Life


Dude… who freaking cares? While this is keeping you all entertained and asleep the shadow government is running away with what’s left of our country…. WAKE THE HELL UP AMERICA!

It’s five o’clock in the morning on Friday March 19th. The sun has not yet risen, but the glow of morning is beginning to illuminate JinJi Lake, creating silhouettes of all the buildings to the east. This may be the last time I take in this view; at least from what has been my home for so long. This morning is truly a ying and yang moment. On one hand I feel a profound sense of sadness. I’m leaving so many precious friends behind as I take this step, friends who have become so very close over the course of my stay. Yet at the same time I feel an amazing sense of exhilaration. Soon I will be with my palangga again, and together we will venture into the world together. There will be so much to see and do. There will be so many things to learn and experience together. This is truly the end of one, and beginning of another chapter in my book that is life. Add to this the fact that I will once again be able to spend time with my precious daughter… OK, I’m ready to fly now!

The car arrives right on time at 5:30. Baggage is loaded and I take my place inside. As we make our way through Suzhou, I take in as much of the feeling as I can, knowing full well that this may be the last time I ever see this wonderful city. A little sad again now.

Once out of town, sleep comes quickly. I always admired my friend Matt for his ability to sleep when he traveled. After all that I’ve now been through, I can finally do the same. I wake up in time to watch the last few kilometers go by just before arriving at Pudong airport. This may be the last I see of China. Yup, again I’m a little sad.

I’ll spare my dear readers from the play by play of the next hour or so, as checking in myself and my baggage, going through customs and security, and working my way to the proper gate are all trivial matters and there’s really nothing much to talk about. I board my plane and watch with a heavy, yet excited heart as China drops off beneath me and I climb into the sky. So many great friends and memories behind me, so much to look forward to ahead.

Now those of you that really know me will know that when I travel, I don’t relax until I’ve arrived at my destination. This trip is a little more complex though. Here is how this has to work:
1. Thursday the 18th, Pinky flew from Zamboanga to Manila. The first of four flights for her.
2. On the 19th, Pinky departed from Manila at 8:15 am. I departed from Shanghai at 9:20 am.
3. Both of us were to arrive in Tokyo. Pinky at 1:15 pm, and I at 1:25 pm. A difference of 10 minutes.
4. Both of us were to depart Tokyo on a flight that leaves at 2:35 pm. For those that know flying, boarding for international flights usually starts about 45 minutes or more before take-off. In this case, boarding started at 1:50 pm.
5. Upon arrival in Detroit Michigan at 1:15 pm (the same day, 11 hours and 40 minutes later) we would have to go through US immigration and customs.
6. Our last flight to Peoria will depart at 3:20 pm, and should arrive at our final destination an hour and a half later at 3:52. (Eastern time vs. central time, for those keeping score)

This is not a “loose” schedule, and leaves no time for extracurricular activity such as shopping or eating.

What happens next is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a full on heart attack. I arrive in Tokyo a little early at about 1:10 pm. No need to get bags until Detroit so I debark the plane and immediately head to my connecting gate. There is only one thing on my mind, and that is seeing Pinky again. I hope I don’t squeeze her too tight and suffocate her.

I arrive at the gate and walk up and down the length of the waiting area. Pinky isn’t here yet, but it’s early so that’s understandable. Rather than sit and wait, I log into the airport computer system and start looking for arrival information for Pinky’s flight. “Hmm, it’s not here!?” I discover and say to myself. (Actually, those of you that know me well know that there were some probably some other phrases mixed in there as well… such as “oh sh*t” and “what the f*ck”. Perhaps there was a “no f*cking way” as well.)

Now I had received a text from Pinky early in the morning that she was already boarding the plane. Yet there was no evidence that her flight had arrived, or was due to arrive. I’m sure you can imagine the thoughts that were going through my head at this point. I immediately head for the Delta desk to find out what was going on. A very helpful security guard there looked into the issue and informed me that Pinky’s flight had indeed arrived and on time to boot. Blood pressure dropping… feeling coming back to left arm… Face cooling.

I thank the gentleman for his assistance and calmly walk back to the gate, expecting to see my Pinky any time now. I arrive at the gate and wait. I wait a little more. Still waiting. No Pinky.

Now the flight begins boarding and Pinky has not yet arrived at the gate. I am, to say the very least, worried. I begin to wonder if she is taking her time and looking at the shops or something because she doesn’t realize that there was a time change (+1 hour). Or has she been held up in security for some reason? Panic time. I will not miss this flight unless I have gotten half of the staff of the airport involved in solving my problem. Back to the Delta desk, identify the top person as quickly as possible, and tell them I want their help right now. The nice manager lady can obviously see my distress, and is happy to oblige me. She looks up Pinky’s flight data. Since I’ve provided her a copy of Pink’s itinerary and flight confirmation number, she is happy to inform me that Pinky was indeed on the flight and the flight has arrived. I am advised to go back to the gate as she will probably be there very shortly and that would be the best place to wait. I’m advised that if boarding reaches last call and Pinky still hasn’t arrived, to inform the staff at the gate of the situation and ask them to contact her at the Delta desk. I thank her and begin walking back to the gate. Blood pressure is sky high now. Sweating like crazy and pondering where to spend the night in Tokyo.

Just then, from 100 feet away, I see a familiar sight. It resembles a girl with long black hair. She’s short, brown, and has a flat nose, yet is unbelievably beautiful. Thank god it’s Pinky! I’m now running through the airport towards her with utter joy. Don’t care about blood pressure or sweat anymore. My sincere apologies to my fellow travelers.

Together at last, we board the plane and leave Japan behind. Next stop, the United States of America! Too bad we had to land in Detroit and not some cool city like Chicago or New York, but in the big scheme of things who really cares. I’ve got my palangga and the process which started ten months prior was now on the way to completion.

The rest of the trip is fairly straightforward. We arrive in Detroit and go through immigration without issue. No problems with customs and onto the next flight after only a 15 minute wait to board. We arrive in Peoria right on time, and are greeted by my parents, sister and brother in law, and of course, my beautiful daughter. Home.

Pinky’s travel time:
• Flying – 18 hrs. 57 min.
• Total travel including layovers – 37 hrs. 17 min.
Pete’s travel time:
• Flying – 16 hrs. 17 min.
• Total travel including layovers – 19 hrs 32 min.
(Yes, Pinky is a trooper!!!)

So now we’re here and the new chapter begins. My philosophy going forward… every step is a step forward towards a better life. As always, follow it here if you’re interested. And thanks for reading

Until next time, cheers!

I LOVE YOU!

Years ago I bought record albums. Then cassette tapes, followed by CDs and now mp3. And who could forget our movie collections… VHS, DVD, now Blue-ray. And of course this trend isn’t limited to the home entertainment business. Enter Myspace, Facebook, Friendster, etc. How many times will I accept the same group of friends into my “friend list”? How many hours will I waste playing with the hot new app of the week? The answer: NOT ONE MORE TIME.

I have come to the conclusion that if someone wants to find me, they should be able to google me and find this site. Potomuss.com was created on 3/5/2001. This site is about to have it’s 9th birthday. The difference between potomuss.com and the others you ask? Simple. Potomuss.com has staying power. It’s not going anywhere. And nothing here happens without my direct control. I like that!

So for those of you who continue to enjoy the social networking sites, please don’t take offense. This is not an attack on any of you. It’s just not for me anymore. I’m sick of following the “cool kid” around and doing everything over again once the old “cool kid” is out and the new “cool kid” is in!

Just under nine months ago I filed my petition for Pinky to come to the states. February 1st, 2010, Pinky had her interview with the US Embassy in Manila and her visa was approved. On March 19th, Pinky will fly from Manila and I will fly from Shanghai. We well meet in Japan and fly together to the states. (Pink get’s to do that fun time thing where you fly for 20 hours, and arrive 5 hours after you leave!) Upon our arrival in the states we will immediately proceed with a small civil wedding, then apply to have her status changed to a legal US immigrant. We’ll save some money for a subsequent trip back to the Philippines where we can have a ceremony with her family.

The past nine months have been very stressful and lonely. Once Pinky left China I became bored with the idea of being here. I love all my friends here, and I love my work here, but it’s just not the same without the woman I love. And I miss my kid so much that I really can’t take it anymore. I’m ready to go home… and the luckiest man in the world because I get to bring the love of my life with me, and go back to the greatest daughter in the world.

Cheers!

It’s been a long few months back, but I’ve been so busy that I’m not really sure where the time has gone. I’ve become somewhat of a student of logistics and supply chain crap now at work. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a more stressful job. However, the challenge is exciting and I don’t mind it all that much.

Well, the interesting news is that I received a request for more evidence from US Immigration. Apparently my photo’s of Pinky and I together were not enough to prove that we met within the two year time period prior to my submission of the petition. Basically, they wanted something with a date. Understandable. I provided them with copies of both of our passports which show that we were both in China at the same time. Then I sent them a picture of Pinky and I holding a handwritten note with the case number assigned to my petition. I figured that would give them definitive proof beyond the shadow of a doubt. Apparently it worked, as in just a few short days I received notice that my petition had been approved! I wish I knew who to thank there at the immigration office, but I’ll never know. If you’re out there, thanks!

Now the petition will be moving to the Philippines where we will have the next round of fun. Pinky get’s to do most of the work there. Medical exams and tracking down all her paperwork. I’ll keep you all posted.

China is celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this week. Although there’s technically no work, I can’t stop due to the immediate need for progress. However, we have found the time to do some running around and take a few pictures. Check the gallery for a few updates to the IR and HDR galleries.

More to come…

My trip back to China was mostly uneventful. It started out at four in the morning with a ride to the airport in Peoria. Like a good American, I did as advised and showed up to the airport two hours early for my six o’clock flight. Apparently, that’s not necessary anymore as I had to wait 45 minutes for the airline to show up and check me in. I guess next time I’ll opt for the extra sleep. But fear not dear reader, as this tale is only just beginning!

I’m convinced that the TSA (you know, those jerks at the airports that get paid way too much to protect us red blooded Americans from ourselves by making us take our shoes off before we get on a plane for fear of some internal terrorist attack… yes, those people.) is staffed by complete idiots. After scanning my backpack, the TSA decided that they needed to take a closer look and pull everything out and look at it. Pretty funny really as the contents they were concerned with was three pounds of caramel, individually wrapped and in a plastic bag. They were also astounded by the sheer volume of crap I can fit into that backpack. Rightfully so, as it’s been my trusty companion for several trips and has been stuffed beyond capacity several times before. Practice makes perfect you know. Fortunately, they managed to repack it with only minimal damage to my belongings. Perhaps one day I’ll spout off about my opinion of the TSA even more, but this is not the time.

So I have a nice flight to Chicago, and land right on time. I managed to find my way to the connecting flight without issue, which was exciting as this was my first time at O’Hare airport. O’Hare is really nice by the way. I used the three hours of spare time before my next flight to enjoy my last tastes of American food, which was satisfied with a full on Chicago style hot dog. Damn straight!

At this time I need to back up a little bit and tell you about the fun I had getting my new Chinese visa. Usually, you go to the consulate in Chicago in the morning and turn in your paperwork, and then pick up your visa in the afternoon. Upon arrival, we learned that the policy had changed due to the outbreak of the swine flu. It would now be a six day wait to pick up, which put the pickup time 24 hours before my flight. I knew right then that this was going to be an interesting trip.

In the days before, China had quarantined 300 people in a hotel in Hong Kong because one individual was sick with the flu. Several other people were quarantined in separate events in the days that followed. Rumor had it that everyone entering the country would be checked for a fever upon arrival. If anyone on the plan had a fever, the whole plane was quarantined. I really hoped that this wouldn’t happen to me, so I didn’t spend much time in Chicago as the confirmed cases of swine flu there were the highest in the country.

Anyway, getting back to the airport… I’m waiting at the gate where a flight to San Francisco is now boarding. Now I don’t want to be a jerk, but when a family of Mexicans walked into the gate area, I just thought to myself, “Oh crap, please god no.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with Mexico or Mexicans. I just don’t really want to be quarantined in China because I bumped into the wrong Mexicans. It struck me as sad that all eyes were on those folks until they got on the plane. You could sense the relief when they were gone.

So I get on the plane, fly to China, and land. (Boy, if the 14.5 hour flight only went that quickly!) Upon arrival, we were greeted with a message on the plane intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are the Chinese health organization. Due to the outbreak of the H1N1 flu epidemic, and to protect the lives and health of the people of China, we will now board the plane and perform a brief medical examination of all passengers. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your cooperation.”

Ok, let’s do this. So here come two teams of health inspectors in full hazardous materials suits. They are armed with a thermal gun, (like a radar gun for temperature) and a standard digital thermometer. They went through the plane and inspected every individual by pointing the gun at their foreheads and checking their temperature. If the reading was questionable, they checked orally. We all passed. Good thing I distributed that fever reducing ibuprofen I had in my carry on or we may have all been screwed! (Just kidding!)

Now I go through customs and pick up my luggage. That usually takes only a few minutes, but ended up being two hours because several international flights landed at the same time. So 1,000 people were there at the same time trying to get chopped in and get their crap. Succeeding in that, I found my driver and it was finally time to enter the final leg of the journey. An hour later I was knocking on the door at my apartment in Suzhou, where I received a wonderful greeting from my special lady.

Adapting again to life in China was easier than adapting back to the United States this last time home. I suppose the depth of immersion I went to the last time here had something to do with that. Perhaps it has something to do with my sole and its love of wandering. Either way, it’s good to be back. I missed my kitchen.

To make life easier here, I picked up an electric scooter. It’s sort of like a golf cart crossed with a motorcycle. Everyone here has one, and they cost less than the average bicycle in the US. Now I no longer have boundaries like bus routes and impatient taxi drivers. I can really explore Suzhou the way I want to and in my own time. I’m sure there will be many photos to come!

Just one more small addition here for consumption… I’ve submitted the paperwork to the USICS (US Immigration) to petition for a K1 fiance visa for Pinky Elopre Geroche. You read that right, I’m engaged. You can find several pictures of Pinky in the photo gallery. Pinky is a citizen of the Philippines. We met here in China and have a great time together. I look forward to a happy future with the Pinkster. I have no firm dates for anything yet as I am currently at the mercy of the USICS. However, they seem to be pretty reliable on these matters and I have faith that my petition will be processed in a reasonable amount of time.

Well that’s all for now. I must rest for work tomorrow. Thanks for reading and no matter who you are, be well wo de pengyou!

…find the girl you’ve been looking for since the day you learned you were supposed to find a girl? Import. More to come!

My country really is full of dumb asses! I weep for the future. (Note the date of this post… Obama just got elected…)

I just heard that some poor, pathetic, lifeless soles out there actually believe that I am in fact NOT in China and make it a point to spread this information like manure on a field. I’m relieved that they’ve figured me out. I’m even more happy to know that they have nothing better to do than think of little old me. I must apologize though, I have to get back to work. My new full time job is photoshopping my face into other people’s pictures of China. I sure enjoy my new job!

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