Still Writing About the Geeks

Bilbo's Bench

Bilbo’s Bench, where our lovers sat.

Please bear with me, dear readers to whom I promised a new Geeky chapter last weekend. The creative process has been hampered by old hindrances: procrastination and perfectionism. Stella and Eddie will be back soon. 🙂 They’re not yet finished telling me their story.



Stella’s Story (The Lord of the Geeks Part II)

Hey, have you read part 1? Please read that, and the rest of this updated story, using the tab for The Lord of the Geeks above. Thanks! – E.

Back in Auckland, Stella regretted not taking the whole tour package that the travel website offered. Had she done so, she would have been immersed in a hot spring with Greek god-lookalike Eddie that night, instead of dining in the hotel’s only restaurant alone. The thought depressed her so she ordered room service, but added a glass of Riesling to continue her exploration of the New Zealand white wines.

It was raining and her room overlooked a park, so she sat by the window, listened to Chopin’s “Raindrop” prelude, and watched the autumn leaves and park benches being drenched, all from the comfort of her warm chair. Her mobile phone suddenly rang, and she wondered whether Eddie had telephatically gotten her number. But she saw that it was Richard calling. Her heart jumped and she grabbed the phone.

“I’m still not talking to you,” she said, in a voice that did not sound convincing.

“Stella, my lovely, how was your tour? Did you get to brush Legolas’ hair?”

“I was in Bag End, you silly, ignorant brute. Legolas is an elf not a hobbit. Call me when you have your Middle Earth facts straightened out.”

“Oh goddess of perfection, what will the world do without all the knowledge that you store in your pretty little head? My world is falling apart. I need you back. I need you to help me figure out the cable and TV remote controls.”

“I’m thinking of extending my trip here, Rich.”

“What do you mean, extend? Impossible. Stella, we both know you can’t live without me a day more than necessary.”

But you can. Live without me. Stella did not say that out loud, but felt increasingly convinced that she needed this time apart from him.

“I want to explore the city more. And I heard the University of Auckland has a campus with heritage buildings and they are within walking distance from my hotel.”

“Do I hear Chopin in the background? Are you writing again? Please tell me you’re writing; only then will I allow you to extend.”

Stella wanted to slap him for his petulance. “Why, I do believe I don’t need your permission.” After a slight hesitation, she added, “And I don’t need to be around while you throw yourself at that new Boy Wonder you just met.”

Richard heard the genuine hurt in Stella’s voice and stopped being playful, for her sake. They were still both getting used to the truth being out there between them, that the reason why they could not be together, even after years of flirtatious friendship and deep conversations, was that Richard wanted to date other men. He had just admitted this to her, one night, to end all the questions. Moving to Australia had allowed him the freedom to be himself. Stella had followed him using a student visa, and left everything behind in Manila. He knew he should have told her earlier, but he still had not figured out himself at the time.

“Ok, Stell. Tell me about your big day at the movie set. I bet your tiny frame fit right into that hobbit-hole.”

“The interiors were shot in Wellington.” Stella could sense the sudden change of topic and took a sip of her white wine to calm herself. “I entered the biggest hole, and there was nothing inside but sawdust. I met someone, though.”

“You mean the movie sets were elaborate on the outside but empty inside? Wait…. What? Met someone? Did Stella meet a hobbit?”

Stella smiled at the thought of a hobbit-sized Eddie. “No, this time I made sure it is a Man,” she couldn’t resist the emphasis. “Not an elf. Not a hobbit. A real man.”

Her friends back home had warned her not to throw her life away to follow Richard, but she was a hopeless case. He had the voice and he played the guitar so well and for a time after he left the Philippines, there was no music in her life. They dated for seven months but he never seemed to be able to commit to her. She thought he was just being the typical musician – impossible to have. So she reincarnated herself to the next best thing, and became his best friend. That way, she became indispensable to him.

She ignored all the signs. How his toiletries were color-coded. How he knew all the Carpenters songs – she even found this cute. How he was the neatest, cleanest, male on the planet. How his kisses were restrained, by the book. How he did not mind going shopping with her, and holding her bag for her.

This went on for nearly two decades. Stella had had other boyfriends, but always ran back to Richard for companionship, endless hand-holding, and romantic comedy movie marathons.

And then he told her he was moving to Australia. She thought she could manage, and it was time to move on. She grew miserable and depressed and wanted to hurt herself after he was gone, so she decided to follow her heart and go to him. She did not even tell him beforehand. She just showed up at his doorstep in Coogee one day, making sure he was home and not in rehearsal by constant email and Viber messages.

Their first few days were bliss. They took long walks on the beach. Stella moved in with Richard, and the world was right again. She cooked for him, did his laundry, and cleaned his apartment, while he paid the bills. They were practically married, she thought. But they still slept in separate rooms. This should have been the biggest warning bell inside Stella’s head, but she still thought he was just being a gentleman.


“So this man, is he sitting with you in your hotel room right now and did I interrupt something?” Richard’s voice brought Stella back to the present.

Stella was tempted to lie, but Richard would hear it in her voice so she simply said, “No, as my luck would have it, he probably is flirting with another gorgeous Asian in Rotorua.”

“I love the confidence, darling. You seem to enjoy being the gorgeous Asian girl in these Western countries a lot! Now go get yourself to Roto- wherever that is. I have to go, band’s first set is almost starting. I will sing Buble’s ‘Everything’ and dedicate it for you in my heart.”

Stella said goodbye to Richard and did not bother to explain that Rotorua was several hours, and hundreds of dollars, away. Everything was the song Richard had dedicated to her the night he told her of his real preferences. He said she deserved a man who would make her his everything, but he was not that man. Stella wanted to catch a plane back to Manila the very next morning, but she had to finish her Masters of Creative Writing course at the University of Sydney.

Needless to say, the heartbreak Richard caused her made for pretty interesting and distinguished writing, and her professors were impressed. She was going home in a few months, and the Auckland trip was supposed to be their final one together, but he cancelled on her. She knew the band was just an excuse. It was a particular band member, the well-toned drummer, that was the focus of Richard’s undivided attention, she was sure.

She knew she needed to concretize the act of moving on. She checked her watch – it was close to 9 p.m. If Eddie was being a good boy and thinking of her instead of making out with another tourist at that moment, she could risk ringing him. She found the brochure he had given her and dialled his number. She did this and then remembered that: a) he didn’t know her number, and might screen the call; and b) he didn’t know her name. She immediately cancelled the call, but not before it got connected and Eddie’s phone started ringing. Stella disconnected.

Eddie rang back. Stella made a quick comparison of the number flashing on her iPhone and the handwritten figures. He likes me and was waiting for this, she quickly thought.

“Stella here,” she said. “Umm, hi. Stella. What a wonderful name. I got a call from this number and am just returning it. Are you who I hope you are? Stella the caffeine addict? This is Eddie, the guy from the Hobbiton tour. You know, the one who could not get over how gorgeous you looked as you were frowning at him before sunrise this morning?” Eddie spoke quickly with an accent she could not quite place, and she had to concentrate to understand what he was saying. She usually compensated her ignorance of the Aussie accent by lip-reading, but there was no such help available for phone conversations.

Stella could tell this conversation was going in the right direction. Any man who found her gorgeous at 5 a.m., aside from needing an eye checkup, is a keeper in her books.

–To be Continued —

The Lord of the Geeks (A Short Story) Part I

This is the first of a series. Read the updated story using the tab for The Lord of the Geeks above. Thanks! – E.


Stella was nursing a bad hangover, was in dire need of decent coffee, and was annoyed that the tour bus that would take her to the Hobbiton Movie Set had picked her up from her hotel at the unholy hour of 5 a.m., so she was not in the best of moods when she first heard Eddie’s voice.

She wanted to strangle whoever it was that was eagerly explaining Frodo Baggins’ lineage to an elderly lady in the tour, who, with her questions, had obviously never read The Hobbit, and, Stella sleepily presumed, not even one of the books from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Her best friend Richard had warned her that the tour attracted Geekdom’s finest, and he was right. As usual. She just wished he was with her on the tour to make the long trip more bearable, but he had to work that day.

Noticing her slight movement, The Geek, as Stella’s brain labelled the guy she was later to know was named Eddie, looked at her and smiled. What was he smiling about? The sun had not even risen yet! Stella thought.  “Did I wake you?” he said. Responding to the obvious was not one of Stella’s best traits, so she simply said, “I wasn’t asleep,” before switching on her iPod and plugging the noise-cancelling earphones extra tightly.

It was winter in Auckland and she was freezing. She flew in from Sydney the night before and was supposed to be on the tour with Richard, until a last-minute change in his gig schedule forced him to stay behind. Richard was the lead singer/guitarist of a band that had started in Melbourne and was making it big in Sydney. He was guilty as he drove her to the airport. Upset at being alone, she skipped dinner and helped herself to the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc she had bought from the Duty Free shop. Hence, the headache that morning.

Stella was awakened when the bus stopped. The tour guide used the microphone to announce that they could buy coffee or any breakfast item at 10% off. Stella could not be bothered to look for the discount coupon in her bag. She got off the bus and looked for the coffee shop, but all she could see was a souvenir store. “It’s at the back,” The Geek said, pointing to the arrow that led to the coffee. “Or we could follow our noses to that heavenly scent,” he added. Stella barely nodded at him as she was busy bundling up. Coming from a tropical country, she still was not used to the many layers of clothing she had to wear to protect herself from the cold.

When she finally got her soy cappuccino, she could not find an empty seat in the tiny cafe. Until, of course, The Geek stood up and gave her his seat. Stella had to say “Thank you” and sit next to the Tolkien-ignorant lady. She needed that second cup of coffee to be a human being that morning. The first cup in the hotel was just instant coffee; hence, dirty water as far as she was concerned.

The lady was staring at her. She had eyes the color of aquamarine, if there was such a color. She told her, “The young gentleman seems to fancy you,” and winked. Stella blushed despite herself, for The Geek was within hearing distance, she was sure. She had given him the once-over earlier and was convinced that emphasis was on the “young.” She did not want to waste anyone’s time. Being Asian, she was far older than she looked. People still mistook her as a university student back in Sydney, but she was already in her late 30s. This geek definitely had the early 20s look. It was the long, unkempt hair. And his cap that was certainly creating hat hair and should not be removed the entire day, in Stella’s opinion.

Finally, they were back in the bus. Everyone was awake and the tour guide started telling them about Auckland, its population, its main sources of income, and how director Peter Jackson had asked the now-famous farmer in Matamata, New Zealand if he could build a movie set in that farm. Stella had already read the website and the brochure, as well as googled all the information she could find about the location of The Shire scenes in both LOTR and The Hobbit, that she just preferred to look out the bus window and admire the scenery.

She only thought of New Zealand in association with two things before watching the Peter Jackson film adaptations: sheep and butter. She grew up in Manila with her mother’s favourite, Queensland butter by the New Zealand Creamery, Inc. And everyone knew there were more sheep than people in New Zealand. That was the extent of her knowledge about that country. Hence, she was excited to see the lush green grass and the sheep! She tried taking shots from the bus window but she could not focus in a moving vehicle and while rain was pouring outside.

The ground was very muddy and slippery, and they were given bright yellow tour umbrellas just in case it started raining again, but the sight of the colourful hobbit-holes greatly improved Stella’s mood. As she was holding her camera, and the umbrella, however, she lost her balance and almost slipped. A firm hand caught her elbow and prevented her from sliding on the grass in front of not just their tour group but several other tour groups who had converged at the first hobbit-hole. She looked up to see… The Geek. She had to smile widely and thank him audibly that time.

Ostensibly to prevent her from slipping, The Geek accompanied her throughout the tour. They exchanged cameras, which one only does with strangers when on tour in some faraway country, and took turns documenting the land of the hobbits for their respective friends and family back home. He knew how to maximize each shot, and even taught her how to take good selfies.  He was rich enough to have data roaming and Instagrammed one shot, which she took of him in front of the bench where Bilbo had shared smoke rings with Gandalf. He pretended to make smoke rings. She quickly took the shot before the tour guide could remind them that they were not supposed to sit on to the bench. They were the last to finish all the hobbit-holes, but they did not mind.

The tour ended at the Green Dragon pub, where they had a choice between beer and ale. Stella sat while The Geek got the drinks.  She admired the attention to detail in the pub’s interiors. She could imagine Strider/Aragorn sitting with his cloak hiding his face. When The Geek returned with their drinks, Aquamarine Lady passed by and offered to take a picture of them together. So they gave her their DSLRs and their smartphones, hoping she knew what she was doing. The shots were not bad at all, according to The Geek. Stella realized then that she still did not know his name, nor did he know hers. She thought she’d ask over lunch, as that was the next part of the tour.

But she was wrong. Their bus driver appeared out of nowhere and announced that those who had taken the Rotorua package had to leave immediately, and the rest could go to The Shire Café for their buffet lunch. The Geek smiled at Stella and said, “That’s me. I’m visiting those famous hot springs! I had a great time playing hobbit with you,” he said, “after you’ve downed your extra strong cappuccino.”

“Rotorua?” Stella managed to ask, stunned that he was leaving, and only starting to notice that he had the face of a Greek god. And that he had forgotten to shave that morning, and he had green eyes. How could she notice these details now that he was leaving?

“Yes, if you want, check out this brochure,” he said, and with a killer smile and a wave, he was gone.

Stella was so disappointed that he did not even ask her for her number. She got lost and was the last to join the group at The Shire Café. She made small talk with the group of Americans who were complaining about the lack of good quality merchandise options in the souvenir shop. Then she tuned out and looked at the brochure The Geek had given her.

She noticed at the back, written in heavy black ink, “EDDIE. Call me,” followed by a mobile number.

Stella smiled, and when she looked up, she saw someone smiling back at her. It was the Aquamarine Lady, who had another wink especially for her.

–To Be Continued–Image

My Auckland Adventure

Tāmaki Makaurau is the Maori word for Auckland. It means ‘Isthmus of one thousand lovers’, also translated as ‘Tamaki-the bride sought by a hundred suitors’, a reference to the fertile volcanic soil of Auckland and the positioning between two resource-rich coasts. There are around 49 volcanoes in Auckland alone. It used to be New Zealand’s capital.

Polynesians are thought to have discovered and settled in New Zealand, which they named Aotearoa (“the land of the long white cloud”), as early as 950AD. It was not until after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed with Maori in 1840 that significant numbers of Europeans arrived in what is now modern day Auckland.

Auckland has the highest number of boats per capita than anywhere else in the world, that is why it is also known as the City of Sails. It is New Zealand’s largest city with 1.4 million people.

Take a short city tour with me. Most photos were taken while inside a moving coach, so please pardon the perspective. I had little time to compose. 🙂

City of Sails

Auckland Architecture

Maori Architecture

The first day was spent traveling and then dining by my pretty self at the hotel café where I splurged on my first glass of Camshort Classic Riesling and the chef’s special for the night.  I always eat properly when I am alone.

The second day was spent on a half-day city tour, mostly inside the coach, as the driver-slash-tour guide gave us a bit of an overview of Auckland, pointing out spots we might want to spend more time on, like the Viaduct or the ferry ride or the Sky Tower. I liked the old shops and the beachfront properties more than the new buildings and outdoor adventures. In my small tour group of five people, I met a couple from Brasil and we became friends easily. They looked about my age and I offered to take their pictures with their camera. They returned the favor by taking my photos. So it was a good exchange deal that worked for us at the wharf, the Auckland Maritime Museum, the Joseph Savage memorial that gave us a glimpse how isolated NZ was from the rest of the world. I asked them where to get good rates for foreign exchange. We were almost sad to part ways.

Then I spent three hours getting lost along Queen St, refusing to consult my map properly for fear of being branded a tourist. I took loads of photos of more buildings. I bought snacks from a convenience store and chatted-slash-flirted with the cute guy manning the counter. I had no trouble asking for tips about the weather, etc.   Then I went back to my hotel exhausted and ordered seafood chowder and a glass of Chardonnay through room service. I watched the rain from my tiny window. I read a book.  I listened to Chopin. I was very happy. I felt like I was in heaven.

I slept early Tuesday night because my pickup time for the Hobbiton tour was 6:35 a.m.  Not being a morning person, I had to psyche myself well for it.  Good thing I had always been a Tolkien fan, and I was really excited about the trip.  My sister and I planned it for months.

There was a long road trip – about 3.5 hours – from my hotel to the sheep farm where the movie set was located. I had to share the journey with about 10 people, 5 of them  Americans, 2 from Helsinki, and 2 from Brasil. Yes, my friends were also on the same tour! I was happy to see  them and we hugged and kissed like old friends, even in my sleepy, caffein-starved state.

Then, we arrived at Hobbiton. The rain, which had been upon us for three days, suddenly stopped.  As a result, the grass was very green, but also very wet. We had to be careful in walking up and down the hill. I lagged behind the group, happy to take my pictures, imagining the scenes where the characters roamed those specific hobbit-holes. The Brasilians thankfully were there to exchange pictures with.  We had to queue behind other people – we had merged with other tour groups – for some of the hobbit-doors.

I was sad when we reached the end of the tour, which was the Green Dragon inn. We were each given a drink, and I chose amber ale. Then we were all herded back to the tour bus that would take us to lunch. The Brasilians had to take a different coach as they had booked another tour in a different place. We sadly said goodbye, and they asked for my email address.

My fourth day in Auckland was fun. It was raining so I took a leisurely hotel breakfast, and then had lunch with a friend’s mum. Then I explored the art gallery and was again in ruptures absorbing the creative spirit of the people who had left their mark in the world. For dinner, I was invited by a Filipino couple (in-laws of a friend) and they were very gracious and generous. Then, it was time to go back to my hotel and pack. Already I was wishing I could go back.

Middle Earth

“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous opening lines from “The Hobbit”

These photos were taken from Hobbiton where some of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were filmed. I had a drink at The Green Dragon (memorable) and lunch at The Shire Cafe (forgettable). The doors and the grass were worth the trip, though. Some people in my tour group were complaining that there weren’t many souvenir items/goods to choose from. I preferred it that way. Friends, please visit now before it becomes too crowded and commercialized. 🙂

This was proof (again) that dreams do come true. I have loved the Lord of the Rings since I was in high school. I have, since then, measured every epic fantasy ever written against Tolkien’s genius. Everything else is a copycat. Gandalf, Mordor, Sauron, Saruman, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Legolas, Arwen, Galadriel, Faramir, Boromir, all of the characters, all of the languages, the plot and storyline, the setting and conclusion, the values, the humour, all these and more make The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings my most favourite work of fantasy fiction of all time.

Hobbiton Tour

Hobbit Holes!

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