“What do you do?”
This question strikes terror into me. What do I do indeed. I “do” IT, I “do” compassion, I “do” learning and teaching, but what do you do is slang. It means, “how do you make a living?” or “what do you do in school?” or “why can’t you buy a cup of coffee?”
I have been in graduate school since 2003. I earned my MS in 2005 and have been working toward a PhD. I have been done with coursework since 2006. I am still working toward the completion of my degree. Indeed, it appears that PhD is short for Pretty Huge Debt rather than a doctorate in philosophy.
If any academics read this, I “do” work at the intersection of cognitive psychology and information theory. It is “cross-cutting” and “multi-disciplinary,” which NSF loves to request and universities are loathe to support (at least, at the graduate-student level). Its future implications are interesting, but the immediate task, the groundwork of future research, impossibly dull. For non-academics reading this: I “do” academic work that I find impossibly uninspiring, with no direction and zero input.
I am writing this in lieu of sleeping, and with the sad realization that this sounds eerily like a page out of a blood-soaked diary. For academics and non-academics alike, hopefully the following posts will shed some light into what higher education in America is like.