Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday To Meeee

22 years on this Earth and I can tell you it has been a rocky and crazy road. Today was a really special birthday. (I'm writing this on the 25th but just pretend it is the 24th).

I woke up to having french toast made for me by my two fellow volunteer friends. They made me a special birthday breakfast. Then I started my first day of work, meeting new people and learning about my job. I have an office! How about that. It feels so weird being in the real world with offices and work and no class or parties.

Oh, backing up a bit, Sunday was really special. We had our Missioning Liturgy and it was awesome! We were congratulated and welcomed into the whole Redeemer community. We had to give mission statements to the congregation and everything. I loved it! We got special blessed crosses and candles. It was a day full of memories.

Now, fast forward to Monday. So I went to work and left around 4:30. I came home and my community made me my favorite dinner as a surprise! (Hot dogs, mac and cheese from the box and baked beans). Then we had zucchini bread cake for dessert because I really enjoyed it during orientation. My community gave me this funny Charlie Brown card and signed it and even labeled each other on it. I'm Snoopy haha. They also gave me a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. Then Connie and Stephen gave me a fitted Phillies hat which I wear as I type this. I have wanted one of those hats forever and now I finally have one!!! I love it and it was a real surprise.

Then we had prayer which was dedicated to me and my birthday. I've never had that happen before! Oh and the night before one of the Sisters put a bouquet of flowers on my desk! It was a wonderful birthday and I'll never forget it.

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Today (for real this time) we stayed at work until 6pm. I made the daring attempt to drive us to work in the city and succeeded. Then we had to drove Leah back to the train station (she is the volunteer from last year who came in to help Stephen with his stuff). So yeah...I'm a bad ass. I drove through the city IN the city and on the interstate! It was crazy, scary, fun and quite the adventure. We made it back in one piece and now that I've conquered that I think I can conquer anything!

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So now we're just chilling at the Motherhouse and playing piano. I'm ready to go back soon because I have laundry to do and lunch to make. Its weird being a grown up. haha

Until next time....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Whirlwind of Happiness

How in the world do I sum up the past week for you in this blog? I don't think it is possible so I'll try to hit the high points as best I can. I know a lot of people have been wondering if I was still alive but honestly I've been so busy with orientation, moving in, and transitioning that I haven't had a chance to update anything. On top of that, the computer in our community isn't set up yet so I have to find creative ways to get on computers. Connie has one I use sometimes, the Sisters Mother House has one. Usually I can only get on for small periods of time. I write to you now from a hospital. Yes, a hospital. I live about two buildings over and they have a 24 hr computer lab. So I can spend as much time in here as I want.

Ok, let me find a starting point. Well, I arrived on Sunday and it was pretty fast paced day. My aunt, uncle and cousins had lunch at the Mother house and we got a really warm welcome. It was really nice. Turns out one of the Sisters knows my uncle and she leaped from her chair to greet him. She used to teach with him. So that was a nice surprise for her. After lunch I went back to my home and unpacked a bit. Eileen went over some brief expectations and get to know you questions. Then the four of us (me, Connie, Stephen, and Eileen) made Stromboli for our community. It turned out all right and it was a fun time eating dinner with so many people. I fell fast asleep that night from exhaustion.

Throughout this week has been my RMC orientation. It has been busy, fun, and action packed. I've met almost all the Sisters, learned the history of the Sisters, learned about the health care system, learned about my fellow volunteers (life stories) Yes, mine was drama filled. We've shared meals, I've drank wine at a Bishop's 90th birthday party, we've watched movies. It has been a lot of fun. Never a dull moment, really.

Today me, Connie and Stephen went into the city. We saw the Liberty bell, Independence hall, the Franklin park, the DE river and various downtown shops. We took a train in, explored and than took a train out. We met a woman at the train station who was lost and needed a ride so we drove her to her bus station (after getting lost ourselves a few times). It was a great day.

I live with four Sisters and one Resident Associate (lives, prays with Sisters but doesn't take vows). On the first floor of my convent (which is basically a big house..no Sister Act bars on the windows) is me, Stephen and Connie's room. I share a bathroom with Connie. Then there is a huge living room and dining room, back porch, community room, kitchen, several other bathrooms, the Sister's office and a chapel which is right next to my room. On the second floor is our computer room and the Sisters' bedrooms. It is a really nice place. Our RMC car is a Ford Focus much like my own but it is newer and it likes me. We share the car but I'm in it 5 days a week since I have the longest commute to work. Eileen has already taken us out for water ice and mini golfing which has been a lot of fun!.

Let's talk about work again. My ministry site, my site of service, whatever you want to call it. On Tuesday I met with my site supervisor, Beth. I learned that I'm going to be running the Head Start program, assisting with the Homework Helper program, assisting with the Big Bros Big Sis program, making sure the kids get vouchers for uniforms (all pub schools in Philly wear uniforms). Then I am going to work with the Homeless Children's Initiative and I already have a meeting scheduled next week. I'm also meeting with the counselor from the local school. I also have a room that I have to re-arrange for mothers and their children for meetings with me and stuff. It is intense, a lot of responsibility and I am eager to get started! My first day is Monday, my birthday (which is going to be a great day from what I hear). Everyone wants to wish me a happy birthday and there will be ice cream. I'm happy. haha Everyone keeps mentioning my birthday which really means a lot to me. But on Mondays and Fridays I drive to work without Stephen. Thank God his orientation to work is also on Monday so I don't have to drive on my birthday. Ugh I would hate to do that. (Not live to see 22).

I feel really at home here. I'm so happy and I know the year is just starting but I don't want it to end. I love the balance in my life (yeah it is the honeymoon stage but I can relish it, right?) I mean, I have God, Sisters and my fellow volunteers. We're all connecting really well (granted it is the baby stages of forming a community). I just find myself realizing how lucky I am to be in this position. I don't have to worry about rent, insurance, my loans and other crap. I can maintain a relationship with God daily. I'm making new friends left and right. I'm having new experiences. I'm going to be getting my hands dirty in a career path that is kind of unexpected for me. (I'm already thinking about getting my masters of social work at UPenn maybe.) This is just a great set-up with people who accept you for who you are and not what you could be or who you're not. I love it. I do miss my friends (especially because they keep calling me and leaving me messages) however I am adjusting just fine here. Life is good!

So tomorrow is our Missioning ceremony/mass. It is basically our initiation. I'm looking forward to it (I still have to make my mission statement). haha Then Monday is the first day! (and my birthday of course).

I think that hits the high points. I'll be more specific later. I'm just having a great time transitioning and it feels like home here. I'll update on my birthday (BIRTHDAY BLOG) goes as well as how work is going.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a Spectacle in All Forms

I didn't get to drive my car for the last time and realize it. The day I was going to do this my dad came in the house holding my tags in his hand. He did me a favor, really, but I was hoping to take one last drive around the old neighborhood. I didn't get to go walking with my mom because she didn't go walking that morning. I also added one more bag to my collection of luggage.

That is all well and good. I got to hang out with Beth and Clay for a bit. It was hard to say goodbye to them. I really feel like this whole week has been nothing but goodbyes. Additionally everyone is playing tug a war on my heart. Everyone wants me to stay but I can't. I did see a funnel cloud outside my house last night. That made my heart race and pound in my chest. A tornado was coming right towards us! Then the wind changed directions and it vanished. It was incredible. I have some good pictures of the little funnel cloud before it went away. My God it was beautiful. Yes, a tornado was beautiful.

Anyway, my parents drove me to Lewes today to meet up with the rest of my family. It really was just about the rest of my family. I was greeted by my grandmother, two of my aunts and four of my cousins. It was a regular Waltons moment. But see, this large gathering attracted a lot of attention to fellow ferry people. So did my bags, which are huge, and purple. On top of these huge purple bags were a huge orange bag and a huge black bag. Everyone kind of stared at me. Then stared at my family. It was funny and kind of crazy at the same time. My mother was cracking slightly harsh jokes. There were about a million "you're going to be a nun" comments thrown about. I was so happy to be surrounded by my family before I start my new life. I was also ready to go. haha Lots of family, lots of attention on me and not the good time, lots of luggage, lots of stares by people = not so happy MA.

We took family photos and had a nice lunch. Then I boarded the ferry which was one of the most difficult tasks in the world. No, it was not difficult because my heart was wrenched out of my chest and my desire to stay with my parents and my best friends beat my desire for a real adventure. No. It was difficult because my two aunts, four cousins and grandmother helped me get my two purple suitcases, one black duffel, one green bag, one orange duffel and one bookbag oh, yeah, and a baby coach basket thing for my grandmother to push...onto the ferry. My 11 yr old cousin tried to tackle one of the heavier suitcases. She was a trooper, I give her that but everyone stared at us. The people behind me were really inconvenienced by me and my bags and my entourage trying to push my bags. I mean really, I held up a line of people with all my crap. People were just amazed that I had so much stuff. I felt so self-conscious. Like when you think everyone is looking at you and talking about you and then you realize wait...they really really are. Ugh.

To make matters worse my family started to realize what a burden my stuff was. Soon everyone thought I over packed and that my bags were really too heavy. Simple living? Right... There was a moment when I was tired, embarrassed, and just kind of annoyed by my lack of packing skills that I wanted to die. haha I'm surprised I made it to NJ.

Now I'm chilling at my Aunt and Uncle's house, watching cable, eating tasty cakes and using their computer to stay connected to the world outside. I feel a bit better but I am so exhausted. I'm ready to just crash and burn right now. I leave for Philly on Sunday and I want my family there but I don't want a big fuss. I love unpacking things so I don't want any help in that department. One of my favorite things is to settle down in a new place. Seriously I love arranging furniture or putting my crap away. Unpacking just puts my mind at ease. So hopefully I'll be able to do that on my own.

So that was my adventure today.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let's Go

On Thursday morning I will get into a car with my parents. Two purple suitcases one giant orange duffel, one small black rolling duffel, one Vera Bradley medicine travel bag and a blue book bag will be placed into the trunk of a Silver Ford Taurus. For two and half hours we will drive to a certain ferry which leads to a certain birthplace of yours truly. After a wholesome lunch with my Aunt, cousins and grandmother, my family will drive that Silver Ford Taurus back home and I will board a certain ferry with the other half of my family.

On Sunday morning I will get up early and pile two purple suitcases, one giant orange duffel, one small black rolling duffel, one Vera Bradley medicine travel bag and a blue book bag into a Dodge Ram van where my Aunt will drive me to my new residence for the next year in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I will unpack said suitcases and bags in my quaint little room in a convent. At 2pm I will report to the start of Orientation where I will be orientated into my new life.

One week and a day after this orientation I will begin my first day of work at a transitional home for homeless mothers and their children. I will either drive or be driven to my workplace in the heart of the ghettos of the city. I will begin a job I have had no direct experience in. I will work with people who will not trust me on sight. I will have to prove myself and that I am capable of making change and adapting to situations on the turn of a dime. I will also be turning 22 on this day.

Tomorrow is my last full day home. My last day home really. In this day I want to drive my car for the last time before turning in my tags and canceling my insurance policy. I want to hang out with my best friends and joke and laugh with them before we go our separate ways. I want to have dinner with my best friend in my home. I want to make sure my dog will not forget me. I want to get up early and walk with my mom at the crack of dawn but it will probably be raining. I want to make sure Sallie Mae will defer my loans for a year because as of now they won't. I want to go over everything in my room and make sure nothing is left behind that I will need. I want to have a memorable and argument free day with my parents. I want to tie up all loose ends in one day including storing my computer in a cool, dry place for it will not be coming with me to Philly.

I've already visited the nursing home I used to work at and said goodbye to residents I've known for years. I've already went to church for the last time and said goodbye to the few parishioners I knew from other outlets. I've already e-mailed friends and family to tell them what I'd be up to for the next year. I've already revamped my Ipod to contain the most eclectic mix it has ever had. Here is a sample of songs on it:
1) Best I Ever Had - Drake
2) Breathe - Taylor Swift
3) They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love - Jars of Clay
4) Ice Cream Paint Job - Tyga
5) Free Bird - Lynard Skynard
6) Better Man - Marty Dread
And various songs from John Legend, the Remember the Titans Soundtrack, Kelly Clarkson, Enya, Chris Daughtry, Beyonce, Rascal Flats and more. You name it, I prolly have it.

I'm incredibly excited for what the next year holds. This whole application process has been a journey and a half. I'm hoping I stay calm, avoid my egotism, and be myself. I am also hoping I don't lose touch with the friends I love. Considering I still talk to my 1st grade teacher on a somewhat quarter annual basis, I doubt I will. I want to stop worrying about what will happen after this year because I will be broke and jobless. I want to stop letting it bother me when all my friends and family are joking because they think I'm going to become a nun just because I'm going to be living and working with nuns. I can't wait to tour the city and meet new people. I just hope I'll have enough time to write about my daily adventures. I know there will be plenty of them.

I'm growing up.

Until next time...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Breakaway

I suppose I'm still in a Kelly Clarkson mood. I keep listening to her song "Already Gone" and "Walk Away." Why? Because both of those titles are going to apply to me in 6 days. That is right 6 days. Everyone wants to hang out with me before I go. My friends want to spend everyday with me until it is time for me to depart. My parents, want me to spend time with them in their own special way. (Me being productive around the house of course). Me? What do I want? I kind of want to just lay down in a dark room and fall asleep to songs about leaving and change and a new life. Its funny, all this time I had been so eager to get the hell off the Shore, start my new real world life in Philly and make new friends and have new adventures. I wrote this poem which reflects my feelings:

I was always focused on the future
Never worrying about the past
Racing through life with no regrets
Never caring as the days went by fast
So set on jumping the cliff
Into adventure and what life could be
Now I find myself skidding to a halt
Trying to catch a final glimpse of the present scenery
Wishing I could put my memories onto a slide show
Just sit down and reminisce
To laugh and cry and relive
All the moments I'll inevitably miss
As I approach the ledge of change
I know that I have to leap
I spent all my time wishing and waiting to go
And now I'm not ready to leave
I'll take one last look behind me
Store the still frame in my heart and soul
I'll breathe in deep and close my eyes
Then step off the ledge to see what the future really holds

Yeah.

Don't get me wrong, I'm totes excited but now I suppose I'm a little bit nervous now too. I'm leaving my best friends in Williamsburg and on the Shore. My dog, yes my DOG doesn't love me anymore. I'm always so in and out of his life that he has been distancing himself from me. And NO, this is not my imagination. I try to sit with him or play with him and he moves away. But he'll cuddle up to my mom and dad in a hot second. My dog is distancing himself from me because I'm so temporary.

Which gets me thinking about the next year and how temporary it is. I mean, it is a year of commitment and a 9-5 and challenges. But it isn't the real world. It is a real world transition. Which is perfect for someone like me who is bound to fall flat on my face in the 'real real world.' I can't help but find myself envying those who have 9-5s which are permanent. Who don't have to re-figure their life out in a year.

The main reason why I made this life changing decision was because I was trusting God with the one aspect of myself I always want control of: my future. I don't want to have doubts going into the program but the past few days have left me feeling spiritually empty and really nostalgic. I'm excited but I am also really sad to leave my friends behind. I'm worried what I'll be doing after a year. This worry didn't occur to me during the application process because I thought 'oh God will provide.' I really don't want to be doubting 6 days before I leave.

What I'm worried about: people not liking me, my job being too challenging for me, me getting off track or lazy and preventing positive change from happening at my job, me losing important yet crazy aspects of myself which make me 'me', not having any options but coming back to the Shore penny-less after the year of service, getting lost on my commute, being coerced into religious life and not being able to fight it haha, losing touch with my best friends thus losing my best friends and becoming increasingly more conservative in my lifestyle.

What I'm excited about: meeting new people,making new impressions, exploring a new career path, making positive change, strengthening my spiritual life, encountering new adventures, working in Philly, making new friends, potentially finding my niche in this field and getting a full time job after my year of service, being on my own sort of, discovering new things about myself and interacting with new cultures.

Equal I suppose. Today as I struggled to pack 'only the things I need' I realized I need more bags. I'm now up to two purple suitcases, one small rolling duffel, one large new jersey tote and a book bag. That's not bad for one year, right? I have work clothes, casual clothes, shoes of both sorts, toiletries, some knickknacks to make my room feel like home, jewelery, make up, essentials. I'm worried I'm bringing too much and I'll get there with my entourage and my 5 bags and everyone will look at me and be like "um...wow you pack a lot." Its always been a problem. I over pack for EVERYTHING. I'm serious. You should have seen what I brought to college my freshman year. Ugh. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up $74 of essentials. Included in the lot was a black dress shirt and yes, my splurge of the day. I am obsessed with Paris Hilton's Heiress fragrance. Like, obsessed. I don't like Paris Hilton and I don't revile in the fact I smell like a baby prostitute but I had to get some. A normal bottle costs $30. A tiny bottle costs $6. So I bought a tiny bottle for special occasions. Sue me. Better yet, hit me over the head with something hard.

In other news I finished reading Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot. Shes the woman who wrote the Princess Diary books. I love the Queen of Babble series. I stupidly started in the middle so I haven't read the first book but I know everything that happens in it. It was a really cute book though. Now I'm reading "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing" by Ted Conover. Holy crap, Conover is my HERO. This guy is a journalist who uses sociological techniques to write his pieces! For example, he wanted to learn more about the prison system so he tried to gain access into the Correctional Officer Academy. They said no. What did he do? He APPLIED to be a correctional officer. So this guy is a correctional officer at Sing Sing prison in New York and he did all this so he could write this book! He's also explored the lives of Mexican coyotes and also train hobos. I'm not gonna lie, after Sing Sing I'm going to read all of his other books. This guy is brilliant and is doing something that I kind of want to do! I want to write a book about the homeless, this guy has done stuff just like it. But seriously, to BECOME a correctional officer to write a book and learn more about the prison system???? Effin GENIUS! I love this guy. He is now on my favorite author list (because his writing is very engaging) and I want to learn more about him. He's basically doing participant observation techniques in the field and applying it to raw hard core journalism.

Not to mention I also have a fascination with prisons and the whole correctional system. ;-)

That is about it for me. A new author fascination and fear and excitement about my new life in 6 days. Sigh.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Life Would Suck Without You


When I woke up around noon yesterday, I had no idea that I'd be spending my evening with my two best friends at the Delaware State Fair watching Kelly Clarkson in concert. Yeah, I had no idea. But Beth called and asked me if we were still going to meet up at 1pm to hang out. Then Clay called and invited me to the concert with Beth. I figured there was no way I could go considering I have $20 to my name right now. I mean concerts are things you plan on going to, not things you just wake up and decide to go to that night. Believe it or not, everything worked out and I was able to go. Clay generously paid my ticket and state fair admission as a graduation present. It was literally the perfect day.

I rushed to pack some things so I could stay with Beth that night, making traveling easier on both of us. First we had to stop by her friend's house because her friend, this nice Korean lady's mom passed away. I knew her kind of on an acquaintance level so this whole setting was a little awkward at first. How do you comfort a grieving person you don't really know? Especially because there was other people at the house as well. So as Beth consoled her friend, I politely stared at the floor. This situation turned around completely when the fellow house guests and friends started talking to me in Beth. Within minutes the conversation became lighthearted and I felt comfortable again. The Korean ladies kept telling me that I was bright, had a vibrant personality and was full of life and that God shines through me. This really meant a lot to me. So I had the Korean ladies laughing and smiling which was fun. It kind of reminded me when the Philippinos came to CCM daily mass and I had them laughing like crazy. I feel like I do really well with cultures other than my one. Perhaps I do better with other cultures!

After this nice visit we went to Clay's where I toured his new kitchen and raided his pantry. We left for Delaware around 3:30 or so. This really felt like a road trip. We listen to Kelly Clarkson all the way up, pausing briefly to listen to some music which is hot in LA right now. We made it up to the fair without a problem and parked in Cow Lot 3. haha Got to love it.

The fair was pretty big. Take our town carnival and times it by about 100. There were your typical rip off attractions "smallest woman in the world, smallest horse in the world." Enough food to feed a third world country including chicken on a stick, corn dogs, turkey legs, and pizza slices the size of your head. Also cotton candy, candy apples, fried oreos, funnel cakes, yeah the works. It took us about a half hour just to choose what to eat. I mean the selection was huge! I settled for .75 20 oz ice tea...yes 75 cent. And a slice of pizza as big as my head. Beth had pizza and fries and clay had a corn dog (mandatory at the fair haha) and a turkey leg which I took awkward pictures of me and Clay eating it at the same time. After dinner we walked around for a bit. Beth said that there were "fresh cows" which came out wrong, but it was amusing. We looked at the livestock and then headed to the track for the Kelly Clarkson Concert.

The first act was Krista, a spunky Avril/Evanescence/white rapper/rocker chick who had some really good stuff. Our seats were decent and we were right in front of a huge screen which showed all the action on stage. Yes, I watched the screen a lot more than the actual performance because it was right there. Anyway after Krista's performance we went to go meet her. Beth and I were first in line and Clay found this amusing since these little girls were in line behind us. Krista signed our free Itunes song card and crawled under the table to take a picture with us. She says "I'm human" as she crawls under the table. We got a cute picture with her and then picked up some home made lemonade for the next act. I loved this concert scene because you could come and go as you pleased as long as you had your ticket scanned in and out. So we could use the real restrooms, get drinks and meet the opening acts and still have our seats waiting for us.




After Krista was Eric Hutchinson. He was good but I think he was unhappy with the fan reception. He kept telling us to sound excited when he announced a song and called out people who came late just to see Kelly. Yeah, he needs to work on accepting the fact we paid to see a show and he should shut up and perform. We went to meet him too, in a line of screaming teen girls. He was kind of awkward and signed my admission ticket. I don't have a picture of me with him but there is a picture of me walking beside him.



Yeah.

Anyway after Eric we had a bathroom break/lemonade refill for $2 break. We got back to our seats and enjoyed a black eyed peas pour some sugar on me remix song. Then Kelly came out and the crowd went wild. Beth, Clay and I saw Kelly Clarkson our junior year of high school together in Va Beach so this was really special to see her again right before we all go off into the real world. We linked arms and swayed back and forth to Breakaway and rocked out to My Life Would Suck Without You. That is how I feel about my friends, my life would suck without you. Seriously. This whole day was perfect.

After the concert there was closing fair fireworks since it was the last day for the fair. We walked back to the car and just enjoyed the night ride home. It was a great day with my best friends. I have lots of great pictures on facebook so check them out. The whole adventure was really spontaneous since Clay was like "lets see Kelly Clarkson tonight." I needed that kind of fresh break from monotony.

Until next time...

Sick September A Recap

After an fantastic month of August where all the stars were aligned and life seemed damn near perfect, I entered the month of September with...