Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Unofficial Community Night

This Wednesday (yesterday) we were no longer MercyWorkers, but we were still in community and very much wanting to be together, so after several of us finished our first day of paid work, we headed to Pilsen for dinner/drinks/memories/laughter/enjoying company.

It was awesome to spend the night with each other and while being out with 14 people can get hectic, the night somehow managed to go smoothly. It felt like we were really a family going out for dinner, like we had known each other for way more than 11 months, like no matter where we all end up in a few days, we will always have some sort of connection with each other.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Have No Mercy/Worker

My last week of work as a MercyWorker is finished as of last night at 10:07 PM. I will never have a volunteer shift here again. Technically I will work here in the month of August, but as support staff...meaning I'll get paid for it. Crazy.

It was a low key last week of work, I guess. I don't really know what low key means anymore in the world of residential programming. After two youth/family meetings a lot of transitions will be happening in the home, plus there is the transition of me leaving. Now that they know I am leaving soon, a few of them have asked what my life plans are and it's tough not really knowing, but I think it will be a positive thing for them to experience a healthy goodbye.

Tomorrow is our last official day as MercyWorkers. We are spending it doing our last AmeriCorps paperwork so we can get that ed award, then it will be our closing ceremony. My tears started this past weekend...I'm not a big public crier, so hopefully I don't have too many more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hooky Day

What's better than going on a retreat from work/everyday life? Going on a retreat from retreat. Last Friday, the 14 of us to got away from even Katie and Liz and the relaxed structure of retreat to an even less structured day: a built in Hooky Day. The only requirement was that we spend it together.

A quick drive through Indiana and up to Michigan took us to the lake house we'd spend the day at. Thanks to Mr. McCarthy & Jess, who let us use their space, we enjoyed a day of sunbathing by the pool, sunbathing by the lake, napping, eating, reminiscing, playing, laughing...basically que nostalgic/magical photo and music montage.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Final Retreat/Camp Dewan Part 2

Five retreats is pretty swank for a service program. For our last one, we headed back to Camp Dewan in Burlington, WI. This time we weren't still getting to know one another and discussing how to deal with conflict. We were reminiscing with re-enactments of different phases of the year, playing MercyWorks Jeopardy!, giving affirmations, creating a time capsule, handing out superlative awards, and thinking about transition.

Before we could do that, though, we had to make it to retreat. Our oldest vehicle, the faithful Blue Bomber (2004 Dodge Caravan), has lasted us through many a retreat and group outing. It's held the spare tire from a vehicle we no longer own and shuttled us back and forth from Thursday night outings, Community Night activities, and grocery store runs. We always wondered when it would quit on us, and sure enough, Tuesday was the day. We were barely ten minutes out of the city when something gave and pressing the gas pedal no longer did anything. After a few moments of panic, we maneuvered the van off the highway and up an exit ramp. We coasted into a parking lot and made many a phone call to figure out how we'd get all the way to Wisconsin.

We eventually made it to retreat, no worse for wear. Katie and Liz scheduled some structured time, but also made sure there was plenty of laidback free time to read, sunbathe, and just enjoy one another's company without the stressors of everyday life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

DMB Caravan

I'm so stoked Quinn got to visit again before my service year is up. I tell enough stories about the kid, most of my roommates think they really know him.

PLUS, the draw for him to come was none other than Mr. Dave Matthews and his find Band, aka classic Summer in the City.

DMB did a three day festival here this past weekend, and by here I mean an hour south of here, at Lakeside. Still Chicago, though. (It never ceases to amaze me how geographically large cities can be.) The festival featured a butt load of bands each day, and DMB headlined each night. Quinn and I only went to yesterday's set, but we're convinced it was the best.

We took the beloved CTA all the way down to 87th and made our way to Lakeside...literally it's right on the lake, which turned out to be a blessing since without that breeze, it would have been nasty hot. We checked out TR3, Tim Reynolds' band, DumpstaPhunk, Dave and Tim doing an acoustic set, Ben Folds, Kid Cudi, and the ever-amazing Dave Matthews Band.

The location was ideal--a huge area of land, big enough to fit three stages, a Ferris wheel, strings of food and drink booths, merch tents, a water mist tent and several free hydration stations (water fountains to fill up bottles), plus all the people. When it got to be Dave time, there were considerably more people than earlier in the day (gates opened at 1 pm) and luckily we had pretty good standing spots. We could definitely see the band on the screens and as long as I stood to the side of the guy in front of me, I could see the actual band as well.

Dave has been touring for 20 years now, so he's got these things pretty much down to a science. Play a classic, audience erupts in applause and sings along, go into sweet improv section featuring the entire band, finish to more cheers, say thank you and get ready for the next song. He didn't talk much between songs besides to thank everyone for coming out and supporting the Caravan, or to give props to Kid Cudi for a great show, but they kept the music coming for over two hours.

According to today's newspaper write up on the show, upwards of 100,000 people attended over the course of the three-day Caravan and Dave never repeated a song. That's a true blue musician for you.


I knew it was going to be a stellar Community Night before it even happened. Hello, sailing on Lake Michigan with my community AND fireworks off Navy Pier? There's not much can top that, my friends.

Thanks to friends of friends and the extensive network of people MercyWorks accumulates, we got to drive up to Belmont Harbor and board the Whispering Winds. After a crash course (Stay away from the boom when it's about to move.), we set sail down the shore. We stopped just north of Navy Pier for a quick swim in the still chilly water, then cuddled back on the boat as the fireworks exploded overhead.

I think we were all getting nostalgic and sappy by this point--I mean, it was rather romantic. We played the First Impression game and talked about how we barely knew each other just under a year ago. We laughed at inside jokes. A few people got teary-eyed. That's when we knew it was time to order a pizza ready for pick-up once we docked and drove back to the West Loop.


When it comes to Independence Day, Chicago knows what's up.

It all started on a boat for Mercy Day. Back that up, it started in the Soccer Building with continental breakfast at 8 am on Friday the 1st. Fr. Scott gave a State of the Mission address and we applauded some of the pretty awesome stuff Mercy coworkers and youth have accomplished in the past year.

Okay, now the boat: we got on buses and rode down to Navy Pier, where we got on the Anita Dee II: a luxury cruise ship complete with a helicopter pad (aka, a Lake tour boat with a fake helicopter on top for decor). We got lunch and drinks and despite the violent winds, set out on Lake Michigan. The party continued on Navy Pier upon our return, then I took a 2-hour nap at home (8 am is WAY early) before joining some of the MercyWorkers and coworkers at McGhee's for a party.

Independence Day weekend continued Saturday evening as Steph, Shannon, Kevin, and I rode bikes down to the Taste of Chicago to check out Gold Motel, one of my favorite bands. We also had a load of extra Taste tickets to use, so we gluttonously helped ourselves to cheesy fries, crab nuggets, spring rolls, empanadas, chips and guacamole, chocolate-covered cheesecake, Pepsi, toasted ravioli...aka greasy unhealthy foods we rarely get a chance to eat. Except the chips and guac, that's sort of become a luxury staple in my life.

July 3rd was spent at Britney's parents' house, grilling and swimming in the pool. It's always great to get out of the Mercy Home bubble, but still be in and around the city. Getting tan isn't so bad either.

We pulled out all the stops for the Fourth. Not really. We kept it super low-key: beach, back home for dinner/showering, riding bike to the Shedd to watch the fireworks from there. That's Freedom, baby.