March 2010


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!