Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
68

The Shame of the Professor's Summer Vacation

WHERE YOU'LL BE "VACATIONING"Summer unofficially begins on Monday, so we're takin' a look at it. This is: Here Comes Summer. Hey, so you resent those teachers with three whole months off? Well! Do read on.

We're looking at a modest vacation this summer, Robyn and me. Our oldest daughter and her husband live in Portland, Oregon; we're going to take the better part of a week to drive lazily up the coast in a rental car, spend a few days with Emily and Blake, and fly home. Sounds pretty good right about now, as I'm scrambling to complete my grades for the spring semester.

Nine days: that will be the extent of our summer vacation this year. But honestly, that's fairly luxurious compared to what many recent summers have looked like. I'm a college professor; and in the public imagination (or at least, my imagination of the public imagination), we're supposed to have essentially three months' vacation every summer. My experience has been rather different.

I grew up in an upper-middle-class family, the child of a professional man; my father was an attorney, then a judge, and we had a decent "disposable" income, and took serious vacations. Attorneys make no apologies for their vacations: in fact, quite the opposite. They work hard and play hard, and living well is the best revenge, as they say. So too, in my limited experience, doctors. I've often had my physician, or dentist, brag about his vacation; it seems to be part and parcel of his success, and I'm meant to feel proud that the guy probing the soft spots in my enamel takes upscale vacations. Damn, he must be good.

No so professors; at least, not so me. With my family, we've taken some mostly ramshackle vacations: a long weekend at someone else's place, a shared condo at a lake, camping. As a graduate student and then young assistant professor, we didn't have a lot of money, and these frugal holidays were simply a matter of living, and relaxing, within our means.

My brother-in-law was married on the beach in Maui a few summers ago-wait, no! It was five years ago!-and under some explicit family pressure, and with a bit of financial incentive from my mother-in-law, we Dettmars (all six of us) decided to go for a week. If not for the wedding, we never would have considered so lavish, so self-indulgent a holiday; indeed, when the wedding plans were announced, we had to postpone plans to stay with a retired colleague at his home in Maine. (For free!)

But today, along with my professional wife (physician assistant), twenty years into my career, we enjoy a good household income. As much, I'd guess, adjusted for inflation, as my father did; as much, certainly, as many public defenders and public health physicians do. But unlike them, taking a vacation-a "real" vacation, to a recognizable vacation spot-fills me with guilt and embarrassment.

Whither (or, ideally, wither), embarrassment? I've been thinking about it, and I think it comes down to this: when your job is "the life of the mind" (scare quotes as thick as you want ‘em), there really isn't supposed to be any downtime. Take that impossible expectation, multiply it by the fact that most Americans think college teachers only work nine months a year, and the result is a mess of confusion, misunderstanding, and guilt. In the public imagination, the groves of academe are groves of privilege: and certainly, there's a great deal of truth to that picture. But at the same time, there's an awful lot of shame at work.

I've never discussed this with colleagues, but my understanding of the implicit rules of faculty vacations is something like this.

1. They must be cheap. Scholars, after all, do their work for the glory, not the money, and we're meant to have none extra to burn. Extravagant vacations suggest that one isn't serious enough about one's work. (Similarly, for most of us, sartorial splendor is out. Some flashy colleagues get away with a more than thrown-together wardrobe; but for most of us, properly clothing the body suggests an insufficient dedication to the life of the mind. And I bet you thought we were all just fashion victims!)

2. If they're not cheap, they must be work-related. Many scholarly organizations provide this kind of front for their members: the Beast Fable Society always seemed to me to have the best gig, meeting at various tropical locales for the summer months to share their research on-um, beast fables, I guess. Tahiti is absolutely forbidden as a vacation destination to the true scholar; but if there's a conference-well, that's altogether a different thing.

Thus London is available to scholars in my field, because the British Museum is there, and one might need to "do some research." New York has the New York Public; Paris has the-uh, I'm sure it must have something that I need desperately to see. For my work.

3. If one insists on having a vacation then, by all means, be discrete about it. Indeed, if caught, or questioned, be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

4. One must pay for them by working that much harder in the weeks preceding and weeks following the vacation. That time off the clock can't just be time off the clock: it must be compensated for somehow. Indeed, one perennial funding strategy is to teach summer school: six weeks of three-hours-a-day teaching will compensate both economically and sort of karmically for one's frivolous outing.

Clearly, professors need to get a life. It is the nature of our profession-perhaps of all professions-that it has no very firm boundaries; certainly in the humanities, and I suspect in all disciplines, PhD students quickly learn that not only is theirs not a 9-to-5 job, but it's a job that has no posted hours whatever. You always could, probably always should, be putting in more hours. The best people in our field can work very long hours; and a natural corollary of this, perhaps, is that we're paid for nine months of work, but work all summer "for free." Taking a vacation, of course, violates the spirit of this calling.

Part of this has to do with the relative invisibility of much of a professor's work. If an engineer who makes my salary takes a real vacation, no one begrudges it her.

And here's the dirty little secret of those vacationing professors: the summer, when we're "off"? Don't get too jealous. We're also off the payroll. Professors work nine months a year, ordinarily; and we're paid a nine-month salary. Many, probably most, of us choose to have that salary paid out in twelve monthly installments; certainly I always have, since I'm a terrible saver, and wouldn't budget nine payments well enough to make it to the fall. But I work for my college for nine months a year, and I have a nine-month salary. Indeed, in contractual terms, I'm a nine-month employee.

So if we're "off" all summer, we're also unemployed. But wait, it gets better: because those three months when we're unemployed are, for most of us, the most productive time of the year, in terms of our research. For those of us with significant teaching and/or administrative responsibilities, summer is the only time when we can turn our focus almost exclusively to that book project, or that research. Hence this central, animating paradox of the professor's existence: the work that "counts" the most in terms of professional advancement-the work that is the real currency of the profession, the scholarly and creative work-is done when we're off the clock and off the payroll. This is true even in a larger sense: that work is almost entirely done outside the 9-to-5 of the nine months we're employed. One's scholarly reputation, it's not too much to say, is built as a form of moonlighting.

My grades now submitted, I'm "off" for three months: we're back in class on August 30th. I'm eager to dive in; I've got a lot of reading and writing planned, as well, I'll say without guilt, as a trip up the coast to see my daughter. Don't begrudge me, gentle reader: I'm doing it entirely on my dime, and on my time-not yours.

Kevin Dettmar is W. M. Keck Professor of English and Chair of the department at Pomona College. He blogs daily on the delights of contemporary culture at Fake Chinese Rubber Plant.

68 Comments / Post A Comment

san lazaro (#5,166)

ugh. this was enough to make me register. just to issue my disdain. so ivory tower. if you want a real vacation, a real job may be in order.

san lazaro (#5,166)

enjoying the series, though.

riotnrrd (#840)

Die screaming in a fire, you cretinous baboon. Academia — that is, teaching and intellectual work — is a "real job" in every possible way. The fact that drooling shitwits like yourself question this makes me sad. (And obviously angry).

garge (#736)

riotnrrd, seeing you get angry turns me on a little.

Aesshen (#4,913)

I guess "real jobs" are the kind that let borderline illiterates like you in, huh? Did you even read the post?

NinetyNine (#98)

You what's a really tough job? Being a commenter on a web site. There's some new asshole every day who wants you to feel sorry for them, for no apparent fucking reason. Nine days? I'm happy to make it through nine hours.

Kate Croy (#973)

"If one insists on having a vacation then, by all means, be discrete about it."

This seems to directly contradict item 2!

/being a dick (FOR NOW)

If you really want to be a dick, you could point out that this English professor has confused discrete and discreet…

D'oh, Hattie already pointed this out below. Slinking back into the shadows…

Kate Croy (#973)

Ha, that's what I was getting at.

Every single friend I have who teases me/bitches about my summers off makes way, way more money than I do. Like, twice as much. When I point this out, they shut up right quick.

Let the pity party begin! The past four summers, I was either a) unemployed as a grad student and living on no name zoodles, or b) doing graduate coursework and working in financial call centre hell to afford vegetables.

Now, due to the erroneous assumption that an MA would free me from call centre hell, I'm permanently unemployed! But, you know, truckloads of free time, so. It works out. Kevin wins: no one can escape academia-inspired guilt.

Which pity party? For the suckers working? Or for me, poor but thrilled to be home in the sun all day?

hattie_carnegie (#5,169)

By all means, be discreet. (Chairman of the English Department!)

nloewen (#4,040)

Maybe he means that spouses must vacation separately…
I'm a teacher and I don't tell my colleagues where I vacation; it's not because I care about what they think about me, either. I take 3 months and do whatever the fuck I want to–travel, chores, sleep in, no showers for three days–whatever the fuck I want to.

maebefunke (#154)

This is a great piece. More Kevin, please!

Toonces (#5,170)

As the other half of an assistant professor, I fluctuate between unadulterated jealousy and homeopathic passive-agressive behavior when dealing with this subject.

That said, I thought teaching was (or should be) the main focus of a professorship?

synchronia (#3,755)

Not necessarily… what's wrong with being in it for the research, especially if you can pay most of your salary with grants?

Depends where you teach. Pretty much all institutions seem to be calling themselves "teaching-focused" now, but the only way to get hired or promoted is to research/create and publish. No one on a hiring or tenure committee cares how much you've taught, unless you're absolutely terrible at it.

oudemia (#177)

This half of an academic couple will spend its week of vacation in a beach house rented by my other half's dad, who had the good sense to become the kind of doctor who can write prescriptions.

El Matardillo (#586)

Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach teachers.

lotsoftreble (#2,715)

Booooo! Rise above! Everyone must do AND teach! And teach teachers? Anyway…

Rise above! Do AND teach!

nloewen (#4,040)

What about those who can teach? They do teach? And really, don't most jobs include teaching?

flossy (#1,402)

Which came first, the self-pity or the defeatism? The only thing preventing you from taking a "real" vacation is you–the guilt, false modesty and the fact that you get more pleasure from complaining about not taking vacation that you would from actually going somewhere. Then again, if you think going to Tahiti or Maui during the summer constitutes the height of decadence, there may just be no hope for you. My advice, as the child of an professor who rose up the ranks of academia while taking at least eight summer weeks off to spend time with her kids: drive the damn Volvo up to your friend's place in Maine and take your research with you.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

As a fellow child of an academic, let me tell you: things done changed.

flossy (#1,402)

I reread this piece, wanting to be more charitable, but, ugh, no I just can't deal.

"Tahiti is absolutely forbidden as a vacation destination to the true scholar; but if there's a conference-well, that's altogether a different thing. Thus London is available to scholars in my field, because the British Museum is there, and one might need to "do some research." New York has the New York Public; Paris has the-uh, I'm sure it must have something that I need desperately to see. For my work."

Really? Boo hoo, I'm a "true scholar" so I can't take a "real vacation" but actually there are a million flimsy reasons to pop over to Tahiti or London or wherever but that doesn't count because I might have to… go to a museum? Being the chair of the English department at a schmancy private liberal arts college in California is the worst!

Also: "For those of us with significant teaching and/or administrative responsibilities, summer is the only time when we can turn our focus almost exclusively to that book project, or that research. Hence this central, animating paradox of the professor's existence: the work that "counts" the most in terms of professional advancement-the work that is the real currency of the profession, the scholarly and creative work-is done when we're off the clock and off the payroll. This is true even in a larger sense: that work is almost entirely done outside the 9-to-5 of the nine months we're employed. One's scholarly reputation, it's not too much to say, is built as a form of moonlighting."

Your days are cluttered with inane bullshit so you have to work overtime on your passion projects. There is nothing uniquely academic about this in the slightest; it is called "having a job." Except your job doesn't actually involve working 9-5, or maintaining any kind of office hours whatsoever for several months a year? So I don't know what the fuck you're complaining about.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

I think he was less complaining and more talking about how ridiculous academia is, but you know.

Bobby Womack (#4,074)

Seriously, somebody didn't understand the tone of the article…

sunnyciegos (#551)

hey hey, let's take it easy. I'm MA seriously considering a PhD and even I found it really hard to sympathize with this essay. You choose to become a professor. You don't get to complain about it, no matter how even-handedly.

sunnyciegos (#551)

um this was supposed to be in response to riotnrrd and others.

I don't resent the three months off, as the into suggests. I kinda maybe resent, though, the author's asking us to feel sorry that he goes unpaid for those three months of the year, when the remaining months are comprised of three-day workweeks or the like. Other benefits typical of these positions missing herewith: Generous health insurance for his family, free tuition for the kids, contributions to his TIAA-CREF account. And um, tenure?

I also wonder if it's harsh to regard this paragraph as somewhat clueless:

So if we're "off" all summer, we're also unemployed. But wait, it gets better: because those three months when we're unemployed are, for most of us, the most productive time of the year, in terms of our research. For those of us with significant teaching and/or administrative responsibilities, summer is the only time when we can turn our focus almost exclusively to that book project, or that research. Hence this central, animating paradox of the professor's existence: the work that "counts" the most in terms of professional advancement-the work that is the real currency of the profession, the scholarly and creative work-is done when we're off the clock and off the payroll. This is true even in a larger sense: that work is almost entirely done outside the 9-to-5 of the nine months we're employed. One's scholarly reputation, it's not too much to say, is built as a form of moonlighting.

I recognize the "administrative responsibilities" that get in the way of the big creative project. Ditto having to work off the clock in order to get things done. And man oh man do I recognize the plaint of the academic, which has become every bit as routine and wearying as the tasks he bemoans. 

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Ha, "three day workweeks." This is the thing people don't know about professors, I guess: you do a lot more than just teach classes. You prep for class, you e-mail with students, you have office hours, you go to departmental meetings, you work on your grant proposal, you answer more student e-mails, you pester your grad assistant to actually do the tasks you've assigned, you read the new issue of a journal, you review a grad student's paper, you revise a paper for submission, and all the other things that I don't even know about because I'm a grad student. But as a grad student, I work 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week. (Admittedly, some of those hours consist of writing Awl columns, but not many!)

A professor I knew once told me a story about when she was getting her PhD as a single mother, dragging her baby to meetings with her adviser and not allowing herself to give a shit that the guy clearly disapproved. She said she thought about her grandparents, who were farmers, and how hard they had worked. How was she going to feel overworked when they were farmers, for fuck's sake? And then she realized that farmers actually do get 4 months off a year. There's literally nothing for them to do during winter. And then she felt better about it.

Look, there's no denying that there are some great perks to being a prof. That's why we get into this racket, even though we're smart enough and have enough cultural capital to make way bigger bucks in some other field. But to think that profs have three day workweeks is like thinking that the only time lawyers are working is when they're in court.

The point is not, I think, that you're supposed to feel sorry for professors. It's just that you shouldn't really be jealous of their "three month vacations," because they don't have any. They're working unpaid for three months, generally. (And it's not "creative work"–it's what you have to do in order to get tenure.) And working weirdly hard. As hard as the rest of us! But certainly no less hard.

oudemia (#177)

@Mike: Yes, yes. The "three-day work weeks" thing makes me insane.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Ha. "farmers actually do get 4 months off a year." Who doesn't know about professions now?

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

I go with what I am told.

Ha, your response! You proved my point in your first paragraph, when you graciously acknowledged tasks such as "e-mail with students," (1 hour, max.), office hours (three hours, max), pestering grad students to do their prep work/grading for them (two e-mails?), and so on. (Reading the new issue of a journal!) And grant proposals are almost always done three to four days prior to deadline, using recycled bullshit and figures compiled BY SOMEONE ELSE.

Did I say I was jealous? I did not. I took issue with the "unpaid" line, and noted other forms of compensation commonly enjoyed by college professors. Which I happen to know something about, as it happens!

Your tone is a hoot, by the way. You're well on your way, my friend!

Abe Sauer (#148)

Well, now I'm telling you, for your own future reference, that's wrong and your friend was clearly not studying ag sciences.

The little I admittedly know about farming, notably that it is not an eight-month endeavor, came from this documentary. Loved it.

sunnyciegos (#551)

yeah. Winter is hands down the WORST time to live or work on a farm. All of the work and none of the payoff.

katiebakes (#32)

@Terse: this is my personal fave farming documentary.

Looks like a must-see, Katie. Thanks for the tip!

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Ha, I did not say you were jealous, I said you said what you said, which is still wrong!

Sorry, Mike–but you don't read very carefully. The "creative" came from here:

"The work that "counts" the most in terms of professional advancement-the work that is the real currency of the profession, the scholarly and creative work-is done when we're off the clock and off the payroll."

Grr, there's that "off the payroll" again. Allowing that my three-day workweek was perhaps uncharitable, let's round up to four! In any case, I noted it in relation to the author's assertion that he goes unpaid for three months. I see it this way: he makes upwards of $100K as a tenured prof., not including benefits (you called them "perks") that stretch into the full year. Sorry again, but I'm seeing plenty of compensation there, all told. I'm not arguing against it, just calling it. Correctly.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

Yeah, missed the creative thing. But he is a lit professor. (Not that that's a bad thing! Just more creative.) My dad was (er, is, until next year) a lit professor, so I keep forgetting I am in the social sciences now, where we actually do all right for ourselves. But again, the idea is that everyone bitches about their jobs, which are always worse than someone else's somehow, but there is this weird persistent idea that professors work less than everyone else. Which I still think is untrue! Some might, but they are not very successful professors (or are old, tenured professors, like my dad, who does indeed not work very much–though my older bosses in previous jobs also sometimes did not work very much), just like there are probably unsuccessful law associates who don't work 80 hours a week either. FWIW, here is a prof who estimates her weekly working hours as 50-70:

http://science-professor.blogspot.com/2006/11/how-many-hours-do-professors-work.html

Anecdotal, but it's pretty typical from what I know. And definitely more than 4!

But mainly I am worried about the way I was abusing the passive-aggressive "ha" back there. Yeesh! The new niceness feels like a WASPy family reunion sometimes.

I make $35K as an untenured lecturer, spend 50-60 hours a week prepping, teaching and grading (and yes, several hours a week answering student questions via e-mail), and struggle to find time for the scholarship in between. People who know this still harp on me for having three months "off" a year–three months that happen to be the only time the writing that might ever let me get a raise takes place.

This is not to say that I endorse the notion of pity for academics, but instead that this blanket judgment people outside of academia make is just as ridiculous as any generalization. (And most of the near-retirement humanities prof I know in my state have topped out, after long careers, around $75K, by the way.)

I love my job, and I love my summers off; they're worth the low pay to me. But people who bitch at me about not working for three months–and they do, using terms like "lady of leisure, etc.–can kiss my ass.

Yes, you are in an entirely different boat, BTEYW. As an untenured lecturer, I don't doubt that demands on your time are quite different than those I have described–descriptions based on experience.

For the record, this document states that a full professor at Pomona College earned $129,100 in 2008. Adding (a conservative) 2% for AY 10 and 11, let's estimate a salary of $137,002 for the author as of September. Or nine months @ $15,222.43, if you like. This estimate does not include additional monies for Dept. Chair duties or attendant discretionary funds.

Again, the issue is not really whether or not one is jealous of the time off–it's the categorization of this time as "unpaid", for one. (Do professorial positions feed into the jobless numbers over the summer? They do not!)

It's just a bit much, don't you think? A guy with a job for life in a time of recession and lack of affordable health care wants us to understand how conflicted he about his vacay (that isn't really a vacay)?

Gah! The Shame of the Professor's Summer Vacation indeed.

As someone who is coming off a quarter of 12 hr plus days, 7 days a week and is about to plunge into my (unpaid) summer of seven day workweeks, I'm glad others were able to come up with polite responses to Nurse Pornstein's insultingly wrong ideas about academic workloads.

Yes, I love my work and the perks, including travel. Envy away! But I work my goddamn fucking ass off for it, way more than many of the "real job" folks I know.

Envy? I don't think so!

Envy, don't envy, don't matter. Just give up on the 3-4 day work week thing, because it just ain't so.

@brilliantmistake: An unfair generalization of the stripe I normally detest. Apologies for offending.

Awww. {hugs}.

The key word in Dettmar's post is "glory" in point #1. It's closer to the medieval/religious conception of glory than the common modern/secular application of the word (to achievement in sports, for example). The whole problem with the institutionalized study of literature is the vestigal religiosity. "The profession" often thinks of itself as more of an order than a profession. It's religion stripped of religion. The sanctimoniousness, shame, guilt, self-pity, and monkish denial of the worldly remains. It's probably the world's only profession (and protests too much by constantly yelling PROFESSION!!!) that frowns upon money to such a comic extent. Certainly this is not the case with everyone involved – I'm describing an overall tone. Also, I find it funny that Dettmar teaches at the home of the seven-figure Roy Disney professorship. Also, there's work and then there's work and then there's work. 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week of digging ditches is a different sort of work. The work of the mind is hard work, but let's not brag about the hours put in to a type of work that does not cause the same sort of physical strain as hard manual labor.

mork (#5,177)

Ugh, just because this article is rather obnoxiously written doesn't mean that academia isn't "real" work, or ridiculously stressful. The real issue here is that unlike Prof. Dettmar here, who is a chaired professor and entered academia under drastically different circumstances, young scholars today can't even entertain the idea of not taking a vacation out of some stupid, antiquated notion of "glory" – they literally just can't. Publish or perish is REAL, and with the job market as horrifying as it is, if you're a junior professor and you're NOT working on a manuscript (or two!) in addition to your teaching responsibilities (and remember, for every class session there's several hours of prepwork needed) and your service responsibilities (and junior professors do all the bitchwork) and giving conference talks, forget about tenure. Of course, you might not get tenure for a lot of other petty institutional and departmental reasons completely out of your control. If you're a woman or a person of color or queer or could be called in any way "radical" or too "political" by alums/the old white men who probably make up your tenure review committee then the process is even more daunting. (Also a side note: vacations on a junior professor's salary are often not to Tahiti for more mundane reasons as well.)

All of this is assuming that you've already secured a tenure-track job, which in this market is already kind of a miracle. Grad students are already feeling the pressure to publish, and that's on a ridiculously low stipend budget. And given the rapid corporatization of American universities, it's not going to get any easier.

roboloki (#1,724)

you know who doesn't get a vacation? the human centipede, that's who.

HelloTitty (#830)

I have lived both sides of this coin. I went the distance at a no-name liberal arts college in the Midwest only to be denied tenure after a decade of slavish devotion (O Youth! So misspent!). As lucky as I was to have landed a tenure track position at all in the early 90s, I was even luckier to have been unceremoniously booted in the late 90s. Had I gotten tenure (which I deserved by the way), I would have stayed there forever completely miserable. I worked hard then, I work hard now. I get paid much, much better now. The luckiest thing of all was that I managed to get a job in the private sector having no experience at all outside of academics. I mourn that decade, but I am grateful to have landed on my feet.

jasonnn (#5,180)

maybe he could take decent vacations if he didn't have four f###ing kids. that seems to be the root of his expense woes.

Good stuff. Scary. Sad. Informative.

You need to get iced, bro!

Miles Klee (#3,657)

leave a smirnoff on his desk, taped to an essay on "icing and the reification of the collective broconsciousness in the web 2.0 era"

Annie K. (#3,563)

What is everyone all wired up about? It sounds like class warfare in here, like cultural warfare.

I happen to work in one of Kevin Dettmar's former departments, though we did not overlap. I can say with some authority that the rage of the commenters is completely justified. We work 2-3 days a week, no more than nine months a year, and even that time is split between making up random nonsense concerning books nobody cares about, and smoking pot with attractive teenagers and twentysomethings. Working at a college is just like going to one! Higher education is a giant racket, and the liberal arts should be replaced with the kind of training programs that will enable the next generation to compete with the Chinese.
I would point out, if anyone cares, that the number Ms. Pornstein cites is presumably an average of all professors at Pomona. Most other fields pay much better than English because there are more private sector jobs for Ph.Ds in economics and chemistry than for Ph.Ds in the humanities. I hope this detail is a consolation to the many commenters who seem to feel that Kevin Dettmar should work longer hours and get paid less.

cinetrix (#47)

Why does TerseNursePornstein sound so angry? And is it possible that the RN's time spent reading the Awl and commenting could add up to a 9-5 day's worth of work (honestly assessed and minus an hour for lunch) each week? Just curious. I've worked desk jockey jobs and as a lecturer, and it's been my experience that I had a lot more time and energy for fucking around on the interwebs in the former. YMMV, of course.

You should probably reread the comments? I don't sound angry. If you care to dwell on the hours per week bit as the estimable Cod does, that's fine– you're free to miss the larger point, or willfully misconstrue, as he/she sadly does!

Not sure why I'm bothering, but if the larger point is not that Ms. Pornstein is angry, perhaps she can, like, boil it down to where I can understand it.

Why bother?

cinetrix (#47)

OK, so you're not angry. What larger point requires 12 comments over three days?

Juggalo Trot (#5,225)

I just want to stick up for my doctor. He's quote vacationing unquote in Haiti, which is professionally excusable, since he's doing volunteer work. I wish I had a professor who inspired me so much.

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