Alright, so it is finally here. Tentative one week countdown until Staging followed by departure to Ukraine and what will hopefully be a mutually educational experience. I say “tentative” due to the passing of the next governmental budget. The current extension for resolution is March 18th. I will not weigh in on proposed cuts, etc. as 1) I am not at the table where these conversations are taking place – however I hope that the discussions are intelligent and not spiteful and 2) this is an inappropriate forum. Obviously though, I hope for a compromise so that Ukraine Group 41 can depart on time. Eventually we’ll go, but all the rescheduling isn’t exactly fun for those who have to do it.
Anyways, on to this whole last week thing. Never been much of a list person and anyone who has worked with me in the past can definitely attest to that. I qualify more as a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of guy and that works for me. However at this point, there is still “stuff” left to accomplish. Things such as:
- Staging paperwork
- Car loan
- Student Loan Deferment Forms
- Purchase last minute miscellaneous items
- Determine what to purchase in US vs. Ukraine
- Oh and go through the pictures below and determine what will fit into two bags not to exceed 50lbs, a carry on, and personal item.
One thing that I don’t just understand though is why airlines don’t just say “Hey, you can bring two bags on with you.” What would be awesome though would be if there were better screening at the gate. No one likes to sit on a plane while one or two people who should have obviously gate checked a bag aimlessly try to fit a round peg into a square hole and think they will find a spot for it. Check the thing at the gate, it will be there, we’ll move on. I do applaud the flight attendants who exercise extreme patience when you can hear the collective sighs of everyone else on the plane.
Digression: over. Did the chic thing today and went over the list of things I think I might potentially need at some point over the next two years – rather than actually need and use. As a chronic over-packer this is a daunting task. In past years, I’ve been known to pay for the Heavy charge only to wear half of the items I bring. Before you judge me for this, keep in mind that I have spent the last 6+ years living in northwest Florida and central Texas (68 straight days of triple digits two summers ago) while my parents have stayed in my childhood home in Rhode Island the entire time. Yeah, you learn to be prepared for just about anything growing up in New England. Sorry isn’t not always 65 and sunny up there.
The list I’ve come up with is quite impressive if I do say so myself and it will probably be posted once I finalize everything. This will be for multiple reasons, it helps when future volunteers are trying to answer the “I’m a dude, I see a ton of packing lists from women, what the hell do I bring?” question and I want to impress all of you with my impecable ability to pack efficiently (remember, 100lbs). Truthfully though, the hardest part is remembering all of the little things we need to survive on a daily basis. No I don’t mean food, I mean random toiletry items, random sanity items, random ADD/OCD items, etc. It is really easy to get fixated on simply the things that I will wear and forget that at some point I’ll have to shower, wear deodorant, cook food that I’d like to put some hot sauce on, use batteries (for what, who knows but I’ll need them), duct tape (I mean let’s be honest, quite possibly better than the invention of super glue), potentially walk around when it’s dark…damn, just remembered I wanted to buy a headlamp – guess a flashlight will have to do – those sorts of things. Hell, I almost forgot to put the sleeping bag on there. Seriously, it is insanely easy to simply focus on making sure there is enough clothing and it is appropriate/warm enough. Honestly, I also was completely forgetting about summer clothes because I was so fixated on the idea of cold weather and forgot about these little things called “seasons.”
I also have to admit at this point, I am not going to contribute much, if anything, to the DVD collection sharing that typically takes place among trainees/PCVs. I own 5, literally, and I can guarantee that collectively they will all be represented. What I can boast and hopefully provide for some is an eclectic music library containing 3719 items at the moment which I could play consistently for 10.7 days (thanks free version of Pod to Mac/PC which doesn’t exist anymore). Hopefully this will be fair and hopefully congress can come to a reasonable agreement that is mutually beneficial to both sides.