Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I Like the Planes That Go BOOM!

This Labor Day weekend, I had to work not one, but two days. I had Monday off, and looked forward to that glorious day outside of the library, spent with none other than WG and a couple of his friends from the Corral who know live in the Bay Area.

Still, I had two work days to get through, two work days while I watched everyone enjoying the gorgeous weather, soaking up the rays and otherwise not working.

And get through those days, I did, and you want to know how? Because I actually let myself enjoy them.

I let myself enjoy the special feeling that occurs only on early Saturday morning at work, when we're paid to work without our bosses around. At 8:30 on a Saturday morning, there is a strange giddiness that permeates the staff: we've been left to our own devices, alone, in an empty library. By 10, when the doors open and the public pours in, it's pretty much the same as any other day, but those first couple of hours are unique, and I have to admit that I enjoy them.

Saturday, I fled from work later than expected, because we had to move all the furniture to get ready for a carpet cleaning, but still got home and had time to spend with WG. We made pizza dough and indulged in the silliness that was Mad Money. The dough was ready, and we gently covered it with tasty toppings. One pizza was graced with tomato paste, chicken, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes -- this one had a wheat crust. The other, with a regular crust, was decorated with a tomato-pesto sauce, feta, garlic and chicken. Both were quite delightful and went well with the caesar salad I whipped up. We enjoyed the pizza with a special beer WG has taken a shine to, a trappist with some special bits that make him happy. Of course, I can't remember the name at all, but I do appreciate that it's meant to be drunk out of a wine glass.

The clear blue sky on Sunday, yet another work day, amazingly, failed to make me shake my fist to the heavens and bemoan the fact that I would waste this glorious day indoors. We scurried around getting ready for church (this time, an attempt at a local Methodist church, as WG is a Methodist by birth), and arrived to find an all white, almost all old, congregation being led by an enthusiastic African American minister. We were regularly tapped on the shoulders and made to introduce ourselves, and everyone seemed quite pleased to have some fresh blood wandering into their midst. The service was nice and vaguely familiar for this Catholic girl, since this was a traditional service with a bit more order and form, and WG thought the pianist really rocked it out (which he did, as much as a pianist can rock it out to old school hymns.

I sat through church somewhat anxiously, waiting and waiting to go to the Air Expo, the first to be held on our local air force base since 2001. I had only found out about it in a helpful e-mail from my mom (and then gone and bounced around the apartment for ten minutes, waiting for WG to get out of the shower so I could share the news with him), but I was still itching to get out of church. I had to keep reminding myself how happy I'd been about going to church for the first time in weeks (I'm full of excuses about that, but I won't bore you with them), but the anxiousness to get out and see the big planes and listen to them go "boom" was quickly overtaking my ability to listen to the sermon or sit still for that matter. This should come as no surprise to anyone, since I am eternally a nine year old waiting for the excitement to start.

The expo did not disappoint me, and the familiarity of my annual summer haunt was comforting. The heat and light steaming up from the concrete ground, the smell of diesel fuel, the roar of engines. Sigh. I was at one of my all-time favorite locations.

I made the most of the mere hour and a half to spare before showing up to my time at work. I munched on a yummy cheesburger cooked by yummy Air Force guys. I watched, with my mouth hanging open, as an aerobatic pilot flew his plane into all kinds of twisty situations and then came down a little lower to race, a, wait for it, jet-engine car. The car measured 0-300 mph like we measure 0-60 mph. This was, perhaps, the coolest car I have ever seen, and it pretty much just looked like a jet engine on wheels. WG and I managed to meet up with my parents, and my mom and I were happy as clams waving when the cheesy announcer told us to wave at the pilot. WG and my dad wandered off to look at planes under closer inspection.

We meandered through a cargo plane and then, with only moments to spare, stared in awe at the KC-135 and the spot on the belly where men, like my grandfather did in his heyday, lay on their bellies and operate the "boom" out of the back of the plane. That's a bad-ass job, I tell you what. And I'm guessing those men would win any kind of hand-eye coordination competition -- I mean, operating a fuel pump in mid-air? I can hardly get the thing to my on-the-ground gas tank let alone in mid-air during a friggin' war!

And then I went to work.

And you know what? It didn't suck. I didn't feel like work had eaten up every last bit of my day, and when WG came to pick me up (a special treat that happens on Sundays when we've gone to church, and he drops me off and, thus, must pick me up), I was in a happy mood. I didn't feel gyped out of my day, out of my weekend, and that makes all the difference.

Then on Monday, we finally made it to the Exploratorium (it's been on an unwritten list for the entirety of WG's time in California). As the carload of us watched a woman finish her jog, slowing to a walk as she came out of Fort Mason, I said, "You know, there are those who take advantage of a day off to get in a work out or take care of chores, but I prefer to spend my holidays eating junk food and playing with toys."

And with that, we went to eat pizza and play Mario Kart.

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