From Bozeman to Belgrade: Moving the Borderlands Lodge N & P

Saturday, April 10, 2021

A lot has been going on over the past couple of months. For me personally, the biggest project has been moving. Yes, after twelve years in its present location, the Borderlands Lodge is headed to Belgrade: Belgrade, MT, that is--the little Montana town with a Balkan flavor. 








I've lived in a lot of apartments over the years. There were four in Montreal when I was in college, and then another four in Istanbul when I lived there in the 90s. I won't even try to count how many places I rented when I was a graduate student/post-doc researching in Istanbul, Baku, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Ufa, Moscow, Simferopol, Batumi, and Tbilisi, not to mention Princeton, Providence, and NYC. 

When I got my job at Montana State in 2009, I was living again in Istanbul, having flown out to Turkey--for the second time in my life--on a one-way ticket and no concrete plan for return. I'd finished my PhD and was feeling somewhat invisible after two long years looking for tenure-track work in the USA as a professor. I was riding out a post-doctoral research grant I'd received and, other than applying for various jobs, no real idea of what was going to happen next. 

Moving from Istanbul to Bozeman in the summer of 2009 was an adventure. I didn't have a lot of stuff, so I shipped out what little I had stored at my parents' place in Ann Arbor, then used the remainder of the moving expenses MSU had given me to rent a car and drive out to Montana from Michigan. It was a great trip, and gave me a feel for the enormity of the distance and the land extending between my childhood home and my new adult one. 

N & P: Suburban Outdoorsman Edition

Saturday, January 30, 2021

On top of everything else these last few months, we've had relatively little snow this year in the Bozone. This is bad news for a number of reasons--we need a good snow pack, for one thing, to mitigate summer dryness and forest fires. The lack of snow, moreover, has bitten into the ski season, with Bridger Bowl, our local ski hill, starting its (socially-distanced) services quite late into the season. 

When I first moved up here twelve years ago, I did a lot of downhill skiing. I bought a Bridger ski pass and remember a number of occasions when I skied in the morning and taught in the afternoon--even teaching in my ski pants on one occasion when I didn't have enough time to go home and change. In recent years, however, I've gotten more into cross-country skiing, especially since buying my own gear 4-5 years ago. I like the fact that I can go and cross-country somewhere for an hour or two in the afternoon and then get home to do something else--it doesn't take up the whole day the way a trip to Bridger does. 

There are a bunch of places to cross-country around Bozeman, but I just usually go to the golf course up the street from me. The more remote trails are definitely more interesting, but frankly I shy away from wandering off too deeply into the woods on my own. So, in a time of social distancing, suburban outdoorsmanship rules the day. 

The snow has been pretty crunchy on the golf course these past few days--and not only when you inadvertently ski over deer droppings. This morning, however, we got a nice dumping of snow. Nothing clears the mind of screen-time like an hour or so gliding through snow. 

Now that we've covered the Bozeman ski report, what's going on in the Eurasian Borderlands? Well, I'm glad that you asked...

N & P: İmparatorluklar Arası Türkler Edition

 Saturday, January 23, 2021

This has been a pretty busy week up here at the Borderlands Lodge. School started last week, so there has been plenty to do. Still, things are slowing down a little bit. Whereas I fielded probably 20-25 email messages from students last week, this week was a bit calmer, but still there were a lot of questions. It's always like that in the spring, which is when I teach a big 100-level class.

One kind of cool thing that happened was receiving notice that my first book, Turks Across Empires, has been translated into Turkish. 

The Birthdays of Nâzım Hikmet

Saturday, January 16, 2021

These are busy times up at the Borderlands Lodge. The spring semester began this week, so starting up with classes again has been taking up a lot of my time. As hectic as the first week of the semester can be, it's really nice to see the students again. 

Yesterday marked the birthday of Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet. Well, at least the 15th of January is the widely-accepted date for his birthday. At the same time, however, there is some disagreement regarding when exactly Turkey's best-known poet was born.  

According to Memet Fuat, the son of Nâzım's third wife Piraye and Nâzım's stepson, Nâzım was not born on January 15, 1902, but rather in late 1901. In his book Nâzım Hikmet: Yaşamı, Ruhsal Yapısı, Davaları, Tartışmaları, Dünya Görüşü, Şiirinin Gelişmeleri, Memet Fuat writes that Nâzım was born on November 20, 1901, but that "in order for him to not appear one year older for the sake of 40 days" (i.e., from Nov. 20 until the end of the calendar year), his parents chose to make his birthday January 15. Meanwhile, in one of the letters Nâzım's fourth wife Münevver wrote to him in the late 1950s, she notes that she had always thought his birthday was January 2. Nâzım, for his part, alternated between writing his year of birth as "1901" and "1902" in documentation that he completed at Moscow's Communist University of the East in the early 1920s. 

Putsch American-Style

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Well, this has been an interesting week. I don't think I've watched CNN this much since the Gulf War. 

I had just taken a virtual house tour with a real estate agent when I heard about what was going on. I tuned into CNN because--live on TV--they seemed to be updating more frequently than the newspapers that I read online. 

News & Propaganda: Brand New Year Edition

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Well, 2020 has come to an end, and many are no doubt celebrating. Not me. I'm happy to have time on this earth no matter what, pretty much, so you won't find me wishing for a year to be over prematurely. 

I wonder what would have happened if, one year ago, we had all been told ahead of time about what 2020 would be like. How would we have responded? I think a lot of us would have freaked out, myself included. But once you're actually in the middle of a situation, you find ways of managing. 

Not that my situation has been especially difficult. I've been alone, which for some people would be torture, but I happen to mostly enjoy my own company. I'm also still able to work. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how destructive this past year has been to the lives of others, so I don't feel particularly put out by my own rather trifling inconveniences. Mostly, I've been reading a lot and trying to finish the book I've been writing on Nazım Hikmet. Actually, the book is pretty finished-looking at this point. What I need now is a publisher.   

And what about in the Turkic-Russian borderlands, what's going on over there? Well, let's take a look...