Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Old Testament scholar, a former bishop and Ben Franklin walk into a bar...

Dobrý deň!

So, Tuesday past I got the big news that I'm being offered a position teaching English at the Lyceum in Bratislava while Annie's doing her internship next academic year.  As Annie pointed out (to assuage my anxiety before the interview), I'd be going with her no matter what: one of the benefits of her Horizons internship.  So this is icing.  

While there is some inherent appeal to bumming around Slovakia for a year left to my own devices, I'm just not that footloose, particularly under the weight of American-level credit card debt.  Seriously, though, the financial benefits are secondary - this will be a great opportunity to get teaching experience and take advantage of a number of my interests, learn Slovak, talk with strangers and have a great adventure with my wife.  

It works nicely for ELCA Global Mission, too, who are getting a great BOGO deal.  Actually, that was a bit of a worry for me, that I might get the job out of convenience since I was tagging along anyway.  I think the whole interview / “mutual discernment” process Monday in Chicago allayed those concerns for all involved.  I left with a lot of practical advice from people who've served in this same role, feeling positive that I'd gotten the position and, most of all, very confident in my ability to succeed in it.  And with that, the sky opened and hell froze over.  Well, a late April snowstorm is close enough.  (I'm afraid my camera phone didn't actually pick up any snow in this shot, but you trust me, right?)

I'm leaving out the most important part of the story of Super Tuesday, if I may coin that phrase:  every Philadelphian's dream, dinner with Ben Franklin.  Tuesday night we had dinner with Anne's Old Testament professor and his wife, who are long friends of the family and in town just for the semester. Moments into dinner, and who should sit at the table next to ours but Rev. Mike Merkel, Anne's former boss at Bethesda Lutheran in New Haven, and his wife. Small world, right? Well, it was convocation day at the seminary, and we hadn't actually wandered that far off the path; McMenamin's Tavern, right across the street, is practically the official pub of LTSP.

And, as it turns out, a cozy and appropriate place to meet and share a meal with Ben Franklin, which was the Merkels' intention - to catch up with an old neighbor, who is a Franklin scholar and portrayer. Now, this isn't Philadelphia's perennial and pre-eminent Ben Franklin, Ralph Archibold; Bill Ochester is the young Elvis of Philly's Franklins. He portrayed middle-aged Ben for the tercentenary birthday celebration, and (I think) was the judge for Bobby Flay's cheesesteak throwdown. We talked a little Ben (I drew admirably on Philadelphia's genetic memory of the man) and he gave me his cool colonial printing-press style business card.


Kate said...

Congrats on the job, Sean! Looking forward to hearing of all your great adventures:)

novelgazer said...

Yeah, I'm hoping to get into the habit of writing before we get there so I don't completely crumple under the time constraints.