Snapshot of Life as a Jesuit Volunteer

Let me explain what grocery shopping looked like this afternoon with my housemate Jackie:

Decked out in our finest fully-body rain gear, Jackie and I hopped on our bikes with empty backpacks and a relatively short shopping list in my pocket. Having received a lot of donations from various people in town this week (randomly 8 dozen eggs showed up in our fridge, several containers of chive cottage cheese?! and an abundance of cookie dough!), we only had a few essential items we had to pick up at SeaMart this weekend. Since we’re working within a pretty strict JVC grocery budget we have to plan when bigger items are purchased. So this weekend, with many of our necessities taken care of, toilet paper was the hot item.

Having successfully biked the two miles, we grabbed a shopping cart and Jackie whipped out her cell phone to start calculating the total cost of the items in our cart, hoping we wouldn’t go over our $88 for the week (yes, you read that correctly, $88. We try to average $100/week for six girls in Alaska. Challenging? Indeed. We went over budget last week! One of the values of JVC, however, is simple living and with this sort of budget we’re learning exactly what the entails!). After one loop around the store, feeling rather satisfied with ourselves, we checked out at the register having spent just under $80.

But this is where it got fun.

Jackie and I took all the items out of our cart and started stuffing them into our backpacks. Camped out on the bench next to the doors, despite feeling optimistic in the beginning, we realized that the 36-pack of toilet paper wasn’t going to fit, even in the large backpacking pack I borrowed from our other housemate Gina. But we live in Sitka, where it’s impossible to go anywhere without seeing someone you know in town (yep, we’ve been here two months and know enough people to run into them everywhere!). So our housemate Steph’s boss, James, showed up at the store about the time we were left with eight rolls of TP still sitting on the bench and our bags stuffed to capacity. We made a little arrangement, handed off the last eight rolls to James, and they will be waiting on Steph’s desk tomorrow at work for her to bring home.

The remaining items, one bag of tortilla chips and one loaf of bread, were left outside backpacks for the ride home. Jackie held the bag of chips dangling off the handlebar of her bike while I zipped the loaf of bread into my raincoat. We hopped on our bikes, I looked like I was ready for about a week on the trail with my stuffed pack and, honestly, with 20 rolls of toilet paper, I probably could have lasted several weeks in the wilderness. Jackie’s pack was at least double the width of her body. We took off from the SeaMart parking lot (by the way, what kind of grocery story parking lot is on waterfront property?!), laughing as we saw our reflections in the window, loaded down with our assortment of groceries and TP. I’m concerned how many people in town that we know may have seen us. I’m sure we’ll be getting reports of sightings this week from friends.

As JVs we have also discovered the joy of volunteering at events so we don’t have to pay to go to them! Friday’s Red Molly folk concert is a perfect example, and we’re lucky to live in a town that gives those opportunities to us. As a house, we ushered, took tickets, and sold CDs so as to not spent $20 of our $80/month stipend on one evening of entertainment. The folk group Red Molly was AMAZING, and I really recommend their folksy female harmonies to anyone who likes that genre.

And of course we had to get outside, so we enjoyed a rainy/blustery day hike with Tyler and Ruby (Tyler’s beautiful Golden Retriever) yesterday afternoon to Indian River Falls. We hiked in about five flat(ish) miles to the beautiful falls and were greeted with not only a great view, but also with the smell of pot. After scaring away  the two smokers, we frolicked around the falls area, testing the ability of our XtraTuffs, and I’m happy to report my toes were clean and warm despite lots of mud and wading through chilly water. After an incredibly busy week of work and post-work activities, this jaunt in the woods was much needed and incredibly rejuvenating! Pictures of the falls to come later.

The pace has certainly changed since we arrived here in August, and, as a JV community, we have handled the transition from summer to fall by taking advantage of all the town events and have found plenty of opportunities for continual socializing. Next Monday, October 18 is Alaska Day, commemorating the exchange of Alaska from being Russian land to being ruled by the good ol’ U.S.A. What kind of state has its very own day? And Alaska Day celebrations go from October 11-18. Can anyone explain that to me? Anyway, we hear it’s one heck of a big party, so we’re looking forward to it, especially the reinactment of lowering the Russian flag and the raising of the American flag on Castle Hill here in Sitka, where the original transfer occurred.  Yes, there is a parade, and bagpipers from Seattle even travel here to perform. Ha! I’m laughing just describing this, it sounds hilarious to me. There will most definitely be a post about it later. More to come after the next adventure!

3 thoughts on “Snapshot of Life as a Jesuit Volunteer”

  1. I want to hear ALL about Alaska Day week! I suspect you will have more than one blogs worth. And hope those tortilla chips got home safe!

  2. I’m pretty sure that is freaking hillarious. Oh the days of JVC… I love that awkward trying to get as much home as possible. My best experience was when the bags broke and I was still like 8 blocks from home. HAHAHA. I was also by myself so that didn’t help.

    Good job making it to $80 and keeping with the budget.

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