The Aftermath


I read an article today in the New York Times discussing the latest wave of math reforms to hit country as part of the Common Core curriculum and how similar attempts at reform in the past have failed us as a nation. I must admit the article brought tears to my eyes as I recalled my many years as a frustrated student in math class.

Time and time again I would sit in class knowing that I was a capable student and yet feeling stupid and helpless when it came to my inability to solve the simplest of problems. Like an attack dog I was trained to read problems for the keywords that would guide me to whatever pre-prescribed problem solving strategy had been taught in class that week. I was never taught to think for myself when it came to math, only to jump through the proverbial hoops of standardized test that the state demanded our teachers train us for. As I read this article it was refreshing to see that shortcuts that I developed on my own to understand and perform math tasks were not a reflection of my failure as a student but rather my brain working to learn something the curriculum failed to teach me.

This article also reminded me of the struggles that I faced as a student from a working class home, who didn’t have parents who were able to reinforce at home what school had attempted to teach me. Many of my middle class peers in the Pre-AP and AP courses that I took had already been exposed to higher levels of math and different manners of thinking from their affluent and business savvy parents, but I didn’t have that safety net. So I often worry about the generation of boys and girls in today’s K-12 public education system, because I want desperately for the school system not to fail them in the same ways it failed me. But I know how difficult it is and how long it takes for even the smallest of things to be reformed. And so my heart goes out to them, the far-too-many students that will slip through the cracks.


Sogno Romano


For the first time in many years, I dreamt of my father. It was a hectic dream, there was a lot going on, most of which I did not understand but for a brief moment he was there. For a brief moment things were as they were many years ago and there he was sitting on our couch wearing the faded blue shirt and silver basketball shorts he liked to wear around the house. There he was dark stubble and striking brown eyes in tact. There he was in my dream, returned to me if only for a moment.

I can’t help but contemplate the timing of such a dream. In the ten years since he passed I have often wished, prayed even, for dreams of my father but they never hapened. So I do wonder why this dream would happen now, at a time when my father (who is always in my thoughts) was not at the forefront of my mind. I must admit that I do in small part attribute this subconcious visitation from my father to Dacia Maraini and her story Sogno Romano. In the story she writes of a dream she had of her deceased friend Pier Paolo, how life-like he was, how young and energetic. She clearly understands how it feels to miss someone you love. And maybe my mind picked up on this having read the story earlier this week. Maybe my mind stored this emotional trigger and allowed it to bubble up to my subconcious while I slept. Maybe, I don’t know, but it was nice to see him again.

Piacere: First impressions of Rome


Finally it rains. After a week of ungodly heat which likely made many people contemplate the pros and cons of walking outside naked (or simply not going outside at all) things are starting to cool down. I’ve been in Rome for two weeks now and I’m in love, how could I not be? Rome to me is what every young male protagonist is in any Disney movie to his young female counterpart: the person (or place) to which you have an instant affinity and from there embark on a romantic adventure you didn’t know you had the capacity to endure. Everything amazes me here, from the business of the city as it teems with life each morning and afternoon to  the stark quiet of the night when the city goes to sleep.

There are so many little things, so many intracies that I’d never thought I’d see or experience. For one thing traffic is crazy here, a billion compact cars, mopeds, buses, trams, and pedestrians going every which way at once. One of the more surprising things for me is the was the way people park here, it’s not unsual to see cars parallel parked in the street next to cars  parallel parked on the curb. Lets just say Romans give a whole new meaning to the phrase, “double-parked.” Many people just make their own parking spots by parking in front of dumpsters, on medians, or parking in a perpindicular fashion adjacent to a string of parallel parked cars. Walking is an equally crazy task, crossing the street requires that you basically step out in front of cars and expect them to break or swerve around you. There have been several times when instead of doing this I stood on the sidewalk waiting for all the cars to pass and was given a weird look as if to say, “what are you doing”, by the drivers and pedestrians passing me. Its a miracle that I get anywhere that doesn’t have a pedestrian light to tell you when to walk, although I find on the busier streets it helps to find a bold Roman and follow them as they cross.

Graffitti is everywhere in this city, everywhere. Its as ubiquitous as the culture and history found on every corner. Another thing found on every corner, and every place in between is dog poop. For some reason I thought that Rome, being such a small place, would have cats as the number one pet of choice. Afterall, they are small self-sufficient, and most importantly poop in litter boxes, making them a great pet for the familes living in the multitude of Rome’s apartments and condominiums. However that doesn’t seem to be the case at all, everywhere I go I see nothing but dogs and thusly dog poop. Some sidewalks have been turned into goat paths where one weaves their way through piles of petrified dog poop.

None of this is a critique of Rome, as I said, I love it here. Honestly, in some weird way these things add to the beauty and complexity of Rome. I find it oddly hilarious that the city that has been the center of some much history, so much power could be plagued by small things like angsty teenagers who need hobbies, or the the need for city ordinances that require people to pick up after their pets. Rome encapsulates the human experience, from the small inconsequential things to major movements of history. And I couldn’t be happier to be here.

Passegiata: My Time In Tivoli


I had no idea what was in store for me when the day began. I just thought I was going to go on a couple of tours, see a few interesting things, learn a few new facts, but what happened was much more than that. I was absolutely mystified and enraptured by the beauty that lay before me, never in my life did I think I would gaze upon something so magnificent with my own two eyes:Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este two beautiful, breath-taking feats of immagination and architecture that are beyond words.

What I found most striking about Villa Adriana, the home of the Emperor Adrian built in the 2nd Century A.D., was the ingenuity and complexity with which it was designed. I can not begin to fathom how much planning and effort went into its construction. Layers and layers of materials were imported from all across the Roman empire and used to construct this magnificent compound in which even the tiniest of details were artfully planned.

From the circular structure of the heated rooms (designed to trap and circulate heat during the winter) to the dome of the Canopus (used to trap light and display the cosmos) it was all so beautiful and glorious and baffling.

As we walked around the complex I wondered what thoughts must have plagued the brilliant mind of the Emperor Hadrian, who was actively involved in the design of each of the buildings. I thought about how many nights a sleepless Hadrian would roam the halls of the palace and gaze upon the many realistic statues of his deceased lover Antinoo wishing they would spring to life. And I wondered if I could ever do anything so magnificent with my life that even if it fell into disrepair the ruins would be so glorious. And that was only half the morning…….

The next stop was the beautiful Villa d’Este built in the 1500s by Ippolito II d’Este. With wall to wall murals, numerous fountains and a marvelous view of the cascading hills it truly is a sight to behold. Its the kind of place you just want to get lost in, a place to look out at the world beneath you and contemplate the meaning of life. It makes you feel like glory is a place on Earth and its an honor just to be there. My inability to describe its beauty is a testament to just how beautiful it is. You just have to see it for yourself, otherwise you’ll never know that wasn’t just a dream.

Il Buon Viaggio: My First Flight


We don’t travel much in my family. It just takes too much time and effort what with taking off work, and buying gasoline, and checking into hotels, just too much. And yet here I am, at the ripe yet unexperienced age of twenty-one, I’ve decided to go to Rome. Never been out of the country, never even been on an airplane but I was determined to get to Rome and there was only one way to get there (because boats take forever and I don’t know how to swim). So I secured a flight (or flights rather because it took two to get here) with a travel agency (because I didn’t trust myself to do it correctly) packed my bags and headed off on my Roman holiday. Here’s a brief look at the assortment of thoughts that passed through my head:

Wow, this is a lot tinier than I thought it would be”

This plane is comprable to a flying yellow-dog (school bus)”

“Really wishing I had a better grasp of physics so I could rationalize my fears away”

We have nothing to fear but fear itself….and birds getting stuck in the turbines causing us to explode in the sky,”

If the plane crashes I hope CNN uses a good picture of me….they probably won’t”

I hope we don’t burn up on re-entry to the atmosphere…..wait, we’re not in space…..but still”

[In my Seinfeld voice]”What’s the deal with airplane food?”

That wasn’t so bad”

Wait, I think I’m going to throw….”

Great, now the flight attendants keep referring to me as “the sick one”

“Airplane pilots should really use the word “unfornately” sparingly”

Oh my God, that’s Italy down there, kind of looks like California, so beautiful”

All in all it wasn’t that bad. But I have to admit I’m not really looking forwar to that return flight.

Sogno nel cassetto: On Faith and Travelling



For years it has been my “sogno nel cassetto” (dream in a drawer to speak idiomatically to visit the country of Italy. And about a days worth of gruelling travel I finally made it. Here I sit, in Rome, Italy the most beautiful and spectacular city I have ever seen typing on a little weird keyboard that forces you to hold down Ctrl+Alt if you want to make the  “@” symbol. Rome is amazing, its completely foreign to me but it feels like home, like I’ve belonged here all along, and that getting here was coming to an old familiar place.

Even though I’ve been here less than a day I can tell you that coming to Rome has done wonders for my faith. The entire stressful process of getting here took some real stretching on my part. I believe in God, not a god, the God, God the Father who is intimately involved in all of our lives whether we realize it or not. And when I was down and out, when I was stressed and wondering how I was going to pay for things, if I would have the things I needed, if this trip was really going to happen I had to walk the walk of what I always talked of and trust that if God willed it then He would provide for me in his perfect timing. Sounds weird, I know, praying to this invisible God you can’t see, hoping that He hears your prayers, wondering if that little tiny voice you hear is divine inspiration or just evidence of your lack of sanity, but its all very real. In fact coming to Rome was kind of liked meeting God face to face. I did’t have to come to Rome to be confinced of its magnificence, I knew it was great before I even got here. But upon seeing it I can now say that its beauty far exceeds anything I could have ever imagine. Its an honor just to be here.

I feel like none of this makes sense (could be the jet lag talking) but nevertheless I needed to write it. I’ll be chronicling my adventures here so stay tuned. Grazie



If I could write a letter to the women of the world,

I’d tell them be an enigma, let people fall in love with the mystery of you, your Mona Lisa smile a maze in which we gladly wander 

Be moonlight, the soft beacon by which lovers leave footprints in the sands of beaches yet strong enough to push and pull the tides

Let men retreat into your veil when they are weary and gaze into the constellations you call eyes, irises libel to capture the soul of a man and transport it to another place, like the black holes that warp time and space

Be the air we breath, bring a moments clarity, bring life to heart and caress us with the breeze, encapsulate the moments that bring us to our knees, your gentleness makes life livable and your harshness takes it away

Be a calloused hand but a warm embrace, showing much wear from love’s labors, yet still open

Be laugh lines and crows feet, bear the scars of a life lived proudly, show the marks of the joy you created and the stories you authored

And when you’re gone we’ll bask in the warmth of who you were like good friends at a campfire