Pajammy Party

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Archive for the category “love”

Confessions of a broken blogger

The only reason I visited the old blog was to dig up stuff about J. I was going to write about him in my other blog (yes, the polish blog) and thought it would be fun to include some stories from the old blog.

But you know what happens when you search for “J”? You get every single post you’ve ever posted as a result. Apparently, I use the letter J way too much. Thanks a lot, internet. Big help.

I searched for “Jason” instead and the result wasn’t satisfying either – it only yielded 25 posts when I know I’ve written about J way more times than that.

I am the Goldilocks of archive search results. Too many, too few. Bring on the goddamn bears.

But while the search didn’t give me what I needed, it did have a positive effect. Reading some of my old blog entries made me want to post here again. I don’t think I’ll ever be as open and as free and crazy as I was before (Seriously, when I see my archives, I always end up going, “Holy fuck, I wrote that for everyone to see?! WTF.”) but actually feeling the urge to open WordPress and type something here is a big step.

Sometimes I think, maybe my life was just more interesting then. Maybe I just had more things to write about in 2002. But that’s not true. Crazy things still happen to me. I stalked the New Kids On The Block. I was bitten by a lion in Africa. I drank so much I fell asleep in the bathroom. Why didn’t I write about that?

Here’s why: I’m a broken blogger.

Little bits and pieces of myself are scattered all over the internet – on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, my friends’ inboxes, the newspaper’s website  – while this page remains static. Sad. Ignored.

Maybe that will finally change. Maybe.

Goodbye, (Sir) Gani

A few days before Christmas, I walked into Sir Gani’s office and handed him a gift. It was nothing lavish, just a box of chocolate truffle-filled mochi balls that I thought he would enjoy. He took the box and said, looking embarrassed, “Naku…” He trailed off but I knew what he meant. He didn’t have a gift for me.

I laughed and said, “Sir, it’s okay! Merry Christmas!”

Sir Gani loved food. Often, he’d walk to the Lifestyle section to see what goodies we had spread out on our table. Sometimes there would be pizza, sometimes donuts, sometimes pansit. And it was always funny to see him, a big boss, doing something I think every person in the newsroom has done – use bond paper as a plate in the absence of real paper plates.

Sir Gani didn’t just visit our department to look for sustenance. He’d ask me, on days we were putting Super to bed, “What time will you finish today?” And it didn’t matter if I said “8” or “9” or “10.” His response was always the same: “A.M.?” It was a throwback to the days when my section was notorious for closing our pages up to the wee hours. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t remember the last time we missed our deadline, Sir Gani never got tired of that joke.

Last year, I wrote the piece “The Next Person Who Asks Me When I’m Getting Married Will Get Punched In The Face.” Naturally, the funny guy that he is, Sir Gani walked up to my desk to ask when I’m getting married. No, I didn’t punch him in the face.

When he’d see new people in the office, he was the first to introduce himself. He was friendly, he was welcoming, he was approachable.

Over a decade ago, when I first started closing the pages of the youth section 2bU! at the age of 19, Sir Gani was one of the first to show full confidence in me. “Congratulations! Great issues!” he’d tell me, taking the time out from his busy day to give me a pat on the back.

I looked forward to seeing my pages tacked on the office walls, with his notes scribbled on top of them. “Interesting story,” he wrote in red ink, over the head of a travel piece I wrote about Jakarta.

Sir Gani was also the first person to give me an assignment for the front page. He asked me to go to a three-day science and technology conference back in 2003.

“Scary,” I said, before I could stop myself.

“Scary,” he repeated, chuckling and shaking his head.

I asked him, “When’s my deadline?”

He said, “Every day is your deadline.”

I doubted myself. He didn’t.

I loved that he was quick to embrace the presence of young people in the newsroom. That he didn’t see us as a threat but as the future. That he commanded respect without terrorizing. That he ruled with kindness. That he was there to offer guidance, encouragement and kindness when they were needed. That he dealt with problems with a cool head and a great attitude. That he listened. That he cared. And as someone who literally grew up in the newsroom, that meant the world to me.

When my book, “Paper Cuts,” was about to hit the market in December 2010, I had ten early copies to give away. I thought long and hard about who I wanted to give those first ten copies to. Sir Gani was one of those people. I gave him the book along with a card telling him how thankful I am for all the support he’s given me all these years. I’m so glad I was able to tell him that he had touched my life in a positive way.

Inquirer feels more like a home than an office to me. And losing Sir Gani feels like losing a family member.

I will miss him. I will miss seeing him in the office. I will miss his presence at meetings. I will miss his jokes. I will miss his scribbles over our pages. I will miss running into him at Greenbelt Cinemas during late-night screenings. I will miss him asking me what time we’ll finish. Heck, I will even miss those mass e-mails he loves sending.

So many people have paid tribute to Sir Gani. It’s amazing to see how many people he’s touched, how everyone seems to have their own personal connections with him. The tributes say the same things over and over. He was kind. He was a gentleman. He was soft-spoken. He was cheerful. He was all that and more.

For 13 years, while he was alive, he made me want to be a better journalist. And now, in his death, he makes me want to be a better person.

I can still smell rabbit poop

I foolishly thought we could save him.

That buying alfalfa from Yellow Cab when none could be found at the supermarket would be the trick that would keep our beloved bunny Smoke alive.

That bringing him to the garden to graze on grass and hop around would cheer him up enough and snap him out of his funk.

But no, he was sad. So incredibly sad, so different from the bunny we first met. And who can blame him? We were sad too, incredibly sad. We lost a pet but Smoke lost his best friend.

I was trying to stay positive but I knew at the back of my mind it was going to happen, even if he did show signs of getting better, even if he started to seem okay.

And so, on Monday morning, when Jill said, “Check on Smoke” and I said, “I’m scared” but still went straight for the bathroom where Smoke’s cage was, I knew what I was going to find.

And there was Smoke – snuggled between his water bowl and the box that was supposed to be his cozy bed. I was still a few feet away but I already knew he was dead.

“Smoke!” I called his name even though I knew he wouldn’t hear me.

I walked up to the cage. He didn’t move in anticipation of food like he usually does.

Smoke was dead.

He stayed two extra days with us, two days of sadness, worry, love and care. Two days of spoiling and of complete adoration. Two days of alfalfa and poop.

Unlike Ash, Smoke died with his eyes closed. He looked almost peaceful, like he was just sleeping.

But this time I put my foot down. I may have been brave enough to pick up Ash and put him in the box but I cannot do the same with Smoke. Of the two, Smoke was my baby, my little furball, the one I snuggled with, my cuddle bunny. I didn’t want to feel him lifeless. I didn’t want to forget his warmth.

Manang Amy stepped up and put Smoke in his box.

The previous day, we had visited CRIBS to celebrate Jill’s birthday with the babies there. We brought them toys and gifts and Le gave us boxes and boxes of Rustan’s Care For The Rare Stuffed Toys to give to the kids too. “Keep the boxes after,” Jill said, thinking about how much Smoke loved to play and hide and sleep in boxes.

We had twenty-four boxes in all. And on the way back from CRIBS, I wondered if he’d live long enough to use them all. He didn’t. He only used two – one was his bed, the other one became his coffin.

When Manang Amy brought the cage out of the room, I refused to look. It was too painful.

As we were leaving, Jill said, “Manang Amy buried Smoke.”

“She didn’t wait for us?” I asked.

But when we went out, we saw that the hole was still empty, Smoke wasn’t in his grave yet.

Where was his body?

We started searching. Slowly, I was beginning to panic. What if a cat had dragged him off? What if someone mistakenly threw him away?

“He was just here,” Manang Amy said, pointing towards the den.

And instantly, we knew what had happened.

Our eyes turned to the pile of boxes that were still in a huge Rustan’s paper bag. Manang Amy picked the one on top of the pile and looked inside it.

“Ito nga.”

“Ma, did you take a box from here?” Jill hollered to her mom who was in her office in the attic.

Yes, yes, she did. She thought it was heavy because a stuffed toy was still inside.

We ended up laughing.

Laughing. Again. At a bunny funeral.

This time, Jinna wasn’t there. But I made sure I put a flower on top of Smoke’s box – I knew she’d like that.

It’s been a couple of days since Smoke’s death and I still miss him and Ash terribly.

I miss watching them eat. I miss having them hop all over the place. I miss marveling at how sweet they were to each other, how they always slept huddled up. I miss cuddling with them. Fuck, I even missing cleaning their pee.

The bathroom is unusually clean and it feels a little empty. I still feel like calling out their names sometimes. The smell of Irish Spring reminds me of days and nights spent scrubbing their cage. Last night, I changed to a new roll of toilet paper and stopped when I realized I no longer had bunnies waiting to play with the core. It’s been days but I can still smell rabbit poop.

I can only console myself with the thought that they’re now playing together in bunny heaven.

Do I want new bunnies? No. I don’t think I can take another bunny heartbreak. Do I regret having Smoke and Ash in the first place? Hell no. I will forever cherish the short time we had together. I will always be thankful that I had the chance to get to know them.

I had two bunnies and I loved them to death.

Laughing at a bunny funeral

(Do not proceed if you do not want to read about poop, diarrhea, death and a lot of crying. You’ve been warned.)

I will admit, it was my brilliant idea.

“Why don’t we give her a rabbit?” I said to Jill, as we planned her niece Jinna’s Christmas gifts this year.

She was reluctant at first but I regaled her with stories about Brucey my bunny and we talked about how this might be a good way to teach Jinna about being responsible. She caved.

Numerous phone calls to different pet shops resulted in nothing – strangely, they had all run out of bunnies. But we were told we might find our answer in one place – Tiendesitas.

“We sell them in pairs. Because if not, they get lonely and die after three days,” a lady at a sad little pet store told us.

We went to a different pet shop manned by a guy with multiple piercings. He was willing to sell us just one bunny but we decided to get two – we didn’t want a lonely bunny. It took a long time and a lot of cuddling and cooing before we finally made our choice. We picked two boys – a beautiful white bunny with gray markings and a fat little bunny with very pale brown-gray fur and the most incredible dark brown nose.

We cuddled them on the way home, we were worried that the car ride would stress them out. We kept talking about names. “Amy and Adele.” “Michael and Jackson.”

Finally, Jill decided. The white and gray bunny would be called Ash. And the brownish gray one would be called Smoke.

Ash and Smoke.

They were playful bunnies, funny little creatures who liked exploring.

On New Year’s Eve, we finally introduced Jinna to her new pets. She adored them and was gentle with them, petting them and feeding them.

The bunnies stayed in Jill’s room – during the day they were allowed to run free and play, at night they slept in a cage in her bathroom. We made sure they were comfortable, that they never ran out of food and water, that they had toilet paper cores and boxes to play with.

We had a few days of bliss with the bunnies – bliss only marred by the need to clean their cages twice a day because rabbit pee plain stinks.

Every night before they sleep, I’d have my cuddle time with Smoke while Jill and Ash would play. Smoke was the sweeter bunny, Ash was a little grumpy but they were equally adorable.

And then, diarrhea happened. Smoke was the first one who got it. Research told me that it wasn’t actually diarrhea – that the explosive mess we were seeing were unformed cecotropes. Following instructions from bunny experts, we made changes in their food intake and carefully cleaned the rabbits, the cage and their bowls. The next day, Smoke seemed to be getting better but Ash had diarrhea too. Again, we cleaned them up (it was a very messy process – you know it’s true love when you’re touching someone else’s poop), tried to hydrate them and make them comfortable. Smoke was still playful and constantly eating but Ash wasn’t as energetic.

He didn’t seem extremely sick. He didn’t seem like he was going to die.

At around 3 in the morning, Jill checked on the bunnies and started yelling. “Ash is not moving!”

My heart started beating triply fast. I looked at Ash and started crying. He was by the cage door, completely still. What was scary was how thin he suddenly looked. He still looked normal just a few hours before. But his ears looked alert and his eyes were wide open.

Maybe we could still save him.

I ran to my computer and tried to figure out what we can do. “Let’s go, let’s get him that water solution a girl used to revive her rabbit,” I said to Jill.

“He’s dead!” Jill said.

“No he’s not!”

“He’s dead.”

We went back to the cage in the bathroom. I clapped my hands. Ash didn’t move. I moved the cage. Ash didn’t move. I called his name. Ash didn’t move.

Ash was dead.

Jill and I were crying and crying and crying. Smoke was still in the messy cage and we wanted to get him out. But getting him out meant opening the cage door Ash was leaning against. Neither of us wanted to touch Ash. I didn’t want to feel him cold and lifeless. I wanted to remember him as the beautiful, warm, grumpy furball that he was. Jill felt the same way.

We thought of calling Manang Amy to ask her to help us but it was 4 in the morning.

We left the bathroom, sat on Jill’s carpet and continued to cry.

“You do it.”
“Di ko kaya.”
“Di ko din kaya.”

But I knew I had to set my fear aside. Smoke, who was probably terrified and confused, needed to get out of that cage. And Ash needed to be put to rest.

I walked back to the bathroom still crying. I knelt by the cage, took a deep breath and opened the cage door. There was a part of me that was hoping Ash would move when the cage door opened. That he’d still be alive.

But he was dead.

I took another deep breath and reached out for him. It was like picking up a stuffed animal. It was like he was never alive. I put him in a box. His gray ears stuck out of it. I put the lid on the box and turned to Smoke who looked sad, really sad.

I wanted to make sure he was okay. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t on the verge of dying too.

Smoke hopped over to me when he heard me open his bag of food. He was so hungry he started climbing all over the bag. To our relief, he started eating. And eating. And that was a very good sign.

Smoke returned to his cage for the night, looking sad. I knew he was missing Ash.

The next day, Smoke seemed fine. His poop was looking better too. But he was sad. So incredibly sad. We let him out of the cage and stayed in one corner of the bathroom. We gave him toys, he ignored us. We gave him food, he ignored us.

Manang Amy dug a hole by Jill’s mango tree. The four of us – Manang Amy, Jill, Jinna and I – held a quick bunny funeral.

Jinna showed me a flower she had picked from the garden. She carried Ash’s box downstairs, placed it in the hole and put the flower on top of the box before Manang Amy started shoveling dirt to cover it.

“Jinna, lead the prayer.” we said.

She smiled sheepishly. “Umm… di ako ready.”

“Sige na, pray ka lang,” we said to her.

And she started praying.

“Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”

The prayer before meals. At a bunny funeral.

I couldn’t help it. I started laughing. And I couldn’t stop. Tears streamed down my face, tears for Ash, but I also couldn’t stop laughing. Jill couldn’t stop laughing either.

It was a crazy funeral, short, funny, sad – just like our quick roller coaster ride with our beloved Ash.

Jill posted on Twitter last night: “I hope all bunnies go to heaven.”

I know Ash is in bunny heaven. And I hope he’s watching over Smoke because he’s still extremely sad.

Thankfully, he liked the stuffed rabbit we left by his side. At least he still has a bunny to cuddle with. And he’s started eating again – carrots did the trick.

At this point, I am willing to do anything to make Smoke happy again – cartwheels, card tricks, I’d freaking eat fire.

Because God help us, we are going to keep this rabbit alive.

Searching for Sylvia

Today, my beloved book store failed me.

Last night, I updated my Facebook album of “Books I’ve Read In 2011” and realized two things:

1. I’ve read 66 books this year – 65, actually, because I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares twice. And that means I haven’t been meeting my goal to read at least ten books a month.

2. I read like I’m a 13-year-old girl. The books I’ve read so far this year are an embarrassing mix of young adult favorites, chick lit, non-fiction, a few memoirs, crime and Justin Bieber.

And those realizations led to more realizations:

1. Fuck, I’m 30 years old. I cannot be reading like a 13-year-old.

2. Holy shit, no. I’m not 30, I’m almost 31. That’s even more embarrassing.

3. While I have a huge pile of books waiting to be read, they’re of the same variety – my trail mix of juvenile fun and sexy trash. And that leads us to number…

4. I need to buy new books.

5. I need to buy books because Sylvia Plath was 30 when she put her head in the oven and left behind Pulitzer-worthy poetry and here I am, same age as she was when she said goodbye, wasting my time, choosing to swim in marshmallow fluff.

6. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to find Sylvia Plath.

I own several of her books but I have no idea where they are. I’ve never finished any of them, her sadness always scared me. But I think I’m ready now.

And so today, I went to the book store. I dumped my laptop and bag into a cart and proceeded to check every inch of their shelves for signs of Sylvia.

There were none.

I checked everywhere. Biographies, memoirs, poetry, literature, award-winning literature, fiction, non-fiction. I found nothing. I checked children’s books, dictionaries, travel books, self-help, graphic novels, effing cook books. No Sylvia.

Not happy to be defeated and not willing to walk away empty-handed, I decided to find other books to read instead.

I walked out of the book store with The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka and The Portable Dorothy Parker.

They’re not Sylvia but Frank and Dorothy will have to do while I continue my search for Sylvia.

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