Sunday, October 21, 2012

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” - Saint Augustine

Well, it happened. This was one of those weeks they talked about so much at Orientation. One of those weeks you wonder what it is you're doing and why you're doing it. Why you CHOSE it, nonetheless. One of those weeks you rely on the strength within yourself and most importantly, the bond of your community to pull you through.

In all seriousness, it was just an extremely stressful week. As I mentioned, I am planning Pro Bono Opportunities Day which is Tuesday. The goal for participants was 60, but as of last Wednesday we had like 18. I made a ridiculous amount of phone calls and emails and tried to rack my brain for any creative form of recruitment I could think of. I enlisted the help of the staff to reach out to their contacts, but it just was not happening this year. I know it was not my fault, but it's hard to not feel the pressure and feel like a disappointment if goals aren't met. I've always put pressure on myself, but this time it has a real effect on VIP and others, as it is an opportunity to train and recruit potential new volunteers and donors. One woman from a firm even had the audacity to say that I was "soliciting" her firm by sending a mass email. Soliciting? We're a non-profit whose aim is to help the poor and marginalized in need of legal assistance. Needless to say, I definitely hit a breaking point on Thursday morning. The positive that came out of this was the realization that I work at one of the most kind and understanding places. In addition to being positive and passionate so much of the time, my coworkers are honestly such kind-hearted people and I realized how much support and insight they offer. I hope that throughout my life I will be blessed to work somewhere like VIP, where the staff are not only knowledgable, driven, and passionate - but also kind and compassionate.

Now, things were looking up by Thursday afternoon as I promised myself I would leave at 5pm or shortly after, as I had been staying an hour to two hours late the past few nights. I also started my night online LSAT class this week so Monday and Wednesday night from 8:00 pm-11:20ish pm I was at my computer - exhausted. I was just beat by Thursday night. It was my night to cook dinner, but other than that, I was looking forward to crawling into my bed early and getting a much needed good night's sleep. I made chicken parmesan all by myself which I am really proud of:

Thursday I slept beautifully and felt rejuvenated for my busy Friday. That afternoon I was to go to Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA), which is one of the legal agencies that refers cases to VIP, to make copies. VIP used to be housed at PLA until it got its own office which is much spacier and suitable for the work we do. VIP has an agreement with PLA to do our large printing and copying jobs, though, since it is paid for by PLA. It was recommended to me to go either at the beginning or the end of the day because it would be less busy and the copiers would be less in use by the PLA staff. I walked over around 4:00pm with a VIP staff member whose mom actually works at PLA. She got me set up at a copier on the second level of the PLA office and then returned to VIP. I was about five packets in, with about another 40 minutes of copying left to do, when this PLA staff member appears behind me with a puss on her face. I knew from that moment this was not going to go well. She immediately started huffing and puffing and yelling that some people have work to do and asserted that I was not doing anything of importance and that I was supposed to be at the upstairs copy machine. When I quietly explained that I was told to go down here because someone was using the upstairs copier, she shouted and swore and marched upstairs, as I remained in a state of shock at her behavior. She returned after a few moments and told me there was another copy machine in the back that I should be using and continued with her attitude and turned my copy job after. I was flabbergasted. I left the door to go upstairs, unaware that once you enter the stairwell you can walk up and down the flight of stairs to each level, but each door has a key code by the door. Obviously I had no idea what the code was for any of the floors, and the doors were dark without windows, so it's not like I could have knocked or flagged someone walking by. Essentially I was stuck in the stairwell with at least another 40 minutes of copying I needed to complete. By this time it was nearly 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon and I didn't even bring my cell phone with me to PLA. I was almost in tears, but luckily figured out how to exit the stairwell at the first floor and end up at the entrance. Great, I thought, I can just take the elevator back up to the fifth floor and start this process over. Unfortunately for me, it must have been the backside of the building because once I exited at the appropriate floor it was not the receptionist area I recalled from when I first entered, but instead what appeared to be a back door with only a telephone you use to call in. I tried multiple extensions listed on the sheet next to the phone, but no one picked up, given my luck. Again almost in tears, I rode the elevator back to the first floor to ask the person at the front desk for assistance. But no one was there, big surprise. I went back to the fourth floor and luckily saw someone walking by so knocked on the glass door. She let me in, but I was unaware of where I was. I wandered to the back of the office space and saw my dear copy friend there, with nothing short of a glare on her face. She made a sly comment about why I was there that I chose to ignore, and tried to explain that I couldn't figure out how to get back upstairs and I needed the key code. She said it was personal information and then angrily agreed to take me up in the elevator herself. In the elevator she continued yelling at me and I had just about enough. When we go to the fifth floor receptionist area where I had first entered the people nicely asked me if I had finished my copies - then saw the horrible woman behind me. She continued to yell at them and swear and I just burst into tears. It was embarrassing but I had held it in for too long. She disappeared, yelling, and they apologized and explained she was a horrible person and always has been. A staff member led me to the back copy machine and I was luckily able to finish all of my copies before the office closed. I didn't get to leave until well after 5:30pm, but I vowed to never go back to PLA so there was no way I was leaving it until Monday. I hurried back to VIP, hoping that someone would still be around so I could get into the office, and was glad to see the lights were still on. I walked in my office, threw my massive amounts of copies down, and saw a note on the chair at my desk from my boss saying to come see her when I got back from PLA. I walked into my boss' office and she apologized and explained that Cindy, the mean, bitter woman from PLA, was a horrible, evil person who made everyone miserable. She said PLA had called her and alerted her Cindy had given me a hard time (for lack of a better phrase...) and she was very sorry. Long story short, this week was the most stressful one I have had in a long time.

Silver lining is by the time I left the office on Friday, we had 30 people signed up for the event. My boss was happy with this number, and I felt at least a certain level of relief. My boss even told me to take Tuesday afternoon off from work. I can go home once I am done cleaning up from the event and rest up. Normally I would fight her, but with the anxiety at an all time high, I felt so relieved that she told me to do this. Plus I've put in extra hours lately, anyways.

This weekend has been so relaxing, and what I desperately needed. I honestly have not left the apartment since returning from work Friday night. Yesterday I did some LSAT work, slept, watched a movie, and carved pumpkins with my community members. They came out excellent!

Of course my roommates are a bit more artistically gifted than me (notice the cat pumpkin...) but I was proud of my typical jack-o-lantern nonetheless. We displayed them on the stoop outside and felt accomplished. Today I took a practice LSAT and was actually very happy with my diagnostic score! I feel so much more relieved than I did two days ago. I know this week will be stressful, but once the event is over on Tuesday, things will be a bit calmer, at least in terms of my workload. And it is only ten days until Halloween! I am not sure what my community members and I are going to be yet. Next weekend we are doing spooky mini golf, Harry Potter weekend in Philly, and a Halloween themed volunteer gathering at Villanova. This is my favorite holiday and time of year so I just have to remember to take a deep breath every now and then - and fill it with hot chocolate and pumpkin seeds.

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