit" with the :rise. That smells pretty bad, honestly, but tastes pretty okay until you toss in the :creamer sample also included and bam! Heavenly. I'm trying to avoid sugar drinks or adding sugar to any drink so the excellent coconutty taste of the spicy tea was perfect in that it was flavorful enough without any other additives and the cinnamon mixed with the extracts of flowers and fruits made it sweet enough without containing any sugar. After recently having read Stamets' Mycelium Running I feel like having the turkey tail and reishi in my belly certainly can't hurt. Probably even helps.
Well, I'm awake
Day one: I'm not sure if that's due to approximate 35mg of caffeine in my caffeine-starved body or if it's because I'm ready to be awake. I got up an hour early to try out :rise with my partner—she gets up well before I do—but by the time I'd had a mug and got ready to write this it was closer to my "natural" time. In any case, I feel great!
I spent the morning doing every activity I could think of, including otherwise less than pleasant chores like doing dishes alone and fixing the toilet seat.
I even took the time to get in a nap inspired by the heavy duty psychotropic meds that tend to knock me out in the morning and arose feeling spectacular.
I don't know if it was the mushrooms or placebo (probably the latter), but I feel more energetic than I have in a long time.
Day two: The effect was much less pronounced. I still got my nap in, but the night before I tried out the :rest sample that was included. I felt very rested this morning, but I think maybe drinking it directly before turning in may have been a mistake. I generally do not have trouble sleeping but I wonder if the valerian root was still affecting me this morning. In any case, I'm awake but not like yesterday. I've seen comments about drinking it two-ish hours before bed and maybe that's the ticket. For me it would probably be more like an hour before because I like to do the whole "revenge bedtime procrastination" thing even if I've had plenty of leisure time in a day. That way I can play on my phone in bed for an hour before actually sleeping.
Yesterday I was not exactly buzzing… more like gently vibrating, I guess? Pleasantly energetic. Today I'm more at my average, but I'm also up hours before my normal time for the second day in a row and feel fine. I'm not at all like, "Oh, god, please let me sleep!!" At least not more so than any other day. And I got to bed relatively late to be up at 4:15, as well.
I had a couple days of absolute bleakness but that is probably more likely due to mental health than physical health. I still managed to be moderately functional.
Now several days later (I'm not counting) I feel okay with the awareness that I'm super depressed but with the itch to do something constructive surfacing from the murk, pushing me into, for instance, writing this.
There is a lot going on, however. As part of a more general "getting my shit together" life makeover, I've quit coffee, started on a diet that doesn't resemble one designed to fatten me for slaughter, restarted the back exercise regimen that should keep the pain to a minimum—all while going to bed much earlier and rising at a time more resembling my bedtime only my youth ago. I must say that I have been amazed at just how much day there is if you are motivated by 5am.
Kicking and Screaming
I have to say that I have not gone into all of this life-changing stuff with a smile on my face but neither have I necessarily been crying the entire time. More a grimace of grim determination, I guess.
Quitting coffee was actually so, so easy, but only because I quit smoking first. I'd have to find something more addictive than cigarettes to find a challenge in life any more, I think. I used to tell my kids that it was like having a monkey sitting on my shoulders with a butcher's blade made of need, stabbing me in the brain. "Have… a… CIGARETTE!!!" Stab.
It. Was. Awful.
But coffee in comparison? Ha! That monkey is tiny, its knife miniscule and dull, barely a poke, hardly uncomfortable. "Please, please have some coffee," begs the monkey. Poke. Poke poke. And I just go on with my day, almost zero effort involved in moving past the pangs.
For people who have never been into the real hard drugs like nicotine or alcohol, coffee cravings may be absolutely horrible. They may go through the cabinets with the same desperation I checked every pocket of every coat I had ever worn, twice, and rummaged for decent butts of half smoked cigarettes in overflowing ashtrays kept just for such an occasion. Just one… just one more… Like the lamenting specter in the Patrick Swayze movie: "I'd give anything for a drag!"
Like the cigarettes, I'll miss coffee. Unlike the cigarettes, I might actually be able to have a cup every once in a while.
Did you know that the maximum daily dose of caffeine is 400mg? And an 8oz cup of coffee has 93mg. So four cups of coffee, just 32 ounces, maxes you out for the day.
Well, I was averaging four 12-cup pots of coffee a day. I drank so much coffee one day that I found out you can overdose in a very similar manner to alcohol: I had to go throw up because my body refused to take any more. That was about six pots of strong, black coffee in sixteen-ish hours. Assuming the average proportions, that was approximately 6,696mg of caffeine in one day—over sixteen times the maximum amount doctors say you should ever consume in twenty-four hours.
Since then I'd worked my way down, down, down… I eventually switched to a Chemex-style, pour-over coffee maker (mine was a Wal-mart generic) and was grinding my own beans. The process, the ritual, had the brakes slammed on as I was forced to wait and wait, pouring with both attention and patience for the best cup of coffee. As opposed to scoop, scoop (, scoop) and flip the switch, it was a seriously long prep time for just a cup of coffee.
And that was the point. To slow down. To appreciate more and slam less caffeine. I also lightened my roast so it was less bitter and more palatable to my partner for the one (or sometimes one-half) of a cup of coffee she would occasionally take.
It worked, too. I dropped from up to six pots of coffee a day to one, and occasionally two, 8-cup Chemex-style pots of far, far better coffee. Seriously, if you claim to enjoy coffee, do yourself a favor and get a Chemex or a French press or some other more time-consuming but demonstrably superior coffee-making method. You can't process caffeine like a machine, but, really, you aren't supposed to anyway. You will, however, enjoy it more.
They aren't even a big investment. No more than a cheapass Mr. Coffee. Get a grinder, an electric kettle, and a manual coffee maker and, trust me, you will enjoy that first cup of coffee like it was the first cup you ever had.
The problem for someone with an addictive personality is that ritual becomes rote and the movements become mechanical and that one, occasionally two, pots of coffee per day started easing its way back up. Two at least, occasionally three… to the occasional four… I knew where I was headed.
I've been on the fence a long time about MUD\WTR. I've looked at it again and again, curious and not just a little turned on by the use of traditionally medicinal shrooms in the brew. I have probably seen their ads going on hundreds of times (thank you algorithms).
For me it was never really a question of if, but only when. I was completely into the whole idea from the initial ad. Part of my problem was that I wanted a sample. It's pricey to get a "ritual kit", way above what you might pay for a bag of coffee beans. And, even more, it's only 30 cups of MUD in the can. Do you know how many cups of coffee one large bag of beans can make? Me neither, but it's a lot! It seemed like a bad deal all around.
But that didn't make me not want it; didn't turn me off.
What it did was make me patient.
I'm not made of money. Obviously. I wouldn't be able to type. And I'd be dead. I also have a fairly tight budget and adding potentially a relatively large amount of money for a relatively small amount of servings was just not a good investment. Happily, the fates have been kind and there is a bit more room in the budget for discretionary spending so I took the leap. Removing coffee from the equation also helps.
I'm glad I did.
Bob Dylan Quote
Along with the times, I am a-changing. As I said above, MUD has come along timed to coincide with a lot of alterations to my lifestyle. I drink mostly water now. If I need flavored water I have unsweetened rooibos tea which is naturally caffeine-free. There is a lovely tea shop in the city "near" here that has quite the selection of loose teas.
I have decided to stop drinking alcohol. I admit I had a couple of ciders the other night which, as far as booze goes, are pretty good. But I have no need of intoxication and I really dislike the actual taste and smell of alcohol. I think it gets a bit worse with every passing year. The upside is that I can get a buzz off one cider if I drink it quickly which is pretty hilarious to me.
Along with alcohol I'm not going to drink coffee any more, at least not habitually. I think I'll keep the chemex and grinder and have some beans in the house so that I can make coffee should we ever have company. In that way I am not "forced" to finish off a pot of coffee on my own. I cringe at the idea of wasting any food, even coffee, probably because of my upbringing. It might even behoove me to invest in a Keurig, but the amount of plastic waste those things produce is apocalyptic and I really don't have any counter space.
I am counting my calories with the help of Fat Secret, a dubiously named but very helpful little app that helps me visualize my caloric intake. The free version provides everything I need out of a calorie counter and more. I admit that, at the moment, I am not terribly happy about the mild discomfort of not being absolutely stuffed to the point of food coma at every meal. But, again: tiny monkey, dull knife.
Successfully quitting smoking just makes everything easier. Or maybe it's the mushrooms in MUD. Probably the quitting, but either way, I'm sticking to my guns so far.
Snazzy little book included with the ritual kit.
Included with the "ritual kit" is a very high quality little paperback book with all sorts of information about positive lifestyle change that was a nice little bonus surprise and also happened to work out very well in my whole "I'm going to change my entire life for the better today" thing I had going on. Soooper convenient, that.
I really enjoy the writing style of everything the MUD\WTR people put out. I'm not sure if that's just one person doing the writing, but the familiar tone and friendly banter feel of the text reminds me a lot of my own writing and also does the job of impressing upon me a sense of friendliness in a faceless corporation that most companies simply lack. M\W is a smaller place, admittedly, not the monolithic cold of Hasbro or Google that seem to try to appear friendly but it's very uncanny valley. It's just like, dude, you're a faceless corporation and we all know it. Please stop trying to be my friend. It's disturbing.
These MUD\WTR guys seem to pull it off. For me, at least.
At the end of the day, you end up selling your mind and body—if not your soul—to countless individuals and organizations constantly. Each of these deals with the devil, well enough a rant for another day, represent an exchange whereby you are giving something up to get something in return.
When it comes to things like cigarettes and alcohol, you give up a lot for very, very little gain. With booze it's what, exactly? Stumbling around? Vomiting? Fake courage? A few laughs? And the price is only your mind, the possibility of poisoning and the chance of a life altering addiction and, for some people, getting in a car and committing murder by Pabst. Cigarettes up your chances of cancer, heart disease, lung disease and just, you know, sudden death by a lot and you gain that feeling of tension release with each drag… oh, man that's good! A horrible cancer death decades too young is worth that hit of nicotine, right?
And all the while you're literally paying people to kill you—slowly. You're leasing death.
If you can only do things that are bad for you in moderation, they are no longer bad for you. One cigarette a month is probably not enough to cause any real damage to anything but your body odor until you shower. Moderate drinking won't really hurt you, aside from the mild brain damage and very small risk increase of some cancers. But in both cases just not smoking or drinking alcohol is even better for you. For anyone who would argue moderate drinking has health benefits, a healthy diet and exercise both have far greater health benefits and have been studied more thoroughly. If you're just drinking for the health benefit, maybe eat a carrot and go for a walk, instead.
Still with me? The only question to ever ask about any product from a movie ticket to a mushroom growing kit is: Would you buy it again?
And the answer is yes. I signed up for the subscription, of course, because the initial rebate is too good, cancel any time, you probably know the drill. This is the very picture of modern shopping. But I have no regrets on my purchase. I enjoy every aspect of the experience from the interesting tasting powder suspended in hot water to the new age hippie tone of the literature, to the high quality materials in both packing and packaging. It's all wonderful.
But, should you buy it? Well, can you spare $40? They do take returns if you taste the stuff and spit-take all over your keyboard at first sip so you aren't out anything if you hate it. You also don't have to change your whole life as part of the taste test, that's just me, even though the included booklet strongly encourages you to do so.
As I said, it tastes okay. My partner really enjoys it, but she doctors it up more than I do yet. And the ingredients feature some of the most revered of medicinal mushrooms, something I already knew of and respected via other reading. All in all, I am very pleased with my new subscription (along with a bunch of accompanying lifestyle choices). It just hits me at the right point in my life.
Maybe it'll do the same for you.