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Baby Steps and Small Spaces

July 14, 2008

Seven years ago, sitting on my parent’s front porch on a snowy winter night I asked The (future) Husband what he wanted in life.  I inquired of his goals, dreams, ambitions.  His response was that he wanted to fly.  I made a promise to him that night (I know naive, but I was 20!) that together, we would accomplish his goals.  I would make certain he became a pilot.  We married a little under a year later and he deployed five weeks after that.  The Air Force has a bad reputation for producing a bunch of lazy men who fly desks and not much else.  This is simply not the case if you work on the flight line; whether that be as a crew chief, pilot, weapons troop, air traffic controller, whatever… if you work on the flight line, you work hard.  Period.  By no means am I exaggerating when I say the “normal” work shift lasted anywhere between 12 and 16 hours a day. This isn’t sitting around doing a minimum amount of work either, it’s hard labor for all involved.  Work is a mission, every single day.  In the midst of his exhausting work schedule, I nagged him (this is not the norm, I hardly ever nag… seriously) to start taking classes.  When he returned from Iraq, he enrolled in a few courses and off he went… studying until all hours of the night, working weeks without a day off and he managed to pull off a 3.8 GPA.  He continued taking classes two at a time for the next few years.  Mid 2005 we started looking at scholarship options and after a lot of prayer and tears, The Husband called from Afghanistan in December 2006 and informed me that we had orders… to Kansas!

The Husband is taking private pilot lessons in hopes the he’d have a better chance at receiving a pilot slot when he graduates.  The Husband also works part-time at the local airport because he was going crazy not being around planes and has a desire to keep busy (because apparently 17 hours of engineering isn’t busy enough- where’s that sarcasm font when you need it?)!  I’ve never had a fear of flying, my problems with airports lies more with saying goodbye than fearing flying.  I will admit, the moment they close the door I freak a little.  I’m claustrophobic, but that’s another story for another day. 

About two years ago, I was flying home to see my parents while The Husband was in Alaska.  I can’t describe what happened other than I had the worst anxiety attack of my life.  I came so close to passing out that my eyes had lost focus and I was hot and cold all at the same time.  It was terrible.  During my layover (at 8:00 a.m.) I made my way to a bar and ordered a fruit plate and vodka/rocks with a lime.  Oh, yes I did.  The strangest thing happened, the man who’d been sitting next to me on the plane joined me at the table I was sitting in the bar.  I looked up from my book and noticed that a good 80% of the tables were empty.  I was under such anxiety during my flight from Raleigh that I didn’t even notice that this was the person sitting next to me on the plane.  He told me then asked if I was okay, if I threw up in the paper bag or was I just using it for air?  So why  was he sitting across from me… invading my space?  Well, to make a long story short, he was muslim and he was reading a book that he felt compelled to discuss with me.  My layover was an hour and half.  I had another $8.00 vodka/rocks before I left the bar and boarded my plane to Kansas City.  That flight was fine and it wasn’t a result of the alcohol.  I have flown several times since that day and everything was fine.  I’ve worked it out in my heart and spirit that I was going through a spiritual battle.  I can only pray that I reached that man. 

For his flight lessons, The Husband is flying a small Cessna.  The Cessna has two seats and is maximum 4 feet wide.  The Husband called from work yesterday afternoon and asked if I could bring dinner to the airport for him because he was going to do some night flying.  Of course!  When The Husband was active duty and worked swing shift (that’s overnight) I took dinner to the base almost every night.  Fun!  I haven’t packed up a dinner in over a year.  Since Friday night, The Husband’s been begging me to make chicken nachos.  I finally made another batch of guacamole and thankfully, I had a package of local flour tortillas that I converted to chips.  After we ate in the hangar I asked if I could see his plane.  We walked over to one that was similar, but a little bigger.  He asked that I get in with him so I could familiarize myself.  Uh.  Remember me?  I don’t like small spaces.  I got in anyway and it was… okay.  He was instructed to make sure the windows can be open while flying because I think seeing an escape out of the plane will help with the anxiety.  The Husband can’t wait to get me alone in the plane with him but I’m a little reluctant.  We made a deal last night: I would continue to come to the airport and sit in the plane, then we’d move on the ground  while sitting in the plane, then maybe someday he can take me up with him.  Baby Steps.  I can do it.  I would place my life in his hands any day.  As I was climbing out of the plane I had to giggle though.  It was a very small space and I just fed him beans!

Chicken Nachos
~The Cat’s Pajamas Kitchen Original

5-6 (8″) flour tortillas
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
About 2 T chili powder
2 T olive oil
Salt
Refried Beans (I’ll share my recipe later)
Handful cilantro, chopped
3-4 jalepenos, thinly sliced
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
Sides:
Guacamole (I used Prudy’s recipe)
Fire Roasted Salsa (again, I used Prudy’s recipe)
Lime Scented Rice (this is simply rice cooked with lime zest and garnished with lime juice and cilantro)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with chili powder and salt.  Cook over medium heat until cooked through.  Set aside to cool.  Chop or shred the chicken after slightly cooled.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the flour tortillas in the oven.  This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.  When toasted, spread refried beans on one side, top with chopped chicken, sliced jalepenos and cheddar.  Return the tortilla (I know, it’s a tostada at this point, but don’t tell The Husband… he thought he got nachos!) to the oven and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted.  Transfer tortilla to a cutting board garnish with cilantro and cut into wedges. 

Serve with Lime Scented Rice, Fire Roasted Salsa, Guacamole and sour cream for dipping.  Try not to drool… and stay out of closed, confined small spaces!

All packed up and ready to go!

All packed up and ready to go!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2008 13:32

    I’m getting on a plane tomorrow, and trying not to think about it. I admire your husband for going after his dreams aggresively and passionately, and I admire you for your supportiveness. Plus, I admire you for your cooking. I wish someone would make me that dinner-exactly that dinner. I’m such a Mexican food lover!

  2. The Cat's Pajamas permalink
    July 14, 2008 15:09

    Aren’t you sweet! I’d be happy to make this dinner for you, anytime. I’ll keep you in my prayers during your travel time. I do hope that you won’t be without blog!

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  1. Come Fly With Me « The Cat’s Pajamas

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