23 Things Only People Who Love Spending Time Alone Will Understand

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geewitch:

It’s like someone made a list of my life, my existence. Okay, except for #4. That’s just creepy.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. A weekend in which you have no plans, no responsibilities, and nowhere at all to be, ranks as one of the best weekends you’ll ever have.

2. Sometimes friends will try to make plans with you and you have no reason to decline except for the fact that you just want to be alone that day. (Your plan is to have no plans, people need to understand that by now, right?)

3. A good album, book, or television show can keep your attention far longer than any party, club, or bar could.

4. Going away to a remote cabin in the middle of the woods to just exist for a period of time sounds like the best idea for a vacation that you can think of.

5. There is nothing more exciting than planning a long, solo road trip, because you know you’re going to be…

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X Marks the Spot

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Or what I’ve learned about life from watching the X Files.

1. That it’s alright to believe in the unexplainable.

Come on. With David Duchovny giving so much life to his persona Agent Mulder, what’s not to believe? When he said aliens abducted his sister Samantha, I believed him. When he said little green (and as he so adroitly explained why it should be ‘gray’) men are out to do experiments on humans, I nodded my head. When he said the government is in cahoots with these extra terrestrials, I said, “YES!”

2. That it’s alright to be a skeptic.

I love Gillian Anderson/Agent Scully. She’s up there alongside Wonder Woman, and Ripley, and Buffy, and Sydney Bristow, and Nancy Drew as my idols. I didn’t want to be like her. I wanted to be HER. Her intelligence, her passion, her courage, and her unrelenting drive to find out the truth spoke volumes to me. She’s THE WOMAN.

3. That you cannot take things seriously all the time.

Hello, Small Potatoes. Hello, Rain King. Hello, Dreamland.

4. That knowing the future can be as helpful as stepping on a freshly baked pie.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose is one of my favorite episodes in the entire series. That is saying a lot since I have so many favorites. It’s right up there in my pantheon of ultimate favorites. Along with Ice. And Small Potatoes.

5. That you can never have too much dog food.

Good boy, Queequeg!

6. That spending Christmas inside a haunted house with your partner can be loads of fun.

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas beats any Christmas TV movie hands down.

7. That it pays to have nerdy friends.

The Lone Gunmen (how oxymoronic, I know) should be in my speed dial, I swear.

8. That cerulean blue is the best shade of blue in town.

Oh Pusher. A Jedi, were you?

9. That you don’t merely say “lots of files” to refer to, well, lots of files. You say, “lots and *lots* of files”.

Paper Clip, I thank you for the stress on “lots”.

10. That getting stuck in the Bermuda Triangle can be fun . . . that is, if you find yourself traveling back in time. Back in WWII. Then again, maybe it’s not fun at all.

There’s that kiss in the shadows followed by a right hand punch by Scully. You go, girl!

11. That you always, *always* follow the regulations in your neighborhood.

Or else. Arcadia happens.

12. That crazy, aggressive worms is never a good sign.

One word: ICE.

13. That writers, especially the introverted ones, can be dangerous.

Beware Philip Padgett and the might of his pen. . .er, typewriter. (but he’s mysteriously cute, no? Maybe it’s just me).

14. That the pizza guy is out to get you.

Or bite you, as in the case of Bad Blood.

15. “That the best relationships – the ones that last – are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.”

Who doesn’t love a little bit of rain? Or hail? Or cyclone? Thank you, Rain King.

Well, that’s what my mind can come up with given the little time that I have (I still have pending work to do, goshdarnit). What’s with the sudden throwback to the best TV show ever, you ask? Well, talking about television in class and showing my students a brief scene from the X-Files have brought back pleasant memories. So here I am, recalling the days of old, the age of innocence. Back when actors didn’t have to undress on primetime TV to get noticed. Back when it’s perfectly alright to not have a clear ending (what ending??!). Back when intelligence was a pre-requisite to truly enjoying a fabulous TV show.

I miss the X Files.

Father’s day

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This may very well be the last time you read me writing about my father.

Each year in June, the world (except for Australia)* celebrates Father’s Day. It’s an ambiguous celebration for me because, as you know, I didn’t grow up with a dad.

Earlier this year, I found out through my mom, who found out through common friends that my father passed away. It could be that he’s been dead for a few years now but we’ve yet to confirm that. I was talking to my mom casually over the phone when she said, something along the lines of, “Guess what?! I found out that your father passed away…” I didn’t really hear the rest of what she said because all of a sudden everything just went blank. Look, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad. But I’m not sad for the reasons most of you might be thinking. I wasn’t sad because I’d never get to meet the person who gave me half of my chromosomes. I wasn’t sad that I never got to tell him, “Umm, thanks for the genes.” I wasn’t sad because I needed to connect with him. I was sad because the decision not to meet him had been taken away from me. I guess, up until that point, I imagined that one day I’d change my mind and ask my mom to set up a meeting. I feel sad that that decision has been made for me before I could definitively say: Yeah, I’m good. Don’t need to meet him.

Having said that, in the off-chance that maybe the rumor was false and he was still alive, I still wouldn’t suddenly scramble at the chance to come face-to-face with him. Although, observing his mannerisms would have been cool too. From a purely scientific perspective, it would be fascinating to see if I inherited any traits from him purely through genetics, having no interaction with him at all. I guess now, I’d have to be content with a photo or two. I’d be curious to see if we had any resemblance at all.

There, I said it. Happy father’s day, dad, wherever you are.

*Australia celebrates Father’s Day in September.

Missing the Key of F.

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Yes, I am still alive.

While I haven’t been putting my thoughts on ether of late, I must admit I’ve been trying to deal with a deluge of Muggle concerns, to wit, teaching (yes, we’re already four weeks into the new term, hu. . . .rrah), writing, editing (well, mostly clerical work, really), teaching, attending meetings left, right, and center (and you, my friend, know how much I hate meetings), nanny duty-ing (I thought I had to rhyme my verbs, sorry), and oh, yeah, TEACHING.

Where in Merlin’s baggy Y fronts did the summer go? 

Oh I have way too many pending stories to blog about. I missed blogging about my birthday (waaaaaay missed it, Frankie), Giselle’s fabulously amazing, freakishly outstanding birthday gift (coming home to Pinas to surprise me on the exact day was just. . . .oh, wonderful!), our impulsive decision to travel to Boracay to celebrate our birthdays (hey, booking everything with only six days lead time was an unlocked achievement, I say), getting some tan within the first couple of hours (ouch!), meeting friends unexpectedly in the middle of all that sand (hello, Francis and RB!), and THE FOOD! And oh THE HOTEL (Discovery Shores is amaaaaaaazing!).  . . .

. . . and I missed blogging about my students, too.

And it must be said I miss them loads, especially my students in my literature elective. 

Did I ever tell you about my Hogwarts-DLSU class last term? Did I tell you about my students and their awesome projects? Did I ever tell you about our End of Term Feast, and the House Cup winners (yes, two Houses won, a record indeed), and all the stories they told me after the parting of the ways?

No? Oh, right. I didn’t blog about any of that. I have been remiss with my duties. Sorry about that. 

Suffice it to say that the past few months were fabulous. There’ve been a few work-related annoying circumstances, but like everything else, none of that matters now. We all just continue to forge ahead, like good foot soldiers. 

Well, that’s about it for tonight, I suppose. Just a quick holler. Not long by my standards but longer that what I’ve came up with the past few months. Just wanted to say I miss this pensieve. 

I miss my brain, too. And my diligence. I think the summer stole ‘em from me and I’ve been trying to cope with the universe minus those two things. 

Scary? Nah.

Blissful. 

Absolutely Abbey

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It’s Abbey’s birthday today! Your sisters, Blossom and Buttercup, miss you terribly! We hope that you’re having a wonderful birthday celebration and our wish is that we three can be reunited soon.

I know we keep saying this but yes, we will come visit you in Canada. We love you, Abbey! :)

Abbey, the art admirer.

Abbey, the art admirer.

Abbey, the zen master.

Abbey, the zen master.

Abbey, the Egyptian?

Abbey, the Egyptian?

Abbey, our Aphrodite.

Abbey, our Aphrodite.

Uluru

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This is the final installment of the great Australian outback adventure, the highlight of our trip. Not to take anything away from all the other magnificent places and landscapes that we’ve explored on this trip – and my photos don’t do it justice – but seeing Uluru was high on my list of places to visit. I’ve been living in Australia for eight years before the dream became a reality.

On February 16, Kelly and I were picked up from the motel just before 5AM. We had a very long day ahead of us and we needed sustenance so our first stop was at Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse to grab some coffee and maybe a few snacks and drinks. It’s not like we needed to buy any extra food, really. Emu Run Tours makes sure to pack lots of snacks. As soon as we stepped onto the bus at 5AM, they handed us a small breakfast pack with muesli, juice, and other snacks. And all along the trip, they would hand out lollies, fruits, and lamingtons. They also brought large jugs of cold water so we could refill our water bottles. As our guide, Ryan, told us the other day, hungry tourists are angry tourists.

This would be something one would eat after a big night. It's a hangover cure.

This would be something one would eat after a big night. It’s a hangover cure.

One of the ladies working at the roadhouse found four abandoned bunnies near the fuel pump. She took them inside and she let us (the tourists) take photos and pet them. They were so adorable!

Bunnies at the Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse.

Bunnies at the Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse.

All throughout the trip, our tour guides/coach drivers told us interesting tidbits about the changing landscape, including the plants, we were driving through. Richard told history and geology stories while Tic told dream time stories and introduced us to the native plant life in the area. At one point along the drive, Richard had asked if there were any geologists on the bus. Kelly and I kept quiet. For one, we didn’t want him to be self-conscious about doing his spiel, and more importantly, we didn’t want to get asked to explain the geology ourselves! He did mention that a few days earlier, there were two geologists on the tour with them. (Trin and Beck! Haha!)

Our next stop was at a look out point for Mount Conner, sometimes called Attila. It’s also been referred to as “Fool-eroo” because apparently, there were some hikers/campers/explorers who’d traveled from very far to see Uluru. They had been hiking for a very long time and so were so excited to behold a magnificent mound in the distance. They took photos then made their way back to Alice Springs – a few days’ worth of hiking. When they had the film developed, the photographic technician commented that they had taken beautiful photos of Mount Conner, not of Uluru!

Just before noon, we stopped by Kata-Tjuta (Olgas). From afar, we thought that the Olgas was comprised of fine sandstone but on closer inspection, it was actually conglomerates. Sorry, geology nerd. #sorrynotsorry

There are dream time stories associated with this place as well but blogging about it won’t really capture the essence of the stories. What I’m saying is, you have to go there yourselves and be immersed in the area to really appreciate the stories and to behold the breath-taking landscape all at the same time. Do it now, put this tour on your bucket lists!

We arrived at Uluru at high noon and stopped at the public access area to the Ayers Rock Resort. Here, we stretched our legs for a bit and went for a toilet break. We were also handed our packed sandwich lunches. There was a souvenir shop there but we didn’t bother entering.

Maybe next time I happen to visit Uluru, I'll stay here.

Maybe next time I happen to visit Uluru, I’ll stay here.

After the Olgas, we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and did the 45-minute walk around the base of Uluru. The trail that we took was called the Mala Walk. Now, something happened at this time that I felt I could have handled better. While at the Cultural Centre, I wandered off somewhere (probably the toilet or something) and when I got back to the bus, I was one of the last ones to enter. I told Tic that I was looking for my friend, Kelly, and he said, she’s at the back of the bus. I didn’t check and I should have. We drove off and I wondered where she was. Maybe she needed a break from me and sat at the back of the bus. But it was when we got out of the bus at the foot of Uluru that I really started to worry. I couldn’t contact her and I told the guides that really, we left someone at the cultural centre! Tic drove back to look for Kelly and the rest of the tour group continued with the Mala Walk with Richard. (I don’t think they ever lost a tourist before and I could see the panic in Tic’s face when I said I wasn’t joking.) More than halfway through our walk, I spot our bus and I see Kelly walking towards our group. Thank God! Moral of the story, never believe the tour guide that “your friend’s at the back of the bus”.

Mario at the viewing platform.

Mario at the viewing platform.

The next series of photos were taken during the Mala Walk at the base of Uluru. Now, there are some areas that are considered more sacred than others so Richard would tell us when we needed to put our cameras away. There are some areas that we couldn’t take photos of.

The next quick guided walk we did led us to the Mutitjulu Waterhole. Here, we heard more Aboriginal stories as told by our very funny (in a smart ass kind of way) guide, Tic.

Just before sunset, we made our way to the viewing area. There were other tour buses but our spot was the closest to Uluru.

We get to see the sun go down in Uluru.

We get to see the sun go down in Uluru.

While Richard and Tic were busy preparing our sunset barbecue feast, we all had a chance to take photos and do short walks or check out the art works being peddled by the Aboriginal women at the car park.

Richard busy with the barbi.

Richard busy with the barbi.

We had a glass of bubbly with the nice salads, bread, and sausages. Even with a bus full of tourists, we were all able to go back for seconds! After we had our fill of food, we still had time to watch the sun completely set and relax for a bit before we started our 6-hour drive back to Uluru. Kelly and I were the last to be dropped off at our motel at 1AM.

This has got to be the longest day tour ever but it was so worth it. I highly recommend doing the Uluru tour with Emu Run Tours.

We had the best spot for the sunset viewing.

We had the best spot for the sunset viewing.

Ayers Rock.

Ayers Rock.

Uluru and a magnificent sunset sky.

Uluru and a magnificent sunset sky.

This experience is indeed one for the books. I have to thank Kelly for making this dream a reality. It was magical!

Achievement unlocked!

Achievement unlocked!

- Giselle

P.S. Darwin is the epilogue to this adventure. Wait for it!

West Macdonnell Ranges

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On our third day in Alice Springs, Kelly, Trin, and I took a day tour of the West Macdonnell Ranges via Emu Run Tours. The day was a combination of nature walks, listening to local folklore, and looking at rocks – a geologist’s delight!

Our first stop was the grave site of John Flynn, considered the father of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. From there we visited Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, the Ochre Pits, and Ormiston Gorge. In the afternoon, we went to Glen Helen and lastly, to Ellery Creek Bighole. It was a relief to find out that there are no crocodiles in this part of Australia. Whew.

John Flynn's grave site.

John Flynn’s grave site.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn't been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn’t been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Simpsons Gap.

Simpsons Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

The next set of photos were taken at Standley Chasm. The chasm was named after Ida Standley, the first government-appointed teacher in Central Australia. She taught the white children as well as the Aboriginal children in the area.

All food was included in our package tour and we had our morning tea at Standley Chasm. We got to know a little bit about our fellow tour members and our guide as well. There was a German girl and a French girl in our group. There was also an Italian guy. There were two other Australians in the tour as well. One of them, I had a chance to chat with when we were at the Ochre Pits. He was pleased to know I was of Filipino ethnicity and had talked to me in whatever Tagalog he could remember. He had visited the Philippines a few times either on outreach missions or to visit some Filipino friends.

Some geology for you.

Some geology for you.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

It was almost noon when we left the pits and we headed next to Ormiston Gorge. That’s where we stopped for lunch and rested a bit. The French girl and the Italian guy went for a quick swim while the rest of us were happy to just sit around and take photos.

All these places that we went to form a part of what is called the Larapinta Trail. Hardcore hikers and campers can walk the entire trail and camp out along the way. I think it takes about 15 days to complete the entire trail. The Finke River flows along this area. The Aboriginal term for parts of this river is called “larapinta”. We learned from our guide, Ryan, that “larapinta” means bitter water. (Locals do attest to the water in the are as having a bitter taste).

Legend has it that a goddess was cradling her baby and as she looked down from the heavens, she dropped the baby to the earth. She came down to get back her baby but it was too late. The child didn’t survive the fall. Heartbroken, she laid down on the ground and cried. Her tears formed what is known as the Larapinta (Finke River). Bitter water.

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta River. Can you see her?

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta. Can you see her?

Our second to the last stop for the day was at Glen Helen Gorge. It was a chance to do our own little walks or maybe have a cold drink at the shop. It was nearly 3 in the afternoon and still pretty hot so we didn’t really walk very far from where our minibus was parked.

The last stop for the day – and last chance for a swim – was at Ellery Creek Gorge. When we got there, it was kinda crowded and the water didn’t look that appealing. But since it was very hot, we still went in the water. It did cool us down but I wasn’t game for submerging my head in it. No way. We got back to our motel (Alice Motor Inn) at around 6pm. No night out for us. We were tired! Plus, Kelly and I had to wake up early the following day for our Uluru day tour. At least Trin got to sleep in the next day.

Ellery Creek Gorge.

Final stop: Ellery Creek Gorge.

Next installment: Uluru/Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock/Olgas) Day Tour

- Giselle

From Sydney to Alice to Darwin and back (Part 2)

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And here’s the continuation of the great Australian outback adventure…

Shortly after we crossed the border, we umm…ran out of fuel. Yup, that happened. You gotta admit, it does make for a good story. Epic!

Where the f*ck are we? We were on Barkly Highway, that much we knew but where exactly?!

Where the f*ck are we? We were on Barkly Highway, that much we knew but where exactly?!

It wouldn’t have mattered that much where we were if we had enough fuel to get us to the next petrol station.

And miles to go before we would reach Barkly Homestead.

And miles to go before we would reach Barkly Homestead – around 70km, thereabouts.

Trin was at the wheel and she just had enough time to steer the caravan towards the side of the road before we completely ran out of fuel. There were no street lights and we were in the middle of nowhere.

And so we waited for kind souls to help us out.

And so we waited for kind souls to help us out. Serial killers and hoodlums need not stop!

Just as the last of the light faded, we flagged down a car going in the opposite direction. Father and son stopped but unfortunately, they couldn’t help us. They assured us that there would be trucks or other cars going up and down the highway who’d be willing to either give us a lift to the nearest petrol station or, if they had any, sell us some fuel just enough for us to reach the Barkly Homestead. To pass the time, we laid down in the middle of the road, looked at the stars, ate some food, and talked.

It wasn't all that bad. We had a marvelous view of the night sky without any light pollution.

It wasn’t all that bad. We had a marvelous view of the night sky without any light pollution. There were hardly any other vehicles going up and down the highway that we were able to lie down in the middle of the road.

After nearly two hours, finally, a car! We waved frantically in the middle of the road and moved to the side when it got closer. The vehicle stopped and there was an Aboriginal family crammed into a small white sedan. Obviously, they couldn’t give any of us a lift as there was no more space so we asked if they had any fuel they could spare. Unfortunately, they didn’t but the driver said that his friend, Neville, was in a ute and would be passing our way some time soon. Apparently, he had a drum or two of fuel which he would likely be able to spare. Before they drove off, the man advised us not to stand in the middle of the road. We asked him why? He said, “Neville’s brakes don’t work.” Okaaaay…

And so we waited and waited and waited some more. Then we heard it – Neville’s ute! Hurray! We were saved! He gave us fuel enough to take us to Barkly Homestead (we hoped!) and in exchange, we gave him and his family our spare 5-gallon drinking water and $50 for the fuel and some of Trin’s cigars. Before they drove off, he said that if we passed them on the highway, we should overtake them. That way, if we run out of fuel again, they’d be able to stop and help us out again. This time, I drove. And wouldn’t you know it, I did overtake Neville and his family and I managed to drive up to the service station fuel pump at Barkly Homestead just as the caravan drank up the very last drop of our fuel. Whew.

A word of advise to anyone wanting to do this leg of the trip: Fuel up as often as you can!

At the Homestead, we hooked up our caravan to power and were able to have a nice shower at the caravan park. I took charge of breakfast and the first driving shift. We were up by 6am ready for another day of driving.

Our new friend. He smelled the bacon I cooked for breakfast.

Our new friend. He smelled the ham (or was it bacon?) I cooked for breakfast.

There were hardly any other caravan that day.

There were hardly any other caravans that day.

Our first interesting stop that day was Devil’s Marbles. The Aboriginal people say this is a sacred female place.

We would have stayed there longer but we had to be on our way. We stopped at the Wauchope Hotel to stretch our legs and fuel up. Beck and I found some interesting rusty cars to photograph. Little did we know that inside the hotel, Kelly and Trin had been asked by a backpacker if he could hitch a ride with us to Alice Springs. The bar keep told Kelly and Trin that he seemed harmless enough and so we let him ride with us.

Rusty cars on a dusty road.

Rusty cars on a dusty road.

Now where would I get a tetanus shot if I cut myself?

Now where would I get a tetanus shot if I cut myself?

Finally, Stuart Highway. We're nearly there. :)

Finally, Stuart Highway. We’re nearly there. :)

Wycliffe Well, the UFO capital of Australia.

Wycliffe Well, the UFO capital of Australia.

(As an X-Files fan, I think I ought to stop at the town of Wycliffe Well next time! Ma, are you coming with me?)

What a wonderful sign. That means no speed limit!

What a wonderful sign. That means no speed limit!

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Rainbow in the distance! :)

We arrived in Alice Springs (February 13) late in the afternoon. We went to the town center to check out the Information Centre and this is also where we said farewell to our hitch-hiker and made our way to the nearest caravan park.

With Oliver, the hitch-hiker.

With Oliver, the hitch-hiker.

From Alice Springs it’s still a good 6.5-hour drive to Uluru. Could we have driven there ourselves? We wouldn’t have had enough time unless we stayed over night in Uluru but Beck had to fly back to Newcastle on the 15th. It would have been a shame for her to have come all this way and miss out on seeing Uluru. She had given up hope, actually, but I wasn’t having any of that. No way. We were going to get her to Uluru one way or the other! So over dinner, I was madly calling tour companies that would accommodate at least two persons the following day. It would have been nice if all four of us had gone together but since we had to return our little Britz caravan on the 14th, Kelly and I stayed behind and I booked Beck and Trin on the day trip to Uluru. The best thing about that last-minute organisation was that I stumbled on the best little tour company in Alice Springs. If you ever find yourself in Alice Springs, book your tours with Emu Run Tours. They are simply the best!

While Beck and Trin were enjoying Uluru on Valentine’s Day, Kelly and I were in Alice Springs cleaning out our little caravan before we dropped it off at the Britz garage. We had enough time in the afternoon to explore the town and have a little V-Day celebration…with a bowl of chips and two sodas.

Single ladies are never lonely on Valentine's Day so long as there are chips.

Who needs a date on Valentine’s Day when you’ve got chips?

We visited the Mbantua Art Gallery and Cultural Museum and had a lengthy conversation with the General Manager, Tim. He was so nice and accommodating.

Just before the sun started to set, Kelly and I went up to the Anzac Hill Lookout.

Another rainbow!

Another rainbow!

How much further up?

How much further up?

Anzac Hill Lookout.

Anzac Hill Lookout.

The town of Alice Springs below.

The town of Alice Springs below.

Next installment: West Macdonnell Ranges

- Giselle

From Sydney to Alice to Darwin and back (Part 1)

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Last February, I embarked on an epic adventure to the great Australian outback with three of my work friends. We hadn’t been called out in the field for a while and were getting a little bit bored just sitting around doing nothing. This was probably the quickest planned trip ever. (Well, not that I helped in the planning. This time I just turned up.)

What a road trip it was indeed. The girls left from Newcastle on the 5th of February and drove all the way to Brisbane and then to Cairns. I flew in the Cairns on the morning of the 11th and we started our journey to Alice Springs. We stopped at various towns to refuel, check local sites, and sleep. Once at Alice Springs, Trin and Beck did the Uluru tour on the 14th while Kelly and I did it on the 16th. Because of work, Beck had to fly out of Alice Springs to Sydney on the 15th. As for me, I had a flight back to Sydney on the 19th and so couldn’t continue on the road trip from Alice Springs to Darwin. Instead, I took a plane to Darwin and enjoyed a day and a half of touring by myself. Trin and Kelly eventually made it to Darwin on the 20th (I think) and stayed there until their flight back to Sydney on the 23rd.

Here’s our road trip in photos:

Catching up with the girls. This is the inside of our Britz caravan.

Catching up with the girls. This is the inside of our Britz caravan.

Their epic adventure started in Newcastle and ended in Darwin. My road trip leg started from Cairns and ended in Alice Springs. I took the plane from Alice Springs to Darwin and then from Darwin to Sydney.

Their epic adventure started in Newcastle and ended in Darwin. My road trip leg started from Cairns and ended in Alice Springs. I took the plane from Alice Springs to Darwin and then flew back to Sydney.

Our caravan.

Our caravan. This was just after the girls picked me up from Cairns Airport. We made a pit stop at a servo to fuel up and have something to eat.

Would have loved to stroll down to the wharf but it was raining in Cairns. :(

Would have loved to stroll down to the wharf but it was raining in Cairns. :(

Mario sits shotgun while Beck and I wait for Trin and Kelly to buy us some crab burgers.

Mario sits shotgun while Beck and I wait for Trin and Kelly to buy us some crab burgers.

Oops, I didn't even capture the sign we were pointing at. Here it is below...

Oops, I didn’t even capture the sign we were pointing at. Here it is…

Only 1,155 km to go!

Only 1,155 km to go!

And so we drove, hoping we wouldn't be caught in any brewing storm.

And so we drove, hoping we wouldn’t be caught in any storm.

Will you look at that! 130 speed limit. Woohoo!

Will you look at that! 130 speed limit. Woohoo!

1. Last town before we cross to the Northern Territory.  2. Look at that weird roo with horns!  3. Mario sits atop an ant hill. 4. Me and the Britz.

1. Last town before we cross to the Northern Territory.
2. Spot Mario on the weird roo with horns.
3. Mario sits atop an ant hill.
4. Me and the Britz.

We missed the boundary marker between Queensland and the Northern Territory.

We missed the boundary marker between Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Wide open road.

Wide open road.

We made it to the Northern Territory, yay! But we still had a ways to go. Next time, I’ll tell you what happens after we cross the border. Hope you enjoyed some of the photos and I promise to continue this story soon!

- Giselle

There Was a Boy

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Many years ago (how many? Try B.C.  As in Before Consciousness), think High School (definitely B.C.), I was this girl with a headband neatly fixed on her hair. My uniform was this finely pressed blue jumper over a long-sleeved white shirt with a little blue ribbon on the collar. Match the ensemble with white knee-high socks, shiny black shoes, and a white hanky on the pocket, and I was good to go.

That was me everyday for four years way back in High School. Well, save for those first Fridays of every month when we had to wear the all white gala dress.

Anyway, back to my reminiscing. Since I was a nerd (oops, still am!) and loved going to school (I think it was the routine that appealed to me back then), I was always punctual. More than punctual, truth be told. There were days when I would stand in front of the school gate, waiting for the guards to welcome the early birds, I mean, early bird (it was usually just me) at 545 am. Imagine that.

Now being an early bird had its perks. For one, I could go straight to the classroom, turn all the lights on, open all the windows to let the fresh air in, and basically just settle in while I have the room all to myself. I could sing and talk to myself out loud and I wouldn’t be bothered.

For two, I always got first dibs on being first in line during flag ceremony. I knoooooow. Nerd alert, right? But hear me out. Being first in line was actually quite nice. While that spot was usually reserved for the littlest girls in class (and I was pretty much average in height compared to my other classmates), I valued that prime piece of asphalt, yes (sorry, dear Hobbit classmates). You see, I didn’t really like it that much when I had to stand behind somebody else while something, anything, was going on in front, even if it was just a bunch of tweens and teens singing the Lupang Hinirang, or swearing the Panatang Makabayan, or heck, praying the entire rosary.  And I’ve always hated standing in line amidst giggling classmates I could see right in front of me, so the front spot (where my view was limited to the flag pole, the prayer leader, and the nuns) was always my first choice. And I’ve always liked having a good, clear view of anything.  . .

And that view included this boy who belonged to the other section.

He was in my year (3rd) and I remember how he would also be the first in line during the morning ceremonies. He also wasn’t the smallest in his class; I remember he was at least 5 or 6 inches taller than I was (and that’s just my guesstimate, from those daily, err. . . observations. I told you, being first had its perks).  And like all the boys in my school, he had on a white shirt with the nametag sewn on the upper left breast pocket, black trousers, white socks, and black shoes. Typical.  But what I discerned during those morning reflections was how he made the uniform look really good.  He looked, well, very nice in them.  You know how a guy, any guy, looks good in a navy Full Dress White?  Looking all starchy and proper and every bit a gentleman? Yep. That’s how he looked like to me back in the day.

He looked very. . . neat.

What can I say? The high school version of me had very limited vocabulary when it came to the opposite sex. To say that some boy was “neat” was like the ultimate word I could use without going overboard, and later on feel guilty about having contaminated thoughts, heaven forbid!

Anyway, back to the neat boy.

I remember enjoying those morning ceremonies, simply because he was there, to my left (the lines were girls and boys, alternately, per section), looking all, well. . . .you guessed it—neat. His pants were always well pressed. I don’t remember seeing any wrinkle in ‘em. His shirt was always spotless white. No Ovaltine stains. No Colgate marks. No Rexona telltale signs anywhere.  His hair was always well combed, with a hint of gel perhaps to keep it in its ideal form. He had his Trapper Keeper on his right arm, no loose leaf or any annoying scrap of paper peeking out. He was just . . . .perfect.

The thing was, despite those many days, and weeks, and months of standing practically side by side with Mr. Neat, I never really got to talk to him. No surprises there. Come on. This is me we’re talking about. I was practically a champion when it came to the sport of not talking, under the special category, Most Tight-Lipped Student Ever to Walk the Hallowed Halls of my high school.  Even up to now, my sisters would make fun of those Olympic years of Frankie; they’d imitate me and regale other people with stories about how I would often be seen alone at the library steps (if not inside the actual library), or just killing time in some forsaken corner of the campus, or how I wouldn’t even acknowledge them, my very own sisters, every time we pass each other along the school corridors. Yep. I was that weird. I lived in my own world.

But that neat boy, though. He took my mind off of my world for 15 minutes every morning, every day.

But like I said, nothing came out of it. We never talked. He never even glanced my way. I mean, who would? But I remember me stealing glances at him from the corner of my eye. That was all I could do.

That was all.

Fast forward to many decades later. Here I am, a recovering wallflower (or maybe a closet wallflower, I can’t really say for sure), suddenly attacked by a memory from ages ago. A memory that involved some well-groomed guy who stood in line next to me every morning of our junior year. The tragedy is, I can’t even remember his name.

His face I can still recall, though. But what of that? There’s no face recognition app on Facebook (is there?). And even if there was, would I have an iota of courage to look him up, this time after many, many years of nothing?  All we really had was that 3 feet of space between us. That and just air. Nothing more.

Besides, would I risk the memory for a possible disappointment?  I recall the famous last line from Dead Stars by Paz Marquez Benitez, “So all these years—since when?—he had been seeing the light of dead stars, long extinguished, yet seemingly still in their appointed places in the heavens.”

Would I really want to be disillusioned upon realizing that the memory, my memory, could just be a blown-up version of a dreary reality? That it was all just a product of my hyperactive imagination (hormones)? That perhaps everything was just the result of not having too much sleep (imagine waking up at 5 am every freaking day), or a hurried breakfast, or a stiff white collar choking my neck on a daily basis, or heck, a very strict Catholic school? All of the above?

None of the above?

What if the memory was genuine? What if it was real as the headband I used to wear on my noggin, carefully pulling my hair back from my face, allowing me to see my daily subject of scrutiny so much better than without it?

What if reality catches up with the memory?

Ah, here we go again. I don’t like playing this game.  I don’t even know what triggered this trip down ancient times. I have full consciousness now (A.C. as in After Consciousness), I think. I’m way over high school. I swear those years were my own version of hell and I’d really rather not linger on those adolescent recollections.

I just wonder why oh why I’m suddenly reminded, tonight of all nights, the most ordinary of nights, of the boy I used to stand in line with.

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