I'm in California right now, I got here yesterday and I'm leaving on Tuesday. My brother and his family are out here, so I came to see them and say goodbye and happy birthday to my brother before I leave for such a long time. My nephews are pretty adorable and will be full grown men by the time I get back (exaggeration, they'll be in 2nd grade and kindergarten when I return, but that seems so grown up for how they are now).
I have a week left in the states when I get home to Florida, and all of the sudden that seems like no time at all. All along I've had this pretty decent timeline in my head (and on paper) of what needed to be done when, and there was always this trip as a buffer between getting things ready to go and actually going. I haven't packed anything yet. I'm not as worried about that as one might think, considering the length of the trip I'm going on and my destination, because the best advice on packing from the most knowledgable people (those who have done this, and those in country) has been to take what makes me happy, some underwear, and enjoy my time left with friends and family. Sounds good. Although, I did just go by two more things: a cover for my Osprey pack so the do-dads and belts don't get snagged in a conveyor belt when I check it, and a short wave radio that, sadly, runs on AAA batteries. (I'd wanted a hand-crank version).
I am thinking about getting a new tattoo before I go - completely impulsive and irresponsible and possibly unsafe, but I kind of love it... One of my best friends had a dream (after lunch with me and a cry fest about missing me, which in turn made me cry) that I had a tattoo (and she may have had one too I forget) of a little planet and an alien ship and some stars and the words "look up" to remind us that we were still under the same sky... I already have a tiny star on my foot, and I feel like the words "look up" would make me happy when I'm lonely. I have to figure out if a week is enough time to heal it before I step off a plane in the middle of Africa, land of crazy diseases. I'm sure PC would not approve.
Lastly, I wanted to share the coolest project ever that I get be a part of. I know that the PC blogosphere is pretty close knit, so you all may already know about this since I'm super late posting about it, but I'm so excited to have been in the actual real life, not online, conversation that conceived the idea :) Kim, Jessica, and I went bowling last weekend with the UF group of PC applicants, RPCVs and the UF recruiter, and we started talking about a journal project that Kim is involved in with some of her friends in Vegas. She thought it would transfer awesomely to PC and we agreed. Basically what has come of it is this: Snapshots of Service. Over the course of 2011, 50 volunteers who leave for service in 50 different countries will be mailing each other a journal that everyone will have a small section to do what we want with. We'll have it for a week before we mail it on to the next volunteer. I'm getting the journal second, and then I'll get it again about a year or so in. Hopefully if this all goes well we'll look into getting it published to add to the many resources for future PCVs written by RPCVs (just like the Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook!)