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Two weeks ago I received a letter from my Japanese friend Kaoru, which reminded me of one Saturday afternoon in the year 2000, while I was working in Tokyo. Her entire neighborhood planned a barbecue party for their dogs. They usually do this every year, and the spring season is ideal, when its not too humid and not too cold for the dogs to play in the water. We drove for about an hour out of Tokyo to Iwaki river. It was a shallow river, situated below a bridge. The men set up the foldable barbecue table, and started the barbecue. They grilled fresh vegetables like onions and chili peppers along with the chicken yakitori. This was accompanied by plenty of beverages, teas and softdrinks, along with the Japanese energy drink Pocari Sweat.


I remember saying to myself, people back home would envy the lives these dogs live. Monchi, a black Newfoundland had been driven in a van because of his size, while Boss, a dalmatian, was being served with food while her owner’s knee-bent. Obaasan (a term for grandma) was playing with her beagle, who had all the play gear. Kaoru has Kelly, a golden retriever who had a good disposition, beautiful coat, and loving family to take care of her.

Kaoru wrote to tell me that Kelly had passed away. She writes in pain.

Kaoru Tanaka wrote:

Armi,

Do you remember our lovely dog Kelly? We went to BBQ together with him and his friends once. Kelly just passed away on Saturday. I don’t know how to handle it now. He was my hope to live even. He had a cancer, and we just found that out couple of weeks ago. Then, suddenly he left us on Saturday night alone in the hospital. When he came back to our house, his face was just like he was sleeping. Hope he made his peace with god in the heaven.
Now I am dicouraged to have baby. It is too hard to accept loss or pain of someone who I really love especially when I cannot help them. Also I am scared that making decision for someone, when it effect ones life. I decided to give strong medicin to kill cancer to Kelly. He was suffering a lot last 3 days. I cannot help thinking that that medicin could be a cause of his death. I killed Kelly. Doctor says it should not be the medicin but they don’t know either.Anyway, please pray for Kelly that he is peacefull life in the sky.

I remember how Kaoru loved Kelly, and I although it had been years, I felt her pain.

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While I was reading Saturday’s paper today, Philstar had this whole 21 year anniversary going on and Tanya Lara, Celine Lopez and Igan d’ Bayan were recounting their memories when they were 21. It was too tempting, and instantly, a powerful rush of memories came over me.

Dedicated to Ping, Sony, Robert, Maan,Cielo, Charmz, Wilkoc, Daya and Ime

I celebrated my 21st birthday in Nagano, Japan. I was there, along with 60 other engineer trainees, supposedly the 1995 best of the best schools in the Philippines- Ateneo, La Salle, UP,UST, Mapua and Don Bosco.

When I was 21, I had my many firsts:
-my first short hair (cut it right after I got hired)
-my first seven course meal
-my first digicam, a first look at electronics (and now I’m a junkie)
-my first (and only) view of a Picasso
-my first snow

-my first Disneyland trip
-my first rocking rollercoaster ride (beside the sea and with Mt.Fuji in view)
-my first apple and grape-picking moment
-my first Ikebana creation

-my first cherry blossom
-my first (real) karaoke
-my first daily love letters
-my first date with a japanese (he even sent me christmas cards)
-my first Kirin, sake, wine and formal foray into social drinking
-my first time to wear a kimono

-my first kiss (yes, am a late bloomer)
-my first (and only) neon Benetton jumpers (yaiks)
-my first mountain hike (amazing in autumn)
-my first flashlight moment (ahem cielo and ime you know this)
-my first broken heart (not really, ’twas more of a chipped pride)

Gosh, when I was 21, I weighed only 98 lbs and I thought I ought to lose 10 then. When I was 21, I wore no makeup and cared little about appearance, and I hid from the boys who liked me but I didn’t care for. When I was 21 Daya said my dreams then were the following: to have a good career, send my brothers to finish schooling and help my family. I asked Daya last June, was marriage not part of my dreams then? She laughed and said,”… nung kwentuhan ng mga pangarap at lasingan, wala sa isip mo yun. (When we were talking about our dreams while we were getting drunk, you never mentioned anything about marriage then..” I said ,”No wonder!”

When I was 21, Bosconian O, classmate R and others (all married now) were at my door with flowers and chocolates in hand, and I’d say, “Now is not a good time.” When I was 21, I didn’t know what life was about, and I’d find myself constantly surprised at where it led me to- like I’m supposed to be going somewhere but someone else was driving for me, and I liked all the destinations but didn’t know why I ended up there. When I was 21, I found my best set of friends, and we’ve kept in touch up to today. When we were 21, we had no money and scrimped, saved, commuted, served our families, and yet each one of us had BIG dreams.

When we were 21 we never said we were bored or lonely or in pain. Now that we’re older, and supposedly much wiser, we regale each other with senseless thoughts, lift each other up when the reality of life drains our energies; we celebrate highs (births, promotions, new love, new home,new car, a happy day) and find time to toast our friendship, life and destiny. circa 2008

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Gah, I can’t believe I forgot to write about Venice o:
It was the most amzing city, considering it really is on water. There are absolutely no cars, but people have little boats to go down on the canals instead :D
…I forgot to tell Ao-chan about the amount of water in this city. So when we arrived, he was pretty mad.
“Kasumi. WHAT. IS. THIS.”
“Uhhhhm. Water?”
“CORRECT! Water is the /face of evil/. Which means this is the city of evil. I WANNA GO BACK TO FLORENCE. NOW.”
…I ignored his sulking 8D

Venice’s biggest canal, the Grand Canal ;D
Ao-chan’s head is too big, so I put two pictures next to each other xD (Although both were slightly cut off…)


Yeah. This is Venice’s waste disposal system =D Hahaha. A dump boat.
This interested Ao-chan a bit, so he was getting used to being so near what he calls ‘death’.

I’m surprised i’m still alive after I told Ao-chan what we were doing later xD
You just /can’t/ go to Venice and not go for a gondola ride. That would just be… uh… un-tourist-ish. xD


Some guy was singing in Italian in the boat next to us, but you couldn’t hear him under all of Ao-chan’s screaming.
“WAAAAA! GET- ME- OFFA THIS THING!!”
“Ao-chan, calm down, you won’t die!”
He didn’t hear me… -_-U

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A few days later, we took a train from Rome to Florence =D
…….
I forgot my camera for half the time. Oh well, it was pretty much a small city with old art everywhere…
Ao-chan and I went to an old church that had the tombs of a bunch of important people, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
“WHAT?! B-but… how could they die? I see them every saturday morning!”
“What are you- oh, no, Ao-chan, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after them. Those were people, not freak reptiles.”
“Phew, okay, that’s good…”
“It’s good that someone died?!”
“Argh, no, forget it.”
It’s fun to mess with him xD
I think this is Michelangelo’s tomb:

xDDD I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, haha.
And forgive me if I got the wrong turtle ;_;


Woot, Italian McDonalds xD

Next my family went to some museum, but I was kinda sick of old paintings, so Ao-chan and I made an escape.
“Bwa ha ha! Kasumi, we’re runaways!”
“That’s right >:D I dunno what this is either, but lets take a picture of you with it~”

Apparently, you can climb 400 steps to the top.
“Let’s do it!”
“NO. All you have to do is ride in my bag, and i’ll be the one doing all the work.”

In a plaza, some kid started feeding the pigeons… and really, there’s a reason you shouldn’t o_O

This is only half of them xD It looked like dirt was all over the ground…


“Here Ao-chan, take a picture with the pigeon o:”
“Ew, no! It’s all mangy and diseased and…”
I eventually got him to, but he wouldn’t get too close xD
The beep of the camera must’ve scared it or something (Ao-chan: I think it was just afraid of Kasumi >:D), because it jumped from it’s spot and ran into me on it’s way in the air…
“Heh… haha… HAHAHAHAHAAA!”
“What are you laughing at, Ao-chan?!”
“Kasumi… your… should- BWA HA HA HA!”
I slowly turned my head, and saw it. A chunk of green… pigeon present.
“KYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” I started screaming and running around, scaring off all of the nearby birds xD
At least I can brag about getting pooped on by an Italian pigeon… -_-U
Is that a good thing or not? xD

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The first city we went to was Rome =D

It’s pretty much just a big Italian city, except for the old ruin stuff.

“Hey Kasumi, we should go buy a scooter, since everyone else has one!”

“What? I can’t afford that!”

But it’s true, there are scooters EVERYWHERE.

I never did get around to taking a picture of them…

Ao-chan rode in my bag when we went on tours, but came out for pictures :D

YAY FOR OLD BUILDINGS! 8D


“Hey, hey, Kasumi, what’s that?!”
“Uh… I dunno. But it looks special, so lets take a picture! =D”

After that we went over to *le gasp* the Colloseum…

“Kasumi, why is half of the wall missing?”
“Hm? Oh, they said it fell.”
“WHAT?! It f-fell?! And we’re going in?!”
“Yep.”

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