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Research Update: $3000+ Worth of Poor Results

A lot of folks ask about my PhD research, which I know I am oddly silent about.  It’s just that this is my happy place, where I like to talk about mint green spray paint and DIY abstracts.  I once did a feminist DIY project – blurring the lines between my blog-life and real-life, but I’ve blogged little about my topic and research in Hungary.

I’ve mentioned that I have had the lovely, lovely, privilege of not acquiring student debt, because I’ve ridden the scholarship wave.  Currently I have funding to do my PhD, but that runs out August 30th.  This year.  Things were going swimmingly until my supervisor read my last chapters and said, “I honestly don’t think you can finish for August 30th”.  Some parts, apparently, are boring and just not good.  Ouch!  I told my supervisor, “I can DO this, I swear.  I’ll make it much better, you’ll see”.  It’s shaping up, but now my confidence is shaken and I overthink every sentence.  I worked really hard on what I submitted.  I still have about 15 or so pages to write, but I aim to get everything in to my supervisor this week, who will make the call whether I can officially submit or not.  I might not know until right before the deadline whether I made the cut.  If not, I’ll have to pay tuition.  I’ll be rooting around in the sofa, hoping there’s thousands of dollars of change hiding in between the cushions because you know where there isn’t?  My bank account.

Nothing I can do now, but . . .

At first, I was seriously crushed.  A bad review and I might be charged for being such a terrible academic.  Super.  But then I figured, most people pay tuition.  How freaking lucky am I that I dodged that bullet for so long?  I was even funded to go to Hungary for research and language classes.  Two different trips!  I learned to read Hungarian while doing this dissertation, so talk about personal growth!  If I have to pay a few thousand bucks because I couldn’t get my ducks in a row in time, so be it.  Hubby agreed.  Further, I’m pretty sure getting a PhD is supposed to be soul-crushing.  And, at the end of the day, Hubs and I are both healthy and happy, so other stuff is just icing.

Even with all of these rational thoughts, I now have this nagging little voice that greets me each morning with, “you suck“.  I’m hoping that passes 🙂

"Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract" (WINE).
Inspired by this, but I used a photo from Hungary.  Seems fitting.

I’m in need of some “Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract” (WINE).



  1. N K
    August 12, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    I'm heading into my 2nd semester of masters studies and have to have my research paper finalized by Dec, because supervisor is leaving on sabbatical in Jan. I have a 4 year old and a 3 week old. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the same review of my paper at least a few times! :)doing a PhD is huge! you're almost done, that's incredible. congrats 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 2:14 pm

      Wow, that sounds stressful!! I am SUPER impressed that you're working on your master's with two young kids. I found it so stressful and I didn't even have that added responsibility. Good luck submitting your research paper – I hope it goes swimmingly and that you meet your deadline with minimal stress 😀

  2. Ashley
    August 12, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    I think you're right about PhD's being soul crushing, if PhD comics has taught me anything. Good luck! I hope you make "the cut", but if not, you have a great outlook!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 2:18 pm

      Haha, yes comics should have warned me! Also, so many jokes about philosophy grads being waiters. sigh.I am soaking up your good luck vibes, thanks!!! 🙂

  3. Dora
    August 12, 2013 / 2:40 pm

    I have faith in you Tanya!! I know that it's all going to tun out ok and your paper is going to be fabulous.xo

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 6:15 pm

      Awww, thanks! You're so sweet. Now can you just tell my supervisor the same thing, lol . . .

  4. Katchups
    August 12, 2013 / 3:53 pm

    Eeep, my sister just finished her PhD and had to rewrite several sections of her dissertation a week before giving birth. And she did it, it's amazing what you can accomplish under pressure. You can do it! She wrote a few "tips" blog posts for work here:

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 6:17 pm

      Oh my GOSH!! That certainly adds some pressure!! (And makes me feel like it's totally doable on my end. The only thing in my tummy is about 3/4 of a cake I baked). I'm so excited to read her tips – thanks for the link. And congrats to your sister!! That's an awesome accomplishment.

  5. Lindsey @ A Pear to Remember
    August 12, 2013 / 8:40 pm

    You can do it, I know!!! You're remarkable Tanya!!! Believe 🙂

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 9:27 pm

      Aaaa, I wasn't fishing for compliments, I swear! But that's so nice of you to say – very encouraging 🙂

    • Lindsey @ A Pear to Remember
      August 13, 2013 / 8:12 pm

      Oh it wouldn't be like you to fish for compliments! I just mean it. I have been reading your blog weekly for at least a year or more now and so enjoy it 🙂 We're hoping to purchase our first home in a little over a year, and have our eye on a cute rambler neighborhood—many mental decor notes are inspired by Dans le Townhouse.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 13, 2013 / 9:44 pm

      Congrats on the impending house purchase! I'm so in awe of you planning ahead like that. And flattered you've liked some of my ideas. I'm so excited for you!! You must be bursting with plans 🙂 Even if it's a year away, good luck 😀

  6. Ria Kessels
    August 12, 2013 / 10:10 pm

    Hello Tanya…With so much stress in your life now I have some good news for you.Your velvet arrived today Woo Hoo… It looks beautiful! :)You can drop off the chair whenever you wish.Have a great night,Ria

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 12, 2013 / 10:34 pm

      Such fabulous news!! Thanks Ria. I think I'll bring it in next week, if you don't mind. I'm so excited 😀

  7. Ria Kessels
    August 12, 2013 / 10:52 pm

    Sure Tanya anytime next week works well. :)Ria

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 13, 2013 / 11:04 am

      Perfect! Thanks again!

  8. Oona
    August 13, 2013 / 2:57 am

    Enter your friendly neighborhood registrar… ta da! I have had the pleasure/pain of handing tissues to some fine scholars in my time, and I'm proud to say that when the student really wanted to finish, we thrashed the self-doubts and got that dissertation done. Boring? Now, wait a minute. I could read you some titles that would have you out like a dead flashlight before I got to the colon. (You knew, didn't you, that 90 percent of dissertation titles have a colon?) But I digress. Whether faculty advisors want to admit it or not, there is often an element of hazing in the dissertation process. Unless they have grown hugely since their own time in the hot seat, most PhDs just can't believe that writing a dissertation ought to be an admittedly tough but humane experience. Take heed! When you find yourself years hence reading the product of some poor student's late-night struggle with inspiration, be kind. And in the meantime, don't look down, don't look back, don't take your eyes off your work, do everything you can to show you have heard and honor your advisor's requirements, call on all loved ones for carry-in meals, ignore the dust bunnies, get in a good stock of tea and chocolate, and go for it! We'll all be waiting at the finish line to cheer.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 13, 2013 / 11:04 am

      I always love your advice!! It's good to hear it can be done. And I will definitely be gentle on students of my own :)I especially like your advice to show my supervisor I listened. I think we have a different vision for my project – I keep feeling myself tugged in different directions – but I will revise it a bit more right now to show in more obvious ways the guidance she has given me writing my chapters. The chocolate is gone, the dust bunnies rule the house now (which is exceptionally bad for house showings!).

  9. MJ
    August 13, 2013 / 4:08 pm

    I'm an advertising copywriter who's also working on a fiction project. Every writer I know hears the "you suck" voice at some point. Oona's advice is perfect: don't look down–and yes, let your advisor (or in my case, my clients) see her influence. You have a clear, direct writing style, an optimistic outlook and admirable stick-to-it-iveness. That's gotta add up to success.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 13, 2013 / 9:47 pm

      I hope that I have the magic formula! In recent edits I've definitely been taking my supervisor's advice and, low and behold, I like my project more now. It's fitting together better, with more of a cohesive set of themes and concerns. Still have major editing to my last chapter, but it's coming along. I'm so nervous!It's unfortunate writers hear the same negative voice, but comforting to know other people have the same worries. Best of luck with your fiction project. I'm intrigued! I love fiction.

  10. cred
    August 16, 2013 / 10:32 am

    I've been quiet for awhile since the busyness of summer is upon us… but I still read your posts religiously and with delight.I just had to comment on this post to add my voice of support. No practical advice to offer- just my support and sincere best wishes. Your attitude of appreciation for your scholarship is a testament to good perspective. I think gratitude for what you've already received, and a certain acceptance & contentment with just that, greatly helps your mental state when you're feeling the pressure of such a stressful deadline.You seem too competent, hard-working and intelligent to not succeed- I'm confident that you will do it.I'm rooting for you!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      August 16, 2013 / 1:11 pm

      I'm sorry my posts have been more infrequent!! I promise I have some juicy ones on the horizon – including lakehouse posts coming in September!Thanks for your good wishes. It's nice to have people rooting for me! Maybe I should send these comments along with my chapters to my supervisor and tell her the consensus is, the work is good :)Have a lovely weekend!! Enjoy the rest of summer (it's been rather cool here, hope it's been warmer for you).

  11. Oona
    September 6, 2013 / 2:27 am

    Ummm… just a note to say you've been on my mind lately. I know you've been working hard, and I can't find anywhere else to send a quick word of encouragement. Hang in there. You have friends you don't even know about! 🙂

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