What is life if not a process to get from one moment of time to the next.

If in that process, one finds happiness, joy, satisfaction, fulfillment — well and good. If the path contains despair, uncertainty, fear, pain — well that is something one must accept.

Our struggles give meaning to our victories. It has been with great difficulty that I remember that now. I must also remember and accept that struggles are, by definition, painful. They are our frustrations, boredom, impatience, seeming incompetence, defeats that happen over and over again.

Indecision is the devil that hovers on my back. It paralyzes me because I am afraid of being wrong, of looking small, of bothering others. Indecision happens because I lacked preparation; because I have not studied enough; because I was lazy; because I was afraid. One gets tired of being afraid — but fear returns again and again, like grassess and weeds in one’s garden. It probably will never be completely vanquished. But one has to control one’s fears. That is the hardest thing that one must learn.

I must remember that when I was a child I was less fearful. At that time I knew a lot less too. One can not un-know things, one cannot be a child again; nor is it an acceptable position to be in. Fear must be conquered using the things that we know. Being ignorant and brave can be a recipe for disaster.

I am trying to reclaim my life. Retracing my footsteps back to when I was more enthusiastic and less diffident. I want to see her again, that woman who decided to leave despite her misgivings …. because she knew that she will learn more by leaving than by staying behind.

Where is she? Where is she?

I am praying that she is just here somewhere. I am praying for her to have the fortitude, the will and the bravery to see through the challenges that she will face in this path that she has chosen. I am praying like a mother prays for her child … I am praying the way my mother would have prayed for me if she were here … I must remember to pray.






Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds

Cool stuff! 🙂

No More Harvard Debt

A few weeks ago, my buddy and former HBS classmate, Allan, asked me if I’d like to give a talk about my debt pay-off to the youth group that he leads at his church. I was intrigued and asked who the audience would be. “About a dozen young men, ages 12 to 18.” I became both very interested and very intimidated at the same time. What a great time to talk to them about debt! Young people should hear this message sooner rather than later. But also, what a difficult time to talk to them about debt! Will they listen and pay attention? Can they relate? How the heck do I effectively talk to them about debt without getting too simplistic and general?

Well, I literally just got back from giving the talk, and I couldn’t be happier with how it went. The group of guys was extremely engaged and…

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The Two L’s

“Each year, 20-something girls flock to New York City in search of the two L’s: labels and love.”Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and The City (The Movie, 2008)

The world would be such a disorganized place if there were no such thing as “labels”. For example, my cabinet drawers have labels —  “shirts”, “shorts”, “undergarments”. My kitchen cupboards have labels, which are invisible because I hate putting paper signs in my kitchen, but they are there nonetheless — “sauces and condiments”, “rice/flour/pasta”, “herbs and spices” … and so on and so forth.

Imagining a world with no labels, I see a Universe just after the Big Bang! Or a zygote just after fertilization. Everything is an undifferentiated, messy, “what-might-have-beens” (or a “what-may-just-be’s”, depending on one’s point of view).

For the sake of order, one needs labels.

So I’ve been pondering on this.  And with  other labels that define (or confine — depending on how one goes at it) one’s life.

Labels that are employed not only  for brevity and neatness,  but for convenience. We hear or look at the words and feel like we “know” someone. Words such as: married, single, separated, living-together, parent, childless, employed/underemployed/unemployed.

There is a certain box one can tick — and that will give others a glimpse into a life; into one’s not-so-secret underwear drawer. One would wish that  single words (or phrases) will not be used to summarize the complexity and richness; the colors and the choices and the stories that made up that life. But they are there, they are being used — they are easy, they are neat, they are comfortable.

Labels are confining but we search for them anyway to give definitions to ourselves. They gather us and give us a semblance of coherence. They counter-act the chaos that love inevitably brings into our lives.

Of course, in a way, love can also be a label.


A Romantic Story

I can't find the website where I downloaded this photo! Wherever you are, thank you and I promise I will try my due diligence to find you and then will make the proper ownership attribution.

I can’t find the website where I downloaded this photo! Wherever you are, thank you and I promise I will try my due diligence to find you and then I will make the proper ownership attribution.


“Okay don’t be cute now, I hate it when you get cute.”

“I am not being cute.”

“What is it with you following me around then? I mean WordPress, then Facebook, then Twitter? Thank God, Multiply went out of business!”

“I just want to be near you. I want to see you everyday. Listen to what you have to say. Look at the world through your eyes.”

“Are you listening to yourself? Look at the world through my eyes? The world is an apocalypse.”

“An apocalypse with you in it is paradise for me.”

“And why do you want to see me? What’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

“I have nothing for you.”

“Well tough shit. That’s okay.”

“I’m a crazy, delusional maniac.”

“I’m  a boring, attention-seeker, whore.”

“Don’t call yourself a whore.”

“You called yourself a maniac.”

“Really, stop it now.”

“Stop what? What am I doing?”

“You’re pissing me off. You have no idea how much you’re pissing me off.”

“Really? I’m pissing you off?”

“Yes. You. Are. Pissing. Me. Off.”

“Gosh, don’t be so sensitive.”

“I am not sensitive.”


“Yes, no.”

“I love it when you say yes.”

“Mother of God!”

“That would be Mary, right? Do you think she and Joseph did it? Or was it all platonic like all those people want us to believe?”

“I have no fucking idea and I don’t care.”

“Why did you say Mother of God then?”

“Because I am exasperated.”

“I see. You are?

“I am.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to exasperate you. Are you very tired?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.”

“Well we can hang out and talk about stuff, you know.”

“I said I’m tired.”

“I see. What about if I give you a massage then?”

“A what?”

“A massage.”

“What for?”

“They loosen up the muscles. It will relax you.”

“I don’t want a massage.”


“In fact I don’t want you here.”


“I hate it that you’re always around.”


“Yeah, I hate it. You follow me and follow me and follow me. What are you? A shadow, or something?”

“I don’t know what I am, really.”


“Yes. No I don’t. I know one thing. I want to be with you.”

“But it’s crazy!”

“I know, right?”

“So why do you do it?”

“Maybe because I want to.”

“Do you do everything you want?”

“Not all the time. Just when it’s convenient, harmless. I’ll do anything you want.”

“Holy Christ! You really have it bad.”

“I do, don’t I?”

“Yeah, you could get hurt this way.”

“I know. I’m not a masochist, though.”

“Ha, ha, and you’re not a sadist either!”

“No, I don’t relish pain. I hate pain. I hate being ignored and being talked to sarcastically. And being … well, misinterpreted, actually.”

“We all hate that.”

“Yes, we do!”

“What else do you hate?”

“I hate sunsets and sad endings and movies that are too loud. I hate that Princess Diana is dead and that Prince Harry won’t still marry me. I hate pornography websites and the Catholic Bishops Conference. I hate that  children are dying and the poor are hungry. I hate …”

“You’re scamming me …”

“No I’m not.”

“Did you just say those things that you hate while laughing behind my back?”


“Why did you say them then?”

“Well, first to impress you. And second because they’re true.”

“God, you’re hopeless.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Okay, so I have to eat you now just to shut you up then.”

“Sure, go ahead. Unfortunately, you can’t do that literally since this is just an Internet forum,”

“My dearest love, that’s what you think.”

***  the end, nothing follows ***

Notes For Story (Drunk at 2 am)

I was completely wasted, rolling on the floor of my bestfriend’s apartment  after finishing off 5 bottles of beer and god-knows-how-many-shots of rhum.

Concerned, she and her boyfriend (who used to be my crush) decided to walk me home.

They plied me with tepid coffee and too-salty-soup at a 24-hour eatery near my dorm. All the while, my friend was asking me over and over if I was going to be alright. I was feeling embarrassed, rebellious and tortured; all the while hating this boy who had the gall to make me feel that way.

How dare he confuse me and rattle me and make me sick all over! I felt that if I saw him that moment, I would scratch his eyes out and sob on his shirt asking why he didn’t call me for 4 days.

My greatest fear was my affections had been toyed with (although at that time, I was too afraid to call  what I was feeling “affection”).

Did I just offer my heart to someone who wouldn’t care less if I existed?

The giving-your-heart-to-someone, in this case, was not the agreeing-to-go-on-a-date. It was the 5-hour-flirting-over-text and the letting-him-touch-you-on-your-back-the-next-day.

Now that I think about it, he did not just touch me on the back. He leaned on me. We went on a 2nd date and he leaned on me. Inside a moviehouse. While watching a Bradley Cooper movie featuring 2 psychotic lovers. And how dare he do that! No one leans on me on the 2nd date and lives to tell the tale!

At this point, you may be wondering how it all started. Why did I go out with him and ended  up drunk and crying at 2 am.

It was actually a blind date.

I don’t get it why the two-timing bitch Kristen Stewart got to be Bella Swann and not JL. For one, JL is a better actress (hello! even the Oscars said so!). Second, JL is definitely prettier (KS’s chin should come with a warning, don’t come near pointy objects). Third, JL, a talented professional, would never have gotten involved with Robert Pattinson just to amp up the publicity for their movie.

… to be continued   


Notes For Story (5/20/2013)

There are 2 times in my life when I got really drunk. Both of them I did because I was falling in love; I was confused; and I didn’t know what to do.

The boy I’ve dated didn’t call me for 4 days and I thought he was “lost to follow-up”. I was sick to my stomach because I didn’t want to be the one to call him. At that time, I was still under the illusion that there was a “proper” way to go about “stuff” such as “courtship” (an antiquated word which I hated).

The thing that really bothered me then was I let this boy touch my back. As far as I was concerned, nobody touches me and lives to tell the tale! But I let him, and God knew why!

Was it a matter of him being at the right pace at the right time? At that time, I was restless, bored and depressed at the seeming nothingness  of my life.

Or  was it just him. Because he was The One? The soulmate I had been  dreaming of and writing to since I was 17? (or 12, if you count my early attempts at fiction). Or was he my muse? The projection of all my adolescent fantasies?

… to be continued


My soulmate (I wish!) — Brad pre-Jennifer Aniston/Angelina Jolie in the movie “Legends of the Fall.” I was heartbroken when I learned that he was engaged to Gwyneth Paltrow. Yes, once upon a time, Pepper Potts made it with Benjamin Button.