Monday, August 24, 2009

The grass is not quite so green...

Rather than explain to a banquet hall full of people that I no longer keep in touch with what on earth constitutes a PhD in my chosen field, I decided to skip the 10 year high school reunion. Thanks to facebook, I'm pretty much caught up on who got married, who got fat and who still lives with their parents. Also, to be perfectly honest, if I had to sit there and chat with my former best friend (who married into money) and reflect on the lifestyle my meager graduate stipend affords me, I'd probably have waded out into South Bay and drowned myself. There are challenges about getting a PhD for which you can, somewhat, prepare (the god-awful, mind-bending difficulty of the coursework, for example). And then there are the challenges that you just never saw coming; like how difficult it is to put your life on hold for several years and watch, and pretend to be happy for, your friends as they: buy houses, take glamorous vacations, have children (and totally steal the name you picked out FIVE YEARS AGO), etc. etc... It's turning me into a person I do not want to be; jealous, bitter and spiteful. It really doesn't make sense because, if I wanted to, I could walk away from this desk right now, take my old job back and step right into that life of 9 to 5, 401(k), maternity leave and paid vacation. I keep trying to remind myself that I chose to do this because that life was tedious and boring, but from over here all I can remember is how easy it was, and easy is something that I haven't had since the moment I started this program. In retrospect, maybe I should have gone to the reunion. Hearing people talk about their jobs selling insurance or forecasting earnings might have helped me remember why I'm here. With two more years ahead of me (assuming I actually do graduate), the light at the end of this tunnel is looking pretty dim.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Must be exam season

The non-stop parade of students coming through the department complaining about their grades can mean only one thing: it must be time for finals. There is no shortage of people (undergrad and MBAs) who, in anticipation of their exams, think it would probably be a good idea to come whine to their professors about their sub-par performance so far this semester, looking for some kind of assurance that the final won't be that hard, that the class will be graded on a curve, that despite flunking the midterm and missing five classes in a row, they can still get a good grade. Now, normally I couldn't care less, but today they seem to all be funneling into the office across the hall from mine, whose occupant must certainly be nearly deaf, judging by the volume of his voice.

[to the Professor Across the Hall: SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

Not even my ipod can drown him out... so much for having a productive afternoon.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A crushing blow or a lucky near miss?

When, three weeks into your initial literature seach on a possible dissertation topic, in your 6,000th iteration of google-scholaring your keywords, you come accross a ten year old working paper which addresses your exact research question, should you be devastated at the prospect of having to start over, or thankful that you dodged the proverbial bullet. It's unfortunate that your idea has been taken, but if the paper is ten years old and was never published, it clearly wasn't much of an idea in the first place and I guess you're better off just moving on. Or, there's the third reaction: not dissapointment or relief, but rather crushing self-doubt upon realizing that, not only can you not come up with an original question, but the unoriginal questions you do think of are apparently not very interesting anyway.

On a related note, why do these papers never turn up in the first, fifth or even twentieth round of a literature search?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

As a general rule...

...if you want your grading done by the end of the day, it would behoove you to get me an answer key before 5pm.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On panic attacks

At what point does my concern over not yet having a dissertation topic stop being premature? Granted, I'm a worrier. I tend to concern myself with things over which I have no control, or have a small possibility of even happening. But this... this not having a thesis... this is inevitably going to bite me in the ass. So given that I have about 9 months until I need to propose, when is the appropriate time to start hyperventilating?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm sorry...

... when I said that the "grading on your exam will be fairly generous, so there's really no need to worry about losing a few points here and there on these assignments," what I meant was: "your degree is a joke anyway, now quit your bitching".

At $75/hour...

... I have now tutored my way through the better part of our MBA program(the executive program, no less) without an MBA of my own. Honestly, my undergraduate work was at least 3x more challenging. This makes me wonder: who is the evil genius that crafted this degree and how on earth did they get all these suckers to pay so much money for it?