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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Don't Worry 'Bout, Don't Speak of Doubt. . .

What to say about this week?

Last Friday was the Cubs game. . . Super exciting, but Cubs lost. Other JVs from the southwest region were in the seats directly in front of us!!!  It was a JVC miracle!  So fun to get to see them!

Saturday and Sunday was a whole lot of nothing. I've been worried about my casamates, the future, my present. . . which has resulted in being uber anxious/restless all week, and it started then.

But I found ways to keep myself busy, with the pinnacle being dinner last night!  On Sunday I made homemade pasta, and yesterday I made homemade sauce, caprese (actually all the slicing was Kathleen), and angel food cake with real whipped cream and strawberries.

Other activities this week have included meditation, gardening, reading, cleaning. . . you know, the usual JVC activities.

Work has been really relaxed (thank goodness) but still busy this week.  We have been short staffed, but the new crop of summer volunteers will be coming in soon, so I won't be so busy at work.

Laura's triathlon (Escape from Alcatraz) is Sunday.  So other than cheering her on, no other plans have been made.

Keep your thoughts and prayers with my family, namely my dad (it is Carnival time at my church and he's in charge!) and my Grandma B.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Feelings/Enough is Enough!

This year has been about growth, and I'm going to continue the trend. I don't like sharing my feelings (especially those of the not-so-happy kind) but I'm going to try for you.  See, growth.

Everything was going fine.  I was suppressing my anxiety.  Instead of job applying, I was just casually looking.  I updated my resume and was looking at job sites.  Nothing really excited me.

But it was all going to work out.

This week was Anne's last week.  She is starting a teaching fellowship in NYC.  She knows what she is doing.

Me? Not so much.

But it's fine.  It will all work out.  I will find something.

Tuesday, the community went to a Giants v. Diamondbacks game.  It was our last community outing.

Thursday was Anne's last full day.  We ate chili, played rummy 500, and listened to our casa's awesome playlist, complete with Fleetwood Mac.  *Le sigh.


I was supremely sad today.  It was a mixture of Anne's leaving, anxiety for the future, and bad sinuses. (I went to urgent care on Wednesday because I was blowing out bloody mucus. They did nothing.) 

Around 10 am, I decided to stop.  Stop feeling bad.  I have two months left.  I have some wonderful plans ahead, including a mock wedding!  Yes, I don't know what will happen in the future, nor do I have immediate plans after JVC, but I trust.

In about February, I was having a miniature future-freak out as well. My spiritual director, Sister Claire, gave me a plaque of her wall that says:
"I do not know the master plan, but it is comforting to know the Master has planned it and I am included."

I have two months left! Instead of dwelling on how fast it will go and the things I will be missing out on now or in the future (such as this job and my community), I will enjoy every second of it!

Enough is Enough (is Enough is Enough)!!

I pledge to you, loyal readers, I will stop worrying so much and LIVE IT UP!

In that spirit, I'm off to a Giants v. Cubs game in San Francisco!  Go Cubbies!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

There She Goes. . . There She Goes Again. . .

I have limited time today, but a blog post was promised, so here it is!! 

Since I posted on Tuesday, there hasn't been too much to comment on, but I'll do my best.

Tuesday was Anne's birthday! We had a talent show at the park where all but one of the acts was appropriate.  I told really corny jokes in between acts! 

Later on Anne's birthday we had salads from a takeout restaurant, gluten free cake balls, had a Glee recap from Anne, and then watched the season finale! Great times!

After work on Wednesday, I went out with Nick, Bridget and Andy. Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday was agenda meeting and community dinner of sandwiches and a corn/bean salad.

And now it's Friday! I'm off to a beer shop in Davis with two of my friends, and tonight is up in the air.  Saturday, I'm having a picnic with my casa.  No other plans except those.  I will work on Monday.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oops! I did it again! (Forgot to write!!)

Hello readers! sorry for the long delay. . . I've been in Chicago for the past 2 Fridays!! 

It's not Friday today, but I think I owed you an explanation and update.

So let's start from the very beginning, it's a very good place to start.  Sunday, May 6th, til Wednesday, May 9th, I was gone on silent retreat.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!! I cannot emphasize enough how helpful, calming, and just plain awesome it was to be silent! (Though I will admit, I broke my silence [accidentally] when I said, "Excuse me.")  Though I didn't get much direction as to where I'll go next, I definitely got a direction. 

The next day, was off to work again and regular community life.

Then, after half a day of work on Friday, I was off on a plane to Chicago!!  I got in late that night, and the next morning was off to Holy Name Cathedral to see my BFF, Matt, get ordained a Chicago Archdiocesan priest! 

The next day (Sunday) was Mother's day. I got to wear a new dress my mommy bought me, see my mother, both grandmas, and my sisters, along with a plethora of other family members!!  Great day!

Monday and Tuesday were both lazy days, but I got to have lunch with FATHER Matt and dinner with my cousin Stephanie.

Wednesday was a day full of Grandmas, which was absolutely perfect!!

Thursday night I hung out with my college buddies, Brittany and Stephanie!  It was great to see them and get the triumvirate together again!

Friday (May 18th), I had a relaxing lunch with my godmother, Aunt Judy, and spent a little time with my Grandma B, and then had homemade ravioli at my Aunt Mary and Uncle Caz's, with my parents, Aunt Cissy, Aunt Joanne, and the other matriarch, Grandma A!  Homemade ravioli? Perfection!!

Saturday was my nieces' (Charlotte and Amelia's) birthday party! Fun was had by all! It was fantastic to see all my beautiful nieces!!

Sunday was Matt's first mass and reception!  It was so fun to see everyone and be there to share in Matt's happiness and vocation!! It really is humbling (and cool!) to see such a young man on fire for Lord!

That brings me to today, Monday, May 21st.  I boarded a plane this morning and am back in Sac before dinner!  (Modern technology is great!)

I've been so blessed (and am so grateful) to have such wonderful family and friends, and I got to see them all!!  It's been a blast!

Tomorrow is Anne's birthday and a talent show at Friendship Park! (Work, I've been told, was hectic this past week, because myself, Krystal, and the Americorps were all gone!)  It will be good to go back!

Alright, I promise to get back on schedule now, but I wanted to write all that down first!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Step One, You Say, "We Need To Talk."

The blog post titles are song lyrics that pertain to the posts. This post will be in steps, and it has to do with talking. . . but that will become clear later.

Step 1: Yosemite

Last weekend my casa and I went to Yosemite.  It was absolutely perfect!!  I had never slept in a tent before or gone on a hike.  We got to our campsite on Friday night, set up, and made a bonfire.  By midnight we were asleep. We all awoke relatively early on Saturday, went to Yosemite Valley, hiked up the John Muir Trail to Vernon Falls, and then took the Mist Trail down.  (It was about 9 miles round trip, about 4,000 ft elevation difference. . . thereabouts.)

The Mist Trail was terrifying! It was a very soaked set of rock stairs about 2 feet in width, with people coming up and down! (Fun fact: More people have died on the Mist Trail than any other trail. . .) Honestly, it wasn't that bad. I just concentrated on my feet and getting to solid ground more than I took in the views. Good thing for cameras and caring casa-mates!

After this hike we went to Mirror Lake (about a two mile hike) and just rested. Then we went back to our camp, had dinner (hot dogs and chili!) and s'mores! ("First you put the 'mallow" was repeated several times.)

On Sunday we cleaned up our site, and went to hike in Tuolumne Grove, a forest of Giant Sequoias! Alice led us in a tree meditation, which was a perfect end to a great vacation!

Oh, and we saw a bear. Thankfully, we were in a car and the bear would have eaten all the people taking pictures before us.

Step 2: The Work Week

The park was closed on Tuesday (and will remain closed until next Tuesday) for summer maintenance.  I painted all week!!  Though I get frustrated often during painting, it was really relaxing in general. (The shorter hours didn't hurt either!)  It was really tough on the guests, but the park got a much needed spruce!

After work I went to go see The Raven with Krystal, Travis, and Avery. It was great to see a movie. . . even a bad one. . . Another night Travis and I drove to UC Davis to hear Ron Paul speak.  Although it wasn't very audible (the people behind us were quite vocal) it was very interesting to be a part of.

Step 3: The Weekend

Tonight I will be going to "A Concert in the Park" with Cait, some casa-mates, and other Sacramento friends.  Saturday will be a cleaning day (my room is a pigsty!) and probably something fun that night, but no plans of yet.

Sunday morning I will go to church and then . . .

Step 4: Silence

Sunday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon, I will be on Silent Retreat in Northern CA.  That's at least 72 hours of no talking. (We get to talk for an hour a day to our Spiritual Director on Monday and Tuesday, but that's it.)  I have a few books I plan on bringing (including a Bible and a journal) but who knows what I'll do.  (Probably sleep, walk, read, and think.) 

Please pray for me to keep an open heart.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Here We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder!

Last weekend was fun- Bicycle Day at Loaves and Fishes Saturday morning, extra volunteer work at L&F on Sunday, and then an Eve 6 concert on Sunday night!

This week has been pretty usual at the park. . . seizures, fights, joy, laughter, heartbreak, pain.

As a staff member of Friendship Park, we are not supposed to have favorites.  We are to treat as guest with the same kindness, trust, and respect that we treat everybody with.

Though we all try to hold this ethic, every green hat has their favorite. . . I'm not prepared to say David is my favorite, but I do give him a little extra attention. 

David is very mentally ill, and just lost his dad recently. 

Monday, he was barefoot when I first saw him.  I got him a pair of shoes with lime green laces.  He loved them.  He was seen later that day barefoot again.

Tuesday, he had shaved and was wearing the shoes again.  He mentioned Bicycle Day and wanted a bike.  (We had a few left over, but I didn't tell him this.)

Wednesday, I saw him smoking a cigarette.  Instead of rolling papers, he used pages of the Bible.  Jim said it was a burnt offering.

Thursday, after a bit of nagging on my end, we got him a leftover bike!  When I rolled it out to him he said, "Holy s***! Holy s***! I won't sell this for dope! Holy s***! I'm keeping it forever!"
He then proceeded to work on it for the rest of the day.

Friday (today), I saw him.  I did not see the bike.

Wherever that bike is, it is going to make someone happy- hopefully it is David.
Maybe David has the bike somewhere, maybe he doesn't.  He deserves a break from his pain (like all of our guests), and at least I got to see the joy in him for a few brief hours.


Now I'm off to YOSEMITE with my casa-mates!!  This my first time camping and hiking!  Though I'm scared of being eaten by bears and mountain lions, slipping and dying on the Mist Trail, and other camping related injuries, I'm trying it! And I'm going to have a great time!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

NorthCal is Where my Mind States (But It's Not my State of Mind)

Seeing my family and a few friends last week was such a blessing! I saw most of my mom's side at my cousin Susie's wedding (Congrats!), my grandma B, my aunt Judy and her family, all my sisters and their husbands (sans Tom) and daughters, my mom and dad (of course!!) and friends Brittany, Sarah, Matt, and Bill.

What more could I ask for from a week vacation?

I got back to Sacramento on Wednesday night, and went to work the next morning.  Sadly, there had been numerous fights, threats, assaults, and substance abuse.  The bosses decided to shut the park down for Friday in an attempt to curb bad behavior.

Today gave me an excellent chance to catch up on the work I missed and have some fun time, too!

Tomorrow will be bicycle day at the park!!  There is a junior high school about an hour away that makes and repairs bikes as a part of the curricular.  When the students finish a bike, they can choose to keep it or donate it to Loaves & Fishes.  Some of the students are taking a field trip to L&F tomorrow to raffle them away and help the guests repair their current bicycles. It will be a great day!!

As for plans this weekend. . . hm.  I'm just going to Bike Day tomorrow at the park and an Eve 6 concert on Sunday with friends Nick and Bridget!!  No other endeavors have been premeditated, but I'm sure something fun will happen!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm So Excitied! I Just Can't Hide It!

After a fairly uneventful week in Sacramento, I'm flying back to Chicago tomorrow! (That's why I'm writing this blog post now.)

Back in Sacramento I will be missing Tessa's birthday, Laura's marathon, and getting to meet Alice's parents, which all make me sad, but I'll be in town for my cousin's wedding, to see my Grandma B, and to be at my niece's dance recital!  I'm very thankful for those who made it possible. . . you know who you are!!

I really should try to get some sleep before my flight. . .

Friday, April 6, 2012

Everything Sad is Coming Untrue!

*This post is very difficult to write, and may not be my best writing.  Bear with me as I sort through my feelings.  I try not to do that much!

As most of you know, I had brain surgery on April 4th, 2006.  I was 18 and it changed my entire life.  Every year, April 4th is a rough day for me.  When that day came around, I always focused on the negative. 

I changed; My body changed.
I lost who I was.
I won't be who I could have been.
Part of me died that day.
The true me died that day.

In fact, I secretly called it my "death day."

Not this year. 6 years of thinking that is enough.

I went out to lunch with a friend, and when I told him this, he referred to the day as my "birthday." 
It is- it's my "re-birthday!" (How fitting that it is around Easter!)

I did change- for the better! I wouldn't be here (in JVC) without it. The larger truth is that I wouldn't be here (alive) without it.

I did not lose who I was- I merely grew into who I am!

I am who I was meant to be. This experience was going to happen in my life, and I'm thankful to have had capable doctors, the best therapists, and a WONDERFUL AND SUPPORTIVE family and friends that stuck with me through it all!!

Part of me changed that day, but I didn't die!

The "true me" never died- I AM ALIVE! (For many years I thought I should have died and was angry that I didn't, but I am glad to be alive now! I'm not dead, and that means God has a purpose for me being on this earth today!)

Today you are you
that's truer than true,
There is no one alive
who is youer than you!
-Dr. Suess

Friday, March 30, 2012

It Gets Better, We'll Get Better!

This week (much like all weeks) has been a mixture of highs and lows. 

High: (Saturday afternoon) I saw "The Hunger Games" with 4 of my casa-mates!! I was a huge fan of the books and loved the movie! (I wanted a more concrete ending, but overall was really pleased.)
Low: (Monday morning) I was inappropriately touched at work, decided not to press charges, and had to talk to a counselor.  I took the rest of the day off.
High: (Monday night) Along with the rest of my casa and a few friends, I went to a concert of the band FUN. It was well worth $20, and very FUNky. (We tried to make FUN puns all day!)
Low: Three times this week I was faced with men who all needed some sort of help, but I couldn't help them. Walker needed a case manager to file for Medicare, Wayne needed a case manager to get his current caretaker away from him, and Matt needed a case manager to figure out his situation and give him the best advice possible.  In all three situations, there was nothing I could do that I didn't try.
High: (Thursday morning) Friendship Park went to the zoo!!  120 men and a few staff members went, saw their "relatives" (this was the running joke at the park), and returned before lunch was over!  It was so exciting!
Low: (Thursday morning) I only got to go to the zoo for less than an hour :( Not nearly enough time to see all the animals!
High: (Friday afternoon) Tim took me out driving on real roads! No more parking lot for me!
Bonus: I didn't hit anything!!

The plans for this weekend include hanging out with friends, going to a not-so-surprise going away party for our support person Madonna, and church!

Friday, March 23, 2012

You Work Real Hard and Pay's Real Low. . .

This week I have been working real hard!  (I do every day.)

About an hour before we closed for the day at the park, I sat down and just felt exhausted.  My body ached, especially my palms.  It was very weird.  I realized that I had not sat down since lunch time.  I was running every where for everybody.

Vince needs clothes for his wife.
Justin needs a glass coffee mug.
5 winners weren't enough at BINGO.
Jim needs help filling out his online job application.
Red needs shoes, a hat, a beanie, and gloves.  And so does his three friends.
Randy didn't get lunch and hasn't eaten in three days.
Westley proposed after I got him a pair of shoes.
Christina needs medication and to get away from her abusive boyfriend, and needs to stay off drugs.
Rabbit needs to yell at somebody.
John needs a friendly face to talk to.
Zia sent me a card telling me we'd always be best friends.

And that was just today, and only a few of the stories.

Everyday is filled with stories at the park.  I love helping people, but I'm ready for the weekend.

No plans but relaxation.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hold On to Your Head When You're Heart is Broken

This week has been challenging and I've been dealing with many losses.

1. I'm going to lose my community member and co-worker two months early.  She is leaving us for a job opportunity that is too good to pass up. 

2. Though I'm uncertain of my future, I am fairly certain I will not be staying at Friendship Park due to an unavailability of job positions.  I really wanted to stay and am completely in love with the work I do, and am sad to realize it will be going away.  I never expected to love it and this place as much as I do and am coping with the fact that it will end.

3. There has been family issues this week.  Until I get further clearance to discuss them, please pray for my family.

On top of all that, it has been raining all week in Sacramento.  It's good for the crops, but not for the guests I work with.  Everyone has been negative, cranky, sometimes even arrogant and hostile. 

When the guests do something that really disappoints me, I tell them, "You hurt my heart."  My heart has been hurting a lot this week.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sleep Well, and When You Dream, Dream of Me

So it's almost midnight on the west coast, but I wanted to write this post before Saturday, because Saturday is our community's technology free day.  I will write a few brief points about this week now, and hopefully expand on them later. . . better yet, call, write or message me for more information!  I would love to hear from people!  (It can be a lonely life out here sometimes, especially since I'm so far away from family, friends, and everything I've ever known!!)

A few points:
-Our JVC program coordinator, Amber, was in this week to meet with us individually to check in.  Our community is good, says the report.
-Alice had her 23rd birthday on Wednesday!!  We celebrated by eating appetizers for dinner and we will be going dancing tomorrow.
-A group of 13 college students spent their spring break volunteering at Loaves and Fishes this week! It was great to have extra help!
-I bought my plane ticket home in May!!!!
-I got my CA driver's permit!! License, here I come!

Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm Just a Little Bit Caught in the Middle

Not only has this song been stuck in my head all week, but it's pretty much how I've been feeling.  Don't misunderstand me- work is a great place and everyone there is very supportive.  The community is supportive, as well, and there hasn't been any problems there. 

The problem is this pulled feeling. 

At work, a single father and his 2 year old son that came to me to get out of California.  I tried my hardest, and we still couldn't help him.  Every resource is tapped out of funds.  No one could give him money.  In addition, his situation raised a few red flags.  I struggled all day (and the next few) with this tension. Why is the child in his custody? Why does he want to leave the state so quickly?  Could it be his simple explanation, or is there more?  Are we only suspicious of him because he is a man, or would we be equally suspicious if it was a mother?  I have not seen him since I initially helped him, and can only pray for him and the safety of his son.

One of my community members has a definite plan for her future!  Though I am excited for her, I am disappointed in myself.  I don't even have an inkling of what I want to do or where I want to be.  I don't have a guess of what city, what job field, nada.  Nothing comes to me, though I think about it constantly and pray about it frequently. 

My family was all together to celebrate Tom going into Nationals- Yay Tom!!  I am extremely proud (as many are!) and wish him the best!  When they were together though, I was alone thousands of miles away.  Yes, it was my choice to move to Sacramento, and I would not change it.  But I'm still allowed to be sad!

I keep thinking of song lyrics to support this torn feeling, but the song "Que Sera Sera" keeps popping into my head now! 

My next post will be titled "Que Sera Sera- Whatever will be, will be" because that is how I should be living my life!  I'm tired of feeling disgruntled.  So what that I don't know where I want to be?  I will keep on being, and I will be open to new experiences!  I did my best with the father and son, and now I have to trust that God will do His best- and He will, since He's God!  I believe this is where I need to be, and this is where I should be! 

Alright- Whatever will be, will be!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Is There Anyone Out There? ('Cuz it's getting harder and harder to breathe. . .)

I was just rifling through my old posts and I haven't had any comments for the last few posts! It's difficult to write this when I feel no one is reading it!  Oh well, I'll write it anyway.

The winds have been blowing here in Sacramento! (I almost titled this post "The Answer, My Friend, is Blowing in the Wind.")  Other than the wind, the weather has been beautiful! It reached 70 degrees yesterday, which sort of makes me nervous for the summer.  It has been the lowest rainfall count in years, and the farmers are hoping for rain all March to save their crops.  Rain is a mixed blessing- good for crops; bad for people.  Because I work outside, I'll get soaked, but all the guests I work with have an extremely tough life when it is raining.  In time we shall see!

All the families are gone, but Tessa is out of town, so our community still isn't a community :(  But it will be soon!

A few stories I heard this week:
-Jon wants badly to go home to Seattle, but seems to be stopped at every financial obstacle. 
-Larry is getting into housing soon. He has his bags packed at the shelter and is just waiting for the call!
-Mark the blue hat (a part-time worker) is getting his book of poems published!
-Alfredo still hasn't been released from jail, and Phoenix is getting more and more scared every time I see her.
-Wayne was so proud of himself today when he passed up the sweets in the breakfast line! His diabetes thanks him!

Highlight of the week:
A senior photography major at Sacramento State University chose to do his senior project on the people at Loaves and Fishes.  All week he has been taking portraits of the children and their families, the women, and the men.  He will compile these pictures into an exhibit at his school, but first he will give everybody a copy of their picture!  Everyone is so excited to have a picture of themselves!

Friday, February 17, 2012

You are Loved!

One of my favorite vocalists is Josh Groban, and it doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes!  He has a song titled "You are Loved" which is a small anthem in my life.  When I left for JVC, my mom's best friend, Mary O'Connor, gave me a Celtic heart necklace to remind me I am loved.  I wear it most days to work (the exceptions being when I wake up with 10 minutes to get ready) and it has gotten a bit tarnished already.  Whenever I wear it, I hum that song in my head.

Tuesday was Valentine's Day, and as Cher and many others have sang, "Love was in the Air."  (The lyric is actually "Love is in the air" but I had to have verb agreement.) Nothing awful happened at the park and everybody was happy.  It was especially windy, but that only reminded me of home! 

The week at the park has been relatively uneventful, as has life at the casa.  Same old, same old!  Parents have invaded the house- Tess's mom came in last night, Laura's parents came in this morning, and Kathleen's parents and siblings will be here in a few minutes! Everyone (except for Krystal and I) will be gone this weekend, and we have the house to ourselves! Chick flicks and hot cocoa- here we come!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Give me one reason to stay here. . .

Why am I here? Here's a reason:

A letter of condemnation was written to Sacramento mayor, Kevin Johnson, by a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights.  Catarina de Albuquerque visited Sacramento in 2011 and found it appalling that the city targets the homeless specifically by denying access to clean water and public restrooms.  She called this treatment “cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment” under international law, comparing the homeless plight in Sacramento to that of a second world country.

That's right- Sacramento is violating human rights.  The city shuts of water fountains, locks park and other local bathrooms, and tickets the homeless for public urination/defecation and illegal camping.  SafeGround, the illegal tent city, has offered to pay for a portable bathroom if they were allowed to legally camp in a plot of land.  The city denies them. 

Now the U.N. has stepped in, and the mayor "understands the frustration" and the homelessness problem and it "has kept him awake most nights."  He went on to say, "No one is more frustrated than me by the lack of progress in fully addressing our homelessness challenges." 

Really? Well this is an election year. . .

Read for yourself-
Here's the Letter
Here is the best press release
Here's a general follow-up with links to other press
Here is a Huffington Post article

SafeGround held a press conference on this letter and little press coverage was given to this issue.  Our major newspaper had a press clipping. This issue was not on the agenda to discuss in the city council meeting. 

Our mayor loses sleep because of this issue, but is doing nothing to resolve it. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Here It Goes Again. . .

This song ("Here It Goes Again", by OK Go) just happened to start playing when I started writing this post.  And it couldn't be more perfect. 

I was gone on a Re-Orientation retreat for the JVC in the past week.  I was back at the same camp in Aptos, CA, examining my life, again.  This time, six months later, I knew my casa-mates better, and a few other JVs, too.  It was a time to rededicate ourselves to the four tenants, particularly Social Justice.  (In case you don't remember, the four tenants that I have dedicated my life to are Community, Social Justice, Simple Living, and Spirituality.) 

There were lots of talks on the Pastoral Circle and the Ignatian method of discernment.  (St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits and who my casa is named after!) We examined our experiences, social analysis, theological reflections, discernment, and action.  We had fantastic prayers held by different casas in the Southwest region, a wonderful homily given by another Sacramento JV, and different activities every night. 

And now I'm back in Sacramento, at my job, in my casa.  I have six months left.  Six months.  Six months to deepen my relationships with my community members, co-workers, friends, and guests.  Six months to live in this fantastic house, live off of $100 a month, not pay any bills, receive a food box whenever I ask, and be generally protected by almost everyone I meet.  I have one particularly protective guest, James, that asks me every day if I have a problem with anyone at the park.  If I do, he'll take care of it.  Every day my answer is the same- "Not today, James, but I'll let you know."  Yesterday, my co-worker Tim and I went to an elementary school to talk with the classes and pick up recycled bikes from their service learning class.  The one thing I tried to stress in each class is how well we are taken care of- protected and safe.  It truly feels like a family!

So here I go again- and I can't wait!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Hate Technology. . . but Not as Much as You, You See

So the major event of this week has been the rain.  In normal winter climates, places get snow.  We get rain, more like torrential downpours!  The rain started last Friday, continued through the weekend (minus my birthday) and stopped Monday night.  Not only was it unpleasant to be in the rain, but I exchanged so many shoes!

This is why I hate technology.  I didn't bring my camera to work (nor did anybody else) but the 100+ wet shoes were a sight to behold!  I took a picture with my phone to show you lovely viewers, but I cannot get it to my computer! Oh well.  Imagine a bookshelf full with wet shoes smashed in, and that's what this picture looked like.  Then add mildew, mud, shoe odor, and wetness, and this is what it smelled like.

I also hate technology this week because I'm starting to job search/find a path in life.  I made a vow not to think about the future until February. . . I almost made it.  I have not applied for any jobs or updated my resume, yet.  I am thinking about non-profit work, more volunteer work, or continued education, but I am overwhelmed.  I've been glued to my computer for the past week and it feels awful.  If you have any suggestions for my future, please let me know!  I'm always very interested in others' opinions.
This blog post is a day early due to the fact that I will be going to re-orientation tomorrow! We will be re-dedicating ourselves to this service year and examining more social justice issues in depth.

I'll tell you how it goes next post!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

We're gonna party like it's your birthday!

Yes, it is my 24th birthday tomorrow (January 21st).  Birthdays have never been that big of a deal for me, but I do like to feel special!  Today at work, I felt very special!!  I went out to lunch with Garren and had a little emotional check-in, I was sung "Happy Birthday" two times over the intercom, and I was wished a happy birthday at least a hundred times!  Not to shabby!

Birthday plans are as follows:
-Attend a wedding of two of the guests at the park
-Dinner with casa at a nearby restaurant
-Drinks at a local karaoke bar to follow!!! (The karaoke is what I'm really looking forward to!)

Fantastic highlight of the week:

During the Christmas season, Mustard Seed School was given a very generous donation by Sacramentans to purchase shoes.  The had some surplus money, and generously gave the park $400 in Wal-Mart gift cards, just for shoes!  My casamate Kathleen (who works at Mustard Seed) and I went to buy them.  Unfortunately, as we approached the register, all their systems failed, and we could only use cash.  The woman ahead of us in line saw our odd cart piled high with shoes and asked us about it.  After hearing where we worked and what we did, she pulled out all of her cash and offered to buy as many as she could- over $100 worth! Thanks Babette! (If the systems weren't down, she would of paid for them all!) After her kind gesture she said, "We all have to remember how lucky we are!"

Here, here Babette!

I'm lucky to live in a great house with a phenomenal casa, have a great job with loving co-workers, have a fantastic family and wonderful friends, and be alive! 

24 is going to be a great age!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Superstition Ain't the Way

Nothing too terrible happened this week, just the usual terribleness with very little positive to balance it out :( 

But I'm trying to be optimistic (though it doesn't always work) so I'll mention the highlights:

1. I came back!!! It was good to be in my casa again, with my casa-mates, and back at work.
2. A loud and wonderful guest, Janine, is getting married on my birthday! It is my birthday present to myself to be there!
3. My casa had great spirituality and community nights this week, complete with our support people, Madonna and Larry!
4. Our casa (Casa Ignatius of Loyola) had a fun community meal with the other JV casa in Sacramento, Casa Jane Adams!
5. Beth and Tom are on their way here! I'll hopefully get to see them Monday!
6. A JV house in San Francisco is having a MLK party tomorrow! Alice, Anne, and I will be attending, and the others in our house are going to Santa Monica for a frisbee tournament!
7.  It's Friday! (and the 13th at that!)

Have a great weekend; I hope I have a good one too!

Friday, January 6, 2012

'Cause I'm Leaving on a Jetplane. . .

Yesterday (Friday) was my day to post.  I apologize that I did not.  Since I've been at home, I have been trying to see all of my family and good friends. . . after a week of careful scheduling and mere coincidences, I did get to see almost everyone.  (Sorry to those who I was unable to see- I'll try really hard next time!)

You probably don't want a laundry list of the things/places I did/went, so I'll give you highlights (in no particular order):

1. Had a sleepover with my nieces! (Thank goodness for skype, so at least I can see them when I'm far away.)
2. Saw 2 movies!! "War Horse" is a good story, but not really great, and "We Bought a Zoo" was great! I highly recommend it! After I finish writing this, I will see "Breaking Dawn" with my mom . . . yes, we both enjoy Twilight.
3. Had Dunkin' Donuts and Portillo's! Chicago is a great city!
4. Celebrated my Grandma's 90th birthday!! Gram doesn't look or act 90 either! One of my cousin's (Susie's) favorite stories is when she was with Gram a few years ago at the grocery store and my Grandma got hit on by a 70 year old! Still got it Gram!

I am so grateful to be in Chicago, but I can't wait to return to Sacramento!  I haven't seen most of my casa-mates in over 3 weeks, and I miss them dearly!  I can't wait to get back to work with a rejuvenated spirit, refreshed from my wonderful time at home!