Hi, One Foot Down community.
My name is Bert. After much reading here, it is an honor to join you from the writing side. I could have started with “Go ND!” on a gameday thread. But true to my natural abruptness, I’ll start with articles and take up commenting along the way.
Growing up Notre Dame wasn’t on the radar screen. But when I decided to study theology in grad school, it stood apart. My first Notre Dame football game was against Michigan in 2004. Two days before the game, I was walking back towards my house on Notre Dame Ave., passing by the alums already pouring onto campus, and taking in the band’s practice while strolling by. I noticed tears in my eyes, and I felt it, that this place is alive with something the visceral parts of my soul were longing for, and maybe higher parts too.
When Notre Dame upset Michigan that Saturday, I rushed the field with everyone else and then ran over to the green-flowing Stonehenge fountain, but stopped short of splashing around with them. My roommate had supplied the color, with a marker dye for Vietnam-era planes downed over the ocean, the green flavor of Agent Orange for all I knew. From then on my gameday tradition was to work stocking candles in the grotto starting at 6 a.m., tailgate for an hour or so, do the game, then dinner and, ideally, dancing at the Backer til 3...and back to the grotto at 6. My two year master’s took four years for reasons this itinerary suggests.
My fellow junior theologians were split between alums who would have done grad school just for the tickets, and skeptics eager to see in Notre Dame football culture a suspicious cult of sports and tradition and in the game days a mob mentality barely able to refrain from acting on the “kill” chant. These seemed like champagne problems to me; I was happy to have found a road out of Anywheresville for the first time in my life.
After ND, I moved to D.C. to start a local foods business and ended up working on Capitol Hill. Then I moved back to South Bend to audit philosophy classes and ended up joining the Catholic Worker (community of hospitality), and starting a grocery co-op downtown and later a trust economy “public house” in the Birdsell Mansion. While these particular ventures didn’t pay Notre Dame ticket prices, at least I could still walk around the stadium right before game time with my index finger in the air and be rewarded with a free ticket.
A little over a year ago, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and I now keep myself busy with a local co-op, teaching online, and most dear to my heart, moving towards writing as a career. For this I created the website EquanimousMind to write half-serious bits that, with any luck, can offer an honest and amusing brand of ignorance to add to the many available online.
And bringing us full circle, I’m excited to be joining One Foot Down!
See you in the sports section.