flying into space

July 27, 2009

so one of the many things that bothers me, when i take a look at myself and my life, is that i feel i’ve become this person who is afraid of things. i’ve had anxiety problems off and on for the past few years, and while they tend to be mild, i have this extra level of anxiety where i’m afraid i might wig out about something (any anxiety attack i have tends to be circles within circles, where i’m basically just driving myself crazy. it’s awesome). naturally, i hate this, because who wouldn’t? it blows. i try not to let it run my life, i try to push myself to do things even if i think it might freak me out (within reason; no skydiving). i’m not always successful, but i try. 

on saturday i went to the solano county fair with some friends. we did it up right, rides and all. it’s easy to forget how great the fair can be, when you live in a place with actual culture and no longer rely on it for your yearly entertainment (although obviously, it’s not as awesome as when you’re 12. nothing ever is). but, as one of my friends said, “there are no pretentious people at the fair.” the fair simply is: overpriced fried food, games with silly prizes (i won a bear), slumming former pop stars, livestock competitions, heat and dust and shrieking children. 

i hadn’t done such a thing in years, and i almost didn’t go, because i’d already been feeling kind of crappy and anxious for days and i didn’t want to be a buzz kill. but in the end, i sternly told myself to suck it up and so i went and i had a great time. sure, there were some panicky moments, but i eventually got through it and just had a good time. 

two things really stand out to me: the first ride we went on, the vortex (which was called the octopus when i was a kid, damn them!) was probably the most intense one we went on, since none of us wanted to go upside down. there was lots of sideways spinning, really really fast. i thought my sunglasses might fall off at one point. and we were up there for a while. and at first, i was a little freaked out. it had been a long time, and i’d forgotten what it felt like to be flying that way. but then i realized that, even if i gave in and let the panic take control, i wasn’t getting down until the carny turned the ride off, so i might as well just let go and enjoy it. and so i did. wind in the face, completely disoriented, kind of feeling like we might go spinning off into the wild blue yonder at any minute: it was great. 

and then later (after a traditional scene of vomit on the tilt-a-whirl), as we were strolling along the midway, what to my wandering eye should appear but a mechanical bull.

oh yes.

i debated the matter with my friends for all of 2 minutes. one friend was concerned at the size of the crowd, but i pointed out how they were largely dispersing since the current rider was done. my one friend was definitely out; the other was indecisive, but i just marched up to the guy, paid my $6, signed the form, and climbed on up. i lasted for a little over a minute. it was AWESOME. admittedly, the operator wasn’t making it real hard for me, but it was still pretty freaking hard. my hip joints still hurt. but i didn’t make a fool of myself, and it didn’t hurt when i fell off (was kind of fun, actually).

it’s not like either one of these events was exactly life altering. hell, i totally freaked out on sunday morning, the culmination of a week of anxiety. but today i feel good. i feel cheerful and proud of myself. even if it was just a couple of stupid carnival attractions, i managed to step outside of that locked-in, anxious feeling i’ve had so much lately. it felt really good to impulsively do something potentially stupid, to throw caution to the wind and march boldly into the unknown. i tell myself a lot to just let go, but i rarely achieve it. but on saturday, for an afternoon at least, i was the (slightly) bolder person i used to be.

now i just have to figure out how to keep it up.



  1. maybe from now on, any time you start to feel anxious about something, imagine that a tiny carny is the one at the controls instead of you. maybe that will help you let go and live in the moment.

    either that or you’ll just end up disturbed and in therapy.

    • i can just imagine trying to explain to a therapist about the imaginary carny who keeps my anxiety in check.

  2. Aren’t fairs just the best? Sounds like you did it up right– did you eat anything ridiculous & fried?

    I consider myself braver than the average bookworm, but a mechanical bull? I wouldn’t have the guts.

    • fried foods (of both the sweet and salty variety), as well as a sno cone, were consumed, although not by me. i took advantage of the overpriced bbq’d meat.

      as for the bull, i’m pretty sure the key to it is to not think too much about it.

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