Hot Air Balloon Festivals and Fart Jokes

Like most things, learning the best way to de-stress has been a process of trial and error.

I started with some self-help books. “Take control of your anxiety before it takes control of you.” That sounds creepy. Oh well I’ll buy it.

The day it came in the mail, I peeled off the cardboard packaging and sat down with it for about five minutes. When my eyes started glazing over and my brain started thinking about chocolate and squirrels, I closed it up and haven’t opened it again since.

Next I decided to talk to somebody. And pay to do it. It made sense at the time, I swear.

I wasn’t trying to get a fist full of drugs to make me slip away into ambivalent unthinking bliss. I just thought a paid professional would help me sort out my brain things.

I walked into the building after a dad and a small frowning boy. I felt his pain. The waiting room was silent and sterile. I looked around shiftily and felt the people waiting judging me. “Bet she’s afraid of the letter T,” the woman in the black shirt was surely thinking. “She’s probably a serial liar,” a 12-year-old may have been thinking. I got the urge to act psychotic just to match up with the diagnoses these people were probably thinking. “Maybe I’ll stick my face in the secretary’s window and demand to be seen now just so I can get home quicker,” my mind said, then, “Knock it off.” This place was making me crazier than I had been before.

After I gave my name to the patronizing secretary, I found a chair to sit in. I looked around the room and found my two compadres in this adventure. They were both little boys. I longed to talk to them or anyone and share our misery. But when I opened my mouth to say “Hi” to the blond boy, he squished his headphones into his ears and left me in my agony alone.

At least 15.5 hours passed, and finally my doc called me into her office. My hands were clammy and my brain was racing. I was decidedly more stressed than I’d been in a while.

We sat to face each other around her table. In the time it took her to start small talk, I was sure I developed a tic. While I told her about my occupation, I felt a new phobia forming. Just like you don’t want to touch the kid’s toys in the sick room of the doctor’s office, you don’t want your brain to touch the air in a psychologist’s office. I had to get out of that place.

After a while, the psychologist used her magical powers to give me the illusion of feeling at ease. Before I knew it, all of my skeletons were laying there on that round table. She had used voodoo to make me spill my guts. I was impressed and frightened.

I actually felt better when I walked out her door. That feeling vanished when I was asked to pay my $15 copay. But her spell lasted on me and I scheduled another appointment.

The next time, her powers had worn off. She was freaking me out and planting ideas in my head that hadn’t existed before. “Do you journal?” she asked. “That’s the best cure.”

I decided I would not return. But she had conjured feelings of guilt in me, so I struggled for the next week. “Should I stay or should I go now,” played in my head. Two days before my next appointment, I fought her magic and canceled my appointment.

My next de-stress technique came in the form of hot or “heated” yoga. It is impossible to stress during hot yoga because the only thing your mind can focus on is the amount of sweat droplets collecting on your mat and trying to kill you during “Wild Thing” pose.

Then there are the de-stressors that don’t cost half of your monthly salary. You can always go to a hot air balloon festival, which Jordan, Lauren, Chelsea and I did last night. Though there were no hot air balloons there due to the “rain” that did not exist, we still snuck into a van that was converted into a nasty fun house and had enough laughs to make the trip to Ravenna worth our while (which is not always the easiest thing to do.) Even though the carney in charge caught us halfway through and forced us to pay $2 each for our 2-minute adventure, we still had a great time looking in the funhouse mirrors.

Funhouse Craziness IMG_1479

We then moseyed over to the other precarious attractions, such as the Puke Twirler With No Bottom and the Spinny Cages of Death. Though Chelsea was gunning for the Spinny Cages, we decided on something more reasonable: the Trampoline Bungee Thigh Killer. After waiting 30 minutes to get suited up, the slow-moving black man came up to the gate and told us the attraction was closed. My facial expression betrayed my lazy affability and I exclaimed, “WHAT??”

“Ha, haaaa. Got-chu,” he replied, and moved the door open.

I hurried to fasten the worn and sweaty harness around my legs and waist. I made it nice and tight so I wouldn’t fall out. This was my first mistake.

Before The Pain

I looked back and Chelsea was already launched into the air, doing flips like a member of Cirque de Soleil. Butterflies crashed into my stomach lining as the slow man pressed the big red button and hoisted me helplessly into the air.

He then grabbed my foot and then my harness around my waist and pulled me down to launch me to the moon. I was screaming louder than the little girls next to me. I did a few flips and decided I was really living.

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After about 12 more flips and 4 relaunches, the circulation in my thighs was halted. I knew my legs would fall off if I didn’t get off of this death trap immediately. I asked him if I could please get off. He mumbled something and chuckled. I walked chicken-legged out to meet Lauren, Jordan, Josh and Kristen who were all marveling at Chelsea’s acrobatic ability as she spun in 48 circles while remaining rigidly vertical.

“I want to go back on!” she said after her time was up.

There are expensive ways to de-stress, and there are also cheap and slightly dangerous ways. I prefer the latter. Here are some others I have found:

1. Soft, fuzzy kittens named Panda

2. Not watching news

3. Hanging out with small, hilarious children

4. Hanging out with small, hilarious bunnies

5. Eating chocolate

6. Singing like an idiot in the car

7. Dancing like an idiot in the car

8. Wearing cat clothing and accessories

9. Calling an old friend

10. Fart jokes

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