Monday, October 8, 2012

"Everyone who achieves success in a great venture, solves each problem as they came to it. They helped themselves. And they were helped through powers known and unknown to them at the time they set out on their voyage. They keep going regardless of the obstacles they met." - W. Clement Stone

Happy Columbus Day! I am pretty excited that I have today off from work. I do love my job, honestly, but it can be very exhausting and I was desperately in need of this three day weekend to rejuvenate myself for the weeks to come.

This weekend was really fun! On Thursday night I went to the premiere of the new NBC show that is airing this week: Chicago Fire. There's a website called that I recommend to everyone! You register for free and put in your zip code and it shows you which movies or shows have open screenings. You then get two passes per person for free. The show itself was pretty interesting, but I don't know if it's one I'll have to watch weekly. Then we went to an open night market in Chinatown. I couldn't believe how many people were there and how many streets it took up! There seemed to be neverending food options and music that resounded in my ears well into the night. Here is a photo of my community and I under the Chinatown Arch:

One of my community members, Caroline, went to NH to visit her boyfriend for his birthday for the rest of the weekend. My other community member, Katharine, and I got a lot of fun things in. On Friday after work we ventured to Campo's to try yet another cheese steak. We decided to try all of the Top 10 authentically-rated Philly cheese steak locations. Why not? I should mention that last weekend we went to the ever-famous Pat's and Geno's. The two cheese steak stands are right across the street from one another, so Katharine and I had a half of each. It's hard to say which I preferred, because at Pat's you can get toppings, such as peppers and mushrooms, but the rolls at Geno's are quite heavenly. There is definitely a South Philly attitude evident when it comes to ordering at Pat's, which you may have seen on TV. Quick tip, "wit" means with onions and "witout" means without onions. Whiz is definitely the key to the delicious cheese steak flavor. I think this was my mistake at Jim's Steaks, where I opted for American cheese and ketchup. The whiz is essentially canned cheese and quite disgusting by nature, but it's so flavorful! We also had cheese fries floating in whiz and plenty of soda to wash our steaks down. Needless to say, after Pat's and Geno's Katharine and I felt the whiz in our tummies for a day or two...

Katharine with our Pat's cheese steak and cheese fries

Me with our Geno's cheese steak

I tried the cheese steak hoagie at Campo's, which is most known for their bread. The hoagie had lettuce, tomatoes, onions, whiz, and steak. It was quite delicious:

Katharine opted for the pizza steak, which combines mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce. We keep seeing it on the menus here so she was inclined to try it:

 After indulging our delicious cheese steaks, we perused the streets of Old City for First Friday. There were many vendors out and shops open with lots of free wine. We had to go easy on our stomachs though because the cheese steaks were just a bit much to handle! On Saturday we made chocolate chip pancakes and then ventured to Old Navy and Target for some shopping. After we returned to the apartment we ate Halloween themed Kraft macaroni and cheese (my personal favorite) and watched The Witches to get into the October spirit. We then ventured to South Street to meet up with a fellow Augustinian Volunteer who's currently serving in Lawrence, MA. She was in Philly for the weekend with a small group of Merrimack College students doing a service project. While most of their group enjoyed Jim's Steaks for dinner, Katharine and I ventured across the street to a pizza place called Lickety Split for a slice of "South Street's Best Pizza." It reminded me of the part in Elf where Will Ferrell marvels over "the world's best cup of coffee!" But in all seriousness, the pizza was delicious! We each got one slice, which was more than enough, because a slice covered nearly two paper plates! Here's a photo of Katharine's amazing veggie pizza:

After our South Street adventure, we headed back to the apartment and I got ready and met up with a friend for a few drinks. On Sunday the weather was terrible (50's and rainy, ick!) but we still ventured over to South Philly for an Italian festival. It was about one street long with a bounce house and crafts for kids, Italian clothes and goods for sale, live entertainment, and SO much delicious authentic Italian food! We had trouble deciding what we wanted to eat, but ended up with fried dough, pasta, and a chocolate cannoli each for dessert. It was really nice to see a small celebration with a lot of neighborhood people outside celebrating their heritage. As for me, I may not be an ounce Italian but it has never stopped me from loving the food. :)

 At the Italian Festival

   Delicious Cannolis

After we returned from the Italian Festival we watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Hocus Pocus and relaxed until 7pm mass. Then I headed to bed quite early to catch up on sleep for this week.

I am really happy with my service placement. VIP is honestly the most amazing place to work, where there is a great mix of veterans and newbies. Every day I feel like I am getting more and more comfortable and knowledgeable about my place in the organization. I have had a lot of very interesting conversations with clients thus far, some easier than others, and some quite heartbreaking to say the least. One man I spoke with on Friday afternoon told me that it was the anniversary of his mother's death - the deceased record owner of the home he is trying to get title to. He saw it as a sign from God that things might just get better for him. Many of these people have been living in the property without title for years but need to get title because there are back real estate taxes or a delinquent mortgage and without their name on the deed to the property, the companies or City will not negotiate with them. It's sad and frustrating for the clients who have generally been paying the bills for a long time and recently got behind. Once behind, the City or companies threaten foreclosure and without being the legal record owner they will not communicate or accept any further payments from our clients. We work hard to get the cases referred but because of the many needs and the complicated structure of these cases, it can be a lengthy process. This week, I will be working on getting my first probate cases prepared to be referred, which is quite exciting.

Hopefully I can get some of these cases off my desk this week to make room for the many more to come!!!