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The Daily Tar Heel

Summer Lost and Found... and Lost

Summer is a valuable time for those of us in academia. It’s like our halftime. We can game plan or — for the more realistic, modern athletic parallel — tweet. But sometimes, you lose summers and just have to get what you can out of them, striving for at least a Pyrrhic victory.

In early June, I wondered how much money I could get offering for someone to shoot me. With a bullet. I’ve always been a bit curious; you know you’ve wondered, too, in that ‘just-for-a-second’ mindset.

I found out I had torn cartilage in both shoulders while lifting buckets of water conducting research. I needed surgery regardless, and the pain was already surprisingly excruciating. For perhaps a reserve price of at least a quarter-million dollars — plus guaranteed coverage of medical expenses — why not?

Not even Jackass did this — get full Kevlar protection except for a small, cut-out area where I was already damaged goods. Weirder things get offered on eBay and Craigslist, and people with that much spare money sitting around spend it on even far weirder things.

Given all the legal assurances and probable travel to some place like Vegas or Saudi Arabia it would take to make this happen, it would have taken too much time, and torn shoulder cartilage is amazingly annoying, like waiting behind a senior UNC football player trying to figure out how to print his first paper (too soon?).

With surgery on my right labrum on July 9 — and a painkiller prescription for which Rush Limbaugh would passionately kiss Barack Obama — my remaining summer was lost in a haze. I recorded a number of shows, probably being the only person to record both the History Channel’s “The Revolution” and MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

Fun fact: Both were set in New Jersey and prominently featured shots, people getting screwed, fights, people coming together and a poor representation of Italian-Americans.

But my sling is off, therapy is going well, and the true New Year is here. Like any New Year, resolutions ensue. But like my summer resolution to make progress on my research and M.S. dissertation, many fall apart after two months.

Nonetheless, new school years are clean slates. There is no “coulda-woulda-shoulda-%!-can-I-take-a-mulligan?” we often have at the end of the semester. We get three fresh starts per year. It’s a good time to commit to a concrete, bull-free goal. If you need the added motivation, the job market sucks right now. Grad schools are much more inundated with applications and high-end talent. And apparently you’ve been slacking because OMG, UNC dropped two spots in the school rankings!

Summers are a volatile time when you can let your shotgun defense down against those nasty zombies known as ‘life experiences’ that you could have done without. But it’s a new Bunsen burner under my butt to make sure I don’t fall behind this semester and find the right pace. So here I am, back, ready to work, wiser, and with all this behind me.

Oh crap, never mind, the left shoulder still needs surgery in January, workers’ comp is going to trial and hospitals and physicians want money. So, how much would you pay to shoot a human being?

Sam Perkins is an At-Large Columnist for The Daily Tar Heel. He is a graduate student from Charlotte. Email him at

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