Last one…

July 10th

My goodness. Forty-five hours door-to-door. We left Tacloban at 5 AM Saturday, which was 5 PM Friday back home. Then we arrived at home at around 2 PM Sunday. That’s some ugly math!

First was our trip to the Tacloban airport where, for reasons that still escape me, it took close to an hour to get checked in (I did find out they tried to put us in a non-exit row, after my wife paid extra to sit there; she managed to browbeat them into submission). Then we had eight hours to kill in Manila. Because of the highly variable traffic in Manila (believe me, there is no traffic anywhere in the US that compares to a routine day of traffic in Manila!) we didn’t want to risk not being able to get back to the airport in time to go through immigration, etc.

Oh, we went through metal detectors and our luggage through XRay scanners THREE times in order to get into the waiting area. But wait! There’s more! In order to get onto our US bound airplane, we needed a FOURTH screening. We were then sequestered in a holding area that was protected by a… rope of fabric that anyone could reach over and kids would routinely go under. Yea for extra security theater! My wife, btw, decided she needed to go potty afterwards and was able to get back through screening (without, of course, being screened) by presenting her boarding pass with a yellow streak from a highlighter on it. Yup! There’s more fun below…

We finally get onto the plane, then sat. And sat. And sat some more. Ninety minutes worth of sitting on our asses. No bad weather, no terrorist attack, just, it seems, we were destined to not actually leave on time.

Finally in the air, we spent the next 11.5 hours winging across the Pacific to get to Vancouver. I do believe I managed to sleep four to five hours on this trip, though, as usual, I only have this estimate because of the lack of psychologically experienced time. I rewatched “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” which I really enjoyed. My favorite scene remains when Ryan Reynolds is launched through the car’s windshield. My son can’t understand why that tickles my fancy so much, but it certainly does. I started to watch Deadpool, which, surprisingly, had all the F-bombs. But most of the gore was cut and, get this, the butt cracks were fuzzed out. I started my period of un-experienced time thereafter, but did finish it later.

The meals were all pretty good, btw, and the planes were all fairly new 777s, so PAL (Philippine Air Lines) has been making good strides at standing out.

Then we arrived in Vancouver. Where we were ALL disembarked, WITH our carry-on, for, get this, EVEN MORE security theater. They separated the men from the women (wft?) and we all got a pat down and they groped through our carry-on. Then we were sequestered in… THE EXACT SAME ROOM as the rest of the people. Wow! It sure makes me feel safe to have pointlessly been dragged off the plane for pointless re-screening to pointlessly go back on with no actual change in security!

We arrived in JFK and immigration. Wow! Again. What a MASSIVE cluster fck. I’m not even sure I can adequately describe it, but it was chaos as people attempted to do an electronic recording of themselves entering the country (boy, hard to see how that system could be gamed!), complete with pictures, but, it seems, no fingerprinting (we were fingerprinted entering Philippines). My wife ‘mysteriously’ was selected for ‘extra screening’ (which turned out to be nothing more than waiting in a line that moved about an order of magnitude slower than the one for me and the boy).

With our luggage recovered, we headed to the shuttle train to meet our shuttle to the hotel. Thankfully, the temps had cooled off from the heat wave people were reporting and it was a nice, mild 64F when we got there. Another llllooonnngggg drawn out affair. I can see no reason why we sometimes waited for thirty seconds to a minute for the damn shuttle doors to close. At one AM. The hotel shuttle, shockingly, wasn’t waiting for us and we had to sit around. We finally got there, got checked in, and got to the hotel room. I got to say, the next several hours were vastly better than any spent on the plane.

That is, until I got a leg cramp and was woken from a deep sleep. Man, that hurt! I was eventually able to massage it to the point I could get back to sleep, but, dammit, I was wide awake around 3 AM and couldn’t do more than some light dozing thereafter. They had a quite nice ‘Continental’ breakfast for us.

Back to the airport, but thankfully dropped off right where we needed to be. And got on the plane on time, which left on time. But (why does there always have to be one?), when we arrived at Regan National the damn sky ramp wouldn’t line up with the door to the plane, so we stood around probably 15 minutes before they could get a ramp to bridge the distance. This, on a plane that HAS ITS OWN STAIRS. WTF?

Eliz wanted an Uber, but since the nearest one was at least 10 minutes away, I asked her to check the taxi prices. About the same, so why wait? And with that, we were finally home.

Where I had to take a nap. After three hours I got up, but was totally groggy and barely able to check my email. Got back to bed by 10:30 PM, only to be wide awake around 3 AM, so said the hell with it and go to work round 4 AM. Though I had waves of tired dizziness, I managed to stay until 12:30, but had to take a nap when I got home. Another 3 hours and again groggy, then went back to bed around 8:30 only to, once again, wake up at 3 AM. WTF is up with this 3 AM business?

Some random observations… As if I hadn’t been forced to acknowledge this sooner, but I’m officially an old codger now. Three weeks of not using my electric razor to keep things under control meant I had nose hairs that stuck out close to a centimeter. It looked like I snorted a rabbit! And the mole next to my nose was also similarly adorned, so I’m sure I terrified children. And the damn hairs wiggled with each breath. Man was that annoying. Note to self: bring electric razor next time to control those hairs!

There was disappointingly little eye candy throughout the whole trip. Lots of nice hair while in the Philippines (I have a thing for long, straight dark hair), and other salient body parts, but very few that had the whole package. My wife had very little competition for my attention.

Security theater is alive and well.

My shoulders were very painful during the trip home. I guess because I don’t really fit in the seat and was scrunched up, or, perhaps, because I leaned against the walls or seat. Fortunately, today my shoulders feel OK, but it was reaching the point I couldn’t lift my arms over my shoulders without wincing.

I actually lost a couple of pounds over the vacation (according to my spreadsheet, since Jan I’ve lost a bit more than 13 lbs and am averaging a half a pound a week). No doubt because of the illnesses (I spent 24 hours in bed one day), but I probably ate less than I expected. I don’t feel like I look any better and only half imagine I can see more of my toes than before, but I have noticed I have a lot less issues with heartburn (I still have a bottle of antacids next to the bed, I just rarely use them now) and, as I mentioned to my wife as we went on a walk yesterday evening, for the last many years I’ve had a continuous low-level feeling of nausea that was exacerbated with anything touching my belly. While that sensation hasn’t vanished, I now find I can more easily sleep on my belly (my preferred way) and there are periods of hours, sometimes a whole day, where I don’t have this sensation.

My wife and I have reconciled somewhat from the angst of the trip. We discussed ways to try and short-circuit arguments in the future. And there will be future trips, as they’ve already planned one in two years for my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. Hopefully we can fly non-stop from JFK (I still hate that airport, though it was less of a PITA than I remember from my first trip) and not have this extra wasted time in Vancouver.

I’ve been too tired to watch the Tour de France. Plus, I’m conflicted, as I really should be focusing on my Treasure Hunt movie. I may ask the boss to sign up for the channel later, once I’ve fully recovered, as there are some awesome mountain top finishes and I love to watch those.

I sent my completed (well, still struggling with that transition I’ve harped on) BlueDom draft to my editor. I can’t wait for her feedback. I hope she’ll be chock full of suggestions for ways to lengthen it without bloating.

Last night I started working on the program I have for processing my screenplay into individual scenes. I was pretty fuzzy headed, though, so didn’t get it completed. I want to try and have it done by this evening, as Thursday I’m meeting with a potential DP (Director of Photography) to discuss the movie and I’d like to have a page count for each scene so we can discuss scheduling, among other things. We seem to have connected well via email, so if we click in person, I think my DP search is over before it began.

Next week I intend to put an ad for the actors I need. I have a feeling I’ll either have little to no response or a deluge. Then the ‘fun’ of arranging for auditions and winnowing down the selections to find four people that have chemistry. And I don’t even know what that means. Of course, does anyone?

As I write this, I intend to collect some pictures and videos and post them online. Assuming I do so, I’ll have one last post in this series to provide a link. Other than that, it’s a wrap!

Thank you for reading. I hope I was at least a wee bit entertaining.

PS: I wound up leaving work early and just got up from another 3 hour nap. Sigh.

Author: Tfoui

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