MFA

Thesis Update

I already told my thesis adviser about a week ago that I am not defending my proposal this term. It was a bad idea to start conceptualizing right this very term in the first place. However, the good news is that finally, the thesis is taking shape – I think so, anyway. I was determined to combine informative science (philosophies and theories of time and space) with personal essays (my MFA genre of choice is nonfiction). For a time, things were not quite falling into place with the melding of the science and the personal essay bits still being horribly disjointed and forced. It was more difficult to make the combination work because I could not invent details in my personal essays and I certainly cannot change the rules and theories of science and the philosophies of great thinkers.

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Right now, I am going through readings from foreign authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein. I still lack Philippine sources but I have started out with Gregorio Brillantes and Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo. I am focusing on the narrative techniques (especially modern and postmodern ones) due to my desire to emphasize time and space in the essays.

If things still don’t quite work out then I will have to write a diaspora memoir on my seven years in Dominica, but I am not yet giving up on the modernist time-space memoir.

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MFA, motherhood, personal, web content jobs

Updates, Updates

I’m back. I have not been able to update my blog for awhile because I was drowning in stuff I needed to do: work, thesis proposal and mommy duties. Now that I am back, I don’t even know how to focus on a particular topic. I have been writing on SEO & marketing, arts and culture, and B & B stuff for one company, and on product descriptions for another. Last week, I wrote 25,000 words in five days – for work alone.

Then, there are the constant revisions for my thesis proposal. My adviser is still not pleased with it – can’t blame him because I am far from being pleased with it myself. So, the 3,000 plus words have been completely scrapped and I am starting anew. There is that vague idea floating somewhere deep in my consciousness. My thesis is supposedly a mix of science and personal essays, so I had to review my Physics, update myself on theories as well as philosophies regarding my topic, and read all sorts of memoirs. My adviser said that I should come up with at least 20 pages for my thesis proposal and 30 pages’ worth of samples, due before Saturday. There is still work, of course, and home management to consider. ย I am trying to be calm about it.

I did have a wonderful weekend despite it all. Last Saturday, Joreb had his nth haircut. I am so proud of him, not just because he looks oh-so handsome. He never cries when he gets haircuts. I also bought him clothes and shoes for next Saturday’s modelling search. Yeah, I registered him for a 0 to 6 year old modelling search. It’s really his first time. It’s for exposure, but not the beginning of a career because he’d rather be an astronaut or a surgeon than a male model – I know. ๐Ÿ™‚ Who knows how he will turn out during that day, though: shy like mommy or outspoken like daddy. He kind of has a switch that makes him unpredictable at times, but I am sure he’d be adorable that day no matter what. Joreb is a pretty busy kid this month. He has a Halloween party to go to on the 30th. I don’t know if he would end up wearing his Captain America costume or his Harry Potter one. If he comes as Captain America, he would go without the mask. I’d put a bandage around his head, complete with fake blood. He’d probably use fake fangs, too. Captain America-as-Vampire (darn the Twilight theme the condo admin came up with – No, Joreb is not coming as Edward.) Oh yeah, I also need to promote his photos for a milk brand children’s contest in Facebook. Voting is from October 29 to November 9, I think.

Yesterday, Joreb, Donald (my husband, his dad), and I had a relaxing afternoon at the mall. We three are almost always stressed-out that it was time to just sit down, eat, and laugh.

So, that’s it for now. I need to go back to my thesis proposal.

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MFA, motherhood, personal, web content jobs

Life as a Home-based Writer

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I never thought I’d end up working at home. I used to work as a college instructor at Ateneo de Naga University, teaching Programming (ActionScript), Adobe Photoshop, Presentation Skills, Scriptwriting (for short animation), and other subjects related to my degree, which is Bachelors of Science in Digital Illustration and Animation. I graduated cum laude from the same university and thought that I would be serving the school for more years to come.

My family (me, my husband, my brother and the maid) moved to Manila in 2007 basically because my brother was about to start medical school at UST. My family is very close-knit. Something good came out of the move, anyway. My husband is now about to take his comprehensive exams for Masters in Marketing. He works as a manager for a major social and entertainment hub. I now have 18 units of Masters of Mathematics and am almost through with my MFA – and oh, I shouldn’t forget ย the four days of law school. ๐Ÿ˜€

When I found out I was finally pregnant after a year of getting treated for infertility, I was eager to prove to people that I can still work at an office and brave the daily commute (I took a train and a bus to work) until the eighth month. Unfortunately, I was frequently sick. At only two months pregnant, I reluctantly resigned from my office job because my office mates were – and still are – such lovely people. I still stay in touch with some of them. My former manager even became one of my son’s godfathers.

After the sickness stopped, during the fifth month of my pregnancy, I applied to the same office as a home-based writer. Luckily, I was taken in by the company. I still work for them as a home-based web content writer, covering SEO articles, press releases, short news items, and more. I worked on other gigs at the same time.

I went back to working in an office setup on September 2011. I worked as a test creator and rater for mostly Korean test takers. Again, I was in a pleasant environment. My toddler, however, was acting out and was mad at me for working. So, I resigned but I still work part time for the said office, as a rater.

This year, I applied for a regular home-based job. I only needed to be online four hours a day from Mondays to Fridays. I write three blog posts daily for the company’s three websites. I write on entertainment, SEO and travel/festivals. So, I now work daily for two companies and have other part-time jobs while I am almost at the end of the MFA program at De la Salle University (now writing my thesis proposal and have started some essays for my nonfiction thesis).

Working at home is ideal for a mom and graduate student like me. In the mornings, I write for one company. In the afternoons, I am online and available for the other as I work on blog posts for its sites. At night, I get to work on my thesis.

Of course, I do have time for my toddler. I bathe him in the mornings and play with him, albeit a few minutes at a time, during the course of the day. We both spend the afternoons in the living room with the nanny, anyway. During bedtime, I read him three to eight story books, complete with gestures and varying voices. Fee Fi Fo Fum! He loves story time! ๐Ÿ™‚

Not everything is perfect about being a home-based writer, though. There are no bonuses and benefits. So, I pay for my benefits as a voluntary contributor. People also think that I am an unemployed mom just waiting for my husband and my parents to hand me money each pay day. The moms in my condo building are either unemployed (with or without nannies) or completely engrossed in their jobs (doctors, office workers, etc). I feel out of place.

In school, it is the same thing. Most of the other MFA students are very young (22 to 26 years old), younger than my brother who is now a medical intern.

I try to make the most of being a home-based writer and see the best that I can get out of it. The flexibility of hours is amazing, of course. I can buy the weekly groceries on Wednesdays at 4 pm. I can go for a mani-pedi in the morning. I can bring my son to the doctor when the need arises. There is no need to go on a leave. The problem is I really am never on vacation. I am always on, almost 24/7. I say ‘almost’ because I do sleep. Sleep is not as refreshing, however, when your son’s toddler bed is right next to your bed and he sometimes pees a lot to wet the covers – at least that is the case lately what with him drinking too much milk and juice during the day (sometimes as much as 4 Big Mango Zestos, 3 large bottles of milk and more). ๐Ÿ˜€ But yes, at least I am with him. He is my priority, and that is why I am a home-based writer.

Next year, he starts kindergarten. By then, I hopefully would have my MFA degree.ย I will first get him accustomed to going to school and then I will check if I can get back to an office setup. I am considering jobs as college instructor, SEO writer, or translator (well, I do have to review Spanish).ย My son and I do have to learn how to be independent of each other. If things don’t work out as planned, there is always the flexible life of a home-based writer.

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MFA

Thesis Preparations

Today, I consulted with the department’s chairperson about my MFA thesis. I have not written a thesis before because I had to create an animation portfolio for my college senior project (I am a graduate of BS-Digital Illustration and Animation). We talked about my possible adviser and readers. Thankfully, the professor I wanted to help me out agreed to be my adviser.

What is my thesis about? Well, I am thinking of a memoir with science elements. I don’t know if my adviser will like the idea because we have not talked about it yet. I am reading Hawking, Einstein, Kaku and some memoirs (one on anxiety and one on cancer): Monkey Mind and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

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