I realize now that there is actually a fourth type of Catholic believer: the "Mel Gibson" Catholics. The Catholics of this sort are so conservative that they believe that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong with the Church in the last 40 or so years. Some, such as the Society of St. Pius X, recognize the authority of the current Pope. Others, do not. All object to the changes imposed by the Second Vatican Council and want to a universal return to the Tridentine Rite Mass in Latin immediately. To do otherwise is to repudiate the core of what it means to be Catholic.
All that aside, I returned to my old grad school stomping grounds last night for a little dinner celebration. My dissertation advisor, El Jefe, was recently awarded an endowed chair and is now graciously known as El Jefe de la Silla. It turned out to be an enjoyable evening at a local Mexican eatery with some nachos, taquitos, and fish tacos plus a few top shelf margaritas thrown in for good measure.
The trip underlined some things about the time that elapsed since I graduated. Part of me was nostalgic for where I lived during my grad school years. I was walking down the main street on a beautiful Spring day. I missed the close proximity to the bars, movie theaters, shops, and live music. I like being able to walk places, and I can't do that much where I live now. I'd love to live in a house or townhouse just a couple blocks from a picturesque downtown area.
The other thing I notice about interacting with my former professors is the equality in the relationship. There is no longer any need to maintain a professional facade to your relationship. So, when I asked El Jefe de la Silla how things were in the department, his answer was rather surprising in the amount of personal detail: "oh, Professor X's wife is evidently crazy -- as in jumping out of moving cars crazy", "Professor Y is still raising snakes, spelunking, and supporting his ex-wife and her beatnik boyfriend", "Professor Z died a few weeks ago", "Professor A left to take a position elsewhere and we don't miss him" and "Professor B is the same as she always was, aged 40 going on 16." The private lives of your professors are generally weirder than you'd ever expect them to be while you are taking classes from them.
About the only depressing thing that happened during the trip was job related. It seems that two of my advisor's other recent graduates got offers from another large, respectable software company for $5K more than I currently make. A little further comparison with older, established colleagues like myself revealed that market price for someone with my experience should be making about 125% of my salary. Oh well.
I'm not depressed about this. With so much in my life possibly set to change in the next year, I only look on it as useful information. At least I will have a better idea about what to ask for in terms of salary for my next job... whenever I get one.
on 2005-04-20 at 12:43 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond