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I make it within five blocks and 20 minutes of the opening event at Coldsmoke Powder Fest in Nelson, British Columbia, which I’m supposed to be covering for Out There Monthly, and I realize I’m getting a migraine. To the point that I can’t see.

Did I mention this particular event I’m supposed to be covering is a series of films?

I wrangle getting in early and dumping my stuff, and start asking the staff if there’s a pharmacy close by. They say yes, a block and a half away. In a blind fog, I stumble out of the building and across the street, concentrating hard on the aura of headlights to avoid getting hit. Good news: I manage to find the pharmacy. Bad news: it closed ten minutes ago.

I’ve left my coat behind on the theory that the cold will constrict the vessels in my brain and cure the migraine. Longer exposure may do me good, so I set out down the street to try to find drugs, preferably legal ones. I have to stare down buildings head-on to read their signs, or maybe sideways depending on the spots in my vision, keeping a good pace so I don’t freeze to death. I lurch along Nelson’s main drag like a drunken tourist who has never seen civilization before. An older fellow appraises me at a stoplight and asks if I’m not cold.

“I’m trying to find a pharmacy,” I blurt out, and then correct myself, “I’m trying to find something to cure migraines.”

The fellow is sympathetic and suggests the local co-op, so I lurch my way to the natural market to find out what natural oils hippies prescribe for my particular ailment. Peppermint, of course. I purchase a vial of peppermint oil and slather my eyebrows, neck, forehead and temples with it. I march back to my destination and drink copious amounts of water, massaging the peppermint oil into my neck.

The first film is a psychedelic night-skiing light show with existential dialogue I can’t process. The colors are pretty, though. The music is so good it’s making my spine feel funny. I decide migraines are kind of like being on ecstasy, only with pain instead of pleasure. Everything just washes over you in feelings, tiny things that you wouldn’t notice otherwise. Actually, if you think about it right, it’s kind of delicious. I lean back in my chair and decide that if I hold my skull just right, my sensitivity is actually veering off into the realm of fun. I can see straight again. And actually my head doesn’t really hurt. I’m just high on peppermint oil now.

Katie: 1, Migraine: 0.

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