Ok, I guess it isn’t TECHNICALLY my birthday yet. In fact, my birthday is a month from today (October 10). If you were thinking of writing me a letter or sending me a birthday card, now would be the time to start acting on that (mail usually takes 2-3 weeks if you send it to the Watamu address in the sidebar of this blog.) If you actually DO it, your spot in the Eternal Paradise of Your Choosing is assured. You will have done your part to support global development and positive US foreign policy. Bono and Barack Obama will both come to your house and make out with you. True fact.

Some of you have asked me about “care packages” … if you feel the burning desire to express your undying love for me with material goods, the following things never go amiss: burned CDs of podcasts (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, The Moth, Selected Shorts, Savage Love, Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, etc), granola bars, cookies/brownies, magazines (Psychology Today, Us Weekly, WHATEVER you have lying around), crossword puzzles (just rip the ones out of your local newspaper), paperback books (used are perfectly fine), Poptarts, Swedish Fish candy, sour Skittles, EasyMac, small scented candles, Amazon giftcards, solar-powered jetpacks, wish-granting lamps, jetskis, or a small yacht.

However, to be 100% honest, given the choice between a shoebox containing ALL THAT (including the small yacht) or a long hand-written letter, I would hands-down choose the letter 10 times out of 10. I’m serious. Nothing – NOTHING – makes me happier than opening my mailbox to see a postcard or some small missive from a friend back in the States. Don’t think your life is interesting enough to write about? I don’t care. Some days I pine for the tedium of winter in New York. Send a photograph of a cool bug you saw walking to class. Or a picture of your kids all smeared with chocolate. Or your dog completely coated in mud. Or YOU standing in line waiting for coffee. Anything. Whatever. As I’ve said before, I didn’t bring ANY pictures with me, and my camera went AWOL the day I arrived on the Coast, so I lost all the pictures I took in the month or so leading up to graduation (plus everything I’d taken in my first two months in Kenya.) A card, a letter, and/or a photo would ROCK my WORLD so hard that seismologists everywhere will be like “Dude, wtf is going on in Coast Province Kenya? It’s like the hybrid spawn of an earthquake and a metal concert jumping on a trampoline. And what’s that excited shrieking noise? Anyone else hear that?”

Yeah. I’m serious.