Monday, November 30, 2009

First Day of Work

I had nightmares the entire night that I was going to wake up late for work. I'd wake up every few hours and frantically check my cell phone. Despite all the anxiety, my alarm did go off on time and I did wake up for it.

The house was pretty quiet when I woke up at 7:00 AM (I know now that the nuns go to daily mass at 7:10 every morning). The first little glitch in my day is rather embarrassing and please excuse me now if this is too much information (it's just too funny not to share). I ended up packing two bottles of conditioner, instead of including a bottle of shampoo - a discovery I made while in the shower. I remembered there being a closet next to the shower, so I leaned out to check the contents.

I was able to find a bottle of shampoo, use it, and dry it off before returning the bottle. While placing the bottle back into the closet from inside the tub, I slipped. My right hip fell into the side of the tub - I now understand how so many people get injured in the bathroom. Not only was this painful, but the 130 year old house I'm staying in covers no sound - it only amplifies. If anyone had been in the house, I'm sure they would have thought I keeled over on the spot.

I recovered, got ready for work, and was out the door for 9:00. Unfortunately, no one had returned to the house at this point, as I was hoping. No one had explained the transit system to me yet. Feeling brave, I ventured to the railcar stop and got on regardless. I was planning on the driver knowing where to go - an assumption I should not have made. Lucky for me, I have Google on my phone, so I was able to follow a map and accurately guess when to get off.

I finally arrived at Salt and Light around 9:30. The office is really welcoming. The best way to describe it is to imagine a backwards letter "S". You enter the office on the bottom portion of the "S" and weave past the production rooms as you make it to the middle of the office, which is home to the Chapel fittingly. From there, the office curves to an opening of cubicles, tables, and an open kitchen. The kitchen is really nice, it has a big table and all the amenities you'd find in a regular kitchen (sans stove). The top part of the "S" holds the head offices, like Father Rosica's and his assistants.

I was instructed to speak to every individual in the office over the next two days to get a feel as to who I'd want to work with. Somehow I naturally gravitated to the marketing team and ended up working for them throughout the day - I was even able to sit in on one of their meetings. My work today consisted of filling out donation receipts. The work wasn't difficult, but it was an organized an quantitative job - I felt accomplished when I had gone through all the donations and filled out sheets documenting them.

Turns out most of the employees (about 25) bring their lunch to work every day. I missed that memo. One of the people from work, however, volunteered to bring me to get lunch at the Mystic Muffin (I don't even know what to say about the name). The owner insisted I call him "Honey" and gave me a free apple cake to celebrate my first day. They sell cheap pita wraps which are really good and really filling - I'm sure I'll become a regular.

The day flew for the most part - I seemed to click with a few of the people instantly. This same group of people get together on Thursdays at one of their apartments for a rosary, dinner and a movie - to which I was invited. Hopefully I'll be able to go.

Getting home was probably my most embarrassing experience of the day. The volunteer who had helped me from lunch also offered to show me where to buy railcar tickets. He explained that I had to go underground to purchase them and then when I came back to the street level to go left. I had a hard time finding the ticket booth in the rush hour traffic of people trying to make their trains. After purchasing my passes, I returned back to street level (up the wrong stairs) and turned left (which was actually right, because I was turned around). I walked about 20 minutes, in heels no less, and ended up in a park. Using my reliable Google once again, I realized I had gone to wrong direction. I felt pretty retarded. I had to ask a stranger which way to go to get back to where I lived, scared I'd get on the railcar facing the wrong direction and end up in Quebec.

I made it home right before 6:00 and freezing. The weather had dropped from the morning. Dinner is the only meal the sisters share during the day, so I was able to make it in time to join them. We had chili, salad, bread rolls, and grapes - it was a very good combo. After dinner, I went to the coffee shop on the corner, Second Cup, and treated myself to hot chocolate and a cookie. They have free Wi-Fi, so I'm sure I'll end up there a lot as well.

All in all, it was a good day. First days are always hard, but I'm fairly certain I made a good first impression. Everyone was warning me that it may snow overnight, so I'm anxious to see what I wake to. Regardless, I'm sure it'll be another eventful day.

Sending all my love from Canada,


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Welcome to Canada!

By the grace of God, I've made it to Toronto.

My start was nothing but smooth. After confusion over my departure gate, I ended up at Terminal B (a domestic terminal, go figure). Because curbside check is not offered for international flights, I had to maneuver my way around the busy area with two suitcases, a book sack, coat, and purse. I'm pledging, from this day forward, to learn how to travel light.

I eventually made it through and cleared security check, finally finding my way to my departing gate. Thankfully, my flight boarded early, so I didn't have much time to dwell over the fact that the plane looked smaller than it should. My seat was in the back - I sat next to another passenger and an aisle divided us from one other seat. A tight fit doesn't even fully describe the situation. I had hoped that the passenger next to me would move into the empty seat adjacent to us, but instead, he used the open chair as a holder for all of his belongings.

Unphazed, I pulled out my laptop and immediately began watching Gilmore Girls - my go to calming mechanism. Two and a half episodes and a few songs on my iPod later, we were planning for approach. The cloud cover up north is a little thicker than down south, so the descent was a little bumpy. The eeriest part of the landing, however, was the fact that I wasn't even able to see ground until about 10 seconds before landing. Thankfully, we landed in one piece. My first taste of Canadian weather was stepping off the plane (we had to use one of those open air, movable staircases). My first reaction was, "This is wonderful" - it was a nice 50 degrees or so. I've now come to know a different Toronto climate.

Customs was an interesting experience. All of the customs agents wear full black, SWAT looking outfits, their best accessory being their bulletproof vests. They asked a ton of questions, most curious being "Why would you stay with nuns?" I eventually made it through that process as well and exited customs to be greeted by Father Rosica, who was giving me a ride to the convent. The drive was nice - I was able to pass by all the major landmarks. Finally we ended up at the Felician Sister's home - where I happily discovered hat the nuns house was off of the main shopping district - I'm sure my Dad is just psyched about that.

There are five sisters that live in the house. Only a few wear any distinguishing garments. From my initial impressions, it seems a bit more liberal than organizations like the Franciscan Sisters. They were all very pleasant, but left me alone after initial hellos to let me unpack.

At this point I was exhausted and hungry, (not having enough room on the plane to keep my laptop out and eat the snack - I chose Gilmore Girls instead). Ironically enough, there is a Texas Bar and Grill on the corner of our street. I ended up eating dinner there (the nuns tend to eat individually as they become hungry). I have a feeling I'll escape there at least once a week - there's Texan paraphernalia everywhere and they play American channels and sports.

All in all, it was a busy day. Now it's just a matter of establishing a routine and getting into the swing of things. I guess we'll see how things go :)