Pajammy Party

Pillow fights, secrets, s'mores and scary stories. Sleeping bag not required.

Archive for the category “good times”

A very weird Christmas dinner (or how I started my career as a doll killer)

(Warning: long post with a lot of pictures. Expect fake blood, gore, brains and a zombie baby. Skip this if you’re squeamish. Photos by me and Jill.)

For four years now, Jill, Giff and I have been hosting a yearly Christmas dinner for our friends.

Last year, we started our barkada Secret Santa and held the big reveal at the dinner. The reveal was super fun – we all had to present and unwrap gifts one at a time while everyone else watched – and what made it even more exciting was Giff’s gift-wrapping contest which Jill won.

And since she won, she decided on this year’s gift-wrapping theme: zombie apocalypse.

Yes, seriously.

I didn’t complain at first. She made the announcement in November and I thought I had plenty of time to work on my wrapping. I already had the perfect plan – I was going to make zombie doll versions of ourselves.

Yes, just like Sluterella, the doll I made and lost at the 2008 Olympics.

Day # 75 (08/09/2008) Meet Sluterella


And because I thought I had plenty of time, I concentrated on task number one first: making my Secret Santa wish list. (Yes, we’re required to submit wish lists.)

Then I concentrated on task number two: buying gifts for Coco, my Secret Santa recipient.

But that wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

The watch, light bulbs and vinyl Coco wanted aren’t available in any of the stores here. I tried ordering the vinyl from our favorite vinyl guy but he said it was backordered and wouldn’t arrive before Christmas.

I wanted to get him the shoes but I went to the stores several times and they didn’t have the right color in the right size.

I looked for the lamp, looked for it everywhere, but didn’t find one that looked like photo he posted.

But I didn’t panic. I thought I had plenty of time.

Then I woke up one morning and realized that, holy shit, it was the day before our Christmas dinner and I still hadn’t bought a single present for Coco. And I hadn’t made a single zombie doll.

I looked at Coco’s wish list again. I made a few phone calls, reserved the leather camera case he wanted and headed out to the malls. Two malls later, I had two gifts for Coco and still no idea how to wrap them.

All I knew was I wanted gore, serious gore.

So I walked into Toys R Us and walked up to one of the salesmen and said, “Excuse me, saan yung mga zombie niyo dito?”

“Zombie?” the guy repeated incredulously.

I nodded and he walked up to another salesman. “San daw yung mga zombie?”

“Zombie, ma’am?” salesman #2 gave me the same incredulous stare which I ignored.

“Oo, zombie. Kahit anong zombie, figurine, mask…”

“Ma’am wala pong ganun. Kasi po matatakot yung mga bata. Baka po may mag-complain.”

“Wala bang nakakatakot na kahit ano dito?”

Obviously, I was really desperate. I ended up walking out of Toys R Us empty-handed.

I kept walking around the mall, waiting for inspiration to strike. I visited a hardware shop in hopes of finding materials I could use for building a zombie survival kit. But once again, I found nothing.

Then inspiration struck. If I found a doll that was big enough, I could rip it open and hide the gifts inside. I went back to Toys R Us. No big dolls, nothing I could slice open.

I called Jill who was at Shopwise buying ingredients for the Christmas dinner.

“Can you check if they have big dolls there?”

A few minutes later she called back and said yes, there were big dolls. And they weren’t just big dolls, they were creepy big dolls.

Bingo.

I went to Shopwise, chose my victim doll and because I wanted gore, I bought red food coloring for fake blood and gulaman so I could make fake intestines. (I didn’t know where I could get liquid latex at the last minute.)

But I had another problem. Only the Swiss Army knife would fit inside the doll. The camera leather case was too big.

Then I thought, I could submerge the case inside a brain specimen jar. That would be cool. But I couldn’t find jars that were big enough at Shopwise. And it was too late to go to a different store – we had to start baking the cake pops.

That night, I mixed the batter and as Jill started to bake the cakes she and Giff would use to make the snowmen cake pops, I started to wrap Coco’s gift.

I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen a gift wrapped this way before.

I opened the doll box and realize with glee and horror that if you removed its pacifier, it actually started talking and crying. “Mama, Mama, Papa, Papa.”

Creepiness factor doubled.

I put the pacifier back in the doll’s mouth – I didn’t want it crying as I turned it into a zombie baby. I have to admit the doll was growing on me – it was beginning to look cute and not creepy. And so I tried to be as gentle as I could. I used scissors to cut his stomach open. I wrapped the Swiss Army knife with cling film and buried it inside the baby’s body. Then I made leg, arm and face wounds, dabbing them with red food coloring to simulate blood. But I soon realized that the food coloring dried to a pale red that just didn’t look believable.

So I raided Jill’s art box. “Not the Prang, not the Prang,” she kept saying.

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Mixing the paint with the food coloring produced better results.

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I was particularly proud of this foot wound I painted.

I decided to scrap my plan to make fake intestines – it was going to be too messy and I was worried ants would get to the gulaman.

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I wasn’t just going to hand Coco a zombie baby. There had to be a story. So I scrawled this letter to Coco from the baby’s mother, smearing it with fake blood and letting drops of water drip onto it to simulate tears because yes, she was crying when she wrote this. I ended the letter abruptly because that was the moment the zombies got to her.

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I found the crate that carried the Villa Del Conte chocolates someone gave me last year and decided to recycle it as the baby’s little coffin. It was the perfect size.

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Then I brought out the stamp set I bought just days ago.

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I used it to stamp creepy messages onto the crate’s cover. Run Coco. Save yourself.

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And I added fake blood.

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Then I wrapped the whole thing with the netting that came with the Christmas gift basket someone gave me last week. (Yay for recycling!)

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I was done wrapping one gift – the other had to wait until the next day.

When I woke up the next day, the first thing I did was go to another mall and find a jar that could hold my brain specimen (which was actually a beautiful brain-shaped head of cauliflower that I bought at Shopwise the day before).

I returned to Jill’s where she and Giff were already cooking. My wrapping had to wait. I had a lot of cooking to do. I made deviled quail eggs.

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And baked mussels.

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And open-faced tacos that I sadly do not have a photo of.

Giff baked this awesome walnut apple coffee cake (delicious!) and she and Jill put their finishing touches on the chocolate chip banana muffins with snowmen butter cake pops.

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Nel arrived to make his paella and Coco started assembling his tapas as the guests arrived. As they started to eat the appetizers, I snuck off to wrap my other present and get ready for dinner.

My original plan was to submerge the gift in bloody water and put the brain on top of it. But I should have paid more attention in science class because Archimedes’ principle totally fucked me over. I settled for putting the brain at the bottom and my gift on top. It wasn’t ideal but it would have to work. I also added spurts of Elmer’s glue to make it look like the brain was starting to decay and disintegrate.

I went down and joined them for dinner.

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I told Nel and Coco that my gift would be interactive and I found it funny that Coco kept saying he was excited to see my wrapping. He had no idea he was going to be my victim.

After dinner, the craziness started.

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They all wondered what was under the black cloth. And since they were focusing on that and not my wooden crate, I thought I should unveil that first. The story would change depending on which gift Coco opened first. If he opened the crate first, that would mean the brain in the jar was Coco’s. But if he opened the jar specimen first, that would mean the brain in the jar was the baby’s mother’s – and that would be a happier ending for Coco. That would mean he didn’t become a zombie after he found the baby.

But I had to stop thinking about my contest entry – it was time to see what everyone else had made.

Jill is such an overachiever that even if she’s not a contestant this year (she’s judging), she still followed the zombie theme, hand-dyeing gauze with fake blood and using it as the ribbon for her many many gifts for Nel.

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Nel’s gift for Jill had a story too – humans were trying to find a cure for the zombie virus but before they got it, the zombies attacked them.

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Giff opted out of the contest – and I couldn’t believe it because he is the king of gift wrapping.

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Le used hand-dyed fabric to wrap her gifts for Jolo.

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I liked how Jolo wrapped his gift for Tatin too. I loved how it still looked Christmassy.

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Tatin’s wrapping was both freaky and funny. Ayaw paawat ng Christmas lights. We couldn’t stop laughing, especially when J took it apart and said, “Ang pangit! Pero ang galing!”ird

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J, who drew Plants vs. Zombies-inspired art on his gift, deserves an award for best dramatic reading. His zombie “ho ho ho” still haunts me today.

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J picked Gia who then gave her gift to Giff. I love it too.

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And since it came with a mask, we made Giff wear it as he opened his gift.

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Then we realized that only Coco and I had not presented our gifts. Which means he picked me and I picked him. I told him to go first and he retrieved this from his car.

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A freaky paper mache zombie foot. I was creeped out by the realistic toes. And the fact that it looked like it was flipping me the bird.

But inside the freaky foot was this beauty.

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Black Yosi Samra flats which I’ve wanted for months and months.

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Thank you, Coco!

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It was Coco’s turn to open his gifts. I tossed gloves his way and he gamely put them on.

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We started with the brain.

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My cauliflower didn’t fail – it looked freaky.

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It took Coco a while to actually open the gift. I was so worried the water would destroy the leather case that I wrapped it multiple times in cling film and Ziploc.

And when they thought it was over, I asked Coco to read the last line on the jar.

“Found with deceased infant.”

Then I produced the crate.

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Coco uncovered it and read the letter.

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When he realized he had to dig inside the baby for his gift, his reaction was priceless. “Shit! Seryoso?”

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Check out Coco’s facial expressions while trying to get his gift out. We made him take the pacifier out so the doll was crying and talking while he was digging.

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I love how Jill’s picture captured our friends’ reactions to my wrapping. Shocked laughter, disgust and yes, some of them looked like they wanted to be elsewhere.

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I won the contest but I decided to give up the prize – after all, I was one of the hosts. Coco got the prize from Jill – I’m sure he was relieved he didn’t have to dig for it. (She’s not as crazy as I am.)

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After all the gifts were opened, we relaxed, listened to music and drank the mojitos and vodka cocktails our bartenders Coco, Jolo and Jill mixed.

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I think I drank about six mojitos and I had the world’s best buzz. I laughed until my throat hurt and the next day I woke up at 5 p.m., hands still covered by food coloring stains. I didn’t care though. I was just happy to know that my efforts were not in vain. I got the prize that I wanted – I get to choose next year’s theme.

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One day I’ll be Xena


How the hell are you doing it, Tony Pierce? You still blog like it’s 2003. And I’m jealous.

They’re all gone. Mad Pony. Goobita. Sepi. Duke Kim. Some have had babies, some completely disappeared. But you, you’re still here. Congratulations, you’re the last man standing.

And I’m glad you are. But haven’t you been lonely?

Today I went to watch the Smurfs movie. It was totally what I expected – a Chipmunks movie with little blue people instead of squirrels. And that makes me kinda sad because I have a strange attachment to the Smurfs. They deserve so much better. But really, what kind of movie can you write for the Smurfs?

They could have exploited Smurfette’s potential sluttiness. But that wouldn’t be too kid-friendly.

Two Halloweens ago, I promised myself I’d be Smurfette for the following Halloween. That didn’t happen. There was no exploitation of sluttiness. I became a bee instead – a freezing bee in the West Village Halloween Parade. I wonder what I’d be this year.

A zombie-seeking plant. Super Mario. Xena. I’ve always wanted to be Xena.

Last week I was interviewing someone and as we were nearing the end of an almost two-hour conversation, he stopped and said, “What about you, Pam? Tell me about yourself.” And it completely threw me off. Because that never happens. You usually get there, switch on your recorder, ask the questions, let them talk about themselves, switch off your recorder and leave.

It was so unusual that I ended up stammering. I’m 30, I’ve been doing this for 13 years.

But I should have talked about wanting to be Xena. Or how I’m freaked out because my beer limit has hit an all-time low of one bottle. Or that I finally watched The Bodyguard for the first time and kept wishing someone would just shoot Whitney Houston because her character was so goddamn annoying. Or that I can’t fire Katy Perry from my Tiny Tower even if she wants to work in a tattoo parlor and I don’t have one. Or how I just ordered a new Helmer even though I promised to stick to just one. Or how I always feel breathless when I’m inside book stores. And that I am currently obsessing over Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Or that I made cheese pimiento like my grandmother makes it and it made me so happy. Or that I thought I would burst because Rachael Yamagata sent me a sweet message about my book. And that I should really finish the next one. Or that I am now sweating on the world’s softest carpet. Or that I’m dyeing my hair purple again on Friday. Finally.

Dear Amy



Tonight I made a grilled cheese sandwich.

I slathered butter onto two slices of wheat bread – “slathered” being almost a lie because the butter was frozen and therefore hard to work and “wheat” being a truth because I am pretending to eat healthy. There was a huge hunk of cheese in the pantry but I couldn’t use it because it was bad. I didn’t think cheese could go bad. Isn’t cheese bad milk in the first place? Isn’t cheese like wine? The older it gets the better it is? Apparently not. The hunk of cheese was bad, it turned bad last May, so I had to use cheese from a bag, cheese that was meant to be pizza topping, cheese that ended up not fulfilling its purpose because it ended up between my slices of bread.

Jill didn’t want me to use the grilled cheese press because it was dirty. They tried cleaning it once, twice, three times but it still had gunk from the last time someone used it. But the gunk was invisible so I didn’t mind. Jill minds gunk – visible or not. So I used the gunky cheese press and she used the oven to make her sandwich.

My sandwich was ready faster than hers – probably because I chose not to spread tomato sauce on mine and probably because I’m impatient. My grilled cheese broke in two like it’s supposed to. It was still hot while I started to eat and it burned my tongue, naturally. I stood there, by the stairs, eating my grilled cheese, enjoying the mozzarella, waiting for Jill’s sandwich to be done. It wasn’t a big moment, it was a tiny moment when you think about it, but I felt so alive.

I felt so alive while you are dead.

I still can’t believe you’re dead.

Countless people have said no one should be surprised, that you had it coming, that you brought death upon yourself, that it was expected. I did not expect it. Because even as I watched you downward spiral again and again and again, I had hoped you’ll get better. That you’ll finally find love that wouldn’t lead to nights spent roaming in London wearing blood-spattered shoes. That you’ll find peace.

Maybe you have. Now.

My heart still hurts when I think of you, when I play your songs, when I watch your videos. It sounds stupid to be mourning for someone I’ve never met, someone I’ve never seen, someone I never really knew.

But I do not need a beehive and a drug habit to relate to you, a funny, stubborn girl who wanted mad passionate love, who chased after her desires with wild abandon. On some days, I am you.

Amy, Amy, Amy. Tonight I made a grilled cheese sandwich. Then I thought of you.

Paper Cuts, Cosmopolitan and a lot of love

A sweet girl sent me a message on Facebook to tell me that she saw Paper Cuts in this month’s Cosmo and that made her go to National Book Store and buy a copy.

“That’s cool,” I started to type but then I stopped. Paper Cuts? In this month’s Cosmo? Wait a minute.

So I went to National Book Store and bought a copy of the February issue of Cosmopolitan – yes, the one with Solenn Huessaff on the cover.

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I flipped through the magazine and there it was, on page 38.

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Paper Cuts. In Cosmopolitan magazine.

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I swear, my heart started pounding. And I got goosebumps.

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Thank you so much, Cosmo.

I’d love to know who took that lovely photo and who wrote that mini review so I can send lots of hugs and cupcakes.

More Paper Cuts love:

Paper Cuts in Inquirer 2bU

Paper Cuts in Circuit

Random Realizations — Bughaw na Sabaw

Backlog — kdbytesbloglife

Rosey The Bookworm — I am no fan girl

Paper Cuts book launch — less drama, more sugar

My life as Janet Jackson’s stalker

When we heard that Janet Jackson was going to have a world tour and that there were stops in Singapore and Hong Kong, we debated over the all-important question.

Singapore or Hong Kong? Hong Kong or Singapore?

And then we found out that there was a Manila stop too so the answer was neither, we were watching in Manila.

On the day of the concert, Jill and I left early (as in three hours before the show) and headed excitedly for our seats, because we had been told that the tickets we bought were for good seats. Third row.

Good seats.

So imagine our surprise when we realized that we did have good seats – if we wanted a view of the bouncers and the freaking boom mic. It was a disappointment, especially since we paid a lot for the tickets. And when I say “a lot,” I mean that when our friends heard how much money we shelled out for our tickets, their voices became one octave higher as they asked, “Seryoso?!”

We resisted the urge to throw a conniption, even though better seats in our area had been left unoccupied – which means they could have been given to us instead of our crappy seats.

People trickled in slowly and the show started an hour late.

But we forgot about everything – the bad seats, the slow people, the lateness – when Janet appeared just to our right.

She was right there, just a few feet away.

So maybe the seats weren’t so bad after all.

We spent the next hour or so screaming, clapping, dancing, singing and resisting the urge to cry.

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Janet was fantastic.

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I hardly sat down the entire concert.

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My favorite part was when she sang Together Again, a song that has become her tribute to her brother Michael.

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At one point she lifted her hands up and looked towards heaven and I almost cried.

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And then just like that, the show was over.

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“Waaaaait! No way! She hasn’t sung Every Time yet! And Someone To Call My Lover! And Got ‘Til It’s Gone!” I told Jill as we yelled for an encore.

But yes, the show was done.

We watched lucky people line up for a meet and greet and resisted the urge to ask them to name ten Janet Jackson songs to prove they were really big fans.

We left PICC exhilarated because it was a great show and disappointed because we didn’t want our Janet experience to be over yet.

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“Let’s go to Makati Shang!” I told Jill. We were planning to go out for drinks anyway. Janet was staying at the hotel and maybe, just maybe, we can catch a glimpse of her after the show.

Jill resisted at first but I played the Kavana card. “If you did it for Kavana in Edsa Shang, why can’t you do it for Janet?”

Soon we found ourselves at the lobby of Makati Shangri-la Hotel with Coco, ordering sandwiches and a salad.

I spoke to a couple of hotel employees about Janet, the concert and our desire to see her. They shook their heads sadly. “Naku Ma’am, sa secret entrance yun dadaan, hindi dyan.”

Still, we remained hopeful.

Every single time someone walked into the hotel, we craned our necks to see if it was her.

It was never her.

Then a group of people walked in.

“Oh my god, the dancers!” Jill said and we all shot out of our chairs so fast you would think they were on fire.

We caught them just before they got on the elevator.

Jill waved her camera at them and said, “Hi, can we please have our photo taken with you?”

“Of course!” they said and they gamely posed with us.

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“Love your shirt!” they told me.

“Thanks!” I said.

“Bleach Catastrophe!” Janet’s dancers and I said in unison.

Between shots we talked about the show.

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They asked us if we enjoyed it, we told them they were awesome.

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And they were.

I was taking one last photo of Jill and Coco with them when Jill said, “Hurry up, we’re taking up their time!”

And one of them said, “No problem, we have until 3:30!”

We all laughed.

Soon they got into the elevator and we went back to our table where my burger was waiting.

“Wait, they’re leaving at 3:30?! That’s just three hours away. If we don’t catch Janet arriving, maybe we can catch her leaving!”

And just like that, we decided to stay until they left.

Yes, we’re crazy. Yes, we’re stalkers.

And these stalkers saw no sign of Janet.

Giff soon arrived to hang out with us and join the stakeout.

The three hours passed by much quicker than I thought they would – we ate and talked and laughed until 3 a.m.

At about 3:15, Janet’s team started to appear one by one.

The band. Some roadies. Some executives.

And then an African American woman with Janet’s haircut appeared.

Oh my god! It’s Janet!

Coco’s knees were shaking, Jill’s heart was beating super fast and my breath became all raggedy. It was hilarious how the thought of meeting Janet turned us into giggly little fan girls.

But wait… why is Janet standing at the front desk? Is Janet checking herself out? Doesn’t she have people to do that for her?

Giff and Coco went for a closer look while Jill and I tried to hold back our laughter.

They walked back to our couch shaking their heads. That lady wasn’t Janet.

Soon, the dancers appeared again. We talked to a couple of them for a bit.

And then they left.

And we figured it was time to give up.

A hotel employee told Coco that Janet had left through the secret exit.

When we walked out of the hotel, the last members of Janet’s team were getting into a couple of sleek black coasters.

We should have been sad but we weren’t. Because stalking Janet was a fun adventure.

And we had the chance to meet her dancers who were were so warm and had such positive energy.

And we still have Janet’s songs stuck in our heads.

And now we’re thinking – Janet’s concert in Hong Kong is just a few days away. Should we go?

Photos by Jill Lejano.

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