Journaling, Poetry, Story of Us

His Name

I heard your name for the firs time in ten months today. The sound of your name stirred unbidden thoughts in my mind, as if someone threw a pebble in the pond to watch the dirt drift to the surface. I wanted to know if you were okay, if you finally got what you wanted and if life had been nicer to you than it was to me. But when I found out that you asked about me, my heart pounded a little bit faster. I wasn’t prepared for that and I was taken aback, as though I was sucked inside a wormhole, traveling back to that night when we were standing underneath the lamppost and the light illuminated your eyes, making it appear brighter than it really was. I thought at that moment, “The stars were made for us.”
I blinked and found myself staring out into space, seeing the silhouette of your body as if they were taped inside my eyelids. I thought about how it would be if I would suddenly see you standing there in front of me, our distance only an arm’s length. I doubt I could look you in the eye. I’m scared of what I might see in them. But mostly, I’m scared of what I might feel, because honestly, after all this time, I’m still not ready.

Diary, English, Journaling, Life, Poetry, Thoughts

This is our story

Words are not what they used to be,
back when each word you wrote carried the weight of your hand
and with it the stories of how you learned to write
and the mistakes that taught you how.

Typewritten words are so swift and quick it has taken away
the beauty and art of writing. It does not
teach you how the wrong words, even when erased, leave a mark.
Your fingers do not carry the weight of perfecting your handwriting, you just choose
whichever font suits you and format it within seconds.
It had become a habit you’re used to doing that repeating it
over and over again
takes away everything until it becomes

That is our story.
A bunch of words that never carried the weight of our lives
that it always left us feeling empty. We tried to bridge the gap
with words, filling the empty spaces.
But when you fill emptiness with nothing, it implodes.
And every time we made a mistake, we jumped
one step back and pretended that it never happened.
We did this over and over again that the marks our mistakes left became
permanent, we forgot it was never there when we started.

I asked you to write me a letter,
one that carried the weight of your hand, the heaviness of your thoughts,
one that carried stories of mistakes, of revisions, because you wanted your
handwriting to be perfect. But you didn’t. Instead,
you gave me one printed from a computer shop across the street because
you were too lazy to set up your printer.
The words sounded poetic, it was an ocean I had to dive deep into.
But it meant nothing.

I knew you typed that letter in five minutes, that
you didn’t bother to think of the words in advance because
you knew that you could always press delete whenever you wanted to.
You would right click one of the words and check out its synonyms
because you thought it would make the words sound better. But it didn’t.
Your letter lost its meaning from the very moment you typed it in your computer screen.

If only.
If only we learned from the start that empty words
would never fill the space between us. Maybe we wouldn’t have hearts
jagged and broken because our pieces never fit together.
Maybe we would never make those mistakes over and over again. Maybe we would never
pretend that we felt warm when we wrapped our arms around each other,
maybe we would have the strength to let go because
we knew we were better on our own.
If only. But we didn’t.

English, Journaling, Life, Photography, Poetry

Scratch Paper

Why do writers waste so much paper? I asked you that once. You laughed as you pulled me into your lap. You answered me in hushed tones, whispers that spoke of mistakes you must make to come up with something beautiful, of things you must waste to find a jewel.

Am I a scratch paper? I asked. You held my face then kissed my forehead, then my nose, then my lips. No, you aren’t. You are my muse.

edgeofjade - photography 1
(c) Dean Canizo




It’s been a while.

But no, it’s been a year since I last wrote to you. I don’t even know why I stopped or why I bothered to write all these letters when I know you would never read it. Maybe, I wanted to fool myself into pretending that you were beside me instead, listening to me talk, instead of reading what I wrote. Maybe, I wanted to believe that in an alternate universe, in another lifetime, I’m sitting beside you, my head on your shoulder and I could feel your faint heartbeat.

All these pretenses kept me going. It gave me something to hold on to, something to believe in. But I knew deep in my heart, it was just pretend. It would never happen.

But still, here I am, writing this letter at 11:09 in the evening. I should be sleeping but I find myself thinking about you, about us. Wondering what happened, what I did wrong that you turned away from me.

Do you know how hard it was? How you broke my heart? One moment, we were sitting close to each other, whispering stories and laughing. But the next, you wouldn’t even look at me, you wouldn’t even listen.

The moment you left me hanging was the day I knew I had fallen in love. What is it with me and guys like you? Did you know that I would find myself falling in love with you once you were gone? Did you know that would happen, that I would have to live a life always wondering, “What if?

You couldn’t have known. You wouldn’t have done that on purpose right? You wouldn’t hurt me like that.

I wanted so much to forget you, but I couldn’t. I see you everywhere. From the books I read to the poems I write. I see you on the park, walking slowly, listening to your IPod, and a crease on your forehead. I see you on the benches, writing poems in your head. I see you leaning on the bookshelves, browsing through the pages of a novel that caught your eye. You were an illusion, a memory I tried to preserve.

But that’s all you could ever be, a memory that I wanted to last. As the days went by, I realized it wasn’t really you I was longing for; it was the feeling of being in love with someone that I wanted to last. It was the memory of having someone that I missed. I got so used to moving on that I forgot that my heart was already mended. It took me too long to realize that I already had the closure I needed.

My heart already said goodbye, but my mind didn’t listen. It still thinks I’m lost in love, drowning in tears. I’m not.



Ten Candles

When I was ten years old, there was nothing I wanted more than a birthday cake. I would draw on a piece of paper the same birthday cake I envisioned over and over again. The cake was always drawn in an uneven circle, with chocolate flavors and blue frosting. Sugar flowers decorated the sides and a “Happy Birthday Jade” was delicately written with yellow syrup. Ten white candles were stuck at the center and a stick figure of me with my family always appeared in the background. All year round it was all I could think. It was everything I dreamt of.

A brief story why I wanted a birthday cake, it was because I never had one but my younger siblings always had a cake for their birthdays. When I was five, my sister Micah celebrated her first birthday, her cake was yellow with cherries and vanilla flavoring. When I was seven, my brother Joshua had a blue cake with little toy figurines, chocolate coins and marshmallows. Each year, my father would come home with a box of cake for their birthdays. With a graceful hand, my mother would take the cake out of the box, place it on the table and light the candles. Each year, for my birthday, I was lucky if I got scrambled eggs and a glass of chocolate.

At first, none of these bothered me. For all I knew, birthday cakes were privileges given only to the younger ones. But when I was invited to my cousin’s birthday party, I was surprised. No, not surprised, rather I was shocked and devastated. At the table, a cake stood in all its glory. I never felt so confused before. With furrowed brows and a scowl I asked my cousin why she had a birthday cake.

She laughed, “Why can’t I?”

“But you’re the oldest! You aren’t supposed to have a birthday cake.” I protested with childish persistence.

She pinched my cheeks and laughed at my silliness. “Where in the world did you get that? Anyone can have a birthday cake, whether you’re the eldest or not.”

That night when I came home, my mother asked, “How was the party?”

I answered, “It was the worst.”

I slumped into my bed, pondering my cousin’s answer. It was then that I first pulled a pencil and paper from the table and drew the cake I always wanted for my birthday. That night, it planted a seed of foolish hope, jealousy and sadness that would tear me apart from my family, eight years later.

That year, when December 8th rolled in, I sat in front of my table and counted the number of cakes I’d drawn and pasted on the wall. 50 pictures in all, one for each day since I started drawing one. That night, I drew the 51st cake and laughed at the silliness of it when I realized that all 51 cakes looked the same.

December 9. I woke up and stared at the ceiling. I didn’t want to get up. I was excited and afraid. Surely, my parents would have noticed by now the growing number of cakes I have on the wall. I closed my eyes and tried to listen to the hushed clattering of plates in the dining room, imagining the cake that would surprise me. Five minutes later, my mother bellowed for me to get up. There was no cake, not even a piece of egg or a glass of chocolate.

When I got home, I stood in front of our house. Crossing my fingers, I hoped that a surprise birthday party would be waiting for me. But the moment I opened the door, a rush of disappointment met me. There was no cake, no surprise party. My father wasn’t even home for dinner. Mother said he was working late.

When I laid in bed that night, tears coursed down my cheeks, leaving stain on my soft pillow. I realized that no one even greeted me, not even my mom. Nobody remembered my birthday. I slept with a heavy heart.

The next day, I woke up with the realization that something inside me had changed. I touched my chest and felt that my beating heart was broken. Years later, as I recounted the story to my friends in college, they laughed and taunted me. Teasing that surely, a birthday cake couldn’t possibly break my heart. They said I was ridiculous, I said they were fools. Boyfriends and bad dates weren’t the only ones who could break your heart. Your parents can, your family can a cake can. Trust me, I know. Each year, all three broke me heart.

With a heavy heart, I took down all the 51 drawings and kept it in an unwanted shoebox and kicked it under the bed. When my mother came in to clean the room that night, she glanced at the wall and asked, “What did you do with drawings?”

I stared at my notebook, pretending to work on my homework. “I threw them.”

She placed a hand on my shoulder, peering at my notebook. “Why?”

“They were ugly drawings.” I shut the notebook and said, “It’s late, I’m going to sleep.”

She nodded and watched me tuck myself in bed. She switched off the lights and for a moment stood by the door. I wasn’t sure if I heard say “Belated happy birthday,” I pulled the covers over my head, convincing myself it was all a dream.

I stopped drawing cakes that year. It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that I started drawing again.  My mother had this idea that I should start a journal, writing down my thoughts and all. She said that it would help me cope through adolescence.

But I didn’t write my feelings on the journal. All I did was fill the pages with cakes every night. And each year, as I started another journal, I would open the notebook to the first page and write a wish list. I always wrote same thing at number one.

  1. A birthday cake
  2. Linda Sue Park’s book
  3. Tulips
  4. A yellow dress
  5. Dancing shoes

Every night, for 6 years instead or writing about crushes and girlish ranting, I drew cakes. 365 cakes, sometimes it was 366. At the end of the year, I would silently look at the last page, tracing the drawing and promising myself that I would never draw again. But the next day, I would start again.

I carried this foolish tradition with me through highschool and college. With a broken heart and wavering hope, I would silently plead and pray that fairies of eve God would grant my wishes. Each year, I would be disappointed.

It wasn’t until my eighteenth birthday that I got my first cake. It didn’t look like any of my dreams. It was small, no bigger than a cupcake with white frosting and single candle stuck at the center. But my bestfriend Gale looks so happy when she gave it to me at dinner and even sung the birthday song. When I blew the candle, she snapped a photo and winked as she asked me if I wished for a boyfriend.

In my room, I placed the cake on the table and stared at it for hours. When midnight passed, I took a fork and ate the cake, tears spilling from my eyes. Instead of happiness at receiving my first cake, I felt grief. Something inside me died. That something was hope. As I ate the cake, I came to the realization that my parents would never give me one.

That day, I stopped drawing cakes on my journal. I took out the shoebox and kept it along with the other journals. I closed the box and taped the lid shut. I pushed it at the back of my closet. I promised that I would never draw a cake  again. This time, I kept that promise. That same year, I walked away from my family, always keeping my distance, avoiding my siblings’ birthdays and lived alone.

After I graduated from college, I decided to leave the country and went to Europe. There, I fulfilled my dreams of becoming a designer and an artist. Two years later, I moved to Korea. That was when I opened the shoebox and looked at the drawings.

I stared with sad amazement at the drawings, my fingers tracing each cake, softly flipping the pages of each notebook. For a while, I sat motionless until I decided it was time to say goodbye to the drawings. I wasn’t going to burn them, nor throw them away. The drawings were the shattered pieces of my heart, shards of broken dreams that walked with me everyday. I couldn’t throw them away, but I decided it was time to move on. I would say goodbye in the best way that I can.

I ripped each drawing from the notebooks and laid it on the floor. For months, I carefully cut and pasted the drawings together, gradually forming a collaged photo of myself when I was ten years old. On my 24th birthday, I unveiled the photo at my exhibit. It was the centerpiece of my series.

As I was sticking a red ribbon on the artworks that I had sold, a man walked up to me and smiled, “How much would you sell that one for?”

I looked at the portrait he was pointing at and said, “That’s not for sale.”

Raising an eyebrow, he crossed his arms and said, “I’ll pay any amount.”

“Sorry but I can’t sell it. You can choose another one.”

“Everything’s sold except for that one.”

“I’ll make something else.”

He dropped his hands to his side, staring at me for a minute or two. He put his hands on his pockets, “Why won’t you sell it?”

I smiled, “Because it’s the story of my life.”

That night, the collaged portrait was the only thing I didn’t sell. Instead, I wrapped it up and sent it to my parents who were now living in Canada. I told them the exhibit was a success. They sent me a gift. It was necklace, I never wore it.

When I said goodbye to those drawings, I opened another door in my life. I may not have sold the portrait to that man, but I did tell him my story. Hours later, before I went home, he offered his hand, “You can call me Lay,” and waved goodbye. A week later, I saw him again and we ended up dating.

For my 25th birthday, Lay surprised me with a bouquet of tulips. I smiled and kissed him under the stars. Leaning on his shoulders, I watched his hands play the guitar and listened to him sing. I said to myself, “This is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

For the first time I was right.

When Lay drove me home, he smiled and said, “I still have one birthday surprise for you.”

I laughed and asked, “Is it a ring?”

He reached for my hand, “No. But do you want one?”

I giggled and felt my cheeks blush, “Yeah, but not today. Maybe next year.”

When I opened the door to my house, Lay covered my eyes with his hands. Between protests and laughter, he led me inside the house.

Removing his hands from my eyes, I looked inside the dark room. That was when I saw it.

A candle softly illuminated light in the dark room. I could hear soft voices singing, I could see shadows forming. I closed my eyes for a second, wondering if this was all a dream. When I opened them, I saw my parents holding a cake. It looked like the one I had always drawn.

I stared at my parents, the tears spilling from my eyes. A wave of happiness rushed over me, filling every space of my soul. Their smiles seemed to pick the broken pieces of my heart and put it together. I looked at the cake and counted the candles, there were ten.