Friday, August 3, 2012

Just came to say, Goodbye Love, Goodbye

Today (Friday, August 3rd) was my last day of work at Friendship Park.  I turned in my keys.  I threw out my "holes in soles" gym shoes and ripped/stained jeans I wore everyday there.  I hugged a ton of people. 

And no, I did not cry.

Some say I suppress emotion (which I often do), but today I did not cry because I'm still in shock.

It's shocking that I won't exchange shoes anymore.  It's shocking that I won't monitor sugar in the mornings.  I won't talk with Wayne, get yelled at by Rabbit, play dominoes with Shadeed and Robert, sing with Terry, try to hear and converse with Michael, listen to the ranting of John, drive the golf cart with Tony, avoid Charles, stare down Loman, and watch Issac and Tim throw horseshoes. 

Mostly, I'm shocked by how amazing this year has been, and how much I learned about myself and the world in general. 

I have learned:
-to listen voraciously to other people.  Even if you think it is a mundane subject, it is meaningful!
-to dedicate yourself 100% to the issue at hand, and then let it go. At least you can say you tried.
-to be real with everyone I meet, because the relationship won't matter if you aren't. 
-to be intentional in every aspect in life.
-to try new things and go different places whenever you can!  You never know where it might lead! (Who knew pork belly is the most delicious thing on this planet??)
-walking with people is the important part.  You may never get that electricity turned back on, but I was there to listen, try, and care when no one else was.
-that I matter.  I am no less significant that anyone else, but I am not more important than anyone, either.

There are so many more life lessons that I have learned this year from my community members, friends, Dave, Sister Claire, co-workers, and guests, but I hit on the most important ones.

So I just came to say to goodbye.  This week has been spent saying goodbye to good people, and lastly, to you. 

Thank you dedicated readers.  I am blessed beyond belief.  God truly knew what He was doing by putting JVC in my life!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Oops I did it again. . .

Sorry this is two days late.  It has been a busy year, and the end is only busier! 

So I left off on Friday the 20th, and now it's Sunday, the 29th.  Since the list format has always worked best for me, I'll stick with that.

-pack car
-drive 7 hours to L.A.
-sleep on floor

-Wake up and start driving to downtown

-See Walt Disney concert hall
-Drive along Sunset Blvd and pass the Hollywood Stars

-See Hollywood Bowl and Hollywood sign

-Picnic there
-Drive to San Diego (4 hours with traffic)
-See Corondo
-Last party at San Diego JV House

-Sleep on floor

-Sleep on Corondo Beach while casamates go swimming

-Drive to retreat camp, just outside of L.A. (2.5 hours)
-Start JVC retreat, Dis-orientation



-Drive 7 hours back to Sacramento
-Stop at Ghiradelli outlet store for ice cream
-Sleep in bed

-Talk with my neighbor Dave

-Drinks after work with Mom (the exucutive director's of L&F, Sister Libby, mom who volunteers at the park every Friday)
-Watch Olympic opening ceremonies with Casa Jane

-Hike to Angora Lake in Tahoe
-See Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe


And now I'm writing my blog!!

Some points need explaining, such as Dave, work, and Dis-o.

Dis-o: We were at a children's camp with low-lying bunk beds, not enough bathrooms, and cafeteria food.  Other JVC retreats have had not the best accomdations, but this was just like summer camp! We even shared the camp, swimming pool, and dining room with an elementary Bible camp called "Beaver Believers!" (They were great and lead each meal with a song/prayer.) Other than the facilities, the retreat was emotional.  (I don't cry, but others did.) It was filled with wrap-up meetings, evaluations, paperwork, reflections, and togetherness.  It was preety good, but emotionally draining.

Dave: My 80 year old neighbor who is wise and talkative! We are going out Tuesday night to say goodbye.  I will miss talking/listening to him. As much as I tried, he would not give me a Mustang. (He has 4, plus a garage full other cool cars.)

Work: You have heard a lot about work, so I don't have to describe just how chaotic it was.  Work just seemed more hectic due to the fact that I was gone at peaceful place the last 4 days.  Everything just seemed tougher.  Remaining patient, calm, and friendly when people aroung me weren't, was harder than I remembered.  It also is the end of the month, which accounts for a little more craziness.

Tonight we have dinner with my spiritual director and her community.  This week is full of goodbye plans, and my last week of work.  Emotional to say the least!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Under pressure!

Got to make this post quick because I'm leaving for a casa vacation/Dis-O in an hour and got to tidy up still!

Here was the week:

Friday- JV goodbye party.  Nice. Goodbye. Sad.
Saturday- toured city, Eric went away.
Sunday- church, cleaned, usual.
Monday- doctor check-up.
Tuesday- blood test, happy hour with Nick.
WEdnesday- California state fair with Bridget, Nick, and Drew!! Totally fun! (Picture to come.)
Thursday- Sister Claire, Dave, cooked dinner, midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Friday- 2 hours of sleep, work, blog post.

Next will be packing the car, drive, sleepover at JV casa in LA.
Saturday- tour a little bit of LA in morning, drive to San Diego, visit, sleepover at JV casa in San Diego.
Sunday- Brunch in San Diego, drive to LA. Go to Dis Orientation til Wednesday, then drive back to Sacramento that night!

I'll tell you more about DisO next week.

Got to go!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Like A Record Baby. . . Right Round Round Round

I feel like a broken record when I write these posts.  Almost every week it is the same story- this week has been a roller coaster of emotion. . . like all weeks.

The weekend was great; it was filled with lots of fun, friends, JV merriment, and acceptable bed times! (I usually go to bed around 9:30pm. . . on the weekend I stayed up 'til 11:30!!)

But then it was Monday.  Mondays are the worst day at the park because our guests have gone without services all weekend.  Everyone scrambles to get as much as they can, and that means tons of work for the green hats.  Nothing too bad happened, I just remember feeling worn out.  It was also my dad's birthday, and I was kinda bummed about not being with him.  That was probably part of the worn out feeling.  Later that night, we had a community night where Angie (the director of Mustard Seed School where Kathleen and Tessa work) took us rock climbing! I had never been, and it was exciting! I did a little rock wall with a harness, some bouldering, but I mainly just worked out at the gym portion of the facility.  It was a great night!

Tuesday, was a normal work day. . . except this week has been exceptionally hot!  It was over 100 degrees, and two things happen in the park when it's hot: 1. People get easily irritated (myself included) and 2. people get lethargic (myself included as well).  After the work day, I had spiritual direction with Sister Claire, who took me for ice cream- a wonderful treat!  We talked for about 2 hours, ending with a lesson in gifts.  Sister Claire introduced me to a homeless women, Devora, who taught her the greatest lesson she ever learned- gifts are about the person giving the gift, not the person receiving it.  If you want the full story, please call me up to talk about it!

Later that evening, my wise neighbor Dave took Krystal, Alice and me out to dinner.  It was a nice dinner at The Elephant Bar.  We learned more about Dave, and Dave taught us invaluable lessons only an 80 year old man can.

On Wednesday, I had the greatest meal I've ever had in Sacramento! Don't get me wrong, I have been to some great restaurants here, and the lunch provided by Loaves & Fishes is surprising tasty, but this meal out did them all!  Our Tuesday Volunteer, Tuesday Bob, took Krystal and me out to eat at The Press Bistro.  He had the valet take our car (glamorous!) and he said not to think about price! Bob insisted Krystal and I start with cocktails and he ordered three tapas plates and an appetizer.  All were delicious, but the appetizer out did them all! It was seared pork belly served with glazed peaches and an arugula salad with almonds.  YUM!! The combination of sweetness from the peaches, tangy-ness of arugula, and buttery/fatty goodness from the pork belly was to die for!!!  We then had fantastic entrees and three deserts we all split.  It was heaven in a meal!

Thursday work was pretty typical, followed by a lovely phone call to my beautiful sister Beth, fun happy hour with my friend Nick, and magnificent (and sad) dinner with Casa Jane.  Eric, a JV from Casa Jane, is leaving this weekend to go to med school in New York.  He has become a good friend of mine in the past year, and I will miss him dearly. 

Today, Friday, was another day at work.  To explain what that means would be impossible.  It is a crazy chaotic mess that is sad, funny, and wonderful all at the same time.  Here are a few short stories as examples:
-Crazy Gary lent me his Rudyard Kipling book to read a few poems out of.  Monday, he will bring me a few William Blake poems and the speech that JFK had in his pocket when he was assassinated.
-John Gomez hugged me again. And then he got very loud and angry when his radio wouldn't work.  After a few minutes, I broke down and gave him another one.  My need to be liked wins again.
-Good ol' Tom landed on our doorstep yesterday.  He is a fifty year old man with the mental capacity of a 5 year old.  I'm still not sure if he's playing us, or real.  I give him the benefit of the doubt and help him when possible, but am still skeptical.
-A hospital dropped off a John Doe today.  He has no recollection who he is, where he is, or where he came from.  After an hour talking to him (so I missed BINGO- sorry guys!), the police finally came and I left them to straighten it out.  As I was leaving, he got up to follow me like a lost puppy.  I teared up.
-Joe keeps asking me to marry him.
-Cedric said wedding vows to Cameron (our summer volunteer) and I.  According to Cedric, Cam and I are now married.  He witnessed it.
-Rush and Humble are new to the park.  They didn't go to the teen shelter (they said they were too old) so I directed them to Union Gospel Mission.  I hate it there.

 I could go on.  There are so many people I see every day, and there's a new interaction with each one of them.

I'm going to miss it.

Tonight is the JV/MV thank you party hosted by Loaves & Fishes.  An after party will follow, time and place still TBD.  Tomorrow I don't have anything planned, but I want to hang out with Casa Jane one last time before Eric leaves.  Sunday will be the usual (mass, brunch, paperwork).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Going to the Chapel of Love

Yes. . . wedding bells are ringing. . . mock bells that is!  It is the weekend of the JVC Mock Wedding hosted by Casa Jane Addams (the other JV house in Sacramento) and I'm super pumped!  The weekend will be full of JVs, wedding party plans, and all around good times!!

But that is this weekend. . . Let's talk about my SUPER FANTASTIC HIGHLIGHT of my LIFE!!!


1. As part of our going away party next weekend, Loaves & Fishes asked us to take pictures of our favorite guests.  I had the camera with me the first few days, and on Tuesday, I worked up the courage to ask John to take a photo with me.

*Back story: John hates women.  He was once a history professor whose wife was killed about 15 years ago, suffered a mental breakdown, and has been living on the streets since. He stands somewhere in the park, and just lectures. He believes we are all part of the CIA, and will not talk to any woman in authority. A few weeks ago, as Krystal and I were walking to work, John said Krystal and I weren't his enemies and wished us a good day! Since then, he has asked me a little about where I'm from and my background. He even called me "demure and well-behaved."

Not only did he take a picture with me, but he leaned his head in!

2. On Wednesday, the 4th of July, we had to work.  John was there, but refuses to eat in the dining room. We gave away survival kits with the lunch tickets, so John didn't get one. When asked if he wanted one, he said he wanted a radio instead.  I searched for a radio, gave it to him, and he was so grateful, HE GAVE ME A HUG!!

Later we found out, he hasn't hugged someone in 5 years.


3. Yesterday (Thursday) John invited me to have lunch with him, and his mentor/friend Mark. He joked with me, saying that I would have to roll a cigarette first! Today (Friday), I ate lunch with him and Mark (fish and chips) while they smoked cigars and talked history.

It was the greatest week ever!!

John has been known to have mood swings (one day he'll like someone, next day he won't) and I don't expect his niceness to me to last, but it is great right now! 

Now for a fantastic weekend! Yeah!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Woah-o-o-oh. . .For the Longest Time

Time for our regularly scheduled update!  It's about time, right?

This week has been pretty great! (You could probably already tell that by my witty banter.) 

Saturday I flew back to Sac, and the week started out as pretty lonely.  On Sunday, I had a me day.  I kept to myself and didn't feel like socializing.

Monday I went back to work, and was greeted with open arms!  I'm so thankful to be in such a kind environment- it has definetly made a huge impact on this year!

Tuesday, I met with my spiritual director, Sister Claire, and we discussed grief and mourning.  My Irish half really influences my emotions, and I don't handle any emotion well, particularly grief.  I distract myself with other things (relationships, movies, sleep) so as to not deal with the real issue: losing my grandma.  I took Sister Claire's advice and tried to mourn for the day and next.

Thursday, Krystal (community member and co-worker) left for a job interview!! The company she is interviewing with paid for her travel and hotel accomodations, and she'll be back on Saturday.

Though this is great for her, this is terrible for the park.  Molly (co-worker that handles a bunch of stuff at the park) is also off this week and next, and now with Krystal gone, it was particularly hard wiuthout them.

Today, not only was Molly and Krystal gone, but another co-worker, Mark, took the day off.  So we were down 6 members of staff!!  (Jim, the co-director left in May; Anne left at the end of May; Boyd ((street monitor and all around great guy)) has been in the hospital for three weeks with a serious infection; and now Molly, Krystal, and Mark.)

Let me set the scene at 7:00am today:  It's the last day (the most crowded day at the park), there are about 700 (if not more) people in the park and the only staff are Tim, Rod, Richard, Garren, and I.

Oi vey!

Thankfully, Jackie (staff) and Cameron (summer volunteer) showed up about 10 minutes into the day, but there was a moment of panic!

Because government checks are distributed during the day, not many people stick around after lunch, so we all got to breathe.  It was a very tough day, but we made it through without many incidents: only one fight and one arrest.

Now, I'm thinking about napping and then dancing with friends tonight!  A slight hike in Tahoe tomorrow, and lazy Sunday are all that's on the agenda. 

Only 5 more posts left!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gentle Woman. . . Teach Us Wisdom, Teach Us Love

So I did not have a blog post last Friday.  I was buying a plane ticket home, and I flew to Chicago the following morning.

Saturday night I was with my dying grandmother, Peggy.

She passed a little after midnight. . . Father's Day.

This week has been filled with funeral/family activities, and hasn't been much fun.

This morning, June 22nd, was her funeral.

A luncheon/party followed.  It was filled with fun, laughter, memories, family and friends.

I've never been much of an emotional person. . . Well that's not true.  I am an emotional person, but I'm just not good at showing it. Or writing about it.  Give me a couple more days.

Thank you to everyone who has been kind, sent prayers and condolences, and has comforted me and the other members of my family this  past week.