Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FLY Me to the Moon

So a quick tale about my day:

Wednesdays have become a packed day for me. I work out in the morning, shower, and then go to class from 11:00-1:00. I eat a piece of pizza at 1:15, go to the library for a little while, then I head over to Fordham Prep where I'm teaching the tin whistle as an after-school program.

So, in keeping with my policy of wearing clerical attire when teaching, I wear the whole outfit to class, too. And to the pizza shop. And to the library. Gist of the whole story: I'm looking very priestly on Wednesdays.

So at 2:20 this afternoon, I packed up my computer and, before I left the library, I made a pit stop to use the restroom.

You'll be glad to know that nothing out of the ordinary happened.

Until, that is, I tore the zipper mechanism off of my pants (I'll blame shoddy construction over my strength...although I did work out this morning). And, to make matters worse, the zipper teeth didn't connect so now I'm walking about with my fly completely open and I've not very many options because I have barely fifteen minutes to get to the Prep and meet the students.

I don't know about you, but I'm nervous when I see ANYONE with his fly undone. And in this day and age I reckon I was just one student's complaint away from an appearance on Dateline NBC.

Fortunately, I had on my person one of my "effects of a dead Jesuit", namely a black sweater vest. Figuring it was the best I could do, I tied it around my waist and positioned it in a shabby-chic sort of way that conveyed either a sense of studied unkemptness OR a hidden desire to look like Adam with a fig leaf.

Fortunately for me, I made it through teaching without a hitch and I promptly discarded the offending pants upon my arrival at home.

So that's my amusing narrative for the day.

As for amusing pictures:

My father - Big Bob Duns - finally ordered something other than cigars off of the internet. Grandpa Duns actually bought my niece her Halloween costume. What will Emma be this year? A bunny rabbit? A fairy princess? Padma from Top Chef?

Surprisingly, none of the above.

Because my niece will be going as a Whoopie Cushion.













Now isn't that a gas?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

28 Years

Although this will be posted a bit before midnight, I am writing this as my birthday post. As many of you know, I was born on October 19th, 1979. It also happens to be the Feast of the North American Martyrs celebrating the 17th century Jesuits and Companions martyred by the Iroquois. Since it's my birthday, my parents think that the Feast of the North American Martyrs applies to them, too.

I often wonder what my parents thought 28 years ago when they held me for the first time. What hopes did they have? What dreams? Fears? Probably the same hopes/dreams/fears that my brother is feeling over his daughter Emma. Probably the same hopes/dreams/fears that I felt when I held Emma. But the joy of parenthood - or being an uncle, in my case - is to respond to the vocation to play a formative role in the life of a new creation.

I don't yet know how I'm going to celebrate. I'll work out in the morning and then translate some German. Then off to the library to work on some research and then, hopefully, I'll watch an episode of Heroes. After that it's dinner and then into Manhattan for an enjoyable evening.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Love at First Bite

It is with great pleasure that I direct your attention to Love at First Bite - a film by Drew Marquard, SJ.

The film is being featured on OurStage.com and you can register to vote for his film.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Can you believe?

Can you believe that it is 4:00 am and the temperature outside is 79-degrees Fahrenheit? It's October 10th, after all, and I'm really quite ready for autumn temperatures to roll in. I'm not particularly fond of the heat and, since I'm up at 4:00 am, it goes without saying that this weather is preventing me from sleeping.

Since returning, I've written several posts *about* me but I've not had much that draws on much of the internal grist that I find helpful to write about. Since I'm awake, lucid, and hopeful that writing will make me sleepy I figure that I can write a bit about my internal life a bit.

It may come as a surprise for some that I found last year rather difficult. No, not spiritually or socially but, interestingly, academically. And no, it's not because I found the courses too rigorous or demanding. Instead, I was bored for almost the entire year. The philosophy courses I took were terribly dry and uninteresting and were not challenging. The saving grace of the year was the fact that I managed to take two phenomenal theology courses, one of which produced the paper that will be published this January.

It is easy to become overly romantic about the catch-phrase "Jesuit Mission." We can think of intrepid priests and brothers blazing trails through the Congo or visiting China. We can imagine scientists or scholars or teachers. We can envisage pastors and counselors. But can we imagine lethally bored graduate students? If you have a hard time imagining a bored Jesuit, then you can imagine how hard it is to be a bored Jesuit.

So it's been a welcome relief this year to find myself enrolled in courses that are very stimulating. Each of my four courses is helping me to think through a number of philosophical and theological issues and I'm amazed at the connections I am able to make between the subjects. Who'd have thought that one could range in a web of thought from Virtue Ethics to Hegel to Aesthetics?

In some ways, I'm finding a new cross to bear: I find many students of the other students to be boring. This is not to say that they aren't smart or engaged! Indeed, they often know much more on the subjects than I do. Nevertheless, I'm usually left cold by the points they raise in class. Often enough it's as though they are jockeying for profundity, hoping to make a good impression on the professor by asking (what seem to me) utterly pointless questions in a psuedo-erudite manner. It is perhaps a mark of my own immaturity but I often pose my father's litmus test on the points they raise. If a class comment or observation doesn't rank high on the "So What?" scale, I must admit that I tune that person out and begin thinking about more pleasant things, like dancing chimpanzees (Thanks Joe):




Let it never be said that graduate studies necessarily must drive the whimsy from a person!

Now don't read what I've written and assume that I'm in some spiritual crisis or having angst. I'm not. This blog is as much therapeutic for me as it is informative to others, so I'm merely offering a bit of a glimpse into my internal state.

I guess at the core is this: I can do this because I pray. I can work my way through readings, often inane class discussions, papers, deadlines, and such only because I feel called to do so through prayer. If I didn't experience such a call, if I didn't realize that this prayer had led me into something of an academic asceticism, then I'd be terribly unhappy. It is because I prayed last year that I found some of the courses bearable and it is because I pray that I find many otherwise insufferable people to be at least semi-bearable (If that sounds harsh, it is: I do not suffer fools gladly and it often takes an enormous amount of self-restraint to refrain from offering to them a few observations of my own).

So that's a glimpse into the academic state of affairs. I have been invited to do a book review for the Heythrop Journal and I'm also preparing a paper abstract for a conference this summer. I also have two independent projects in the works: I'm reading Totality and Infinity with a member of the philosophy department and I'm writing the course text for the "Introduction to the Irish Tin Whistle" course that I'm hoping to submit for publication.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Three More Pictures

My mom just sent me three more pictures of Emma:



Books, not Babies


As you can probably tell, I don't have the most *natural* baby-holding ability. I think it's because I'm used to holding books, or whisks, or accordions!

So here's Emma - my baby niece. My mom brought her to the Youngstown Feis yesterday and snapped this pictures. Hopefully my mom will send some pictures of her in her non-bundled outfit (she is cute underneath all of those layers!) but since the arena we were in yesterday was chilly, it was better to keep her warm.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Catching Up

Well, as you can see by my inability to post in a regular manner, I've been pretty busy these last few weeks. Between the start of school, a number of social activities, a lot of writing, nearly severing my thumb, and falling off of a ball as I tried to pray...well, I've been busy.

This weekend I'm heading off to Youngstown and Pittsburgh for their two feiseanna. My mom is going to bring my niece Emma on Sunday, so if I remember to bring my camera I'll be sure to take a lot of pictures.

It's been funny: there's really been nothing for me to comment on, nor has there been any internal motivation to write anything. Nothing particularly funny, or sad, or irritating has struck me. Which means only to say that I've been very busy, and extremely peaceful, so I've not needed to extrovert on these pages in order to process any angst.

It's like the year-round "Theater of the Absurd" that is so often my life has gone on a hiatus! Tragic, so tragic.

The minute I get some pictures of me and the baby, I'll be sure to put them up!

On Dissertating

An old acquaintance, seeing my blog post from yesterday, emailed me this morning. He, too, is enrolled in a doctoral program and he was sho...