Day One: Transatlantic

According to How Far Is It?, the distance between Madison, Wisconsin and Rome is 4,846 miles. We spent almost exactly 24 hours in transit from our new home's doorstep to the stairwell of the hotel. Ergo, we moved toward our destination at a global average of 201.9 miles per hour.

At 6:30 AM, we caught a city bus to the Memorial Union, where a Van Galder bus took us to Chicago, where we caught a Continental flight to Newark, where we caught a big long flight to Rome. Alas, We had to wait for many hours in Chicago because Newark was encased in a thick cauldron of haze. I took advantage of the extra time to peruse the airport bookshop (the quality of which seems to be improving these days), where I grabbed Sophie's World, the Star Wars novel Betrayal, and — for Diane — Wild Ducks Flying Backward: The Short Writings of Tom Robbins. Full reviews of all the books I consumed during the trip appear in an upcoming interlude.

I cannot sleep on an airplane. Part of it comes from a latent fear of flying (mostly during takeoff and turbulence). But hard as I might try — even on the 15-hour flight across the Pacific on the way to East Timor — it just doesn't happen. Continental offers movies and TV shows (and low-rent video games) on little in-seat screens for international flights, but I didn't feel like messing with it, so I just listened to Patton Oswalt on my iPod and read about philosophy.

Needless to say, I was exhausted when we got to Rome. And yet I was also wired; when I stay up all night, I reach a certain point after which my body just says: "Well, looks like we need to be awake again, so get to work!" And the cycle turns over. I don't function at 100%, but it's around 70 or 75. (Indeed, I'm writing this at 1:19 AM on the day after we got back. I slept four hours last night.)

Next: All Roads Lead to Rome