In Trade

Two important, interrelated things were said today, of which the second was: “She likes you very much because you see why she would say the things she does, that is, what she really means by these statements.” The other was the more important, and I forget the formulation now, although I remember who said it and where we were standing. I hope to remember.

It was not a good research day because I did not protect my space/time well enough. It was a worrisome day financially because there is more maintenance needed on the house, always more. But I started running. On my first day I found I could run one mile, and that it takes ten minutes. I can lift 175 pounds in the leg press but not 190. And I am looking at a research article now.

I will read more of it and finish it in the morning, first thing. All of this is a zenlike practice.


I remember what the first important thing said yesterday was. Most people do not understand what a professional job entails, or realize that a woman can have one.

This, of course, explained Reeducation to me and also threw light on the reason for all the exhortations I have always received — unto death, practically. Of course: people did not realize I could hold a professional job and so were always anxiously telling me how to do it. And when I tried to turn the conversation into a two way discussion, of course they simply thought I had not understood their basic directions yet.

It reminds me as well of some comments I received long ago, here and elsewhere. In reverse chronological order, all in the nineties:

1.  (Colleague, woman.) You work like a professional. It is wonderful for me, very convenient to have someone who can do this. You are having a hard time because others do not do this or know how, or understand what it is.
2. (Colleague, man.) You have a purpose in life. It is pleasant.  But quite striking, as it is so unusual.

I can think of all kinds of things people have done and said and it all comes down to the question of working like a professional. There are some other people in my vicinity who work like professionals, but I have noticed since the eighties sometimes that “professional” is coming to mean “corporate cog.”


I now understand, then, why it is there is so much advice on how to work as a professor: some people, some new Ph.D.s, do not know how to work like professionals and did not learn this before becoming professors. But I and the people I knew started working like professional academics freshman year.

This is why I never understood what people were talking about when they came down with all their severe warnings so late in the game, and why they would not talk at the more advanced level I could have used.

Finally, when some people say “do not work so hard” it is not be for your sake but for theirs. It means: “Pay attention to me, give up your work and your own recreation time for me. You are secondary to me and your work is not real. You should not work for yourself or anyone else, but for me.”


Professors tend to insist that other people do not understand that their work is work. However, I am quite sure other professionals have this problem as well. That is why one groans slightly at people “in trade,” those loud and crass businesspersons who are either buying and selling or “off,” or those white collar persons whose jobs end at the edge of their offices.




Filed under News, Theories

4 responses to “In Trade

  1. Traveller

    Saw him last night at The Alhambra.

  2. Adding 20 minutes of nordic trac is lifting my mood and making me feel stronger. I’m more creative but find that my already low tolerance for fools is even lower these days.

    Oh, and thanks for the advice on staying healthy at high altitudes when we go to Peru!

  3. Z

    Beleza. And: isn’t it amazing how much 20 minutes can do?

  4. Another Professor but just #1

    Just wondering about Professoriate

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