“The tragedy is not that you’re gonna die this way,” my mother had said to me once, “it’s that you live this way.”
[The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly.]

I fall for words. Words of all kinds. Flirty texts. Random questions. Stupid remarks. Silly emoticons. I fall for words so much, to the extent that I once agreed to meet a guy I had known online without even knowing how he actually looked like. He wrote nice emails and texts. That was all I know, and that was enough. Later on, he realized that he had not sent me his picture.

“What kind of girl agreed to go on a date with a guy she doesn’t know the look of?” he asked, laughing.

“An open-minded girl,” I replied. “And, anyway, who said that it was a date?”

“Ouch. You got me!”

So, we met over coffee one afternoon. And he turned out to be very pleasant and nice–just the way I pictured him through his words. We had a great conversation. And banters. And we laughed a lot. Oh, and as a bonus, he was actually quite handsome. Thus, don’t blame me if I continue to fall for words. My experience tells me that it’s 95% accurate.

So, yes. I judge people from the way they write (including the type of font they choose). I fall for their writing style, their choice of words, their inner voice, the way they place the right punctuation marks, as well as the wonderful feeling of reading those sentences out loud and thinking about how smart or funny or dark or interesting or intriguing the writer must be.

I also fall for Mishka Shubaly this way.


About a month ago, when I was browsing the Internet, I stumbled upon a mention of a writer I’ve never heard of before: Mishka Shubaly. I was intrigued by one particular article about him in Huffington Post, written by Cynthia Ellis. Cynthia’s words got me in an instant. Soon enough, I had been reading reviews about Mishka’s works all over the Net. Then I just knew by heart that I have to read them! Excited, I went to Amazon to purchase Mishka’s Kindle Singles–and devastated when a message appeared on my computer screen, stating that his works were not available for sale in my country.

Brokenhearted, I went to Twitter and told the world my sufferings, mentioning Mishka. I was so surprised when he sent me a direct message a while after! He didn’t know me. I was merely a stranger. But he was asking for my email address so that he could send me a draft of his story. I cried happily. I have learned many times in life, that you can get what you want if you only ask.

When The Long Run landed on my inbox, I cherished it like my secret treasure. Soon, I was immersed in the story of how Mishka climbed out from his ‘shit hole’–that was full of drugs and booze–and tried to ‘run’ his life back on track. I read the story 4 to 5 times in a row, slowly, tracing each word, each sentence, finding new details here and there every time. I read some parts out loud–and someone else’s life, more than 10,000 miles away from here, slipped from my lips. I fall in love with Mishka’s voice. The rising emotion as I delved further into the story. The way he sounded so bare and brutally honest, so strong and yet so vulnerable.

I’d never had to get through a breakup without that tireless listener, that bottomless well of comfort, that sympathetic devil: alcohol. I didn’t start drinking and I didn’t stop running, but I did start wearing sunglasses on my long runs, twenty-one miles over five bridges in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, so the people I passed couldn’t tell that I was crying.
[The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly.]

The Long Run was a dark story. But Mishka didn’t inject depressing sobs as much as he laughed it all off–the way one should when looking back. The ability to laugh at ourselves is healthy. Because then we put ourselves not as a victim, but as a survivor. We’ve gone through that, we’ve passed, we’ve survived. Our past will always linger somewhere underneath our layers, but now it’s going to be more of a deep and reflective ha-ha story instead of a dreary suicidal tale.

The next few days after reading The Long Run, I was organizing my thoughts to shoot Mishka an email about his story and how it had affected me–both as a person and as a writer. But before I even had the chance to do so, I clicked the blue dot on my Twitter’s DM button one cloudy Saturday morning and found a message from Mishka.


“I can’t believe I’m talking to you right now,” I typed. “This is so effing absurd, but one of the coolest things ever!”

I was perched on a comfy couch in Casa, Kemang–my favorite place in town to read and write or have a lovely chat with my besties. That Saturday, it was raining heavily outside, and I was glued to my computer screen, talking to Mishka.

“One time, a cab driver told me. Everyone has to work, but you can choose who you are working for. I work for me. He was so right,” Mishka replied when I asked him what was the best advice he had ever received in life so far. “I started working for me, too. Toughest boss I’ve ever had! But I reap the rewards, not some fat old white man in a suit. Funny to get great life advice from a cab driver, huh? Or unsurprising. I often find that people working the front lines of humanity know the most.”

(I didn’t tell Mishka–yet, that one of my greatest life advice also came from a cab driver in Jakarta’s hellish traffic jam. But I’ll save that story for the next post)

“How does it feel to write something as… honest?” I asked Mishka. When I read The Long Run, I got nervous imagining how different people who were being featured in the story would react to it–and to him. “Do you struggle in the middle of writing it? Like how much should you put out and how much should you hold?”

“Writing the Kindle Singles is always exhausting,” said Mishka. “I try to write them like I’m writing a private diary that no one will see. Then, before I can stop myself, I send it to my editor. And then it goes out to the world and I have to deal with the consequences. It can cause me a lot of anxiety, heartache, worry… but the end result is worth it. I’d rather have people hate me for being honest than love me for being something I’m not. I’m a flawed human being with a lot of bad habits and foolish tendencies with lots of poor decisions and ugly shit in my past. I think that’s something a lot of people relate to.”

He was right (and it was funny he said that because a few days ago I had just written a piece about dealing with our pasts).


The Long Run is indeed a story about struggling with addiction–but it is more than that. Mishka’s addictions to drugs and alcohol is our addiction to a certain guy. To political power. To a branded bag. To be skinny. To a lighter skin-tone. To self-pity. To wealth. To the Internet. To an unresolved love affair. To a past.

We’re all dealing with our own addictions. We’re carrying these things inside, hiding it like a well-kept secret–so that no one will find out. Every day, we’re all trying to run away from something that anchors us down, and run towards the freedom to be who we truly are.

Humor is all a matter of perspective. You watch Homer Simpson hit his head and it’s funny, but when it happens to you, it’s supposed to be a tragedy? Nah, I think it’s funny either way.
[Mishka Shubaly.]


“We need to find a way so I can buy the rest of your stories,” I told Mishka. “I can pay through PayPal if you have a PayPal account.”

“Please just email me some popcorns as payment,” replied Mishka. And so, I did.

Screen shot 2013-07-13 at 5.51.15 PM

UPDATE, Jul 17, 2013: And Mishka shared this on his Facebook Page. Isn’t he just the sweetest? :’)

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 1.31.01 PM


99 Responses

  1. I adore words too, literary nourishment that feeds the soul. This is such a great example of the positive with the Internet and Social Media. I’ll have to check the stories out, we all have our angels and demons that we battle daily.

  2. First of all, you’ve changed your site’s design! (Confession: I read your posts from my inbox :P).

    I love, LOVE this post, as I have been saying all morning. I remember you drawing that popcorn, and I still can’t believe how composed and calm you were. (Goes to show who has the better composure when excited, huh?). There are so many things I love about this post – the falling for words, the internet connecting people (you and be included), and that notion of sometimes, you just have to ask for what you want. Not to mention how great Mishka’s writing seems to be (will be checking his work out).

    And I had such a great Saturday with you. Now, we need an encore, again at Casa, so I am encouraged to write another blog post. *alesan* 😛

    1. We should schedule a monthly Casa writing get-away. Where we can just write and read and gossip and eat and staring at the emptiness and publish something at the end of the day :)) Hahahahah, miss you :* and yeah, we met thanks to the Internet! Amaaaaazing! 😀

  3. i loved this phrase, make me learn something about live.
    “The ability to laugh at ourselves is healthy. Because then we put ourselves not as a victim, but as a survivor.. ” and yes we’re all dealing with our own addictions.Very touching! ^^

  4. I read this and then went away. Then I thought that so often people read nice blog posts and never say anything and the writer is left wondering who passed on through. So I’m here to say “hello”. So… Hello!

    1. Hello, Adam! Hahahahah, that’s so nice of you! 😉 Still following your amazing journey through Facebook! :’D Send my hugs to Susan! 🙂

  5. Wooooow! I’m falling for your words Mbak. Selalu ada yang bisa didapat dari membaca postingan di sini. Jadi pengen ketemu Mbak Hanny suatu hari nanti. 😀

  6. I have to get my hand on this book soon! Fantastic story! It makes me think about how certain things in life happen so unexpectedly and quickly that we fall in and out of our passions like this

    1. Exactly. Some people may think that the book is about a drug addict and an alcoholic trying to escape his addiction by running… but to me, it relates to many different levels in our daily lives. As they say, we’re battling our own demons…

  7. We all fight the addictions we possess. Unfortunately the addictions fight back and sometimes win. This was a story of success over addiction using the inner skills that we all possess. We know it is wrong but to take the first step is so hard. Thanks for the post I hope it inspires others to face and possibly defeat the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room.

    1. Thanks so much for your words! And yes, everyday, we’re battling our own demons–and it’s an ongoing process as long as we live. Sometimes we win, sometimes we loose, but that’s life. We can only try not to have any regrets.

    1. Thank you very much! Means a lot to me! I love those quotes because it speaks to me directly 🙂 I can relate to those. Glad you liked them! 🙂 Thanks again for dropping by and leaving your traces 🙂

  8. Phenomenal! (Gosh, I hope I’ve spelled that correctly.. 😉

    Seriously, this reads like destiny. I hope the two of you have an opportunity to meet in person one day.

    Enjoyed every little tidbit…from both sides. 🙂

  9. I’m speechless. The connections over the internet. And you touched an important part in me when you mentioned about our own addictions. It is so true. Running away from something to meet our freedom. I might need to research on this guy too. Thank you.

    1. It’s a great feeling to know that we’re not alone, though. We run our own race… and everyone else is running, too 😉 Thanks so much for dropping by, Sophie!

  10. Lol! love this post, “I judge people by the way they write (even the font they use)” so cute! and I’m definitely getting a copy for myself.

  11. I’ve always been a sucker for words, and it’s like you took the words right out of my thoughts and put them into words 😉 Now I’ll have to check out Mishka Shubaly. Thanks. Great post.

    1. aaaw, thanks so much for your kind words! :’) and thanks for dropping by 😀 hope you’re having a pleasant first-time visit 🙂

      1. Yes, I did enjoy some posts which were sublime. Its a pity actually, i only have negativity and constant complaining to offer in my blog. keep up the good work.

  12. Wow! I never realized it, but after reading your post, I fall for words like crazy too! I really do judge a person by the way they type as well. This is awesome. I am going to download his book and read it as well. Thank you so much for sharing and I am definitely going to follow you now! I love the way you write. I know my thoughts are super jumbled up right now but I am just so happy to have stumbled across your blog!

    1. Thanks so much!!! :’) I like you already from the way you voice your thoughts here 😀 Thanks again for dropping by and leaving such an uplifting comment! ^o^

      1. You are very welcome! Come drop by my blog too! Well, scroll down a few posts, because the past two days haven’t been very cheerful for me. But the other posts are much better 😛 This blog is a personal project for me and I am aiming to hit 4000 views by August 7 🙂 So I would be very happy if you could drop by. Thank you dearie and I’ll see you around!

  13. Liked your piece on words. I love words as well. Wish I was better at placing them in a form that captivated more like minded people. I realize now that this is more than likely not going to happen simply because I don’t have what it takes to spin words into workable prose.

  14. Now you’ve made me want to read Mishka Shubaly. I hope I will have more luck finding his book, or maybe not, and so I can have the luck to meet him somewhere in the internet, although twitter and me aren’t friends 🙂
    You are right, fighting against addicitons is the thoughest thing a human being can face, even addiction to sadness and melancholy. I’ve got some experience…

    I really enoyed readiing your blog.
    See you.

  15. i always love to read a female writer,they always write beautifull writing,one of them is you ms hanny,when i read this story,i get involved with it,an impressive story,two thumbs up………

  16. Salam kenal mbak,
    Aku suka sekali sama tulisannya.
    Banyak kata-kata yg ngena banget.
    Apalagi tulisan yang ini. Sukaa 😀
    Semoga bisa belajar banyak darimu, mbak, terutama bhs inggrisnya. Hihi 😀
    Ijinkan saya mampir terus ya 😀

  17. I know it will never be my kind of Saturday, because its yours. But I can make sure, it is my kind of Wednesday! Love it! Love it! Love it! 😀

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Legs and Apples
Do it because it’s fun. Because it brings you joy; because it’s meaningful to you. Do it because it gives you simple tiny pleasures. Do it because it makes you smile.
The view from De Klok
I took another digital detox this weekend—I limited myself to a 5-minute screen time on Saturday and Sunday to quickly check my business account. I closed my social media account for the rest of the days.
Hanny illustrator
I am an Indonesian writer/artist/illustrator and stationery web shop owner (Cafe Analog) based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I love facilitating writing/creative workshops and retreats, especially when they are tied to self-exploration and self-expression. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.