September 05, 2007

The Countdown Continues...

Two weeks until we leave and we're making a list, checking it twice: Last minute things we need (a surge protector for our electrical gadgets) and those things we just want (peanut butter...according to the welcome packet we recently received, this is tough to get in Macedonia). The inevitable final, breath-holding moment will come when we actually load all our stuff into the suitcases and weigh them. That's when we'll start remarking, "Well, maybe we can just get a bottle opener over there" or "Time to pick my favorite two t-shirts." Of course, we are responsible for moving these suitcases around multiple airports and stuffing them into our host family's car, no doubt a Yugo or some close relative, so it might be in everyone's best interest if they didn't each weigh exactly 50 pounds. Ok, so the bottle opener stays.

On the subject of the host family, we've recently been scouting potential gifts for ours, based on suggestions from other PC volunteers. Thus far we've compiled the following items:

-Some postcards, among them one of JFK, which I think will go over pretty well. On a side note, the notion of bringing along this JFK-on-his-yacht b&w receives a 7.5 on the Cheesedealistic Scale (a scale I invented just now that indicates the degree to which something is idealistic in a really cheesy way. For example, joining the PC receives a 1. On the other hand, showing up for staging wearing a t-shirt that says "Deployed for Peace"--these shirts exist, by the way--creeps mightily close towards 10 land.)

-A deck of Rhode Island playing cards. Though the map on the frontside of these cards gives off the impression that Johnston is every bit as entertaining as Newport, I'm sure our host family will appreciate the sheer obscurity of it all once we've pointed out RI on our USA map.

-A small jug of real New Hampshire maple syrup. We eventually hope to make our host family pancakes and, pending their approval, translate the recipe into Macedonian.

Now we're in New York visiting with Jillian's sister and her fiance and the city streets are swarming with gift possibilites, so long as we're patient. It's going to take some sifting through "Dolca Gabanna" bags, "Tony Hilfiger" silk ties, and a really surprising number of poorly drawn illustrations celebrating black womanhood, but with a little effort there's much to be found. NYC picture books, stickers, and postcards are some of the under-$2 fare available.

I did see a t-shirt today (ironically enough, being sold by what appeared to be a group of African immigrants) that would pull about a 9.5 on the Hilariously and Uncomfortably Inappropriate Gift Scale: "Welcome to America. Now Learn English."

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