So that last post made things sound a little bit more depressing than it needed to. Life’s really not that bad here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still no fun at all, it’s just not as bad as it once was. There was a time -- probably late January and into February -- when I really couldn’t stand it out here. There were many days and nights back then that I gave some serious thought to packing it up and calling it quits. I’m not at that low point anymore, largely because I know I will be packing it up and heading home very soon. Every time work starts to stress me out, or I start to get annoyed by something-or-other, I just look at a calendar and try to smile. It won’t be long now. I’m still counting the days until the end of my contract (37 to go), although I’ll probably be out here a few weeks beyond that. I finally got some of my questions answered, and I now know for sure that I’m free to leave any time after 25 July. I haven’t set a hard date yet, but I have narrowed it down: I’ll be out of here on 7 August at the earliest, and no later than 21 August. Sometime between now and then I’ll narrow that down to a more specific date. The more pressing issue, however, is what I’ve not-so-creatively dubbed “The Project.” “The Project” is the name that I’ve assigned to the task of getting ready to get on a plane and head home. It consists largely of packing and shipping -- something I’m not particularly looking forward to. You wouldn’t think that a guy who’s entire life is housed in a 9’ x 10’ room would be able to accumulate very much stuff, but you’d be wrong. I’ve got a trunk full of books, CDs, DVDs, and paperwork that all needs to be shipped home before I leave here -- not to mention the clothes and souvenirs that I’d rather not lug home with me on a plane. I’ve also got a few things that I’m sure I’ll be leaving behind -- the coffee maker and the TV definitely won’t be going back with me. Those, along with a few other random items, will be either sold to a newcomer or else donated to whoever inherits my room. After I get everything sorted out and a large portion of it mailed home, the next task will be the packing. The idea behind the packing is to make the journey home as painless as possible. In contrast, here’s how my journey went on the way out here: I left Colorado with a backpack, a computer bag, and a huge duffel bag (think hockey bag and you’ll have the idea) that were all packed completely full. The duffel bag alone weighed close to 70 lbs (I know this because I just barely missed having to pay an “overweight baggage charge” to the airline). As if that wasn’t enough to travel with, I stopped at Fort Benning, GA on my way out here, where the Army outfitted me with three more cargo bags. I managed to cram all the Army gear into two bags, but it still wasn’t exactly fun carrying two Army cargo bags (each of which also weighed in at just under 70 lbs), my huge duffel bag, a backpack, and a computer bag in and out of airports all the way from Georgia to Afghanistan. I’m hoping to avoid a repeat on the way home. With any luck I’ll manage to re-pack all the Army gear in such a way that it fits into just two cargo bags again, and almost everything else will be shipped home. The remaining personal items, just enough for the trip home, will fit into my recently acquired travel pack. That’s the goal anyway; two cargo bags and one backpack. The rest of this room will be mailed home or else it’s staying here. The only part of “The Project” that I’ve managed to complete so far is the planning, which I’ve basically outlined above. I still haven’t found the motivation to get started on the actual Project itself yet. It’ll happen soon enough. I’ve given myself a target date of 1 August to complete “The Project” -- by that date I don’t plan to own anything that doesn’t fit inside the two Army bags and my backpack. As I glance around at all the junk in my room it looks almost impossible. Wish me luck.