PhD Land

I think I’ve now been officially accepted into the PhD club.

Well, I was “officially” accepted yesterday when a letter in my history department mailbox informed me of my Teaching Assistantship for the 2009-2010 academic year. This sweet little gig comes with a grand total of $13,005!

That is, of course, before deductions of $777 per semester in fees and the annual $935 health care premium. But what the heck, Lafayette’s cost of living is fairly low and I get to keep on, keeping on with what I love to do.

(Speaking of cheap, I’m keeping my fingers crossed in hopes of landing a little 525 sq ft apartment in this rehabbed Midwest river building for $450/month):


No, the reason I feel like I’ve been officially accepted is that Dr. Ingrao asked me to ride with him in his car down to the Indy airport and then run it back to his wife who hates driving in the vicious spring storms we’ve been having around here. He flew out today to DC for a conference on the importance children’s textbooks play in preventing (or stoking) ethnic conflict. From there he’s heading on to Germany to give a short speech on Serbia.

The nicest part was that he warmly opened up to me, discussing all kinds of future plans on his end and possibilities on mine. We discussed three-week courses he’ll give in Bejing, Costa Rica, and hopefully Budapešt, as well as his upcoming 39th trip to the Balkans, this time to promote the Serbian language release of the magnum opus he edited, Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholars’ Initiative.

Then, fully trusting my language skills, he asked me to look over his German speech for errors. I snapped back a few suggestions in a thoughtful manner. Man, such a nice feeling! Afterward, he promptly handed me Holm Sundhaussen’s 514 page tome Geschichte Serbiens 19-21. Jahrhundert (The History of the Serbs 19th-21st Century) to read over so that we could talk about it before he meets Sundhaussen in Germany. Yeah, that’s a lot of f’ing work, but the trust relayed my way charmed me to the core.

Not a bad life this man leads. He meets regularly with heads of state, provides historical background to ethnic problems for public officials, and once stayed at a four-star hotel in Priština that was actually a sex-trafficking whorehouse. He didn’t know that, of course, until he got there and it was too late to stay anywhere else.

Perhaps he’ll be around as long as his 93 year-old father who passed away just last week. He used to worry so much when he was younger that his father would die early from the toxic fumes of a dry cleaner’s life and a poor diet of grease. I guess those Sicilians are just pretty damn resilient.

Yeah, I think I’m gonna like being in this club. It suits me well. Now I just have to really start reading the article a week in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian (cyrillic, ah!) that he’s suggested for me.

So, um, yeah. I better get on that now. Čao!


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