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DrDom

How to desensitize to the inital "drop"

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I am scared of heights but love flying. I am a nervous jumper especially if i haven't jumped for a while, but it is different to fear of heights.

Few weeks ago I had the opportunity to get some one on one coaching from a member of Arizona Airspeed and his advice was to visualise the jump with a smile.
Experienced jumper - someone who has made mistakes more often than I have and lived.

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If you really want to desensitize yourself to it:

Bunjee jumps. Holy shit roller coasters have nothing on those things. Pure unadulterated freefall in dead air.

The most intense sensation of falling I've ever experienced. Not sure I liked it to be honest but crank out several of those one after the other and I'm sure you'll start to get used to it.

I've never experienced the falling feeling on exit from an aircraft but I'm 99.9% sure that what you are feeling will be dwarfed by a true dead air exit. A skydive exit will feel like nothing after that.


DrDom

OK all, in my constant spirit of disclosing my various fears on here I was hoping to ask a question.

Some background: I did 7 jumps last year, 1 tandem, 6 AFF jumps. Also spent nearly an hour in the tunnel. I'm afraid of heights. Like really REALLY afraid of heights.

Well, maybe I should say "was" afraid of heights.

I took up skydiving to deal with my fear of heights but in the end overcame the view and sensation of flight and discovered I have a bigger problem. The fear of "falling". Or even more specifically: the fear of the sensation of falling. I just can't get past it.

I took up paramotoring (or powered paragliding depending on where you're from) and have become even more accustomed to flight and really LOVE being in the sky. Being up there under a paraglider is the same bliss as flying my student Nav260!

But I can't get over that drop sensation and it is why I have not made another jump. This upsets me.

I'm exposing myself to flight when possible (flight lessons, paramotoring, etc) but is there any advice anyone has to acclimate them to the falling sensation and make it... less terrifying? I know that "just jump" is one piece of advice, but I'm wondering if anyone else has/had this issue and if anyone knows anything that can help expose me to this on a more regular basis.

I've been looking at building a "pendulator" on my property as one option but I have no rope experience and would need major assistance to do this safely (open to anyone who wants to help!)

ok... so aside from "just jump"... can anyone help me out with this one? Thanks everyone! I hope I can get the nerve to get back up there sooner than later.

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Flying and fear of heights are different things. I met a Skydiver, very epxereienced with 7000+ jumps, one of the top best CP and Accuracy jumper here in Brazil and he was afraid to stand at balcony of my apartment, in the 17th floor!!!

I found it very funny that being an accomplished skydiver can have fear of heights!!!

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mrkeske

Flying and fear of heights are different things. I met a Skydiver, very epxereienced with 7000+ jumps, one of the top best CP and Accuracy jumper here in Brazil and he was afraid to stand at balcony of my apartment, in the 17th floor!!!

I found it very funny that being an accomplished skydiver can have fear of heights!!!



Yeah, looking out the door of the plane at 10000 feet my brain doesn't even seem to recognize it as heights. The scale is just too immense. For me, at least, Skydiving has helped me recognize how much fear could cloud my judgment. A few months after I started skydiving, I had a dream where I had to jump from a platform 200 feet in the air to some rope rigging on a hot air balloon 4 or 5 feet away. I thought "If I were on the ground, I would have no problem making this jump" and then just did it.

I like to give that little lecture on fear while driving around in the mountains with that huge drop on one side or other of the car. I tell my passengers "If you were driving this out on the plains, you'd have no problems staying on this road." Yet you see flatlanders all the time with their cars halfway across the yellow line. Their fear is actually making their situation more dangerous.

Of course, if I'm not a complete hypocrite, I should be completely OK with the idea of climbing out the door of the plane at 10000 feet without a rig on and then climbing back in and riding down. I'm not sure I'd be OK with that, though I can easily do that with my rig on. I don't really have to cop to that, since the DZ wouldn't allow it in any case and it might actually be against FAA regulations, but I think it is interesting to see where the limits are. At the same time, if someone were pointing a gun at me and told me to do that or they'd shoot me, I wouldn't hesitate.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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potatoman



You are not dropping. You are moving forward, with a slight downward arc. You only think you are dropping.

Nope, you're dropping. That "downward" arc you described means you are accelerating downwards. Read my post above for the real explanation of what happens when you jump from a plane.
;)

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Hey Doc,
I just got my A license@ SNE. I can tell you that the nerves and weird feelings really do settle down. It was probably around jump 20 that it really changed for me. I had to gut it out and keep jumping. Then one day I realized the past couple jumps had been different, things felt normal.
It's. A game of keeping going until it becomes natural. You spent how long practicing stitches before tbey felt normal? Well at this point you only have about 6 minutes of practice freefalling. If you want to skydive, push yourself through thhe point of half an hour of practice and then reevaluate. Talk with other low number jumpers, we feel what you're talking about.
Good luck
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"The lizards were a race of people practically extinct from doing things smart people don't do."

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Tela

Hey Doc,
I just got my A license@ SNE. I can tell you that the nerves and weird feelings really do settle down. It was probably around jump 20 that it really changed for me. I had to gut it out and keep jumping. Then one day I realized the past couple jumps had been different, things felt normal.
It's. A game of keeping going until it becomes natural. You spent how long practicing stitches before tbey felt normal? Well at this point you only have about 6 minutes of practice freefalling. If you want to skydive, push yourself through thhe point of half an hour of practice and then reevaluate. Talk with other low number jumpers, we feel what you're talking about.
Good luck

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Thanks Tela, and congrats! The AFFI's there are awesome. That's where I was last summer and some great people.

I do realize I need time up there. I'm just now in the period of 'winter' up here and feel like another 3 seasons pass before I jump again making 2 years. I find a lot of reasons NOT to jump and yet I still remember the sensation when I landed my AFF6 and thought "this... this was amazing".

I'll be outright honest and say several things killed me:
1) no friends at the DZ. I mean.... the AFFI's were awesome, but you don't really befriend them as much as learn from them. There weren't many students and I worked weekends and jumped as the only student many days. It was lonely
2) Fear without positive reinforcement. I would land and... that was it. I would drop off my rig and read and then maybe jump maybe not. I found myself a bit stranded in a busy DZ.
3) No support at home. Wife kept demanding I spend less time at the DZ because I was "wasting my summer" there. When I stopped jumping she realized how much of a better person I was when I was jumping... and now is almost demanding I go back and get in the sky.

So there was a lot going on... The weird feeling scares me. I don't know why I find it so aversive since once I'm at terminal I'm all calm smiles. But there it is. No ideas why.

Anyhow. Yeah... I have to just bite the bullet and get back up there I think.

Time spent stitching? Yeah... I can't tell you how many days I spent just tying knots while reading surgical technique and pathology. I guess I was afraid practicing alone at first and... I pushed through it.

Thanks all again for the advice, this is great for me (and maybe others who quietly suffered along with the same fears?)
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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You should go to Florida for a week or two and jump like there's no tomorrow. Doing 5 or 6 in a day for a few days in a row totally calms the nerves. And it's awesome on top of that. Most of the big DZ's will be the same or very similar Student progression.

Your wife seems to be coming around so that's good.

I've felt a lot of ways at SNE but lonely was never one of them.B| I assure you once you get a license you'll feel fine up there. If not, try somewhere else, Jumptown, Danielson and Pepperell all have strong social scenes and lots of students.

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Trafficdiver

You should go to Florida for a week or two and jump like there's no tomorrow. Doing 5 or 6 in a day for a few days in a row totally calms the nerves. And it's awesome on top of that. Most of the big DZ's will be the same or very similar Student progression.

Your wife seems to be coming around so that's good.

I've felt a lot of ways at SNE but lonely was never one of them.B| I assure you once you get a license you'll feel fine up there. If not, try somewhere else, Jumptown, Danielson and Pepperell all have strong social scenes and lots of students.



SNE was great, probably more my lack of time there and the fact I was mostly on mid-week. I may go back, the few peopel I met were AWESOME...

There were a lot of home issues so I may have also been a little evasive and kept to myself since I really had the opposite of "support" when I was there from home. Now my wife WANTS me to go back... so it could work out a lot better next time.

My AFFI's (I had 4 different folks over time) were amazing people and I did chat with a few jumpers at other times that were great.

I don't think it was SNE... I think a lot of it was me and my head being all astray from my home issues than anything. I am pretty sure if I spent more time that would have been less a problem.

Anyhow, the common feedback I'm getting is that it is all in my head... so I'm just going to get back in the game and figure it out. Either I find a place in the winter after I move (selling house right now and buying a farm... long story.. but cerainly no time to jump before they close up) or I get back at SNE.

I really liked SNE. Pepperill is great and all, and the same distance... but I had full faith in my AFFI's there and really would prefer they get me back through the process. Some cool cats at that DZ.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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I haven't experienced the dropping sensation you describe beyond my first couple jumps - it fades pretty fast as your brain gets used to "ohhhh, this is normal" - when I leave the airplane now I feel the relative wind pressing on me and can use it to maneuver - although less than what I can do at terminal - once at terminal it feels like the wind is holding me up.

only you can decide what is fun, balance the risk vs reward. If the fear of falling is too stong then how much fun are you really having?

my fear of jumping started fading around jump 15 and was replaced with anticipation by 30 - thank god the adrenal rush kept me coming back till then :)
unfortunately I cant think of anything other than jumping to help you with this [:/]

edited to add: make multiple jumps in a day - that feeling is much less on the 2nd or 3rd jump on the same day

Roy
They say I suffer from insanity.... But I actually enjoy it.

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From your various explanations, and on the assumption that it's not all in your head, I do think this might be a stability issue on exit.

What you should get is a lovely smooth, gradual transition from the throw-forward of the exit into vertical terminal velocity - almost as though you were being gently cradled into the skydive by the airflow. But if you're not arching directly into the wind for that period then you're not being cradled any more - you're being flung around, shoved in the back, tipped on your head... ;)

Obviously for several of your exits you'll have had someone strapped to you or holding onto you - did you get onto solo exits during your AFF? What does the video show, if any?

I also wonder whether this fear of falling is creating a negative feedback loop. If you're exceptionally stiff it won't do you any favours - likewise if you're kicking on exit it may trigger an 'Eek! I'm falling!' response in your brain, because flailing like that is one of the things we tend to do on instinct when we suddenly find ourselves adrift in space (I suppose to try and get a purchase on something).

Relaxing on exit is easier said than done when you've so few jumps, of course - but once you're able to do that, and trust the mechanics of how gravity and air pressure work together, I think you'll find any sensation or notion of a sudden drop will disappear completely.

A perfectly-flown exit - especially with a group of friends, the more the merrier - should be one of the great joys of any jump. Hope it becomes one of yours. :)

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DrDom

***You should go to Florida for a week or two and jump like there's no tomorrow. Doing 5 or 6 in a day for a few days in a row totally calms the nerves. And it's awesome on top of that. Most of the big DZ's will be the same or very similar Student progression.

Your wife seems to be coming around so that's good.

I've felt a lot of ways at SNE but lonely was never one of them.B| I assure you once you get a license you'll feel fine up there. If not, try somewhere else, Jumptown, Danielson and Pepperell all have strong social scenes and lots of students.



SNE was great, probably more my lack of time there and the fact I was mostly on mid-week. I may go back, the few peopel I met were AWESOME...

There were a lot of home issues so I may have also been a little evasive and kept to myself since I really had the opposite of "support" when I was there from home. Now my wife WANTS me to go back... so it could work out a lot better next time.

My AFFI's (I had 4 different folks over time) were amazing people and I did chat with a few jumpers at other times that were great.

I don't think it was SNE... I think a lot of it was me and my head being all astray from my home issues than anything. I am pretty sure if I spent more time that would have been less a problem.

Anyhow, the common feedback I'm getting is that it is all in my head... so I'm just going to get back in the game and figure it out. Either I find a place in the winter after I move (selling house right now and buying a farm... long story.. but cerainly no time to jump before they close up) or I get back at SNE.

I really liked SNE. Pepperill is great and all, and the same distance... but I had full faith in my AFFI's there and really would prefer they get me back through the process. Some cool cats at that DZ.

I was thinking the same thing about a winter trip. If you plan a trip of a week or more and plan to make 30 plus jumps, you will be rasiing the stakes a bit. Step up to the plate and challange yourself to whip it.

I did that with 7 jumps under my belt. The trip was not a success in any measure. But I learned a lot about what I wanted and what it would take to go get it. After the trip I was not sure if I wanted to continue or not. But I knew if I did continue, what I would have to do. After 10 more weeks of winter, I started over with a new prespective and got my license in just a few weeks.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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Take it from a guy that doesn't have a huge experience but did have A HUGE anxiety initially.
The obvious advice jump more and it'll go away is certainly true.
But I'd also say to try cranking multiple jumps a day, maybe it's better to jump less days but with more jumps than more days with less jump/day if that makes sense.
Even now I have 300 jumps and I'd say I conquered my anxiety fairly well, but on the first jump of the day I still have that feeling like "I forgot something". Once you've done enough jumps, the first jump of the day will go as well as the others, but initially that awkward feeling and extra anxiety might keep you from performing well, so it's good to "cheat" by doing 2 or 3 jumps in a day and focus on the feeling on the latter ones.

Also, since the season is over, you can try reading "Transcending Fear" by B. Germain. It's a good book, it helped me quite a lot honestly. I didn't like the parts where it gets too "zen and Buddhist and shit", but the description of the psychological and physiological aspects of fear and stress, why we experience them and how to mentally deal with them are really really good and useful. If you need some help dealing with your "inertia" of not jumping at this point and extra motivation, an excellent book is "Above All Else" by Dan B.C. Reading this book was extremely rewarding to me and helped me figure out what I really want from the sport.

Just throwing stuff out there...
My 2c.
I'm standing on the edge
With a vision in my head
My body screams release me
My dreams they must be fed... You're in flight.

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MikeJD

A perfectly-flown exit - especially with a group of friends, the more the merrier - should be one of the great joys of any jump. Hope it becomes one of yours. :)



Nailing an exit is such an awesome feeling, especially as a newer jumper! I get so excited, and the smile is HUGE, lol.
You may never get rid of the butterflies, but you can teach them to fly in formation.

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MikeJD

From your various explanations, and on the assumption that it's not all in your head, I do think this might be a stability issue on exit.

What you should get is a lovely smooth, gradual transition from the throw-forward of the exit into vertical terminal velocity - almost as though you were being gently cradled into the skydive by the airflow. But if you're not arching directly into the wind for that period then you're not being cradled any more - you're being flung around, shoved in the back, tipped on your head... ;)

Obviously for several of your exits you'll have had someone strapped to you or holding onto you - did you get onto solo exits during your AFF? What does the video show, if any?

I also wonder whether this fear of falling is creating a negative feedback loop. If you're exceptionally stiff it won't do you any favours - likewise if you're kicking on exit it may trigger an 'Eek! I'm falling!' response in your brain, because flailing like that is one of the things we tend to do on instinct when we suddenly find ourselves adrift in space (I suppose to try and get a purchase on something).

Relaxing on exit is easier said than done when you've so few jumps, of course - but once you're able to do that, and trust the mechanics of how gravity and air pressure work together, I think you'll find any sensation or notion of a sudden drop will disappear completely.

A perfectly-flown exit - especially with a group of friends, the more the merrier - should be one of the great joys of any jump. Hope it becomes one of yours. :)



I'm trying to hook up with some friends; it seems all my skydive friends jump elsewhere (like different regions of the US entirely!) but that may be a big psychological help.

To answer the question, I have pretty terrible exits, though I do regain stability pretty fast. I did 3 AFF jumps with 2 instructors and then went right to solo exits. I was told Jump 4 was "the most stable student exit they have seen in ages" and the dive was pretty much textbook. Jumps 5 and 6 were messy since I had never jumped a Cessna before and it changed everything. First exit I looked down (kept thinking I would hit the step) and second was better but trying to get off the step safely I never brought my feet back so had to roll off my back.

Anyhow, the video showed just that. I don't have video from 4 (one of my best jumps, of course no video!) but the rest I do and I know my issues. There is a lot of "tension" when I initially let go... followed by the expected de-arch. Once past the exit I'm pretty stable.

I definitely give 1-2 kicks when I exit. I assume this is something else to overcome. There is probably some leftover feedback loop I'm stuck in, much like you said.

I have to say I wish I did more jumps per day. I did ONE jump per day (with days or even weeks apart) except my last 2 jumps which I did in a row. It was pretty dumb, but there was a lot of "external inertia" I had to overcome with family life (read: initially non-supportive wife and family).

I have far too much going on right now to travel (one of my beloved pets at the end of her life coming far too fast, winter, and selling my home) but I am thinking once everything slows down and I can be "in the game" i'll probably end up at Blue Hills to finish my jumping. If that wont work out, California with a few of my friends is another option but less desirable. THEN if all goes well I'm trying to get a friend of mine to get current on his coach rating and come here for a week and just pound out jumps.

Still loving the great advice and hearing I'm not alone in this sensation... and that so many of you have learned to overcome it!
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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DrDom


To answer the question, I have pretty terrible exits, though I do regain stability pretty fast. I did 3 AFF jumps with 2 instructors and then went right to solo exits. I was told Jump 4 was "the most stable student exit they have seen in ages" and the dive was pretty much textbook. Jumps 5 and 6 were messy since I had never jumped a Cessna before and it changed everything. First exit I looked down (kept thinking I would hit the step) and second was better but trying to get off the step safely I never brought my feet back so had to roll off my back.



I see a lot of pretty terrible exits from people just out of AFF. I'm often in a position to watch them do their first hop and pop. About half of them go out ass-to-the-prop and end up flipping over. I'm pretty sure I did this too. So far they've all managed to get stable and pull!

In case you don't believe we've all been there, Here's Mine, a couple years and near about 300 jumps ago.

Personally, my exits didn't really start getting better until after I completed my A license and could do solo jumps. I felt they were so bad that I actually did five 5000 foot hop and pops one day to try to improve them. I think focusing on it as a problem did help a bit, and they're much better now.

As you can see from the video, I had some problems with kicking, too. You can also see it in some of my early tunnel videos. My sister did as well, but her daughter didn't. I have a personal hypothesis that it's a bit harder to stop kicking if you're also a decent swimmer, because you're trying to override that muscle memory. My sister and I grew up in Hawaii and were swimming in the ocean while we were still toddlers. It'd be expensive, difficult and largely useless to do a scientific study on this, so it's just going to have to remain a hypothesis.

I like having the video from the tunnel, because you can see a very clear progression of skill in my flying. It's pretty compelling to watch 4 or 5 videos of tunnel sessions and see clear improvement. That feedback may be one of the things that kept me in the sport.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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DrDom

Exits are certainly rough to learn
I can fly the tunnel fairly well, but it helps ZERO on exit.
I cant swim for crap either and still throw a kick in there once or twice on exit ;)



Solo exits from the C-182 are nice once you know how to do it. Hanging or jumping off the step to the right take the wheel out of the picture and you to really present into the wind very well....once you know how to do it.

I hope you get back in the game.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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DrDom

I definitely give 1-2 kicks when I exit. I assume this is something else to overcome. There is probably some leftover feedback loop I'm stuck in, much like you said.

You're thinking too hard. Falling is fun. It's all part of what we do. Breathe, smile, arch, embrace the suck, don't worry about falling. It's what you were meant to do. You belong in the sky. Go there. It's okay. :)

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Here's one little thing that I don't think has been mentioned yet:

If you have done 6 AFF jumps, depending on re-do's, you may be getting up close to what was Level 6, the unstable exit.

No need to worry about that big transition from in the airplane to normal freefall. Forget the perfect exit, perfect presentation to the wind, leg kicks, and so on. Just tumble on out and sort it out afterwards.

It is a bit of shock therapy and doesn't exercise one's actual stable exit technique, but can lead to it being less stressful because you're proving to your mind that falling out of an airplane isn't as big a deal as it was screaming at you!

(DZ's will vary of course in exactly how they brief the unstable exit.)

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pchapman


Here's one little thing that I don't think has been mentioned yet:

If you have done 6 AFF jumps, depending on re-do's, you may be getting up close to what was Level 6, the unstable exit.

No need to worry about that big transition from in the airplane to normal freefall. Forget the perfect exit, perfect presentation to the wind, leg kicks, and so on. Just tumble on out and sort it out afterwards.

It is a bit of shock therapy and doesn't exercise one's actual stable exit technique, but can lead to it being less stressful because you're proving to your mind that falling out of an airplane isn't as big a deal as it was screaming at you!

(DZ's will vary of course in exactly how they brief the unstable exit.)



I did not have to redo any of the levels. Once I'm out of the plane I'm surprisingly calm to the point I notice altitude, cues, and even the foliage and clouds. I find it rather relaxing. I learned I can't track for crap. Anyhow, all my exits were poised 1-4 and 5-6 were poised since I had never jumped the Cessna (all were twotter jumps).

Its not so much freefall at terminal, its that odd transition time that is hanging me up. The 9.8m/2^2 that accelerates me downward from the door.

I understand it, but it feels so weird I can't get over it.

I feel the sky calls, I'm going to go back... its just a matter of figuring out WHY this part feels so odd for me.

What do you mean by "unstable exit"? All my exits are unstable ;) I de-arch like a boss. Fortunately I am good at rolls and flips so I can re-orient pretty quick.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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DrDom


Its not so much freefall at terminal, its that odd transition time that is hanging me up. The 9.8m/2^2 that accelerates me downward from the door.

I understand it, but it feels so weird I can't get over it.



"The Hill." The hill feels weird to you. Heh. Do it enough, it'll stop feeling weird.

Sounds kind of like me and hosin sauce, back in college. I'd get the mu shi pork and couldn't figure out of I liked the flavor of the sauce or not. It was a weird flavor (Plum and five spice IIRC) So I'd try it again the next week. After 20 or 30 iterations of this I decided I must like it, since I kept ordering the stuff.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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FlyingRhenquest

***
Its not so much freefall at terminal, its that odd transition time that is hanging me up. The 9.8m/2^2 that accelerates me downward from the door.

I understand it, but it feels so weird I can't get over it.



"The Hill." The hill feels weird to you. Heh. Do it enough, it'll stop feeling weird.

Sounds kind of like me and hosin sauce, back in college. I'd get the mu shi pork and couldn't figure out of I liked the flavor of the sauce or not. It was a weird flavor (Plum and five spice IIRC) So I'd try it again the next week. After 20 or 30 iterations of this I decided I must like it, since I kept ordering the stuff.

I did that with gin. I dated a girl who once ordered me a gin and tonic. I thought it was terrible. She kept bringing them to me when I was at work (we worked together, and no it was not as a doctor, I was a DJ at a gentleman's club at the time) and one day I was like "wow, I don't know what happened but I kind of like it". Now I'm a gin martini guy.

I guess I just need to hit the hill.

It sure does feel "funny". More "funny-weird" than "funny-ha-ha" but yea...

I'm still not sure about Hosin sauce. that stuff doesn't make sense at all. Plums and spices? I just don't get it. Now I want some moo shu. damnit. I just realized I'm hungry.
You are not the contents of your wallet.

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