I have finally begun my study abroad in Rome. The last two days have been travel, arrival, John Cabot University orientation event after orientation event, and general adjustment to life in a foreign country. I’m exhausted, so I’ll keep this relatively short.

I’ve traveled my fair share and spent my fair share of time in Italy before, but so far I have been shocked by the difficulty of adjusting to Roman life. Granted, I haven’t slept much in the last two days. The issue is the sheer volume of things to adjust to. I haven’t been able to really relax.

Last night was good though. Famous travel guru Rick Steve’s son Andy Steves, a graduate of Notre Dame, started his own travel company after seeing how horrible the existing offers were for students studying abroad. Last night he gave us a brief walking tour of Rome, and took us to a restaurant where we had free wine all night and four courses of food for €15. We saw il Campo de Fiori, the Pantheon (from the outside – it was late).

Two nights ago I took everyone to a place called Carlo Menta on Via della Lungaretta. It’s got the cheapest food in Rome (€2-5 for a full size pizza, and €4-6 for pasta). I remembered it from my trip here last spring with the Notre Dame liturgical choir. The food is solid and the sit-down atmosphere is great considering the price. I’m surprised I haven’t seen it in any of the travel books I’ve flipped through. Sure, the food isn’t fine dining, but €5 for a decent bowl of pasta is a good deal.


The First Lady Into Space

Ladies and gentlemen, let all the Earth rejoice, for on this day we remember a historic moment that has profound implications for the entire human race. As we gather together today, we call to mind a very special lady, a woman who made history and expanded the borders of the human frontier.

No, I am not talking about Valentina Tereshkova, although the world does right to remember her accomplishments.

Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Sorry, America, she was definitely Russian.

No, the woman I am speaking of didn’t even need a helmet:

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by El Greco, 1577

Yes, I am speaking of The Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. Continue reading

The UFOs of Ezekiel, Part I: The Marshian Captivity of the Jews

Today’s first reading from Ezekiel 1 is one of those esoteric passages that has provided Jewish, Christian, Gnostic and redneck mystics with way too much fun over the years. The selection that is read at Mass is a trimmed down version, from verses 2-5… and then skippppppppppp twenty verses…  and resume at verse 24 until verse 28. It reads:

On the fifth day of the month, the fifth year, that is, of King Jehoiachin’s exile, the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar.–There the hand of the LORD came upon me. As I looked, a stormwind came from the North, a huge cloud with flashing fire (enveloped in brightness), from the midst of which (the midst of the fire) something gleamed like electrum. Within it were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human… Continue reading

Here We Are, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

I… vill… not… blog… evah!

Ever have I resisted the sultry allure of the world of blogging. Ever have I held at bay that faddish technocultural phenomenon, forcing it back into the gloom in order to curb its incessant temptation. Alas, those ante-blogian days are over.

I recognize the danger of blogs – how they can become a place of self-aggrandizement, a place to stroke one’s ego. At one time I thought it was impossible to do good by blogs; it seemed like anyone who used one was only looking for attention.

A visual summary of What (Or Who) I Hate About the Internet

However, I’ve come to think they can actually be awesome.

There were two things that chiefly inspired this blog. The first is the fact that I am soon to embark on an adventure abroad – study-abroad to be precise. As of August 28 until the end of the fall semester I will be studying in Rome, through John Cabot University (which has a partnership with the University of Notre Dame, where I normally attend). The logic was (and is) that a blog will allow me to at once keep a journal of my travels while keeping my friends and relatives up to date.

However, no one – or at least not me – wants to read a blog about my travels. A travel blog can produce only one of two internal reactions: (1) boredom, or (2) envy, and neither effect is something I want to cultivate in others. That discouraging fact, combined with the fact that I like to write, want to write, but need an excuse to write, and the fact that there are so many other things in life more interesting than my travels inspired me to broaden the horizon of this blog. So, upon careful consideration, I decided to write a blog about everything. And,actually, since the blog will inevitably delve into the charybdis of metaphysics at some point, it is a blog about everything, nothing, and all that lies between.

Since this is such a broad topic, I have set a few parameters for myself to keep it reasonable. In order to prevent things from getting out of hand, I will strictly prevent myself from writing about sports. All else is fair game.