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


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Warning: Your Thought Process May Be Scaring Your Husband

9781400315161_p0_v2_s260x420Before my husband and I were married, we attended a mini-marriage seminar held at our university. The couple who led us in a half-day long class about love and respect and parenting and the always awkwardly-anticipated, awkwardly-discussed topic of intimacy, began our class with this eye-opening thought:

Women’s brains are like spaghetti. Their thoughts are sometimes hard to follow, like a single noodle in a bowl full of tangled spaghetti, whereas men’s thoughts are compartmentalized, like syrup-holding squares in waffles. Spaghetti brains and waffle brains.

My husband had this look on his face like, Nailed it, as if he had been searching for exactly the right way to describe my scrambled, tangled, easy-to-get-lost-in way of thinking for quite some time. But now he had something to compare my mind to – spaghetti. And he was about to say “I do” to an eternity of bowls and bowls of it. Now, nearly 4 years later, I’m still immensely amused by the number of times in a week alone that Will gets raveled up in my thought process. It’s become a favorite hobby of mine – to see how fast I can lose him starting from one end of the “noodle” to the other. But then I started thinking maybe I should protect him a little bit more and warn him about what he’s getting himself into instead of dumping my metaphoric bowl of spaghetti on his head. Because let’s face it, ladies: we’re pretty scary creatures, and I think our awesome minds may be a little too scary for our men sometimes. Cool gift, though.

Here are some warning signs your waffley-thinking man might be a little freaked out by your spaghetti mind:

1. When his face says, “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Close to 3 years of marriage, and Will still has the insatiable desire to ask me what I’m thinking. He just has to know, which I appreciate, and am usually happy to accommodate him with an answer (unless I’m thinking about something embarrassing, like the mafia breaking into our apartment and stealing our cat). But unless it’s actually something serious, he usually immediately regrets his decision when I say, “Well. It all started when…” Lost him again.

2. When his face says, “Is it almost over?”

Will may regret asking me what I was thinking about, but he never interrupts me. He waits it out, no matter how agonizing it is for him to follow my thoughts as they jump from lilypad to lilypad. His face looks a little pained though… Maybe I should start summarizing.

Nah.

3. When his face says, “My head hurts.”

I can understand that, because I live with myself every day, and sometimes even I make my own head hurt. It’s a crazy wilderness up there and anyone is subject to get lost. Even you.

my-head-hurts

4. When he actually says, “Wait, never mind!”

Will does really want to know what I’m thinking, but I think I give off a distinct glimmer in my eye or something when whatever I’m thinking about is in no way urgent and not necessarily remotely important, because when he sees said glimmer, he quickly retracts his statement. He knows he’s about to enter my “Mind Battlefield” (oooh what about that? Good name or keep searching?) and he’s not armored for such a task.

5. When he actually says, “Oh no.”

This is the “please save me” of all warning signs, and is normally reserved for this announcement:

Holly: Will, I’ve been thinking.

Will: Oh no.

I pretend to be really offended by this response, but really I just know he doesn’t want to go through steps 1-4 again. I think a lot; in fact, I don’t think I ever stop thinking. Sometimes I keep myself awake for hours because I can’t turn my brain off. But men? Men are perfectly capable of not thinking. When you ask them what they’re thinking about, and they respond with “nothing”, they’re being for real. They’re thinking about absolutely nothing. I would love to know what that’s like, just one time. Actually I think I experienced it in a yoga class once, but then someone walked in with freshly baked muffins and my meditation was all thrown off.

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Our poor guys. Think our spaghetti minds should go a little easier on ‘em?

Nah.

Images from here, here, here and here.


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5 Surprising Facts About An Austrian New Years

Vienna - party central.

Vienna – party central.

This was my first New Years abroad. I’ve always wondered what it would be like celebrating a new year hours ahead of my family and friends in the States, and I can tell you – it feels pretty much the same, because someone somewhere is always hours ahead. So, there’s that. But last night’s celebration in Vienna felt nothing close to the same as previous stateside celebrations. In my opinion, there was a bit more magic, more excitement, and more interesting traditions – some of which surprised me.

1. Have a good slide

In the U.S., we wish each other “Happy New Year”. In Austria, we wish one another “einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr”. A “Rutsch” is a slide, so basically the Austrians are wishing each other “Have a good slide into the New Year”.  I will never fall out of love with this phrase.

How was your slide into 2014? A safe and graceful landing, I hope?

2. Good Luck Charms

Unless I’m forgetting something, the only time I’ve ever seen the famous 4 Leaf Clover on shirts and hats and figurines is on St. Patrick’s Day. But on New Years in Austria, the 4 Leaf Clover makes its debut in a big way. It is on absolutely everything. And traditionally, if you’re spending New Years in Austria, you are to purchase something with a 4 Leaf Clover on it, and give that purchase to whomever you’re spending New Years with as a good luck charm for the year. Last night, we gave our friend a lucky mushroom, because he’s really into mushrooms (for making tasty sauces reasons), and to his brother, we gave a teeny-tiny pig.

3. Pigs

I need to do some research on how and why Austria chose its lucky charms, or maybe someone can tell me, but for some reason a pig is like, the charm of the New Year. My husband and I were downtown last night to get an early, chaos-avoiding glimpse of what goes on celebration wise, and I have never seen so many pigs in my life. Not real pigs of course. But pig hats with four dangling legs? You betcha.

RI2012-300-pig-hat

We should probably all own one.

4. The Waltz

Our German teacher told us a long time ago that at the stroke of midnight, Austrians everywhere turn on “The Blue Danube Waltz” and naturally, waltz. We very much wanted this to be true. Not that I’m calling our German teacher a liar, I just mean, we really wanted to see this culture-wide tradition happen before our own eyes. And we did! It wasn’t as “drop everything and waltz” as we had imagined, but the people in our firework watching/shooting area did indeed waltz to the music on their phones or in their cars. Will and I tried to waltz alongside a couple of older couples who really knew what they were doing. Our attempt was embarrassingly adorable. Sorry we didn’t take video.

5. Fireworks

I always thought the U.S. was intensely firework crazy what with its gigantic firework stores and tents, but now I think it might be Austria who’s firework crazy. Our Austrian friend told us that, on average, an Austrian family will spend about 200 euro on fireworks. That’s quite a bit of mula for fireworks. It definitely pays off though – big time. We heard fireworks days before New Years, and the fireworks lasted well into the late hours of the night (or the early hours of the morning?). We heard them from every direction and the sky flashed with all sorts of colors. I hope and pray we never experience war in our lives, but if I were to imagine what it sounded like in real life, last night would be it. We’d never heard or saw anything like it.

Happy New Years and einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

Image from here.


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5 Ways My Life Has Changed Since Doctor Who

*If you plan to watch Doctor Who at any point in time or space, don’t read this post. Spoilers…*

About 3 weeks ago, I asked my husband why our best friends dressed their baby up in a shirt that said “TARDIS” on the front of it for Halloween. Now, 6 seasons and a few episodes into the 7th season later, my husband and I know all about the TARDIS. And like Miley Cyrus’ aggravating earworm of a song – we can’t stop, and we won’t stop. We love Doctor Who.

Since meeting The Doctor, I’ve noticed some differences in myself that are peculiar (more so than normal), embarrassing, and a little bit obsessive. Here are the 5 ways my life has changed since I was introduced to Doctor Who:

1. Time Warped Dreams

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TARDIS, photo credit: comicbookresources.com

I’ve always had bizarre dreams without the help of The Doctor’s time-wimey spacey-wacey way of life, but Doctor Who has successfully tripled the all-out weirdness of my time in sleepy town. Just recently I was woken up very early by our cat, and I promise you, my very first thought as our cat headbutted my forehead was “… Doctor?” Technically, this being my first thought makes no sense. A person transforming themselves into a cat is a very Harry Potter thing to do, not Doctor Who, though to be fair, there are “cat people” on various planets in Doctor Who’s universe. All that to say, The Doctor has gotten to me. I’ve had dreams with different colored glowing timelines, sumo wrestlers wrestling aliens wearing sumo wrestling fat suits (myself included), one where David Tennant tried to talk to me but everything he said went into a parallel universe so I never heard what he said, and lastly, a dream full of Weeping Angels (because “Blink” was terrifying!). I’d like to save the world at least once while I sleep but I guess I have to become a worthy companion of The Doctor first, which brings us to number 2…

2. Self Comparison and Examination: Am I TARDIS Worthy?

You’re lying if you’ve said you’ve never once wondered if you’d make it in the TARDIS (especially if you’re female and have a crush on the 10th doctor). I’ve given this a significant amount of thought and have depressingly concluded that I would make a terrible companion to take along in the TARDIS. It wouldn’t be the aliens or a weird time fluke that would do me in – it would be the TARDIS itself. With the way it spins and twirls, I’d never make it a single trip without throwing up some place. I suppose I could constantly pop a Dramamine, but then I’d just sleep everywhere. There’s also the option of the motion sickness preventing patch, but it’s temperature sensitive which would worry me constantly. The reality is The Doctor and I would show up to fight a group of Daleks and before the war started the Daleks would be like, “Ex-ter-min- wait, wait. Mrs. Space Sick over there just threw up on Dalek Sec. Ex-plain! ” And then The Doctor would be like, “Sorry, she’s with me… ” Then they’d all have a good laugh at The Doctor and he’d trade me in for Amy Pond after the war was over. Pond…

3. Make Believe TARDIS Sightings

Continuing on with thoughts on the TARDIS, I am convinced that I hear it everywhere I go. When I hear a truck drive by or a train start up, for a brief moment I think the TARDIS is on its way to Earth. That something is wrong in Vienna and The Doctor has to fix it. I told my husband about the amount of times I think that I hear the TARDIS, thinking he’d respond with, “Oh I knooooow! Me too!” But he didn’t and just looked at me weird. So I guess it’s just me and all the other diehard fans out there who haven’t revealed this about themselves yet. You know who you are. I know you’ve heard the TARDIS.

4. British English Envy

My husband and I both teach English to people here in Vienna during the week and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “No, that’s British English” to the people we’re teaching. British English is usually taught in the schools and universities in Vienna, which is of course not a problem, but most of the people we teach want to learn American English and drop British English. This often results in us lightheartedly poking fun at British English while we scan through the sheets of phrases a student of ours has brought to us from their university. The English is just different enough that when we read these phrases together, we’ll laugh and say, “No, no we’d never say that. Or that. No, we wouldn’t say that either. They say that?” But now that we’ve watched so much Doctor Who, we just want to be English! I want to say things like “blimey” and “daft”, and “properly scared”. Have you ever said you were “properly” anything? Me neither, but I’m going to start. I’m properly happy. Properly envious. Properly crazy.

5. Sudden Interest in Shakespeare

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David Tennant, photo credit: tennantnews.blogspot.co.at.

So… Gosh, this part is embarrassing. So, I don’t know anything about Shakespeare. That is to say, I don’t necessarily care about Shakespeare. It bored me in high school English and those ancient films my teachers made us watch were painfully awful. But uh… Well, then there’s David Tennant. It turns out that David Tennant is performing Shakespeare’s Richard II live tonight, and his performance will be broadcasted out to various theaters, including one in Vienna. And so I just thought, you know, David is really talented and he needs all the support he can get since it’s a live broadcasted performance and that’s pretty intense. So… Yeah. I just thought maybe I should go ahead and support him and give Shakespeare another chance. I’ve always been intrigued by actors who are “trained Shakespearean actors”, and finding out what that means exactly now is as good a time as any, yes? So if you need me, I’ll be in the 4th row at the movie theater watching David Tennant get his Shakespeare on. Honestly, I was super surprised my husband willingly bought us tickets to this event since I’m clearly only interested in the uh, talented acting skills of Mr. Tennant and not so much in whatever Shakespeare wrote. But when I asked Will why he decided to buy the tickets, he responded with, “Hey, if something gets you the least bit interested in Shakespeare, I can’t pass that up.” So there you have it. David, I mean Shakespeare, allons-y!

Now I know all of you are going to the movies on November 23rd to see “Day of the Doctor”, as you should. However, Will and I are leaving that day to go to a retreat in Germany, so if any of you says anything to me about what happens in this episode, I will send you a picture of a Weeping Angel for an entire year.

*Watch the video below for pre-Shakespeare excitement and a Scottish accent.


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Running to Belong

For close to a year now I’ve entertained the idea of getting back into the whole running and exercising thing that people do to stay healthy and fit. Last May a good friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in running in what’s called the Frauenlauf (Women’s Run) and I was, but unfortunately (also fortunately) I had to work and was unable to register. Had I been able run alongside hundreds, maybe thousands of women through Vienna, I told myself I would train for it as not to be caught of guard or in severe pain for days following the run, which is also what I told myself when that same friend asked me if I’d be interested in running this year’s Vienna Night Run. The Vienna Night Run takes place in the city, at night, around Vienna’s famed Ringstrasse. Thousands upon thousands of people participate which makes for a party-like atmosphere in the name of running. Registered runners receive a special goodie bag filled with coupons, coupons, more coupons, and a sweet Vienna Night Run long sleeved shirt. (Honestly I ran for the shirt.)

Chiara and me ready to run

Chiara and me ready to run

Running isn’t all that foreign to me, though unfortunately it’s not all that obvious. I ran Cross-Country for several years in school before I gave it up to “bring up my grades”, (but really I was this close to failing Chemistry in 10th grade) and never picked it back up again since I never really loved the feeling of exhaustion and that “Can I stop running please?” desire in the first place.

That being said… Guys, I’m getting back into running!

Maybe. Hopefully. The Vienna Night Run didn’t inspire me to get back into shape, though it did inspire me to never, ever, ever run a 5K without training beforehand ever, ever again. I couldn’t walk for a week and was laughed at multiple times by multiple people, deservingly so. (Fun Fact: If your muscles are sore you have what’s called a Muskelkater, which translates to muscle hangover. Ha.) But it did prepare me for last week in which I agreed to be my friend’s new running partner. We both live right next door to Vienna’s largest park, Prater, so meeting up regularly is easy for us. We jogged/power walked for the first time last Monday since both of us had not so wisely eaten too close to running time, but still it was a nice exercise and it felt good to get out and talk with a friend while orange and red leaves fell all around us. Easily something I could get used to.

Two days later we met up for our Prater exercise but decided to join the “Frauenlauftreff” (women’s running meeting, basically) rather than run by ourselves. I was surprised by the number of women who came out for this meeting. There may have been close to 75? Maybe less, but there were a lot of women there of all ages who came out simply to run. My friend and I tried to put ourselves in the slowest group, because if you haven’t picked up on it yet from this post, we don’t run. But the head trainer said there was no way we were that slow, so she put us in a different group. By the time we got started the sun had gone down and the street lights were on, bouncing off the rain-soaked road. We ran 400 meters 8 times at a decently quick pace with small pauses in between each lap. Our trainer was a fit woman in her late 30s and was an excellent motivator and helper. She checked up on everyone in the group throughout the run and gave advice to those who were hurting or wanted to stop. Surprisingly my friend and I ran right by our trainer without collapsing onto the pavement, and equally surprising – I had a really good time.

Photo credit: wien.at

Photo credit: wien.at

It wasn’t so much the running that had me in a good mood and weirdly grinning in between wheezes. I grinned because it felt like I had a group. I belonged. The women around me didn’t care that I wasn’t Austrian and they didn’t care that I decided to run in my UT VOLS sweatshirt. They didn’t care that I don’t yet speak Austrian running lingo or that I don’t yet know how to do some of their stretches. We were all there just to run and we had that in common. It felt different somehow from my church and my work – two places where I feel that I belong and know that I am supported in my German learning efforts as well as just living here in general. I love the people within those places with my whole heart and look forward to seeing every one of them each week. But there’s something about belonging to a group without knowing a single name that makes it a different kind of special. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. What I do know is that I’m looking forward to running again this week among this new group of friendly, welcoming strangers.


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4 Hair-Fixing Possibilities

Upon further review of yesterday’s unfortunate hair cut, following a good morning’s washing/drying/attempted straightening, it seems not only did this gentle soul of a woman cut off half of my hair length, but also gifted me with an 80s style-lady rock star mullet. I find this regrettable as it is almost 2014 not 1984, I am not a lady rock star (though whenever I listen to Pat Benatar I desperately wish I was), and because mullet.

At this point I’ve almost given up hope on finding a Viennese or even a European version of my amazing Oklahoman hairstylist. Maybe she does exist and I just haven’t found her due to my refusal to cough up what I consider to be an unrealistic amount of money for a “real” haircut. But I guess this is what happens here when that money isn’t coughed up: a real life hair tail.

The way I see it, I have a few different options but need help deciding the right course of action:

1. Wear my hair tail in a ponytail until it grows out of its mulletness.

2. Save up for a real hair cut and do away with my Linda McCartney mullet, resulting in very short hair all over again but hey, it’s better than a mullet, and were she still living Linda would probably agree that.

3. Rock the mullet. (Obviously this is a joke and if you recommend this option I’ll be forced to unfriend you for ….5 years. Yeah 5 years should do it.)

4. Blame the US government shutdown because that’s what Facebook says to do. #shutdown

So uh… Help please.