How to begin informing you what I have been about since I left Wausau Sunday to start this sabbatical? In the past I have tended to write essays with paragraphs. I have so much to share with you I think I will revert to a bullet list:
- I regret to inform you that there is no particular idiom in Italian like “blah, blah, blah.” Despite the suggestion from a very young parishioner to re-title my columns from Rome as “blahbino, blahbino, blahbino” … I regret to have to tell you that when Italians feel that someone is going on and on without any content, they also simply say, as do we, “blah, blah, blah.” It’s a universal language, I guess.
- It’s a long way to O’Haire Airport, but I made good time and caught my flight with ease. Good news: the aisle seat next to me was empty, so I could spread out; bad news: I needed every bit of it, because since the last time I flew (two years ago) either I have grown several inches, or the airlines have brought their rows markedly closer together.
- I reached my room on the top floor of the Sabbatical building at the North American College, and out my window is St. Peter’s Basilica, perhaps a half mile away as the crow flies. I mean it’s big, and lit up through the night. I perpetually feel that I am about to be interviewed from CNN’s Rome Office. It’s eerie.
- So I arrived on Monday; Tuesday was orientation day … and Pope Francis leaves town on Wednesday for five days in Columbia. I am trying not to take this personally.
- I understand the cold weather has continued for you. The weather in Rome is what we should all have enjoyed in Wausau two weeks ago: sunny every days, gentle breezes, temps reaching just above or below 80, no rain. Oddly, there are no mosquitoes. It has been a particularly dry summer in Italy, and Pope Francis has ordered the outside fountains on outside property to be turned off to conserve water. But the locals tell me that even when it is wet, mosquitoes are a very rare thing.
- I have had difficulty resetting my biological clock. On Monday I slept for thirty minutes, and then was awake for an hour, and repeated that cycle 5x. Last night (Tuesday night) I slept for a couple of hours, read for a couple hours, and slept for another three hours.
- There are eighteen priests with me as part of the program: most from the U.S. (mainly West Coast and East Coast), three from Australia, one from the Philippines, two from Canada, one from Ireland. They are a splendid group of guys.
I will have more serious things to share next week. I hope you are well. Take care of Fr. Bee.