Internet-era tradition mandates that upon departing from academia, one must write the equivalent of a “Goodbye cruel world” note, a vituperative recounting of the lengthy list of slights, wrongs, and injustices we begin compiling on the first day of grad school. This genre is sometimes referred to as Quit Lit. I have no doubt that anyone who knows me expected the Quit Lit equivalent of Remembrance of Time Lost, filling volumes. I am sorry to disappoint. There's no anger, just a bit of sadness.

I like teaching. I like being a professor. I’ll miss it. I think I’m good at what I do, so in a sense it feels like a waste not to do it any longer (although who knows what the future holds). Academia will not miss me; there are hundreds of talented people out there waiting to fill a void on the tenure track. That, fundamentally, is the problem.

The thing called “fit” is real and the job market is abysmal, especially for people like me who are middling at best on paper. I am by any measure extraordinarily fortunate to have landed a tenure-track job, any tenure-track job. That said, it was a bad fit. I was not happy and I didn’t want to be there. Ideally I could have moved on to another institution where the fit might have been better. Unfortunately I could not make that happen.

If you read no further, before I tell the longer version of this tale, I want to emphasize that my colleagues at various institutions have all been kind and professional. My department chairs were fair and reasonable. The students were, well, students. That comes with the territory.

What this all boiled down to is that it was massively detrimental to my health and well-being to live in a dying Rust Belt city by myself. And my “solution” to that problem – moving to Chicago and driving seven hours round-trip to work – was never anything but a stopgap that negatively affected me in different ways.


In the fall of 2011, in what has been an annual ritual for the past decade, I applied for all of the available academic jobs in my field. For some reason I actually got several interviews that year. Unnamed School in Peoria, IL, interviewed me early in the process and offered me the first and only tenure-track job I’ve ever been offered. I took it, obviously.

Everyone in academia tells you, “Take the job. You have to take the job.” Tenure-track jobs are rare, hard to get, and almost universally seen as the end-all of academic existence within the field. The logic behind the advice is hard to dispute. However, there is a big catch: everyone else only has to tell you to go there; YOU actually have to do it.

People have attempted to debate me on this – usually people living in Chapel Hill, Athens GA, Portland, Boston, California, Atlanta, and the like. – and I have no desire to debate it any further, but I knew the second I visited for the interview that Peoria was going to be bad. Anyone who lectured me that it’s “not that bad” or whatever, all I can say is: knock yourself out. Move there. Move there by yourself at age 33, no kids and no spouse. Let me know how your mental health is after two or three years, and what your social life is like. There is nothing to do and nobody to do nothing with. Faculty who move there with a spouse or kids do alright. Faculty who do not tend to have a pretty rough time.

There are dozens of medium-sized cities just like it and they are all the same. Everyone with the ability and wherewithal to leave leaves. You are left with people who can’t get out, are too old to leave, or both. The economy is dying and gets worse every year. Again, if you choose not to believe me on this point there’s nothing more I can say except, go give it a try. In the summer of 2012, that's what I did.

After three years of living there, I was miserable and it was affecting the way I interacted with everyone around me. I was irritated and irritating. Unpleasant to be around. I spent ungodly amounts of time on social media, just to try recreating the feeling of interacting with other people. I didn't want to be, at less than 40, a grumpy, shitty old man who others disliked working with or being around.

In a Hail Mary bid to improve things, I moved to Chicago in 2015 and began commuting. Felt better immediately. I think I got back on track as far as being effective at my job and easier to work with. Not being depressed all the time helps, it turns out.

However, my routine was both a vast improvement on living in Peoria and untenable as a long-term strategy. For the past four years, I wake up at 4-something on Tuesday morning, drive three hours, teach 3 classes, spend Tuesday and Wednesday nights sleeping in my office (which, believe it or not, is poor quality sleep), teach 3 more classes on Thursday, then drive home 4 hours with traffic. I get home around 9 on Thursday evenings and essentially passed out for that night and half of Friday. It's tiring. I live out of a suitcase, factoring in the trips down to Texas on weekends to see Cathy (for whom and for whose patience I am eternally grateful).

I chose to do this. It was better than my alternative. Still, I was tired all the goddamn time and drinking the equivalent, between coffee and energy drinks, of 8-10 coffees worth of caffeine per day. My blood pressure went up 30 points in the first 2 years. I was happier, which was great. But I also knew I couldn't do this forever.

In 2017, I reached the real decision point, which was Tenure Time. Either I was making a commitment to the university – including moving back to Peoria – or I was moving on. After ruminating for what seemed like forever, I decided I was not moving back there or, more importantly, spending the rest of my life in a place that was deteriorating even in the short time I was there.

I also made the decision in the summer of 2017 that I was not going to get another academic job. I still wanted one, but I concluded that it was not going to happen. Too many excellent candidates fighting for too few jobs, and no way for me to really stand out among them.
So, I needed another plan.

I stopped doing my academic research altogether. Couldn’t see how it would benefit me anymore. If x publications didn’t get me a job, x+1 wouldn’t either. Instead, I decided I would use my last 1-2 years at the university doing the teaching part of my job – I never slacked on that, and gave it 100% to the last day, which is today – but replacing the research and “service” (don’t get me started) with trying to ramp up a writing career. When I made that decision I had never been published in a media outlet (only self-publishing) and I had never been paid to write anything, ever.

I was starting from scratch and not at all confident that I could make it work. But I decided I had to get creative in finding ways to generate income for myself. With the help of Mike Konczal, my best friend going on nearly 3 decades, I got in touch with some editors and pitched a few freelance pieces. Once I got the first one, everything felt easy after that. Ten-plus years of blogging made me pretty effective as a writer within certain subject areas and in a particular style. The money isn’t great but it’s something. After two years of this I’ve published over 50 pieces, slowly increased what I can get paid for it, and established some useful contacts.

More importantly, I devoted a lot of time to finally, finally putting together a book proposal for a non-academic book. I’ll say more about that when the time comes but the simple fact is, “a writer” is all I’ve ever really thought of myself being. If I do not try to make a go of it now, I never will and I’ll always regret it.

I also started a podcast, another thing I talked about forever but never tried. “Talk about it a lot but never try it” is a bad habit I fell into for, oh, 35 years. I started it from scratch and was surprised by the modest but tangible success I have had with it.

Neither podcasting nor writing freelance pays a lot. However, in less than 2 years from the moment (summer 2017) I decided to change directions, I am making about what I made as a professor. Let me quickly point out that this says a lot more about academic salaries than anything else. In seven years the faculty at my institution got two 1% raises. Think about that, and ask yourself in what other profession that would be considered acceptable.


Long-term, I have no idea if this works. I could end up tending bar, doing this forever, or magically landing another teaching position. Or all three. I don’t know. I’m 40 and I don’t know if what I’m doing will work. Fortunately I have no kids or spouse to support financially. I can take the risk. Writing and telling stories are the only things I’ve ever really been good at, fundamentally. Now's the time to see what I can do with that.

Academia is a weird thing. I began grad school in 2003. From 2003 until today, all I’ve done or thought about doing is being a tenure-track professor. And make no mistake, being a tenure-track professor is just about the greatest job in the world. But there's more to life than a job, and that's the rub if you're not an elite academic: you can get A Job, but you can't get a really good one. You can maybe be competitive for the ones that people who have a choice in these matters do not want. I ultimately decided against sacrificing all the other parts of my life to have what amounted to a middling academic job, living in a crap place and making the same salary for 40 years. I kept asking why I would do that and I had no answer.

Teaching is great. I will probably find some way to teach again – a community college course here or there, or whatever – in the future because I will miss it. I will not miss the politics of the profession and its delusions of "meritocracy." I will not miss having no leverage over what I get paid, where I live, or any other conditions of my employment. But despite those sour notes, I will miss being a professor. I’ll miss the classroom, the students, the colleagues, and the conferences even though all could be frustrating as well as rewarding.

Thanks for hearing me out, if you did. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way, especially my faculty mentors during grad school, Marjorie Hershey and Ted Carmines. Thanks to everyone at University of Georgia who not only temporarily employed me as an adjunct but also helped me on the job market and in my career in every way I could have hoped. Thank you to everyone who put up with me in Peoria; the department deserves a colleague who is 100% committed to being there instead of looking for a way out and spending as little time on campus as possible – and they have one now. That is better for everyone, including me. I will miss going to the office, but I will not miss sleeping in it. I'm exhausted after four years of this, and the three years of talking to myself that preceded it. This whole interminable experience was unhealthy and wore me down mentally and otherwise. I am happy for it to end, despite all the things I will miss.

I’ve said enough over the years about the things about academia that suck. People tolerate the lows because the highs are great. My last day and last class are still going to be sad. I feel extremely strange about this, because I have spent so much time – nearly 20 years – focused on Being a Professor. The adjustment to life beyond that is not going to be without turbulence. It is possible, and I am living proof of this every day, to make a decision that is equal parts painful and absolutely necessary.

Let’s see what happens next. I’m excited.

67 thoughts on “QUIT LIT”

  • Best of luck, Ed! I've been reading this site for…over a decade now? And, as they say, I will continue to watch your future career with great interest.

  • Congratulations on your new life! I also (a million years ago) left academia, and it is a strange and kind of bittersweet thing. I look forward to seeing what you do going forward.

  • Best of luck to you, Ed. Looking forward to reading more of writing in whatever platform you publish it in.

  • Angela Bennett says:

    Best of luck. I've enjoyed reading your posts, and you clearly are an incredibly talented and capable writer. Looking forward to whatever book you produce!

  • I've *really* enjoyed your perspective on this issue. We're the same age, and throughout my career, I've mostly held full-time jobs in research/policy shops and adjuncted on the side. All I've ever wanted to do was "be a professor."

    I am waiting to hear back about a FT faculty job at a local private 4-year and just sent in an application for a VAP at another regional private 4 year in a neighboring state. Reading your experiences has been sobering. And my current job as a Senior Researcher in an Institutional Effectiveness office at a community college is a great gig. But damn, I have that itch to teach full time. This VAP would be nice as it is a 3/3 load of *just* teaching…but I am sure the politics of the Academy will also rear it's ugly head.

    Good luck. Love your writing. Eager to hear more about your book when you can share.

  • My first academic job was at Virginia Tech. I moved there at 31, single woman in a town that was 1/2 students and 1/2 the people who serviced them and NO ONE ELSE. It was such a disastrous fit personally (I have incredible dating horror stories from that time) that it didn't really bother me when it suddenly became a bad fit professionally, too (new department chair cleaning house). I was super fortunate in that I'd just been awarded a large NIH grant and lucked into a new tenure job in a place that does not make me actively suicidal. So anyway, what I'm saying is, I get you. And, good luck going forward. Not sure how I stumbled upon you but I have enjoyed your writing these last few years.

  • Congratulations on making the jump, I have enjoyed reading your stuff in all of it's various forms over the years, so looking forward to more of that.

  • As a former math professor in the woods turned software engineer in the city: congratulations, and welcome to the other side!

  • Yes, there's FAR more to life than being a "professor"!

    "Service", "merit"… god give me patience!

    Good luck. You'll be fine.

    a "professor emeritus" (who retired early…)

  • templar423 says:

    Congratulations. I've followed you since we were both grad students and wish you every success.

  • But, but, but, "The 2019 Jobs Rated Report" by CareerCast.com has "University Professor" as the 3rd best job in 2019. Your personal experience can't be more valid than a website's ranking based on a dubious methodology, can it? (That was sarcasm for those of you who are literal readers.)

    Good luck on the next phase of your career and life with Question Cathy!

  • I think one can argue your blog & Facebook page have been a long, angry screed about your work in academia. As much as I think you're right about a lot of things please don't cook yourself of anything going forward like I have seen of others. Change, but don't ever change. I think you know what I mean. No matter what congrats in the moment.

  • SeaTea1967 says:

    I'm proud of you. It's a bold thing to look at something you have and let it go for the chance of something better. There was a time where I was extremely concerned about your mental health, and I've enjoyed seeing that improve lately. It's not much, but hopefully our Patreon contributions can help make this a transition you can make work.

  • Said it before, will say it louder for the back of the room: Well done. Brave as fuck, not in the "you're going to die out there!" sense of the term, but in the "you've planned out your life and realized that the plan fucking sucks so you're bailing on it but the plan was all you had for SO LONG and now the fuck what" sense. But you have something you do well, enjoy doing, and are getting paid–erratically, but with ENOUGH frequency–to do. That puts you ahead of the game. You also have someone with you whose presence makes all the stuff better. That puts you WAY ahead of the game.

    Shit. Maybe you're not so brave, after all. This is the most reasonable thing you could be doing. What the hell are we kissing your ass for? Go be happy, and stop bothering us.*

    *(Please do not stop bothering us.)

  • I don't recall when I found this blog but I'm glad I did. I wish you luck in your future endeavors and I'll happily continue to support you on Patreon. I've learned so much from your posts so in a sense you continue to teach, just outside of the classroom.

  • Man, props to you for having the guts to make this move! Seriously. Also, aren't you engaged now? Because if so, that's also pretty exciting.

  • Long time reader here – I am happy for you. I have thought for years that you had more insight and better writing than some of the political analysis or opinion pieces I've read. So great to see you go for it. I hope it works out and can't wait to read the book you are working on. You're a salty fucker and I really enjoy your perspective. Good luck!

  • Kahlil Jabroni says:

    Echoing Isaac, madmonq & others–this is one of the blogs I read regularly, with pleasure, but I infer that part of what made these posts so enjoyable for me to consume was the unhappiness in your life which caused you to produce them. Pearls not so much fun for the oyster. I am glad you are striking out in the direction of a more agreeable future for yourself. Good luck, write if you find work, &c. &c.

  • I’m excited for you. At 40 I got married and had a baby . Both things I had “put off” for so long I figured they weren’t in the cards. Congratulations on taking charge of your life. It won’t be easy but it will be fulfilling. Always stay open to teaching in some capacity as you mentioned. You’re one of the really great ones and you never know whose life you will affect. Onward!!!

  • Michael E Young Jr says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Ed. I understand your frustration and your desire for change as my first couple of teaching jobs were actually so stressful I developed shingles. I left traditional academia and sought a position where it felt like I was heard and students and faculty were supported in a meaningful way. I'm happy to share my story with you or am here to talk if you need it.

  • Congrats on admitting that life wasn't working and making the change. So hard to do, but so worth it. I wish you the best of luck, and thanks for sharing your story.

  • "I like teaching. I like being a professor. I’ll miss it. "



    You can still teach, if you want. There's another job, crying to be filled. That job is being an unpaid volunteer to teach those who are incarcerated. The things that you teach them could be such a revelation that they do a 180, turning from a life of crime to getting a job in corporate America–oh, fuck, I see what I did there; I'm NOT sorry, at all! {;>).

    BTW, it'll take me 10 or 15 minutes to pack, where we goin?

  • your readers knew it was bad when your feisty 'da clurb' posts dried up. your true talents are wasted in academia, and look forward to (buying and) reading your book.

  • Chris Ekstedt says:

    I'm no expert but to me you're not a 'middling' writer. You are a hell of a writer and your ideas are badly needed out there. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. That was very generous of you and I, for one, are staying tuned.

  • Congratulations on having the knowledge that you weren't on the right path and the courage to change things. Best of luck moving forward!!!

  • Wishing you all the best, Ed. I think you’re a terrific writer, and look forward to reading more of your words over the coming years.

  • I'm going over the wall!

    Virtual high five. Your latest Baffler piece is … "diamantine" is the word that floats to the surface of the pond. I can now grin with anticipation every time some pinhead intones, "the United States is a republic, not a democracy." BOOM!

  • sookabilly says:

    I took a detour 34 years ago on my way to 'professorhood" and have always felt I missed out on what I really should have been doing. Thank you for helping me put that feeling to rest. Been reading G&T for 10 (?) years now and look forward to reading whatever you write for another 20 or 30 more. Thanks.

  • Welp, I gotta admit: I'm a little bit sad that the fantastic free content here has dried up , and *very understandably* will likely remain dried up (thanks so much for all of it, by the way). BUT your writing is worth way, way more than "free!" Get out there and monetize the shit out of it!

  • I'm happy you found a niche for yourself. I love the podcast and your writing, so I'll be happy to do a little to help support that.

    On the teaching note, I can completely relate. The high points are some of your best moments in your life, and the worst, well, you get the picture. I hope you find your way back in to the profession without all the research (I'm not convinced the shotgun marriage of teaching and research benefits students) and other hassles.

    Good luck out there, and I'm looking forward to the book.

  • Safety Man! says:

    Ed, if you’re not flasking a gun and tonic at this very moment, then I will be very disappointed.

    Actually, I think I’ll make one tonight in Ed’s honor.

    Congrats on getting out. Stop it with the external loucus of control crap. You’re at the helm of your destiny.

    Lastly, I actually get it. When I fled to the woods, I was 32, unmarried, no kids, in a town of 500 people. I’m more of a crusty jackass though, so I enjoy my unibomber cabin of solitude.

  • Best of luck in what comes next! I'm in a similar boat. We more or less lived our dream for almost 20 years until it got to be too much and felt like a nightmare. This year we sold our business and here we are, mid-40s, figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. There's a lot of this kind of thing going on in my social circle. I think it's a delayed reaction to Trump's election.

  • seniorscrub says:

    Good Luck in all your future endeavors, Ed, although I'm pretty sure Head of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce will not be one of them.

  • dave mazella says:


    I've been following your writing for some time, and always enjoyed your commentary and observations. I'm tenured, but I hit a fork in the road where it could have gone either way, and after fighting it out I got tenure. I think it's a shame that it ended this way, and I wish you the very best as you figure out your next step. Keep us posted about your writing projects, wherever they turn up. Best, Dave

  • I have been reading you every day since 2009, when you compared a rental car's sound to a cross between Fran Drescher and Soundwave. I laughed so hard I read all the archives, and have come back basically every day since then – so almost a decade.

    Good luck with the book, I'm sure it will be hilarious.

  • Chicagojon says:


    It's funny having only known you since I stumbled on this website who knows how long ago that I see a 'university polysci teacher' who's a smart, funny and great writer who has established himself on Facebook, to a paying community on Patreon, isn't terrible at Twitter (it's the Twitter that's terrible), has a solud podcast, and has turned into enough of a 'content creator' that he was able to quit his job.

    Not bad after 35 years of not doing things. I had the same track but ended up going the route of a kid at 38. I'm still waiting to figure out my path but it gives me hope that the internet has a place for your brand of being you.

    Obviously my book preorder is already in.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    Good for you, Ed!
    Leaving to do what you want to do, and do well!

    When I was an adjunct teaching theatre and acting at an Upstate NY college, I was asked to come to a meeting with the Dean of foreign languages.
    At the meeting was a professor friend of mine.
    The dean told me the college wanted to pay my way to get my Masters and Doctorate in Russian language and literature. My friend was there to encourage me.
    While I was honored, i told them that I would need a few days to decide.
    At that point, I was in my mid-30's, and the thought of another 5 to 10+ years of school and research made me ill.
    By the time I was tenured, it would be about time to retire.
    But I went around to other prof's and got the skinny on what full-time teaching was like.
    Everyone I talked to loved to teach.
    But they HATED the politics!

    To make a long story short, I didn't take the college up on their kind offer.
    Do I regret my choice?
    Not really.
    I'm 61, and I did ok. Just barely – but ok.

    BEST OF LUCK, ED!!!!!
    Just keep writing here, or…
    Just don't quit us!
    We still have a lot to learn from you, teacher!

  • You're going to do great, Ed. A great farewell essay. Combining humor with smarts is a rare gift. Also, I may be looking for a roommate in Athens soon, so you've got that going for you. Good luck.

  • This could have been me. It's terrifying to think about how easily this could have been me: If I had been a little less diligent about checking my home voicemail while I was away on a working vacation, preparing to sell the home I currently live in. If I had been born six years later, when Ed was, and looking to change jobs in the worst academic job market of my lifetime. If the scholar whose tenure line I took hadn't died when he did.

    In some ways I would have had it better. I was already married, and my wife and I had a deal: we would both go wherever one of us got the better job. Nothing was going to change that plan. It's entirely possible I could have ended up back here anyway, teaching comp classes for another university. In a lot of ways that would have been preferable to the tenure-track job I left, but it still would have had a cost.

    My point is, any success we have in this profession is so randomized as to essentially be dumb luck, and no job is worth your happiness. Ed, you're taking a big leap and doing it for the right reasons. I wish you luck.

  • Holy moly guacamole atop Fritos with a dollop of ersatz sour cream–probably the best Peoria could offer. Slit yer wrist country fer sure.
    Jim Carroll of "The Basketball Diaries" fame once suggested getting a dog to tame your demons. It actually works to some degree.
    In your case, just keep writing and put those demons into the light of day. Mediocrity is for the mediocre, which you ain't.
    There's my chips in the pot.

  • @ Safety Man:

    "Ed, if you’re not flasking a gun and tonic at this very moment."

    That's one way to make sure that the barkeep pays attention!

    @ mago:

    My little doggie roomie CAME with demons!

  • Michael N Nitabach says:

    This all sounds great in terms of your overall career trajectory & I'm happy for you!

  • Good luck, Ed! I changed careers at 37. I can only hope it works out as well for you as it has for me.

  • I don't have a Quit Lit thing either, but what's even better is when tenured people tell you you "have to" move 3,000 miles across the country to teach Western Civ for one semester at a mediocre college in a sucky small town. "If you were a Real Scholar, you would do it!" Or when you're supposed to be incredibly excited about an interview at a community college with a 5-5 teaching load. At a certain point, it's like…ummm…no. Anyway, congratulations on making it out!

  • another "alt-ac" says:

    Thank you for this, Ed. Several years ago I turned down a tenure-track job in a remote location far away from my partner. We had just survived two years in different countries; I knew exactly what I would be signing up for, and how the commute would affect our bank account and my mental health.

    At the campus interview, two faculty members flat-out told me (warned me?) that they hated teaching there and wished they were somewhere else. The dean who would oversee my tenure process expressed overt hostility towards my research during our brief interview. There were approximately 6 questions after my job talk; 3 of them were about my CV. The offer, when it came, had a completely different teaching load from the one in the ad and the one that had been described to me during the campus interview.

    I could feel in my bones that if I took this job, it would be the place where my love for teaching and research would die. I turned it down to take a VAP in my partner's city. At least one important academic relationship never recovered from that perceived betrayal. Three years later I left academia for good when my VAP ran out. But I can't bring myself to think I made a mistake, no matter how many people are sure I made a huge one. Location matters. Mental health matters. Anyway, cheers to you and I'm looking forward to listening to your podcast.

  • It's both painful and reassuring to read about someone else's mixed feelings as they depart academia. I'm about to be unceremoniously defenestrated from my non-tenure-line teaching post at Giant Snooty Private Midwestern Law School (a job for which I moved from Texas to Chicago six years ago), and I'm feeling some of the same things you expressed so well — sadness at the prospect of not having students in my life, and a slight thrill at the idea that improvising a new path forward might be fulfilling and even fun. Cheers, Ed, and good luck.

  • @ "another "alt-ac":

    I am considered by some folks (not just here) to be an old, bitter, grumpy, boomer asshole who doesn't know shit.

    Most of that is true.

    OTOH, I can tell you from being around nearly 70 years that doing shit that makes you unhappy will only kill whatever it was that you loved in that job.

    Fuck money, prestige and acclaim.

    Easy for me to say, I never got any of that shit anyway. It's still true.

  • duquesne_pdx says:

    Congrats, Ed! I've spent enough time in the midwest to completely understand the existential hell that is flyover country. Currently I am in BFE, Kansas (forgive the redundancy) because they offered me stupid amounts of money to come out here and fix their plant. If it was open ended and not a 12 month contract (with paid trips home every so often) I wouldn't have taken it. Dunno how you managed to stay in Peoria as long as you did.

    Looking forward to spending some of their filthy lucre on your book.

    Be well!

  • Good luck.

    I walked away from teaching after seven years, and I now make much more money doing much less work with much less stress. I loved many of my students and my subject matter, but the administrative shenanigans and the hours grading papers and the general soul-sucking nature of the system wasn't worth it.

  • Courage. True courage. Brene' Brown has nothing on you. Inspiring. Love to read your work. Please always post links to where you are published. Good luck.

  • Congratulations on your new path, Ed! I envy you your courage, freedom, and hard work to pursue a brighter path. The “talk a lot about it but never try it” has given me profound food for thought as I sit here mired in a field that provides secure but no joy, challenges that shouldn’t be, and zero personal growth or satisfaction. Keep up your valuable contributions to the written and spoken word and I can’t wait to buy multiple copies of your book (it’s going to make a great gift for a number of folks I know)!

  • PhoenixRising says:

    Well done. If you want to teach, find a community college gig. My dad loved a number of his jobs (librarian, lawyer, professor) but the one he described as the best balance of applying his specialized gift for thinking about complex things while being in contact with the world was night courses at community college. His students made it the most meaningful work of his short life. And since any of us could find out at 53 that we won't ever be 55, as he did, meaningful work matters.

  • Congratulations on finishing up your semester and your job. I really enjoy your writing here and can’t wait to see the book. Good luck!

  • Back in the 90's, a female writer was at MTV (a manufactory of 'music videos' – ask your grandparents about those), talking with interns.

    She was in the interns' break room, and went into the women's restroom. Some graffiti there said 'Working at MTV is like having a beautiful boyfriend who beats you'.

    Same for academia.

  • Bern Smith says:

    Thanks, man.
    We're with you. Enough of us have seen many of the same things over time – the fun ,the frustration, the reliance on dumb luck – and made paths thru it, up down and sideways. You'll do fine, and learn stuff.
    And thank you mago (and Jim Carroll) for your insight about dogs – I've never understood it – dogs are so weird and silly and time-sucking that their adoption by otherwise smart people baffled me, but clearly there's some reason(s)…

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