I have finally finished my three comprehensive exams for my Ph. D. in English (major in Creative Writing) at the University of the Philippines. I had to read tons of books for the exams, which lasted for eight hours per field. My three fields of choice were: British and American Fiction, Philippine Literature in English, and Asian Literature in English.
Thus, my posts in this blog came few and far between. After every exam -- spread out over a two-week period -- I felt my fingers getting numb, the muscles in my left arm jiggling. The graduate school assistant told me I am luckier that they now ask students to encode their answers in computers. Otherwise, we would have to write down our answers in long hand, in eight agonizing hours!
After my exam, my friend in the parlor of Ricky Reyes gave me a free, great haircut, and two tubes of hair coloring dye from Italy. When I went to the Ricky Reyes Learning Institute in Cubao, I was met by a gaggle of gays! They told me just say the word, Danton, and we will text the thousand upon thousand of people we know in the hairdressing business. O ayan, an army of hairdressers ready for the campaign! The only straight person was the guard, and the two or three female personnel.
Then in the last few days, I got calls from people who want me to write for their publications, on a regular basis:
1. A new magazine for men. The enthusiastic editor said to me on the phone, Can I feature you? What do you collect? Do you collect figures of owls, or wooden ducks? I said I do not collect anything. I just buy books. He seemed disappointed. You do not collect anything? Nothing, I said. I added that I really lead a boring life. That is why the fiction I wrote in my younger days had main characters who lead lives full of color and vigor. I think it was writing as an act of wish-fulfillment. What do you do during weekends? the editor asked me again, wanting to focus on another angle of what he thought was my interesting life. I tell thim that I do my grocery at Shoppersville in Katipunan, and then I do the laundry and I press my clothes. He was incredulous. Books are the only things that please me. In fact, after my Ph.D. exams, I went to National Book Store and bought books that are not required reading in my classes. Books, and the sight of my clean-smelling clothes, hanging in the line to dry.
2. A magazine for women. They want me to write reviews on books about women. I said I know nothing about women, except their clothes and the sob stories they tell me about their men. The editor said I can write about the sob stories. Okay, I said.
3. A reformatted showbiz mag in English. Run by friends of mine, and they want me to write cheeky articles about films and such. I said Okay, but I now write shorter stuff.
4. INVOICE, a new magazine for the GLBT crowd. The publisher and editor is a neighbor of mine, a young boy a few years ago and who now has an MBA from Ateneo! The years, they have wings. And at my back I always hear, Time's winged chariot hurrying near! I gave him tips about future articles to write about, which companies to tap for advertising, and promised to write for him every issue.
Good news all.
Of course, the good comes with the bad.
My projected radio show seems to have gone pffft. Not enough sponsors, I think. And I turned down a tabloid column because they are dictating me on what to write about, and how to ago about writing the darned thing! Ha? I do not mind suggestions, but statements that sound like orders cast in iron have never gone down well with me.
And that is how my week went. I hope yours was not too bad at all.