roasting marshmellows in phd hell

Archive for December 2012

Academic Word of the Day

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It’s that time again, folks!  Academic Word of the Day numbero tres:


Not only are you a hooker, but we don't think you know what the hell praxis is either!

Not only are you a hooker, but we don’t think you know what the hell praxis is either!

n. pl. prax·es

1. Practical application or exercise of a branch of learning.
2. Habitual or established practice; custom.
Used in a ridiculous academic paper title:
“O Celia, Celia, Celia Shits:  The Discourse and Praxis of Seventeenth Century Commode Etiquette”.

Awkward Student Interactions

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scene: disgustingly cramped on-campus cafeteria.  Home to dirty coffee machine, $8 sandwiches, filthy floors.  Cashiers constantly watch you like you’re stealing something, and sometimes you are, because these tiny little thefts are ‘reparations’.

I fill my cup with liquid poison when a student I’ve never seen before in my life approaches me.

Random Student: Hey, are you working today?

Me:  panicking that I don’t recognize this person, then realize they’re not some anonymous student of mine that sits in the back of the room with sunglasses on, but a complete stranger.  Yeah.

RS: oh that’s good.. cause I want a coffee and I have no idea how to work this machine.  Can you help me?

Me: (laughs that I am mistaken for a cafeteria worker in my ‘teaching outfit’.) um sure, it’s your lucky day, I’ll make you a coffee. (sticks cup under spigot, presses down.)  Here you go.

RS: so what’s your name…….(grossly suggestive eyebrow raise)

Me: Professor University of Lies.

RS: What??? professor??? oh shit!!! so you have your phd and stuff????

Me: No.  (cries)


The whole exchange was kind of hilarious.  Unlike some of my coworkers, I usually never get hit on.  But to get hit on and mistaken for a cafeteria worker and be reminded of my phd less status in less than a minute was a triple play of awesome.

Please Zeus I hope this person isn’t in my class next semester.


Written by universityoflies

December 13, 2012 at 03:58

Letter I will Never Send to My Phd Adviser

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jo march

Jo March says, “At least people read penny dreadfuls.”

Dearest Dr.——–,

It is with a heavy heart that I pen you this missive.

Winter has fallen; the children are hungry and Papa has been dismissed from the gruel factory.  Henrik and I lodge with the sheep each night—they are our only reliable source of warmth since depleting our stores of firewood.

Each evening when I hear the sleighbells signalling the postman, my heart sings with hope—perhaps he has brought me one of your much-needed letters!  But alas, I am to be forever disappointed! Why do you not respond to my pleas for help?  Perhaps I was too needy in wishing for a reply at all?

Mayhap you did not care for the chocolates I sent you, or the half-cow I slaughtered for your ice-house?

Please respond to my letters.  We are in desperate need of amnesty.  Send oxen, dyptheria medication, warm furs, and 50 lbs potatoes.

Or, failing that, advice on how best to finish my dissertation.

It is my dearest wish to exit phd hell, and you are both my jailer and parole board.

Yours Sincerely,

University of Lies

Reason #20293 Why Graduate School is Not Worth It

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Juno is your caseworker. And your academic adviser.

Because for all your blood, sweat, and tears, this is your reward.

Teaching at some 94th tier for-profit hell’s waiting room ‘school’ which, for greedymoneyreasons only, has been accredited by Lord Chancellor Jesus or Magic Mike or whoever is making decisions these days.

Allow this humble theater troupe to perform several brief vignettes for your viewing pleasure.

Vignette 1: “A Curious Inquiry”

scene: cramped office.  nothing visible but filing cabinets and dog eared instructor copies of textbooks nobody ever ordered.  a distinguished looking man with a beard, phd, and brain that would make harold bloom weep converses with a student who has been caught plagiarizing on a number of occasions.

Student: (earnestly)  So let me ask you, Dr.——— (very Jane Austen, amirite?), what does it feel like when you’re teaching, to know that nobody in class is paying attention?

Dr. ———: ……………………..

Student:  But we all seem to be doing pretty good on the tests, so you must be doing something right!

Dr.———-: (manical laughter) Yeah I guess.

Me: (hides behind computer monitor, turns an attractive shade of purple from the effort of holding back rage/laughter)


I guess SupaPlagiarist wasn’t taking into account how easy those tests must have been for people who don’t pay attention to pass.

Here’s another harrowing tale…. and I’ve had enough of theater for one day so I’ll just tell you how it played out.

My students were given a very brief reading assignment.  Of course, not one person did it.  I asked them point blank and they were honest.  So I told the fuckers that when they show up completely unprepared to work, there was no point in being there since I couldn’t do my lesson plan, and told em they were all going to be marked absent and they should go home.

At this point one particular gem of a human being started shouting that I had no right to do that, they pay a lot of money to be there, and if they want to sit there and do nothing, that’s their right.

Now this person is completely right in that education costs a metric fuckton of money.  And I certainly don’t think that’s right.  But you’d think this would make someone more motivated to do actual work, when instead it leads many of them to believe that they are buying a degree, not earning one.

But you know what?


Michelle will teach you how to look good while doing karate on angry students.

The next class, I’d say 70% of em had done the reading.

Instead of feeling victorious though, I almost feel more defeated.  I don’t want to be Michelle fucking Pfeiffer in ‘Dangerous Minds.’  Or Hillary Swank in “freedom writing diaries.”  or Ryan Gosling in that movie where he sells crack to his students parents.

This will not end.  And come next semester, I’ll have to wage war with a fresh set of faces, with my goal being to force at least half of em to do the reading?

This is the fate for MOST doing a phd with the goal of being a “professor.”

I used to get chills when they called me that.

Now I want to bang my head against the wall because it’s a fucking meaningless word.  Whatever prestige or’ Goodbye Mr. Chips feelings’ I had associated with it is certainly not the reality.  It’s an empty title, just like phd is going to be when/if I finally ever finish.

It’s just another way for your advisers to con you into thinking all this shit is worth it.