A Little Something to get a Doctoral Candidate to Doctorhood

I know, I know… you probably thought it was done.  Back in June we celebrated the Ladyfriend’s graduation.  She was gowned and hooded. Celebrated. There were parties. Karaoke. Graduations. Defenses.


Look at that fancy robe! You should have seen the fancy hat!

Oh, don’t we all wish it were done then?  But alas, while a summer graduate might get to walk through June graduation, the actual hell of it all perhaps is only heating up.

There are revisions, rewrites, enduring the time lines of others and last-minute additions.  The “Summer of Healing” got hijacked by Dissertation Hell.

Clearly, I have some feelings about that.  What can I tell you about the dissertation process other than it is pretty much a nightmare.  For everyone involved. The candidate. The partner. Children. Pets. Family. Friends. One’s health. It is demeaning and demoralizing.  It rips you up and spits you out and leaves you with a reactive, reptilian brain.  It really isn’t a pleasant process.

But enough about that because now we can celebrate. She is officially Dr. Ladyfriend!!! Turned in. Signed. Sealed. Delivered.  Getting bound.  Books boxed up.  Desk cleaned. Sense of humor returned.

dissertation countdown

The Final Countdown

dissertation desk

Where it all went down, complete with a jar of "Certainty"

dissertation prebinding. "Queering Queer Spaces"

Look at that big ol' dissertation!


Happy Dr. Ladyfriend!

dissertation prebinding

Turning it in. Even this was demeaning. The woman told her (repeatedly) that she HATED the envelopes. Really? She's turning in her dissertation and all the woman could say is that she HATED her envelopes?! Demeaning till the end I guess.

What does it take to get a person through a doctoral program?  I mean, besides a super incredible partner (hi! that’s me!) and support from lots of other people (hi parents & friends!).

Some edible items offered up some help along the way.  Things that were no-brainers, readily available and quick.  (Disclaimer: there actually were fruits/vegetables eaten during this process. Promise. Really.)

Dissertation Sandwich: The sandwich that saved the day.  Toast 1 slice of bread. Preferably homemade, but whatever you have if totally fine.   Top with thin slice of sharp white cheddar. To this add a slice of thick cut bacon. Preferably thick like Beeler’s, Hempler’s or Thundering Hooves. Lastly top with 1 over-easy egg with the yolk intact.  Apparently, having the yolk intact is important and more important than you might know. At least more important than I would have guessed.  *Helpful Hint: Your average Doctoral Candidate is likely preoccupied and might not have the best problem solving skills at her disposal.  If they are adamant about the state of their yolk you may want to suggest they crack the egg into a ramekin first.   This way if the yolk inadvertently breaks, they can put it in a jar in the fridge for someone else to eat or use.  Instead of getting tossed (ahem).  Obvious? Yes. But trust me… such ideas are nowhere near your doctoral candidate’s radar.  It really isn’t their fault. They are just in the process of being brutalized. It’s fight or flight and eggs, cracked or otherwise, aren’t part of all that.

dissertation sandwich

Staple breakfast, lunch or dinner. But not all 3 on the same day.

Coffee, two ways: Brew coffee. A full pot.  First cup is likely in a Java Bean diner mug. With ½ & ½.  Served hot.  From there on, fill pint glass or Vessel tumbler with ice, pour in coffee and add ½ & ½. Drink.  You’ll need a lot of this it seems.

Dissertation Hot Chocolate (or “can you make me one of those things?”): Polish Pottery mug. This is important. The lip is just right.  Heat milk. Add cocoa mix (usually Ghiradelli) and stir.  Try not to make a big mess. (but no worries-you will anyway).  Top with as many marshmallows as you can.  Then top with as many chocolate chips as you can before they fall off when you deliver it down the hall.

dissertation hot chocolate

The perfect mug

French Toast: Nothing fancy. Just thick slices of bread (I think day old bread makes the best because it soaks up more custard).  I mix egg and milk (or ½ & ½ if I’m feeling decadent) in a cake pan and put in some cinnamon and vanilla.   I don’t follow any set proportions other than I generally figure 1 egg per person having french toast and then add milk. If I had to guess I’d say about 1/2 tsp each vanilla and cinnamon. Maybe a bit of nutmeg.  Soak on both sides in custard.  To cook, I generally brush pan with melted butter or oil.

dissertation french toast

Mmm. Where's the syrup?

Klonopin (anti-anxiety medication). No, not a food. But consuming it on a regular schedule to maintain a steady level isn’t such a bad idea.  Consult your doctor, blah, blah, blah. Perhaps our air vents should have been vaporized with a nice Klonopin mist.  Yes, that would have been nice.

Coffee Cake: This was an important thing to have on hand for breakfast or snacks.  It’s good! Try it…it is great with any kind of fruit. Pears, apples, berries, stone fruit…it’s all good!

dissertation coffee cake

See? Yummy! I think this one was blackberry-peach.

Any Fruit Streusel Coffee Cake (based on recipe from Seattle Times)


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup non-fat or 1% milk
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ½- 2 cups any fruit combo


  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 400°.   Mix dry cake ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients into another bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well.
  2. Pour into greased 8×8 glass baking dish.  Spread the batter.   Top with fruit.
  3. Mix dry streusel ingredients and then add butter and mix together/sprinkle over batter.
  4. Bake for 30-35 until golden & dry on top. Cool in pan.


And finally!

To the newly minted Dr. Ladyfriend Jennifer Self, you completely rock my world and I am beyond proud of you!  Your commitment to yourself, your family and social justice is inspiring.  Your journey has taught me so many things about ‘growing & resisting.’   I love you.

dissertation slippers

these slippers were made for pacing

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26 Responses to A Little Something to get a Doctoral Candidate to Doctorhood

  1. I bow down to Ladyfriend! She rules!

  2. Meemaw says:

    I am proud of both of you for making it. Thanks to you for all the support and great food for Jen during this process. You both rock and Babylady rocks with you! I love you all. Meemaw Elise

  3. Anduin says:

    Congratulations Dr. Ladyfriend! I am in the middle of my thesis and reading this was a little too familiar, albeit on a lesser scale. I’m sure she couldn’t have done it without you. I may leave this open for my partner to get some “thesis support” ideas.

  4. Congratulations to both of you for surviving the process! Dr. Ladyfriend – whoo freaking who!!!!! Meg-alicious – I want to live with you if you will cook all those yummy looking things for me!!

  5. Carbzilla says:

    Whoohooo! Way to go! Love the recipes too!

  6. Kirstin & Carbzilla- thanks!

  7. Robin Taylor says:

    Is this what I’m in for? Am I doomed?

    On the bright side, that hot chocolate looks divine. I am suddenly grateful that the weather has turned colder.

  8. Tami Clayton says:

    Meg – You are absolutely hilarious. I love reading your blog. It puts a smile on my face each time I read it. Fabulous recipes and ideas as well. Tell that Ladyfriend of yours Congrats from us down here in Eugene and throw a big ol’ hug in with that, if you don’t mind. You are both rock stars!

  9. afreckledlip says:

    Congratulations to both of you! I am currently “working” on my dissertation and it is complete hell. Hopefully you both will have time to relax after such a long haul.

    • Thanks! What is your dissertation about? (I won’t ask “how is it going?” as I know you dissertatin’ folks hate that!) Good luck at any rate!

      Thanks for dropping in!

  10. Travel Mommy says:

    Now is the time to start living – you both made it! We are proud of all you and I love how Lucy says “dissertation.”

  11. diane says:

    can i still have that hot chocolate even though i am done with my phd?

  12. Jennifer Jabson says:

    As I read this I got all teary both because I witnessed so much of this process in you both and also because I too am so near the flip side of dissertation hell. You were both truly an inspiration and I know that much strength was drawn on both sides of our dissertation experiences. I bow down to the Dr. Ladyfriend and to you Meg….because truly, (and I have data to back this up) without the special touches (read: french toast, the PERFECT egg, etc) we would NEVER make it through this process. Congrats on making it through together….that too is a feat in itself. Big hugs!

  13. Kate says:

    She is a lucky Dr. Ladyfriend, all the sweet things you do. Big congrats to her and congrats on having your family restored to regular humor/stress/sleep levels!!!

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  16. Intimately, the post is often the greatest with this laudable topic. I concur using your conclusions and may thirstily look forward to your upcoming updates. Just saying thanks won’t be sufficient, for your tremendous lucidity within your writing.

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