A collection of grievances, memories, occasional musings, and everyday happenings


From Me, To Me

Dear 18 year old Holly,

Hey 18-year-old self. It’s your 23-year-old self. Ah, yes. Still rockin’ the blonde highlights I see. You’ll grow out of em’ in half a year or so. Anyway, wow. College is coming up. Soon you will leave the city of Chikfila and rap music and enter the city of country music and cowboy boots. Don’t worry, you will never willingly listen to country or buy a pair of boots – a no brainer there. You do however meet the best friend of your life on your first night as a college student at Oklahoma Christian University – she’s the one sobbing adorably in her dorm room. Offer her some popcorn and the chance to watch Finding Nemo. Your friendship will be inseparable from there.

Believe me or not, you do accomplish quite a lot in these next 5 years. For example, well, this may sound insignificant, but that No Child Left Behind presentation you’re going to give in your Communications II class? High five. Seriously, no one in class will be in support of it after your 15 minutes of knowledge. Way to go. More substantial accomplishments include: studying abroad for 3 months in Europe, working with an orphanage in Ghana, Africa (twice), marrying a boy who loves The Beatles just as much as you do, becoming a wedding coordinator (I’ll explain later), getting a cat (FINALLY), and moving to Vienna, Austria to do mission work (I’ll definitely explain later).

Naturally you’ll have some regrets, like going out with that one guy who was so late picking you up for a date to a baseball game that the two of you didn’t arrive until the 7th inning stretch. And he’ll make YOU drive. Or (man, sorry about this), dating a boy from your history class who at one point in your relationship leaves you basically topless in the middle of a lake. To make a long story short, the two of you have a pool noodle fight and he hits your back accidentally breaking the bathing suit strap in half so he freaks out and swims away leaving you with a tiny float and one hand to swim with while you cling to your top for dear life. You’ll laugh about it later, but through gritted teeth first. During your second to last semester as a senior, you’ll regret majoring in Early Childhood Education. It’ll sound crazy when it first hits you, but after praying about it and talking it out, you’ll realize you need a fresh start and a profession that doesn’t include whiny parents and the constant use of glue. Instead you choose a profession that includes bridezillas and angry moms, but hey, it’ll help get you to where you are when you’re 23.

When you’re 23, so, 5 years from now (I promise you do in fact pass all of your math classes), you’ll be living with your husband Will and cat Tobias in Vienna, Austria. You’ll be here doing mission work – which I know sounds unbelievable since you’re currently in your “mission work isn’t for me” mindset. But after you travel those 3 months in Europe and experience life in Africa, your mindset will change. All of you will change. Your ideals, your dreams, your global insight, everything. So as much as I’d like to jump up and down and wave my arms wildly above my head to warn you to not think this way or not go that way, I’m not. It’s worth it. Have your crazy seasons of life. Get left in the middle of a lake. Go on terrible dates, skip a few classes, start a flu epidemic, get quarantined in a hospital in Liverpool (I’ll leave that as a surprise – don’t worry, you survive). Just know that everything you go through these next 5 years comes to this: You’re a servant of God, married to a wonderful man, living in Vienna, Austria. You hit gold, little Holly. You hit gold.


23 year old Holly

This post is submitted as a part of the 20SB 5th Birthday Blog Carnival, sponsored by GlassesUSA.com.

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This Week in Grievances: School

Man, I feel like every time I’ve sat down to write up the day’s latest grievance, it’s either time for bed or my husband and I have to run off to go somewhere. Not only has it been crazy busy around here, but it has been so, so hot. Compared to Oklahoma City, I guess it’s not that hot, however, we don’t have AC. Anywhere. No one does. It’s actually pretty uncommon for an apartment or office to have air conditioning. Not that it’s a game changer or anything, it just took us kind of by surprise how hot it actually gets. The lack of AC is kind of cool in a way because you get your air from outside (what? From like, nature?), and the cool air from the morning keeps your apartment somewhat nice for the day. On the other hand, the lack of AC is kind of bad in a way when you’re riding public transportation and stuck in between 15 sweaty strangers. This is especially unfortunate if you’re like me and get extremely motion sick on anything that, well, has motion. I should probably learn how to say, “Sorry in advance if I throw up on you” in German, which is actually a very real possibility since we registered for our German class a few days ago (whoo!). Class will begin in July and last through November. That’s 4 months, 5 days a week, 3 hours a day, in a classroom… with homework… and tests. *deep breath*

I don’t know about you, but once I graduated from college I didn’t look back. Being in school from 5 years old to 22 years old was plenty of school for me. It was actually too much school for me. Sometimes I would daydream about being one of those brilliant kids who graduated from high school early and finished college by the age of 16 just so I wouldn’t have to endure any more of it. Of course my husband is the opposite – he was reading newspapers on the toilet at 2, pleading the fifth at 10, enrolling in all the AP courses in high school, graduating with one of the sigma-somethings, and now looks forward to the day when he can go back to school to learn more. For fun.

I feel this expression on my face accurately sums up my feelings about school.

I like to learn too, I guess, as long as it’s on my own terms. For example, my best subject was English. I’m a grammar/story-writing/spelling/Great Gatsby-loving, Mice and Men-loathing snob, thus I was frequently proud of the efforts I gave in class. Math, on the other hand, forget it. I was constantly of the “I’m NEVER going to use this formula EVER in my life” mentality which was demonstrated on nearly every single one of my tests. Science – I don’t even want to talk about science. History – eh, I did a little better, but not by much. Basically I had one main problem in every subject (except English), and that problem was over-analyzation. I could KNOW the answer and still get it wildly wrong. Obviously not because I wanted to, but because of, I don’t know, pure anxiety and fear of getting the answer wrong. And because I had so much anxiety and fear, I would second, third, fourth, and tenth guess my memory, eventually talking myself out of the right answer. Here’s an insight into how my mind works under academic pressure:

A normal person’s thought process:

c) 1861

My thought process:

Oh I know this one. Uhh… C. 1861. …Right? Yeah that’s right, because it was bolded at the top of my notes, and I highlighted it orange, circled it twice, and said it out loud before I walked into class. 1861. Right? 1861… But 1823 is close. He wouldn’t have put 1823 as an option if it wasn’t important somehow. Now that I think about it, 1823 sounds right. 1823 or 1861? Or was it 1900? Was Lincoln alive in 1900? No he was shot, so not 1900. I think. Why does 1776 sound so familiar? Am I getting that confused with some other important event? The Civil War is old though. Like it happened a really long time ago. 1861 and even 1823 sound too recent history, so, yeah. It’s an old war. 1700s old.

b) 1776

As per demonstration, my thought process had no logic. But thankfully I graduated and, until a few days ago, had not encountered any academic hardships. When my husband and I went to register for our German class, we were met with an “Assessment”. We were shown to a white table, given pencils and our assessments, then the whole room went quiet as we attempted to fill in the blanks. I looked at the assessment and saw nothing but “AHHHHHHH” on the page. All of my academic anxieties came flooding back and I tried not to notice my husband filling in blank after blank. Ugh, husband! How dare you be so academically capable! Luckily I was able to fill in enough blanks to be waved on to not the lowest, but SECOND lowest German class, along with my husband.

Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna Opera). View from where class will take place.

The nice lady who graded my paper did get a good laugh from some of my answers which were apparently waaaaay wrong, but she was super encouraging and seemed to be genuinely excited for us. Even though I’m not exactly stoked about this whole going back to school thing, I am very ready to learn more about the German language and hopefully be able to say more than “Ich verstehe nur ein bisschen Deutsch” (I understand only a little German) and, “Nudeln mit Gemüse bitte, zum mitnehmen” (Noodles with vegetables please, to go).  I will of course keep you all updated on my progress, and if you could also be praying that my future children will inherit my husband’s intelligent mind, that would be beautiful of you.



Breakup Letter: To Tumblr

Tumblr – Uhhmmm, how do I say this…

I’m leaving you.

I’ve been a faithful Tumblr blogger for 2 years, but to be honest, I’ve always wondered if there was something more… something, something more fulfilling…

So yeah, I looked around. I read other blogs and looked at layouts. If it makes you feel any better I didn’t look around a ton because, well, I did feel a little guilty.

But then I met WordPress.

At first it was innocent. I mean I only blogged there a couple of times because that’s where my husband wanted our Vienna blog. But by the second post, I could tell my feelings and devotion were changing.

Ugh, don’t look at me that way. If your Dashboard wasn’t so cluttered with GIFS and reblogs and photos of nature maybe I would have stayed. But we both know you’re not going to change, not anytime soon at least.

I’ve already setup my new blog site on WordPress so if you need me you can find me there. I’ve moved all of my blog posts over to my new site as well so I’ll be leaving for good after this post.

Cheer up! We’ll see each other every now and then via HelloGiggles, The Daily What, my friends blogs, etc,. You’ll find someone else – I know it. Someone who loves How I Met Your Mother GIFS just as much as you do! It’ll be great, I promise. 

Ok… Guess this is it. Take care of yourself. See you around.

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Schönbrunn Saturday

Today was a little on the warm side, more so than we’ve experienced so far in Vienna. I don’t typically mind the heat, but my husband minds it a lot so today was like, the worst for him. Ok I’m exaggerating a bit, but honestly, he’d live in an igloo if he could. Even though today’s our day off, we woke up nice and early and headed for a street called Schüttaustrasse to view an apartment which I think now is our twelfth apartment viewing or so? Somewhere around there. Quick side note about apartment hunting in Vienna: It’s not at all like the States. When my husband and I were apartment hunting back in Oklahoma, we took one Saturday to apartment complex hop, and by the end of the day we knew where we’d be living. Apartment hunting here is a lot more complex, especially since so many people live in apartments for many, many years. The search looks something like this:

Every morning I browse through 14 or so apartment websites, looking specifically for apartments that are located in the 22nd District (Donaustadt) and are within our price range. If I see something, we call the number and ask if the apartment is available. Unfortunately many of the sites are not regularly updated meaning there’s a good chance that the listings are old, meaning we’ve heard our fair share of “no longer available”s. If and when I do get a hold of someone who has an availability, we set up an appointment to come look at the apartment. Typically, the person I’ve setup the appointment with is a realtor, not the owner. When the time of the appointment arrives, my husband and I (along with our German-speaking coworkers) meet up with the realtor and view the apartment. Since my husband and I are only using public transportation to get around the city, we have to see if there are stores nearby, a bus, strassenbahn, UBahn, etc., making it easy for us to get around. Several of the apartments we’ve seen have been too far away from stores and transportation, so we’ve had to nix them. Other apartments have been tossed out because they looked good online, but not so good up close. The other issue we’ve run into is of course the rent. If you’re interested in an apartment, you come back with an offer to give to the realtor, who then sends the offer to the owner. If the owner isn’t having it, you’re out of luck. This has been the case with a few apartments as well, leading us back to square one.

Though the process is longer than what we’re used to, it’s certainly taught us a good lesson on patience. Each time something hasn’t worked out, we just take a deep breathe, maybe face palm one or two times, then keep searching. We KNOW our apartment is out there – just haven’t found it yet. We love, love, love the apartment we saw this morning, so fingers crossed that there’s a future in it.

After we left the apartment, we got some Eis (gelato) with the Hensal gals then headed to Schloss Schönbrunn. If you’ve never been to Vienna and plan to visit someday (right?), this is a definite must-see, and you have to see it when it’s gorgeous out like it was this afternoon. The palace itself is of course stunning, but the miles of gardens and woods is breathtaking. My husband and I toured the palace then walked all over the gardens up to Neptune Fountain. Later we met up with some friends at the Schönbrunn Zoo, saw some cool animals, then made it home just in time to watch a live feed of our best friends get married at the groom’s home in Oklahoma.

We have another wedding to watch (thanks technology) at 1:30am. We’re totally suiting up for it too. Well I am – the husband is wearing his pajamas and a tie. That counts, right?

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My European Haircut

Being super girly has never been my thing. In kindergarten, I was the girl classmate the boys would invite to their birthday parties because I was into playing games that involved ninjas and pretend weapons. In middle school, my best friends and I wrote and recorded skits about Mario and Luigi, and later we did one about LOTR (Lord of the Rings). In high school (and still today), you could guarantee that I’d choose watching The Dark Knight or Iron Man over any recent chick-flick. In college, I avoided craft parties and nail painting gatherings at all costs. But when it comes to my hair, I’m as girly as a girl can get. I love getting my hair done. 

Best friend Jen and me geared up for our midnight scootering game. It was intense enough for camo.

When we came to Vienna, I had pretty much decided I was going to have to grow my hair out due to the expensive salon prices (It can cost up to €130, which is around $160). But luckily for me, Kim and Amanda found a way around those prices – they go to Sopron, Hungary instead.

Here you can find most things to be just a little bit cheaper. Instead of €130 for a cut and color, it’s closer to €40, which even in USD is much cheaper than a cut and color in the States. We drove to Sopron Friday morning, and due to time contraints, dropped Kim off at one salon while Amanda and I went to another so we’d be able to get our hair done and finished around the same time as Kim. Amanda and Kim refer to the salon that Amanda and I went to as “the cattle chute” due to the fast and furious pace of the hairdressers. Knowing this wasn’t a huge confidence booster but it’s all part of a new experience.

After a bit of a wait, it was finally my turn. The hairdresser spoke mainly Hungarian and a little bit of German while I speak a lot of English, the tiniest bit of German, and negative infinity Hungarian. Fun times were about to be had. I pulled up a picture of Katie Holmes:

The hairdresser looked at it, nodded, listened to Amanda translate for me, then went to work. At this point I was breathing pretty easy. The color I just had done was normal and didn’t turn out pink, and there was a picture to go by for my cut which seemed simple enough. But then my stomach started to flutter. Do you see how Katie has those little tendrils of hair that hit right above her jaw, giving her hair some length to it?  Those were the first things to go on me. All of sudden I could see over half of my ear. I tried to look emotionless though for fear she would ask me a question in one of her two languages and I wouldn’t be able to answer her which would fluster us both somehow resulting in my head being shaved. I stayed as calm and still as possible, and watched the scissors.

Next, my hairdresser moved to the top. Notice how Katie’s hair is stacked on top – there’s a lot of height and it all goes to one side, and so for me I thought this would be perfect because I have really thick hair that would have loved to be cut that way. But that went, too. By this time, my length had been cut off, the height had been trimmed down to a small poof, and all that remained were the bangs. In the picture, Katie’s bangs are somewhat thick, long, cover most of her forehead, and all go one direction. I figured if I at least had the bangs, my new do wouldn’t cause me to run out and buy a headband so people wouldn’t mistake me for boy. But alas, bye-bye bangs. They were feathered out and shortened and it’ll be awhile before they hit my eyebrows again.

I watched the entire haircut take place aside from the times I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t pass out in the chair. My hairdresser was so precious and seemed genuinely interested in accomplishing this particular cut that I couldn’t dare freak out in front of her or check my wrist to feel how fast my heart was beating. The only thing going through my mind was, “I look like a boy. I look like a boy. I actually look like a boy”.

She blow dried it, gelled it, sprayed it, and triumphantly said “Done!” while she stepped back to admire her work. I smiled as big as I could without showing my true feelings, then slowly walked back to Kim and Amanda as if I had just encountered a traumatic experience and forgot how to walk. To my relief, I was met with encouraging words instead of horrified looks. It took me a long time to get over the shock (I was even shaking while I was paying), but eventually I “came to” and went on with my day like a normal person.

It’s still really short to me. In a way I’ve gone full circle because when I was playing all those ninja games in kindergarten, my hair was basically as short as it is right now thanks to my parents’ decision to cut it all off. Now here I am, 23 years old and still playing ninja games (also known as working for a non-profit in Vienna) with really short hair. There’s a good chance hair flowers and headbands will be worn regularly until I’m completely used to my new style, but hey, at least I’m one step closer to being European.