What does it
feel like to get a PhD? Doctorate programs can be simultaneously exhilarating and demoralizing. However, day-to-day, there is more psychological warfare raging in one’s mind than most people may realize. These stories are written
for graduate students. They follow the trials of Myron Oygold, a chain-smoking, Xanax-popping PhD student trying desperately to finish his doctorate, find lost love, and make something out of his life.
Myron’s heart and mind were broken by Ilana Berkowitz as their lives exploded in a mushroom cloud of love and pain. Still reeling from the fallout, Myron begins his PhD in Applied General Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He’s not sure why he’s there or what he’s doing, but he knows Ilana has moved nearby in Albany, and he thinks he can make some meaning out of his life and find again what he lost in the War of D. C.
However, finishing a PhD is hard for an anxious, neurotic guy like Myron. He encounters many obstacles: His dissertation adviser, who takes research money from the Department of Defense and Starbucks, a mysterious programmer who works in the Department of Secret Computer Science, the surreal iBaby with whom Myron falls in love, a brilliant, talking chipmunk, a Wikipedia conspiracy, and even a therapist named Carl—sent from God in Myron’s time of need. Can Myron ever let go of the past? Can he learn to say what he needs to say? Will he finish his PhD?
These linked stories can be read for pleasure. However, first-year PhD students will find in them a way to reflect upon their own experience. Cutting across fields, the collection can be used in a wide variety of welcome-to-grad-school seminars, from communication studies, literature, and philosophy to engineering and the social sciences.
Jason Matthew Zalinger received his B. A. in English from the University of Connecticut, his M. A. in Media Ecology from New York University, and his Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.