Wednesday, April 30, 2008

STUDY TIPS: where to find that...

A couple weeks ago, when I was doing my lit review questions, I got really really stuck. My adviser wanted me to "incorporate more theorists" into my argument, and I simply did not know of any theorists other than the ones I'd already incorporated. Have you ever been there? It's an unhappy place to be.

I searched high and low and hit the university library and library Web site a few times ... all to no avail. But then, at the last minute, the luxuries of consumerism saved me: No, I didn't find some new method to cheat. I just discovered its highly developed search engine that--because Amazon has a profit motive, whereas the university library does not--actually succeeds in helping me find things.

Here's what I did (hopefully, it can help you too):
1. I typed the name of my one known theorist into Amazon
2. I scrolled down to the "other people bought these books too" section
3. I found the mother lode of relevant yet previously elusive theorists
4. I opened a new browser tab and typed name of new people into school library search engine
5. BINGO - free books!!!!!!!!!!!

Really, it was like magic. All my problems were solved. Marx may hate me, but this system combines the best of consumerism (user-friendly products) with the best of socialism (free stuff). The only thing you have to watch out for is back strain. I found such a trove of research that I filled my camping backpack TWICE. Remember to lift with your kness and not with your back, and happy studying!

Note: Camera phone photo of my first batch of library books all set up neatly in a library study corral. Speaking of which, that's another great thing about libraries: free study space. No purchase of a $5 coffee required.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I wish I had gone to Coachella this weekend. I went last year. But that was my old life. This year, I stayed home and studied. (And still managed to be three days late on a deadline.) In honor of the missed music festival, I feature one of the bands that played. What have you missed out on for your education?

The Verve - Blue
I don't know if they played this at Coachella, cause I wasn't there.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Deadlines Smedlines (Part II)

Two customers just walked in. The story comes out. This place is closing next week. They are sad. I am too. Perhaps I went to Starbucks one too many times myself. I should’ve come here more often. Explains the missing credit card machine and conspicuously blank walls (which were once covered in local art). I don’t want to turn my blog into a cheesy morality tale, but it is said to watch something good and unique shut down. So frequent your local coffee shops when you study, friends. This really is sad. You can help prevent this loss in your town, I guess.

The lady customer just said, “We should’ve come here more often.” Ditto. Ditto to everybody.

Deadlines Smedlines (Part I)

The deadline for the next portion of my thesis is (or was) today. I made a pretty good effort to meet it ... that is until one of my friends invited me to a local music festival. Yes, it’s quite irresponsible to go to a music festival the day a paper is due. And no, I never would have dreamed of doing such a thing in high school or even college. But in an effort to be at least a little responsible, I did set my alarm for 6 a.m. to finish before the festival.

I did wake up. I did not finish.

I left my friend at the festival about an hour ago. Now, I’m at the loneliest coffee shop in the world trying to pass the time and get a few lines (of my thesis, NOT my blog) written before going to a bar with another one of my friends.

The coffee man (this is an indie place, so he is definitely NOT a barista) has been watching the game with a sigh on his face. Then, when I wasn’t paying attention, he muted it and put on an old Stones CD. The words, “What a drag it is getting old” blasted at me, the aging only customer in the shop. The abrupt change in music had the effect of seeming like it was part of the game. But then it kept going with its creepy minor key and tales of yellow pills, even after the play ended. Classsic rock is normally annoying in the over-played way. But tonight, alone in this desolate, hot, sticky coffee shop, it sounds new again. And scary.

Perhaps I should have heeded the hand-written “CASH ONLY” signs that were never there before and hightailed it to the Starbucks across the street. Instead I pulled out all the cash I had, tossed three ones on the bar and said, “What can I get for two dollars? I wanna tip you one.” Coffee man filled up a mug of black coffee. And here I am, alone with my thesis, the game, and the oddly terrifying sounds of Mick Jagger.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

LIFE AFTER THESIS: working stiff?

For the first time in maybe a month, I set my alarm clock. I also got out of bed before 9 a.m. And I did all the things that I used to do in the morning when I lived my old life (shower, dress, put on deodorant, etc.). Even though I'm more or less productive as a thesis writer, there is something to be said about making oneself look presentable. It just feels more productive. Anyway, the point of this makeover was not a part of my newest psychological trick to be productive; it was for a job interview. Today, I peeked back into the "real world," if only for two hours.

There is something comforting about going to an office, like a freed prisoner returning to the safety of his old cell. And if I was looking to settle down, said job would be perfect (great salary, benefits, steady, etc..). But it is neither exciting nor soul-nourishing, and I probably will turn it down. After suffering through my thesis for so long, I need to do something amazing. I can't sacrifice myself to the gods of commerce yet. Or can I?

Parabolic Compass by Leonardo Da Vinci

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

IN THE NEWS: Fun with Science

If only my thesis was on this topic, I would have graduated years ago...

Masturbation may prevent prostate cancer

Frequent masturbation may help men cut their risk of contracting prostate cancer, Australian researchers have found. It is believed that carcinogens may build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly, BBC News reported on Wednesday. Read more>>

Reading Quiz:
According to this article, at least how many times a week do you have to ejaculate in order to reduce your risk of cancer by a third?
(a.) 1 time
(b.) 3 times
(c.) 6 times
(d.) 12 times

Stupidest Way for Students to Save the Planet

It's after midnight, so technically Earth Day is over. But I just had to give you this one last environmental gem:

So I went to the campus gym tonight, and I notice water coolers all over the place. On each water cooler is a sign that says (to the best of my memory):

Disposable Water Bottles Kill The Earth!
Please Use Non-Disposable Water Bottles!
This Water Cooler is Here So That You Can Refill Your Non-Disposable Water Bottle!

As you know from my previous post, I am all for saving Mama Earth. But this tactic is a little ridiculous considering:
(a.) There are already a plethora of permanent water fountains in the campus gym
(b.) In addition to permanent water fountains and (now) temporary water coolers, a (second) plethora of vending machines selling disposable bottled water litter the campus gym.
(c.) What if somebody wants to refill their (gasp) disposable water bottle using the water coolers? Will a environmental hall monitor rebuke them? Will they make the thirsty person throw away their disposable water bottle in order to buy a non-disposable one? Or will they simply point the thirsty student in the direction of the water fountain?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TOP 10 Ways Grad Students Can Save the Planet

In honor of Earth Day, here are the top 10 ways that you, the lowly grad student, can save our planet:

1. Stop reading this blog and turn off your computer (electricity is bad for Mama Earth).

2. Without a word processor you will have to resort to low-tech ways to write your thesis: Gather leaves in the backyard and use them as paper (regular bleached paper is awful for the environment).

3. Prick your finger and use the small stream of blood as ink (Haven't seen a study on this one, but I imagine that ball point pens kill baby penguins).

4. Turn off the lights (As I mentioned in No. 1, electricity is EVIL)

5. If you cannot study in pitch black, do NOT study by candle light (wax is an endangered species)

6. Instead, make a small campfire from the required books you most hate. (Recycle: use library books.)

7. If you are a grad student in science: Invent cold fusion, practical solar panels, or a hybrid that actually looks cool.

8. Read this NY Times article about climate change by Michael Bollan and be inspired to plant a WWII-era victory garden.

9. Google "victory garden how-to." Scream at roommate for once again breaking the Internet, and then realize that Internet doesn't work because you turned off your computer.

10. Try flattery. It works with professors, maybe it works with the environment as well.
MEN: Hit on Mother Earth and call her a MILF.
WOMEN: Sleep with Al Gore

Ruined Landscape by Banksy

Monday, April 21, 2008


Sometimes, a grad student needs to take a break from the hard work of procrastinating and enjoy a good beer in a pretty place. (Or, in my case, take a photo of a nice beer in a nice place)

This photo illustrates one of my many definitions of heaven. Isn't it nice? It makes me happy just looking at it. But it made me happier when I drank the beer.

PS. Kudos to those who can correctly guess the type of beer I was drinking.
PS2. I think the choice of beer (i.e., NOT Schlitz or Naddy Light) separates grad students from the common undergrad.
PS3. Not to brag, but I really outdid myself on this photo. Three cheers for my camera phone!
PS4. I apologize for bragging in PS3.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Deadline Dilemma: Part II (the possible solution)

Maybe a complete and utter disregard for personal hygiene proves to my professor how much I care about my thesis. I am so absorbed in the abstractions of deep thoughts that I cannot be bothered to lower myself to the trivialities of mere mortal bodies. Will he buy that? Or should I just douse myself in perfume and call it a "French" day?

Deadline Dilemma: Part I (the question)

I'm meeting my adviser in 1.5 hours to discuss my exit plan and to turn in a portion of my thesis. I haven't taken a shower in several days and I still have to put some (MAJOR) finishing touches on this paper. So do I use the next hour and a half to bathe or finish the paper? In other words, which is more offensive to a professor: an unfinished paper or BO?

READERS SPEAK: Fave form of procrastination

Perhaps I gave you guys too many choices on this. Or perhaps you, dear readers, hate your childhood pen pals. But why is nobody into planting vegetable gardens? Don't you guys know the dangers of corporate, pesticide-ridden produce? Sheesh. But who am I to judge? I've fallen prey to all these forms of procrastination ... and more.

What is your favorite form of procrastination?

Learning how to quilt/cook/ride a motorcycle
1 (7%)
Cleaning the house
0 (0%)
Reconnecting with 2nd grade pen pal & traveling to Prague to find them
0 (0%)
3 (23%)
Planting a vegetable garden
0 (0%)
Weeping & gnashing of teeth
3 (23%)
Training for a marathon
2 (15%)
Staring into space
4 (30%)

Votes so far: 13
Poll closed

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Sometimes even the most diligent grad students need a pumping, futuristic, robot beat pushing them to study harder faster better stronger. (Added bonus: Any Daft Punk song could replace caffeine in a pinch.) Here is the same song with two different videos. Which is your favorite?

Open minded people could interpret this video as a metaphor for the education system or at least the conception of socialization, maybe.

I think I like this one the best because of its garage band simplicity and witty choreography.

Daft Punk - Harder Faster Better Stronger
Check out even more videos of this song on YouTube.

IN THE NEWS: grad-scool-ruled notebooks

Just when you thought finishing grad school would be impossible, an unexpected savior arrives...

Mead Releases New Grad-School-Ruled Notebook

RICHMOND, VA—After decades of only offering ruled notebook paper suitable for college-level education and below, school-supply giant Mead introduced its new grad-school-ruled notebook Monday, which features lines twice as narrow as college-ruled paper. Read more

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

ASK A GRAD STUDENT: Help, I hate my thesis

I am totally depressed and the reason is my master thesis. I have reached a place where I need help and every time I go to my mentor she brushes me off and suggests I go to some proffessor in some other department to ask for help. Nobody wants to help me and I cant achieve any progress. I think of quitting but then I cosider the time and money I spent and how my family will be dissappointed at me till the end of time . Arghhhh it is making my life a hell

Dear Anonymous,

Because you are a real person and not some fake letter I made up just to be funny, I will give you real advice. You have listed several problems, and as I proved in my previous blog entry, it is best to take little bites and chew very slowly.

First, it is important to understand that theses were invented for the express purpose of torturing people. It's the nerdy version of hazing. So, there is no way to solve thesis misery except by saying, "Thank you sir, may I have another."

Next we will address your desire to quit. Of all the problems this one is the most vital. It's normal to want to quit, and you must sit yourself down and think carefully about whether or not you really should. Depression is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong, and it may really be worth it to quit. Either way you must make a full and complete decision and stick to it. If you decide to quit, you are my hero and are free to quit reading at this point.

Assuming that since you are still reading you have made a firm decision to stay in the rat race, the problems you have with unhelpful professors will fall into place. At this point, it is a simple matter of jumping through hoops until they give you a diploma. Since you have made your decision to graduate at all costs, walking across campus to a different department should be quite easy.

Don't forget to communicate your thesis commitment to your professors. Perhaps they have been standoffish because they have sensed your past thesis-hatred. But as soon as they are sure you're in the game, they will be more likely to help you. Also, it's OK to be persistent. You know what they say: The annoying student gets the degree.

Even after you have followed my advice, graduating will still not be easy. But once you're done, you're done forever ... unless you choose to get a PhD.

Good Luck!
Miserable Grad Student

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shel Silverstein's Thesis Writing Advice

This was one of my favorite poems as a child. Clearly, I liked it because I was psychic and knew that one day I would need encouragement while writing a master's thesis. I hope this poem helps you too...

Melinda Mae

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.

And everyone said,"You're much
too small,"But that didn't bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should...

...and eighty-nine years later she ate
that whale
Because she said she would!!!

From "Where the Sidewalk Ends"

Perhaps I have macaroni & cheese taste in poetry, but
Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite poets, and I was very sad when he died. Also, he wrote for Playboy, so he can't be that bad.

PS. I really hope it doesn't take 89 years to finish my thesis.
PS2. But if it does, I will still finish.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What's worse than a thesis?

TAXES! Of course, I've put them off until tonight. But I had a good excuse: I was waiting to finish my thesis. But here it is April 14, and no thesis and no taxes. By tomorrow, I'll have one of the two completed. Can you guess which one?

NOTE: This painting by Jose de Ribera represents the way I feel about taxes.

Baggage Claim

The impromptu trip to visit my parents was followed by a slightly insane "study retreat" to the next college town over.

Total time spent running away = 5 days

Now, I am back home. Today, I collect the baggage that I tried to discard at various spots around the nation. Today I claim it as mine. Today, I unpack it and one by one fix it all. Today, I take the next steps to finish my thesis

Note: I took this photo from my camera phone while I was traveling this weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

You think I'm a jerk, don't you?

So you probably think my parents were a little over-indulgent for flying me home at 2-hours' notice. And you probably think I'm over-dramatic for going on and on about my unhappiness when I've been given every opportunity in the world to have a master's degree. Well, you're either partly or completely right.

I am a rich, lucky, spoiled American who can quit a job to be a full-time student without sacrificing a $5-a-day coffee habit. And that makes me both the scum of the earth and exactly like every other student on my campus. So am I redeemed by my pseudo-liberal guilt? I don't know. Could that get me into heaven? Maybe, ... if I can still afford a good lawyer at the end of this.

But, dear readers, as somebody in the bible once said, "To whom more is given, more is expected." And for how much I've been given, I have a universe of expectations to fulfill. And since I'm so far not producing a good return, I get a little depressed sometimes. OK, signing off. I gotta go dig some talents out of the hole I was storing them in.


I'm writing this post from my parents' kitchen table. The sun is physically and metaphorically shining, and I can look out the window on the beautiful city skyline below. I got a good pep talk from the fam, and I am revived to go and reconquer the thesis.

To my dear friends who live in this city: I'm sorry that I was not able to hang out. But the next time I come back, I'll be in a mood to celebrate.


At the end of the horrible day (as described in the previous blog), I called my parents. They took my depression more seriously than I did ("No, no, I'm fine. It's just a flesh wound. I'm getting better"*) and booked me a ticket home for that very night (using frequent flier miles). I threw the contents of my lit review and a couple T-shirts in my suitcase and raced to the airport. It was an exhilarating drive, and I had a calm, end-of-the-world feeling.

As the plane took off, I watched the city that has become my jail shrink into black night. I ignored the under-knowledge that it was a false escape and concentrated on the airplane magazine. Finding that inane, I turned to one of the library books I'm rereading in order to complete my thesis corrections. Even though I was taking my problems with me as literal carry-on baggage, it felt good to be going home. My real home, not my shared rental house in a college town.

Note: I'm on a roll with another example of Banksy's genius.
*This doesn't mean I'm suicidal. But it is a butchered movie quote. Can you tell which one?

Thesis-induced Depression

By yesterday, all of my problems had built up until I was completely overwhelmed and depressed. This was not some sort of ha-ha mock depression made for blog audiences; this was true physical anguish. I could feel the unhappiness weighing down my extremities and curdling my stomach.

Maybe leaving the house would help:
At Starbucks, all I could do to keep myself together was lean my head against the wall. And eat a chocolate chunk cookie. The cookie helped, but only temporarily. By telling myself, "You're going to be miserable either way, so you might as well get some work done," I was able to make a little progress. This phrase became my mantra.

Maybe going home would help:
Then I went home for the hiding-under-the-covers form of therapy. I guess it worked; I fell asleep. But then I woke up.

Maybe exercise would help:
Feeling a little better, I opted for an exercise class (studies show that a good sweat is about as effective as antidepressants; don't quote me on this). But all I could force myself to do was follow along in little half-movements, and tears kept welling up in my eyes.

Maybe going home would help:
So I left halfway through. (The only other time I've left exercise early is when I had just been hit by a car and my ribs were hurting.) The wettest of my tears dribbled below my sunglasses and then evaporated in the wind as I biked home. Home was no better.

NOTE: Painting is yet again by Banksy. Who knew that a London street artist could understand the pain of a thesis writer so eloquently?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Way I See It #288

Regarding the feel-good flash-essays written on the side of Starbucks cups: Normally, they are just nothing statements, advancing the niche brand of warm-fuzzies capitalism. But today, mine was so earnest, so naively paradoxical that I couldn’t help but call attention to it. Reading the cup, I felt like Alice marveling at another Wonderland absurdity and looking for somebody else to agree that it’s crazy ... but she only has the Cheshire cat, who does nothing to confirm her sanity. Ok, here it is:

The Way I See It #288

“My cousin in Tibet is an illiterate subsistence farmer. By accident of birth, I was raised in the West and have a Ph.D. The task of our generation is to cut through the illusion that we inhabit separate worlds. Only then will we find the heart to rise to the daunting but urgent challenges of global disparity.” – Losang Rabgey, Ph.D. National Geographic Emerging Explorer and co-founder of Machik, a nonprofit helping communities on the Tibetan plateau.

It would be monstrous to disagree with the sentiment behind the statement on the cup. How can anybody not want children to hold hands in a circle around the world? But does it not seem completely ridiculous, absurd, insane to be trying to end global disparity on the side of a $5 cup of Venti Caffee Mocha with skim milk and whip cream? Do the suits at Starbucks not realize that if we replaced global disparity with global equality, nobody would be able to afford luxury coffee? (Don’t believe me? it’s already happening, check out this NY Times article about the rising price of grain.) Or maybe they do realize that, but are banking on the assurance that nobody else will.

American rates of consumption are already ecologically unsustainable, and it would be disastrous if they were multiplied by the rest of the human population. So any economic increase in poor countries will eventually mean a decrease in American wealth. And as we’ve already seen, the first thing to go is frivolous spending. It’s pretty funny to think of Starbucks writing its own demise on the side of its cups in such a cute font. Again, I’m not writing this blog to make a political statement. But we rich Westerners should think about whether we really would sacrifice our expensive coffee (among other luxuries) so that the rest of the world can have an improved standard of living. I’d like to think I’m that good of a person, but I don’t know if I am. On the contrary, I’m the jerk who actively fears that somebody in my family will need me to give them an organ. Cause I really really do not want to go through my life with only one kidney. Nor would I want to sentence a family member to a lifetime of dialysis.

Another thing, this essay works on the assumption that somehow it is better to be a Western doctor than a Tibetan sustenance farmer. And, since you’re reading my blog, you should be painfully aware by now how fatally wrong that assumption could be.

PS. For what it’s worth, the bottom of the cup comes with this disclaimer: “This is the author’s opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

The down- and upside of local coffeeshops

The downside of local coffeeshops
Two very skilled pianists are playing a frantic (though technically perfect) duet of “It’s a Small World After All.” The ill-advised Russian tea cake I just ate has given me a sugar rush and now nausea. And I’m trying to pound my way through my horrible, deplorable thesis in spite of sickness and those infuriating tinny refrains. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

The upside of local coffeeshops:
The random witty guy sitting near me heard my sighs and asked how I was doing. I complained about the song, and he called the pianists a “cover band” and said they played the soundtrack to the Disney ride just for me. It made me laugh. I guess you just had to be there.

Thanks Scholarpreneur!

Gee, it seems that EVERYBODY but everybody loves my grad student advice column. OK, fine, I'll make a few more of them when I get around to it. But in the meantime, let me brag some more about my growing hit count.

Click here to see my cumulative 30 seconds of fame
as well as some other cool posts from college students.

PS. If you're interested, Scholarpreneur is a rad blog about college stuff. Enjoy.

IN THE NEWS: The Will Power Muscle?

Finally an explanation for why I can't study and diet at the same time.. But seriously, do you think this actually works? What is your experience with the power of will?

The Will Power Muscle

(In case your are a hesitant link-clicker, this is an NY Times Op-Ed article called "Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind." Not convinced? It's written by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. Don't care? Well, you should at least click to see the cute and strange illustration by Michael Klein.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


It's Saturday morning and I'm studying outside. The birds are singing, my neighbor's air conditioning is humming soothingly, and a pleasant breeze wafts just so over my skin. For the next few hours, I will put all stress aside and just enjoy life while I study. This song will help.

Rjd2 - "Work It Out" from Third Hand
For back story on video click here

READERS SPEAK: When I grow up....

So there ya have it, folks. My blog audience is a bunch of people with no economic sense whatsoever. (Except for the one person who checked "stockbroker," and I imagine they did it as a joke.) At least we can be poor together. I would say we should all meet for coffee and discuss our grand plans to be artists, writers and professors, but with our future in store we better save the $2.99.

When I grow up I want to be a(n)

publicist (with good teeth) 1 (7%)
stockbroker (with slick hair) 1 (7%)
artist/musician/writer (with parents' basement) 3 (23%)
college professor (with summers off) 8 (61%)

Votes so far: 13

Friday, April 4, 2008

The College Roommate Conundrum

I gotta pee, but my rommate is FINALLY cleaning the bathroom. Well, I obviously can't pee while he/she is in there, and I don't want to interrupt him/her from this all-important job. But I really gotta pee! And there is nowhere else to go. I will just hold it.


Ah, one day, I will graduate and be an adult who has a private bathroom. This is yet another way that my thesis is holding me back from the rest of my life.

Photo by Roger McLassus

VIEW FROM THE IVORY TOWER: definition of infinity

I took this photo on my last trip to ye ol' campus library. It represents the never-ending nature of my thesis. I look past one section of it only to see more and more and more until I bang myself in the head against a wall of bound periodicals.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thanks Student Bloggers!

I don't know who you are or how you found me, but I always appreciate the free pub, especially when it involves Bowie knives.

Here's my 15 seconds of fame.

PS. Your site is really cool too!
PS2. I like all your pranks.
PS3. Maybe that's what my thesis is missing: not enough pranks.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Does rock bottom always smell this bad?

Seriously. I cannot clear this sickly incense smell out of my room. It is making my stomach churn; it feels like I've swallowed a hippie and said hippie is now trying to burn his way out of my belly just like the biblical dude who was swallowed by a fish. ... Jonah. Yes, Jonah the hippie is trying to burn his way out of my belly. Well, at least the patchouli stench and accompanying nausea is distracting me from my depression.

What's Below Rock Bottom?


Now I'm burning incense while listening to Elliott Smith. It's like I've created a mini alter (or funeral pyre) to the hatred of my thesis. ...

... OK, never mind. I will be snuffing the incense out as it is suffocating me. Can't anyone be allowed to suffer in peace anymore?


When I revert to Elliott Smith, it's a sign that things can only go up from here, right?

PS. I LOVE Elliott Smith.

Elliott Smith "Miss Misery" (Directed by Ross Harris)

Is there more to life? Not in grad school.

The Highlight of My Day:
My roommate's girlfriend is from a foreign country. She brought some exotic sheep cheese from her homeland. I tried a slice. It was a little weird. Now there is a strange taste left in my mouth.

That is the best thing that has happened to me all day. Am I depressed? Or is my thesis depressing me?

I think I am depressed. This whole delay in graduation is really bringing me down. I could barely gather the energy to type in the tags for this post. It just seemed like too much effort, but in the end I pulled through and even created a new tag. If only I could do the same for my thesis.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ASK A GRAD STUDENT: Help, I hate my thesis adviser

Dear Miserable Grad Student,

I hate my thesis adviser. I really want to kill her with a bowie knife. I know that I should just wait till after I graduate, but that feels forever away. And my anger is distracting me from my studies. So maybe if I kill her now, I'll be able to work more efficiently. But then again, the department may look upon it unfavorably. And is a bowie knife the right tool? Should I use a bigger knife? Or nun chucks, maybe? PS. I LOVE your blog! Thanks for brightening my day.

Blood Thirsty in Baton Rouge

Dear Blood Thirsty,

Thank you for you warm praise. From your letter, I can see that you are a very creative person so I am quite flattered.

Now, I know that academia can be as all-consuming as a black hole. But let me remind you that on the outside, murder is illegal. It is also mean. The "I Hate My Thesis" blog and all subsidiaries does not condone violence in any way.

That said, you need to find a healthy way to vent. I would advise starting a blog like mine, but I don't want any competition. Instead I advise making a voodoo doll in the likeness of your thesis adviser. You can sew little costumes to make it look exactly like her down to the smallest cross-stitch. And then you can rip that dolly to shreds with your bowie knife...

Or, you could grow up, stop procrastinating, get back to work, and finish your degree. You must remember that thesis advisers are people too. (And if you're lucky, you may become one some day.) Yours wants you to graduate just as much as you do. So give her a break, bring her some donuts, and go onward to the finish.


I feel like crying. As you may have noticed from the obnoxious countdown at the top of this page, the deadline to apply for May graduation was yesterday. I did not apply. Defeat. There's always August, but this delay has really kicked the wind out of my gumption.

So today I am trying to rally. I am on campus trying to still finish my corrections on my lit review. It is not going well. And one of my old students--by pure, old-fashioned bad luck--sat down across from me. She is staring at me; I am actively ignoring her.

Gods of thesis-writing, please deliver me from this trial. I beseech you.

(The above picture by Banksy illustrates how I feel today. Does a transition from pie-in-the-face to dead flowers mean that things are getting worse?)