A Beautiful Sunset


It’s the last day of the year, and we’ll say goodbye to it, but surely not forever. Maybe we’ll glance back at it in random moments in years ahead, picking fragments of memories, shaking our heads at the absurd things we did or beam with pride as we zoomed in on a series of recollections that eventually shaped us for whoever we will become.

My 2013 was the fastest year that went by in my life. I almost didn’t feel it. Well, I felt it, but it seemed to consist only six months, or less. It seemed to fleet by, like a butterfly in vivid, wild colors, circling around me and enthralling me in the moment—and when it flew away, I realized I’ve been watching, following, and playing with the pretty, little wonder for a long time.

This was a year in my life when I had extraordinary lessons learned. This was a year I was able to delve deeper into myself and really listen to what the voice inside me was saying, hushing the outside world, blurring their words as they whisper to my ears.

Some of the debris of 2012 made their way into 2013. The first quarter of the year was riddled with headaches and stressful nights of trying to put everything on paper, making a draft of what was really happening. I felt discontented and too eager to move forward. I didn’t—and don’t—want to be in that place.

Writing what really was happening and what caused it had reality stare me in the face. After solitary nights and days, I realized I was the one who made me be in that limbo. It was hard when I realized that my enemy was myself. It was terrifying to know I could cause such destruction within me.

I followed the root to where my discontentment came from. I listened to what I really want. I recalled my happy days, remembering what I was doing and who I was with. I let go. I let myself be washed into my world of happiness. Smells of books and coffee, my family singing karaoke, and spending time in the bookstore with an amazing person came into my mind. There was also a clear picture of me with my book, a bestseller.

In March, I decided to quit my job as a business development executive, a position a lot are rooting for, after being in the company for a year and a month. My colleagues thought I was crazy to let go just like that. I wasn’t sure if it was just me, but months before my resignation took effect, every time I look into my colleagues’ eyes during a celebration for a new client acquired or big sales, I know I was doing the right thing. I stuck to that job because of the high pay and the name—but it was taking me away from my dream. So I had to let go. I knew people would talk—but that’s what they always do anyway. I walked away, but I didn’t walk away just like that. Being in that business made me learn a lot of things that even the most prestigious business schools couldn’t teach me. I walked away with experience and life lessons. I walked away from a good place to a better one. I walked away to be myself.

I congratulated myself for that, walking away from what people want me to be and be who I really want to be.

This was a year when fragments of my life started to slowly fall back to its place. This was a year when my questions, a lot of those I carried with me since I was younger, were answered in a way only a higher power can.

This was the year when I lived together with a sister. We have a nine-year age gap. I came to know my sister more. I came to know a strong, young woman who can be hard-headed, but has the biggest heart. She told me stories about what happened before I was born and when I was too young to remember. I came to know more of the family who have been with me through all those times, cheering and always praying for my success in whatever endeavour I do despite the distance; the family who always supported me in their own ways, and whom I have taken for granted. The hatred I have for a family member slowly died.

This was a year I realized I am not alone—and will never be. This was a year when I’ve been reaffirmed a thousand times that somebody will always be there for me, an amazing and wonderful person who would not let go no matter what.

I met this person in late 2010. It was my first day in IBM, and I was a hundred miles away from home. I don’t know why I noticed him. He was just there, beside a solid, humungous post. Until now, I don’t know what that post is for, but I have a theory that the office layout was changed due to some reason; that’s why that post stood in a not-so-corner in the conference room.

He was in his red jersey jacket. He had long hair, but not so long; it didn’t reach his shoulders. He wore a shy smile, but he had the perfect teeth. He was the second person to speak in that meeting. I was really fascinated by him. There was something in him that held my attention. After speaking for less than three minutes, he went back to his seat beside the post without looking at me.

This February, me and the guy in red jersey jacket who amazed me that day will be celebrating our third anniversary, but I feel like we’ve just started dating months ago. They said the thrill and the passion will die as the relationship gets older, which I also used to believe, but I can attest it is not true.

We don’t see each other often. The truth is, we haven’t spent more than ten hours physically together in a day, and we haven’t seen each other for a long time now. I miss him so much. The last time I saw him was February last year, in less than three hours because I had a plane to catch. And before that February meeting, we had not seen each other for twenty months. But we talk all the time. Almost every single day. For hours and hours. He makes me feel he’s just around.

And even if his two closest friends are staying for the night for an online game, he still calls me and talks to me. On random nights, we watch the same video, listen to the same music, or read the same article at the same time. He also makes me feel like I already belong to their family. He has an amazing mother and a wonderful brother.

Maybe it’s really different, like magical, if you’re with the person destined for you. See? I now believe in destiny.

Whenever I’m with him, I’m most comfortable in my own skin. We can talk anything under the sun—from health, latest science fiction movie, a Yahoo! News article, show business, wedding guests’ list, number of kids we want, forex trading, recipes, investments, bitcoins, and the just-released online game. Anything—including our feelings, our fears, our insecurities, our dreams, and our future. It always feels good that someone knows you so much that they don’t have to say anything to make you feel safe, feel secure, feel loved. He always makes me feel like I’m the most beautiful woman in the world and I can do anything my heart desires.

Every time I ponder on this beautiful gift given to me by life, I think that maybe I wasn’t a bad person after all—because some higher power granted me such a wonderful love story. A lot of people would tell me that it’s not always sunshine in a relationship, that it will always end up in a heart break. Funny I also used to believe in such a thing. But now, I believe in happy endings.

This was a year I realized nothing is too late if you decide right then and there to start doing what you want to do and stick to it. This was a year I started earning a living doing things I love doing.

Reading is my first love, but writing comes close to it. Right after I resigned as a business development executive, I went back to work as an editor in a publishing house and built my freelance career at the same time. After six months, I jumped on the freelancing world fully-equipped. This is the best decision I’ve made—well, second to saying “yes” to the man of my life. Right now, I work from home, more than eight hours a day. I work at least twelve hours—including Sundays, but I’m happier this way than having a boss. Plus, I don’t have to commute, and I don’t have to keep checking my watch during breaks.

Who says I’ll be forever freelancing? I also dream of owning my own company. A big company. I wrote everything down on my journal, my dream book. I believe I have the power to make it come true. Still working on it—well, I’ve been working on it since I was eighteen, but success doesn’t come easy, because if it is, everybody’s doing it.

This was a year I started to call on Him again. This was a year I started to become my best self.

This was a year I let go some people in my life—people who always tell me, subtly or bluntly, discouraging words. Some of these people were my closest friends for the longest time, and that was the hardest part, but I know they’re toxic to my dreams and to my mentality. I moved on without them. At first, I felt so empty and unsure without friends whom I could have fun whenever I want. And then my depression started eating me alive. That’s when I started calling on Him. I never thought I was far away and shut Him out too long that it was so hard to open up my heart to Him. Then He let in new people in my life—sincere and kind-hearted people, beautiful people.

This was a year I learned lessons the hardest way and reap bountiful rewards. This was a year that, when all my dreams would come true, I would always look back, for I know something big in me was awakened this year.

A Clock and a Riddle


Dark, familiar alleys
Just down the busy subway
Faces pass on a lens
Blurry, not a single friend.

The past beckons
Frantic as the Armageddon
It’s claws open
Seduction, fatal weapon.

Should I go in,
To a place I’ve been?
Or should I look away,
And fake sanity in San Jose?

The ground moves
Fate approves
Shackled once more
In a task I’ll be sorry for.

Flung to a broad shoulder
Breaths get colder
Not a single sound comes out
Thought’s muddy as doubt.

How come you cannot see?
Or hear or feel what I pray?
Thirty-one months, yes
Ain’t enough for this, I guess.

Your soul, it’s shadow
It pointed like an arrow
Straight to a state
Of normalcy and giggly dates.

Entrusted my secrets
Where riddles run deepest
No threats, no aliases
Oh, paradise–heaven’s best.

Your heat warms me
Never been this free
Oh, the clock counted down
Snickering round and round.

Your beauty, all true
How can I say adieu?
This heart is whipped
Raw and silenced and shipped

Your crisp laughter
Still rings in my ear
Dirty, dirty jokes
Left with a mourning cloak.

Your plan of the future
Vivid in its caricature
Yes, I do, I’ll say
But please save me today.

Is the wall too thick?
Is the distance so slick?
Oceans grin
And mountains sin.

I won’t fuss
I won’t cuss
If your life goes on
Somehow, I’ve won.

You’re spared, my dear
Of a deadly affair
A lass, oh so pretty, pretty
Will trip your heart someday.

I’ll go on, no disputes
With this dirt-caked boots
Trod to a life
I’ve sat with strife.

Memories, they kill
Slow and painful, they will
You laughter again echoes
Fleeting in the deserted meadow.

A door shut.
A gunshot.

I no longer pray
That you’ll find me
We’re both home
You in a room, and me in a tomb.

Daily Prompt: Name that…You! | Today’s Monday, so Just Call Me Alex


One’s name is the sweetest word a person could hear, especially if it’s spoken by someone special. I can’t remember the last time I heard mine, I mean, the name my parents used to call me when I was younger and when I still didn’t have any clue that, one day, I would be a different person, with a different name. I love that name, but it’s a shame I can’t tell you now what it is.

Today’s Monday, so just call me Alex. Alex is a name of Greek origin. It means a man’s defender or warrior. It can be used as a boy’s or a girl’s name. My last name is Walters. I randomly selected it to go with Alex. Walters means ruler of the army.

Alex Walters. It sounds legit, right?

I scan the whole area. People are busy with their lives, maybe trying to get to their next destination at the soonest possible time. I can imagine happy family dinners waiting for them.

“We welcome you to JetBlue Airways, Flight 129…” The announcement fades as a girl walks past me, squinting at her ticket on her right hand and clutching the strap of her satchel with her left. She stops and looks at the flight schedules board. After staring at the mounted boards, she takes takes a seat, less than two meters away from me.

I can hear my heart pumping. I hold the Angels and Demons right in my face, pretending to read. My heartbeat is not slowing down. I stare at the same line for two minutes, praying at the back of my mind she will not glance my way.

“Robin?” I hear her say. She’s already sitting beside me. How can I not notice? Her perfume… My thoughts are hushed. 

I continue staring at the same line on the page, maybe somehow it will give me a clue on what to do.

“Robin, is that you? I know it’s you. Oh my god, Robin, it’s really you!” Her voice is getting excited. She’s smiling. She even touches my arm.

I lower the book to my lap. “Sorry, can I help you?” I ask, trying to sound friendly.

Her smile instantly fades. She looks shock at my reply. She opens her mouth, but whatever she’s trying to say, it’s not coming out. She just stares at me.

“I think you’ve mistaken me for somebody,” I say, smiling at her broadly to snap her out of the confusion that’s eating her right in front of me. “Happens sometimes,” I continue.

“Oh.” That’s the only reply I hear from her.

“Alex,” I say, extending my hand. For some reason, the name sounds strange in my ears.

“Sorry, yeah, I thought you were someone I knew,” she say, not removing her eyes from my face. “Lulu,” she say, shaking my extended hand.

Her palm feels so soft. I don’t want to let go.

“Calling all passengers for Flight 129, please–”

“Oh, that’s my flight,” I say, pulling my hand back. Putting the book inside my duffel bag, I stand up. “Bye,” I say, casually waving at her.

Good job, Alex, I thought. I walk towards the boarding area, not feeling the floors beneath me. If this was a different time and a different circumstance, I would’ve hugged her tight. And maybe tell her I miss her and let her know I never stopped thinking about her.

After this assignment, I’ll reclaim my rights to that name. Someday, someday… 


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“Sweet Lorraine” by 96-Year-Old Fred Stobaugh


When GreenShoe Studio, Inc. held a local contest for singer-songwriters, they were expecting videos to be uploaded on the internet and the link sent to them, but a big manila envelope arrived at their studio and caught their attention. The sender says he has written a song for his wife.

It was from Fred Stobaugh, a 96-year-old man who had just lost his wife in April this year. Out of loneliness when he sits at home they once shared, he hummed to himself a song for her. He said he was never a musician. “I don’t sing. I would scare people. Ha-ha,” he said on the P.S. portion of his letter.

When he found out on a local newspaper’s ad about GreenShoe Studio’s contest, he sent in his lyrics, never expecting a phone call from the studio.

“I met Lorraine in 1938. We dated for two years, then we married. June 26th would have been our 73rd anniversary. She gave me seventy-five years of her life.”


The staff in the studio was touched by the beautiful story and lyrics. They decided to make the lyrics come alive. They record the song for him.

This is the lyrics of the song:

Sweet Lorraine

Oh, sweet Lorraine
I wish we could do
The good times
All over again

Oh, sweet Lorraine
Life goes around
But never again

Oh, sweet Lorraine
I wish we could do
The good times
All over again
The good times
All over again

The memories will always
Linger on
Oh, sweet Lorraine

The memories will
Always linger on

When Fred Stobaugh heard the song for the first time, he couldn’t stop from crying. All he could say was “Wonderful. Just wonderful…”


“It was a wonderful seventy-five years…that I just off to think kinda unreal, dreaming or something, but…it was real. That’s all I could say. Real. I really, really miss her.”

Right now, the song is climbing up to the top ten in iTunes. On GreenShoe’s website, they provided Fred’s mailing address, in case people would want to contact him personally. Here’s the address:

Fred Stobaugh
P.O. Box 4063
Bartonville, Illinois

For the full-length documentary, watch this video. But don’t forget to prepare the Kleenex first. You will need it.

Note: I stumbled on this story when I was reading a post, “A Truly Beautiful Song & Story,” of one of the bloggers I follow, Andrew Hines. Andrew, thanks for sharing this.

A Fraction of a Beating Heart


Why do people fall out of love? Why do they get over just like that? Do they wake up one day and realize they just don’t love the person anymore? Where did all the butterflies go? Does true love exist?

When we fall in love, we are in a state that we cannot think of anything that will break us apart from that person. Nothing is that strong to come in between. That is when we still feel the butterflies and the twenty-four hours in a day seem not long enough for us to be with that person. That is when we feel every nerve in our body is alive just to be beside him, and just being there beside him feels so perfect and feels so right that even your bed where you slept alone for the last twenty years seems to lack something all of a sudden. You yearn so much of the person—his presence, his attention, his love and care, his approval, his happiness, his everything.

And then as you came to know the person more, you realized some of the things are not what you expected. Maybe you’ll find that his sense of humor is a little off, maybe you’ll realize he doesn’t excuse himself if he farts, maybe you realize he loves food that never existed in your food vocabulary, maybe he doesn’t sing you songs and give you chocolates and flowers whenever you fight, maybe his political preference is what you detested, maybe the movies he suggested just don’t fit your taste, and maybe the music he listens to is unbearable—and the list goes on and on. And after realizing those things, which may take a week to some years, depending on how you progress and open up to each other, you realize, no, definitely, this is not that package that you signed up for.

And then you—or your partner—wait for that particular day, when you can spill the beans and say it’s over, that you are just not compatible, that you are too different, and the gap is too big to be filled out. It just doesn’t work.

Breakups happen. Sometimes, someone in the relationship moved on the day after that. And the other starts thinking, Am I that easy to forget? (Insert music notes here.) Did he really love me all those times? Yes, maybe he really did. Then how come he moved on just like that? Maybe because he already distanced himself from you before that day.

Those things don’t happen overnight. Those are the little things that piled up one after the other each single day, creating a barrier between the two of you over time and breaking you apart.

Nobody is perfect, we are very well aware of this fact. Then how come there are couples who stayed together ’til their last breath, holding on to that vow they created many and many years ago, regardless they were in a church full of people, or they were with the crickets in some place and the sole cow chewing its cud stood as their only witness, and telling the world they’re perfect for each other?

Maybe, after realizing that the person they thought was heaven-sent to them was actually just another human being, they accept their eccentricities. Yes, they still have that dream guy or dream girl with the attached qualities, but their love is bigger that their preference or expectations—or shall I say, they choose to stay and nurture the relationship.

They choose to accept and rejoice the differences. They enjoy the things they do together. They compromise willingly. They celebrate each little thing. They find ways to surprise each other. They disagree on politics and how the government should be run. They engage on debates that neither would accept the other’s opinion. They argue on which celebrity looks hotter. They can never agree on how many kids they will have and how to raise them. They laugh at each other and at themselves. They hold each other in times of need. They know when to talk and when to give each other space. They know when things should be dealt together or individually. They no longer fear the sometimes-necessary distance between them. They don’t get them away from their friends and family. They inspire each other and support each other’s dreams. They want their partners to themselves, but understand that it might suffocate them. They understand they cannot be their partner’s whole world for it is not healthy. They respect their individuality. They get away from each other, enough to miss their presence. They listen without judging. They put humor when things get heavy. And most importantly, they communicate, not just through their lips, but through their hearts.

If you ask me how they do it with hearts, I don’t know. Maybe it is something you develop through the days you spent together on the process of knowing each other and strengthening the bond, that a portal of this beating organ opens up and invisible strands make their way out of the skin of your chest and connect to the strands from the other heart. (Okay, so much about fiction.) Maybe it’s just one of those human mysteries that are destined to stay a mystery.

When the butterflies and the thrill of removing the mystery cloak that seemed to interest you when you first met vanishes, but you still smile hearing their name and you feel the warm, peaceful feeling inside of you when you think about “the two of you,” when that first kiss which happened many years ago didn’t blur, when despite the rough times together, you are still willing to go on and still get excited about the future, then, I would say, “Congratulations! You passed the turbulent stage and on your way to a non-guaranteed smooth but beautiful life together, where love is in the form of friendship and fondness and acceptance and on the vision of a future together through it all.”

And for me, that is what they label “true love.”

Yes, true love exists and lasts—and that, my friends, I say, is a matter of choice.


Note: This is inspired by a friend’s breakup news I heard this morning.

Add-on: And thank you to the person who let me know that love is always a wonderful thing. I love you.

A Dream on a July Night


My boyfriend and I was attending a cocktail party. It looked like his high school reunion. There are only a few faces I recognized—that of his friends that he already introduced to me in random meetings before that night.

Everybody looked polished—I mean, it was like they’d been preparing for that small, yet warm, gathering. Everybody looked gorgeous and stunning, happy and excited. Seemed like everybody really know everybody, uh, well, me as an exception.

Good thing, my boyfriend and I, together with his friends that I know, was in one table. They were talking about their high school days, the crazy things that they did, and the unique description they had for each teacher. It was a lively conversation. One of them was so engrossed in recalling all those things that he had to act them out, and the rest would burst out laughing.

It could have been a fun night and a happy dream, just like any other dream, nothing to think about, if it ended there—if I set up the alarm clock at least two hours earlier, but I didn’t.

From the entrance of the convention hall, a girl, same as our age, appeared. I could not believe my eyes. My whole body froze, and no words came out of my mouth. Everybody in the table became quiet, but not surprised. It was like they knew she could come anytime, but didn’t expect her to. She paused at the entrance, darted her eyes from one side to another, as if looking for something, or shall I say, someone. A look of relief crossed her face as soon as she spotted our table. She smiled at our direction and waved. She looked so happy.

I saw how his face looked while looking at her. He seemed to be expecting her. There was this happy sparkle in his eyes. Suddenly, it seemed that all around him faded. He didn’t look disturbed, even a bit, despite the awkward silence.

He stood up and came to her. They met halfway. He hugged her. He hugged her so tight that he really lifted her an inch or two from the floor. She hugged back. It was a perfect scene of two lovers who had not seen each other for a long time. Time seemed to stop for them as well for me who became a spectator of a love reunited.

As hugs couldn’t contain their emotions, he moved back, just enough for him to see her face while still having his arms around her waist. We held our breath for his next move. And yes, he leaned down to kiss her. They shared a slow, passionate, loving kiss. I could hear the crowd gasped as I could hear my heart crushed into thousand little pieces. That was one of the most beautiful and romantic scene I’ve ever seen and, yet, the most painful.

The next minute was an eternity for me. At last, they walked towards us, hand-in-hand, with beautiful smiles plastered on their faces. As they came into full view, I realized, the girl and I wore the same dress. It was the same cute little dress, same style, same cut. It just that she had it in royal blue and I had it in pearly white. Good thing, I wore my hair down and she had hers a bun, like that of a ballerina, or else we would be like up for a production number.

Kringgg… Kringgg… I was transported back to my room in my comfy, old pajamas and T-shirt. I answered it. It was him, my boyfriend. I smiled as I heard sweet nothings on the other side of the line. That sexy voice always enchants me. After an hour, before he hung up, he reminded, “Don’t forget. Tonight.”

“Of course, I won’t,” I said and gave him a kiss through the phone.

“I love you.” That three words would always give me butterflies every time.

“I love you more,” I answered.

As the call ended, I quickly got off from the bed and had a quick shower. Less than thirty minutes, I was off to a mall to get a new dress I’m gonna wear that night. I always do things at the last minute. But I already knew what dress to buy because I already checked a store the other day.

The saleslady recognized me as I entered the store. She smiled. I went to the part of the store where I knew the dress was displayed and she followed me.

“Miss, do you still have that cute white short dress I checked the other day?” I asked, sounding hopeful, for I already searched but couldn’t find it.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I think it’s already out-of-stock. We don’t have the white dress anymore,” she said.

I sighed. “Oh my god, what am I gonna do? I don’t have enough time to look for a new one,” I muttered to myself.

“But let me double check,” the saleslady offered. She quickly left and disappeared at the door behind the cashier.

I started to panic. It was already noon. I thought of other stores I could check if there’s really no stock left.

The saleslady came back after three minutes with a smile in her face. “Good news. We still have the dress, same size, but not in white.”

“What color do you have?” I asked, praying it wouldn’t be orange, red, or yellow.

“It’s in blue. Royal blue.”

“Oh, thank you,” I said, relieved. “I’ll get it,” I said without a doubt. “Royal blue is definitely okay.”

After paying, I dashed out of the mall, excited. It had been months since the last time I saw him. I terribly missed him. And I was just so excited to see him again. If he wouldn’t be attending a high school reunion, I would prefer to see him somewhere we could talk, like, really talk, just the two of us, without the noise.

I checked the time. It was nearly one in the afternoon. I still had two hours to make it to the airport. It would be an hour flight, so by four, I would be there. That would be fine, I thought. The party would start at seven, so I still have time to prepare. I already told him that I might be late. He said it’s okay as long as I can come.

I hailed a cab as I saw one. I told the driver where my place was. After a minute on the cab, I received a text message. “I’ll be waiting. I love you.”

“Promise. I’ll be there. I love you, too.” I typed and sent it. That was the last thing I remembered before a long screech of tires and metals crushed deafened me. The world swirled around me in mostly black and white. Specks of colors joined in from time to time.

And the alarm clock rung at its mightiest for a minute—and stopped by itself.



I was sorting my paper files when I stumbled on this poem–again. This was given to me years ago by somebody who used to be special. He didn’t write it himself, I remembered him confessing. He said he just saw it online, copy-pasted it, printed it, and pasted it on a yellow construction paper. He painfully traced the invisible outline, making the paper that the poem was printed on looked like an odd-looking cloud, with sharp edges made out of the not-so-good turns of the scissors. I didn’t mind. I know he didn’t like doing artworks in the first place. I really appreciated the effort.

I’m sure I read it the day he handed it to me, and a hundred times more on random days after that–before it was put away, before dust began dancing on its words.

And today, I read it once more. It had been five years. Weird, but it sounded different. I could have memorized it before, but never understood it–though it was written in the plainest form, void of metaphors.

by Dawn Nissen

With you, it’s all about voiceless communication–
Always knowing exactly what to say,
But never actually having to say it.

When no one seems to be listening, you hear.
When I am hurt but don’t show it, you know.
When I turn away to hide my tears, you see.
When I feel like I can’t get through to anyone, you understand.

Your eyes glow just for me,
And I know you’re proud.
You flash your magical, healing smile my way
And I know everything will be alright.
You know everything there is to know about me
You know what worries me,
What keeps me up at night,
And what shames me so badly
That I can’t share it with anyone.
Most importantly, though, none of those things bother you.

You’ve restored my faith in people and proved that there is a thing called true friendship.

I read it once more, and all the while, my mind painted a mental picture of the most special person in my life right now–the man with an assuring smile, eyes full of love and understanding, lips that speaks wit and humor, and, of course, a Batman figurine on his side. And with that thought, a smile voluntarily formed on my lips. I couldn’t ask for more.

I folded the paper and put it away. I’m sure the dust would dance on it for eternity.


Note: No copyright infringement intended. The poem belongs to the author, Dawn Nissen.