Wednesday, February 25, 2009

divine irony strikes again.

while sitting during noon mass today, Ash Wednesday, a strange thing occurred. i turned to Tim and tapped him on the shoulder.

"dude. what is that strange glow emanating from the window?"

as quickly as the church had lit up, so did our minds. the sun! it's the sun! that long forgotten ball of heat that our ancestors worshipped in hopes of greater fertility! or something like that.

ok, all kidding aside, i was really, really pumped to see the sun come out today. it had literally been around 11-12 days since the last sighting of light. and it figures that it chooses Ash Wednesday, one of only TWO required fasting days in the Church calendar, to poke it's head out.

furthermore, it fit in rather will with Father Ron's homily today. about how 'Lent' comes from the Old English word meaning "springtime". and how Lent is a gift to us from God, etc.

Divine allegory is found in abundance today. praise God.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

40 days and 40 nights.

"snow and adolescence are the only problem that disappear
if you ignore them long enough"
-- Earl Wilson

It won't stop snowing.

i believe today is the 8th straight day of snow here, not counting the 3 days of snow we experienced in Poland. I've seen websites estimating that Gaming has received a total of around 4 feet of snow.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

a-m-d-g a-m-d-g!

Last night was the "Tandem Tango" dance party here at the Kartause.

I had the privilege of going with my friend erin wilson (stella mariae), and we went as AMDG and Stella Mariae. I borrowed erin fitzpatrick's plaid skirt to be my kilt, used one of Tim's plaid scarfs as my sash, made an AMDG tshirt, and found a wooden spoon to complete my get-up. It was glorious. At one point during the evening, Elliot lifted me up in the air and everyone started chanting A-M-D-G A-M-D-G! I never thought i would know what that felt like. now i do.

Elliot went with Kristen Dupre as "Eggs and Bacon" -- be sure to creep around on facebook this coming week to see pics of elliot's costume. it was perfect. Tim and Erin Fitz went as a Jaeger bomb -- tim had a huge cardboard cut-out of a Jaegermeister bottle and Fitzy had one of a Red Bull can.

The first place prize, however, went to Alex Freas and his partner, Meghan. They went as Tom Hanks and Wilson from Cast Away. Alex, who looks uncannily like Tom Hanks, had a torn up t-shirt, black face paint smeared across his face (like burn marks), and a fed-ex bag in his hand. Meghan had a shirt stuffed with pillows and the face of Wilson drawn on it, as well as that plant thingy on top of her head. It was a well-deserved victory.

Now, all of the students here are hit with hte realization that midterms are but days away, and most of us have ignored studying so we could instead create our outfits for last night. Sigh.

Friday, February 20, 2009

halfway there.

believe it or not, the semester here is about halfway done.

the upside is that our traveling is certainly nowhere near halfway completed. with Rome and Assissi (ten days) right around the corner, our ten-day break and then our 5-day easter break to follow, most of our travel time is yet to come.

this weekend is another off weekend -- we had classes today since we had monday off, making this weekend just a 2-day weekend. midterms are this coming week, so most students are hanging back and studying.

more thoughts coming soon...i promise :-).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

oh yea, i have a blog

sorry for the lack of updates.

things have been rather busy since our arrival home from poland. i don't plan on writing all that much about the trip -- it was super powerful and i learned a ton, but none of it is particularly appropriate for a blog. i may or may not post some sort of reflection Auschwitz eventually, we will see.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poland. Preface.

The last week has been an interesting one.

My spirituality, which has been slowly improving ever since arriving here, exploded with new life this week. A powerful time at the FOP on tuesday night, mangnified by an in increase in chapel time has sparked a sort of revolution in my interior life.

And that's been a huge blessing, considering my classwork has been revolting against me all week. I had this huge assignment due for Minto on wednesday, which took me around 5 hours to complete, and then an exam today, which i just got out of, that took me around 8-10 hours to study for on tuesday and wednesday. but. it's over.

We leave at 7:30 tonight for Poland. This should be one of the more powerful/inspirational trips we take. The journey will bring us through the extremes of humanity: from Auschwitz to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. I'm more excited than anything else, though i'm fearing the extensive/boring bus drive.

See you all monday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

this gets me every time.

"A good measuring stick to judge how prideful you are is to see how mad you get when someone else is being prideful."
-- C.S. Lewis

Saturday, February 7, 2009

the sweet, sweet silence

"in the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
following last week's Prague trip, we decided to stay back this weekend and abstain from traveling. today, tim went skiing and elliot went to Melk (nearby town), so i woke up to find about 10 other students in the Kartause.

i've had a ton of work to do for PBS II, so i've been just working all day. i went to lunch and prayed somewhere in the middle of it all.

it seems to be a tired and redundant topic, but it is so so true that silence can work wonders in a man's heart. one day spent walking around the campus here, soaking in my surroundings, studying the gospels, praying -- all in a state of seemingly glorified silence -- has taught me more about myself than the past 3 weeks have.

you can only grow by learning. and you can only learn by listening. and you can only listen when your mouth is shut.

embrace that.

Out with a bang. Prague '09. Part 3 of 3.

Well, it's officially been a week since the events i'm gonna write about here occurred. i've been too lazy to sit down and do it, but alas, here i am.


Day 2 started off on the right foot. elliot and christian went back to the grocery store and bought enough bread, cheese, and meat for all of us -- for 6 dollars. awesome.

we met up with dominiKa (dominika, now a devoted fan to this blog, was sure to tell me i've been misspelling her name) and tomas yet again and headed out. the first half of this day turned out to be the 'walk around and see everything you possibly can' portion of the trip. we rode a lift to the highest point in Prague, and then climbed this massive steel tower where we could overlook the entire city. though certainly an impressive view, the tower didn't have nearly as much of the charm that the castle in Salzburg did (see entry, 'snow covered prophets').

some more walking around and oooo-ing and awwwee-ing led us to a tiny little cafe, where me and tim experienced turkish coffee for the first time. it was like getting kicked in the mouth by a caffinated (definitely misspelled that) boot.

i think you get the drift. we walked. and saw. and it was awesome.

night time proved to be the best night of our semester yet. we bar hopped, although we only drank Velko at each bar we visited anyway. we ended up staying out past the time when the tram's stopped running, so we walked about 2 hours back to the hostel. on the way, we somehow ended up in what we thought would be a shady dance club, but it was actually kinda pathetic. we danced for like 2 minutes as we tried to find a bathroom, then immediately left and carried on the rest of the way home.

much like the way the Gospel according to John ends with "there were many other things Jesus did...but i don't think all the books in the world could contain them" (or something along those lines), so too are the endless stories of Prague, most of which will only survive from now on through word of mouth alone.

I'm going to hesitate on remarking about how Prague was the best trip ever blah blah blah. because for all i know, these next 3 months may bring many more spectacular occurences my way.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's all about the benjamins. Prague '09. Part 2 of 3.

"Prague, prague prague prague prague, prague praggy praggy prauge"
-- Tim Glemkowski, to the tune of Salt n' Peppa's "push it"

If i were to tell you that i would make you a full pork roast dinner, complete with 2 different kinds of dumplings etc., for just over 5 dollars, you would most likely:

a) laugh
b) ask me to repeat myself, assuming i had misspoke
c) refuse the offer, assuming it was too good to be true.

Now, if i were to then say that you could get a pint of beer as well for just around $1.15, and that your friend who accidentally ordered water would then end up paying more than you for it (Christian Bobak), you would start looking for video cameras. 'this is a joke, right?'

If you haven't caught on already, this is precisely the deal we received in this tiny restaurant right by our hostel, and it was just what we needed to get over our cranky selves. We spent most of the meal laughing over how good it tasted and how little we paid for it.

It got even better when we went to a tiny little bakery/convenience store and realized that everything was gloriously cheap. Bread? like 15 cents. red bull? dollar. 6-packs of beer? dollar plus.

We eventually met back up with dominica and tomas, and they took us around the city. we spent most of the night wandering around going, "we're in PRAGUE dude haha what the hellll". looking back, it was kind of pathetic. The only landmark worth mentioning by name is St. Charles Bridge, which is absolutely gorgeous. this doesn't mean, though, that nothing else is worth mentioning. the entire "old town" part of the city is a captivating sight, completely inexpressible through such a measly medium like a blog. I hate to say this, and in fact my hands are trembling as i begin to type this, but...i finally found a city i enjoyed more than Boston. maybe. Maybe!

I've been saving the best for last: throughout the night we discovered the beauty of THE. THE. THE. best beer in the world (and i pray i spell this correctly): Velkopopovicky Kolser Dark. We proceeded to discover that, in fact, Czech beer dominates everything, and that we've been lied to our entire lives about German and Austrian beer reigning supreme.

(ok ok so one last story worth re-telling: Elliot's mom and dad had been to Prague 3 years previous, and his dad has reminded him repeatedly since about Velkopopovicky and this random jazz club behind some church. Finding the beer was easy -- it's all over the city. Far more exciting was when we accidentally stumbled upon the jazz club. Elliot didn't even know the name, but as soon as he saw the outside he (claims to have) "sensed it". sure enough, we went inside and it matched the description his dad gave perfectly.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

heaven on earth. Prague '09. Part 1 of 3.

We do not believe in ourselves until some reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to ,worthy of our trust, sacred to our truth.  Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit."
-- e.e. cummings

remember how i had to wake up at 3:45? didn't happen. woke up to Andrew Cole violently shaking my bed while Elliot angrily pounded on our door at 3:55.  I had, fortunately, packed before going to bed.  i hopped out of bed, dressed in record time, grabbed my passport, and sprinted downstairs. if stair skipping was an Olympic sport, i'm the Michael Phelps of stair skipping. 

minus the awkwardly tight bathing suit.

We speed-walked the 40 minutes to the train station and got there with a minute to spare.  The train ride was beautiful.  I found myself looking around for movie cameras as our train strolled by tiny, snow-covered villages.  Children, backpacks on guard and snowballs in hand, ran around around outside before hopping on board to go to school.  We were on our way to Prague. 6 of us. with no agenda. perfect.

perfect, until the train took an extra 40 minutes to get to Vienna.  a worried and anxious Dominica took us up and out of the station, running towards the bus station. we got there as people were putting their luggage on board. just in time. again.  

At this point, i'm going to pause from narrative and point out an already obvious fact that will only become redundant over time: if we did not have dominica with us, we would have been absolutely screwed.  but we did, and our own little slovakian GPS led us from place to place with perfect accuracy.

After a total of ten hours of travel, we got to Prague.  Our first impressions were less than awful.  Overcast and dirty, it looked like a poor man's Providence. After ten hours, the last thing you want to feel is underwhelmed. not only did we feel disappointed, but dominica's friend who was supposed to meet us there was yet to arrive. and we realized we didn't have the address of the Hostel (cleverly named the "Czech Inn".  about 45 minutes past, we got to the hostel and split from dominica and Tomas.  Tired, frustrated, and unsure of what was to come, we checked into our room and set off for dinner.