One year ago


Funny, but both scenes look equally beautiful to me.

Scenes from today:

1. In which I wake up at 5 am with the worst shin splint of my life.  I say “splint” because it was only in my left leg.  Apparently, I run cockeyed.  Or cocklegged?  After whimpering in pain for a few minutes (not my finest hour), I braved the cold hardwood to snatch a bottle of ibuprofen from my purse.  I read The Faerie Queen by flashlight while I waited for the sweet relief to kick in.

2. In which I leave my iPhone at home, and am unable to retrieve it until 8 pm.  I’m embarrassed to tell you that it felt like I had left a finger at home.

3.  In which I learn what it feels like to truly mess up as a student government.  And what it feels like to look around the room and to see the same terrified look on everyone’s face.  And what it feels like to have to take a deep breath and vote “aye” once again, because there’s simply no other option.

4.  In which I decide that breastfeeding in public is gross.  I was taking the minutes at a division meeting, grumbling to myself over the sad fact that professors simply think themselves to be above Robert’s Rules, when suddenly the professor at the next table, who had been holding her five-month-old on her lap for the past half hour, stooped to grab a large scarf from her bag.  Before I could avert my still-scarred-from-too-much-TLC-in-high-school eyes, she draped the scarf around her shoulders and over the baby, and began the feeding as if there weren’t fifty other people in the room.  Gross.  I realize that it’s not fair that you should have to be a pariah just because you have an infant, but still.  Gross.

Ja, Genau

When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher, having listened to me whine a little about having to go to a college football game with my family (yes, I was the kid who brought a book), handed me a stack of blank attendance form pads, and told me to write down my observations.

I didn’t end up writing much, as the game was more engrossing than I had anticipated, but the concept has stuck with me; I’ve since gotten into the habit of carrying a small notebook around.  In it, I write grocery lists, quotes, notes to be made into a poem or a blog post, etc.

I recently found the notebook that I carried through Europe with me, and while I never want to be that girl who begins every sentence with “when I was in Europe…”

When I was in Europe, I carried a little notebook around with me.  Here are some of the unpublished snippets:

1. “Dachau info: Take S2 Bahn to Dachau/Petershausen, then bus 726 towards Saubachsiedlung to entrance. Audio guides 2.50.”

2. October 9. “This afternoon I decided that I have a raging case of cabin fever, and that said fever, combined with my already raging homesickness, was nearly incapacitating.  So, I’m going out.  I’m going to walk around Salzburg by myself, maybe get a snack, and try to remind myself what I’m doing here.”  (Don’t worry; things got better)

3. Eric/Me:

“You should get up there.  Maybe later.  Come on.  I will in a bit.  I don’t believe you.  I will, I swear!  If you don’t now, you never will.”

4. “Hair cut.  Fast, but accurate.  25 Euro.”

5. “To Wikipedia: Air Force fly height, Vienna protesters, body decay time.”

6.  “Put on reading list: 1. Roald Dahl short stories 2. The Discovery of Heaven, by Harry Mulisch 3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

7. “There’s ‘another’ writer sitting across the cafe. He is unimpressed with the live piano music, while I listen with giddy delight. He hardly looks up from his notebook to admire the chandeliers, the green velvet-hung windows, the counter piled with frosted cakes.  I peer around, hardly subtle at all.  My mouth hangs open unabashedly. But then I notice that this other writer is eating around the raisins in his carrot cake.  I’ve been doing the same with my own slice.  I guess I can be a writer after all (edit this ending).”

8. “Eric puked on my backpack on the bus back to Salzburg…gross.”

9. “Lyman lecture: ‘there’s no such thing as coincidence,’ ‘don’t be critical,’ ‘love at first sight does exist.'”

10. “Can I please be airlifted out of here?  I don’t know that I’ve ever dreaded anything like I’m dreading the dreaded, dreadful, German oral exam.”

11. “Well, I think I left my eloquence back over Denmark, but as my homecoming is rather a grand event (to me at least), I thought I should say something anyway. In Munich, I paid 50 Euros to check a bag full of Christmas presents.  After that, I had to chug half a liter of water while a bemused security officer looked on.  Then I hugged Matt goodbye, picked up a Nat Geo from the Duty Free, and trotted off to gate H2 to wait.  It’s been a few hours since then.  I’m officially at the point that I reach on all international flights; the point where I have to clutch the armrests to prevent myself from screaming and running up and down the aisles.  I’m also thinking of jumping out of the plane and swimming home.  Do you think that would be any faster?  I’m watching ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and appreciating the sentiments greatly.  Life is wonderful. The small child who’s been kicking my seat for the past hour seems to agree.  But still, despite the miserable, Coke-guzzling, leg-cramping, bladder-bursting, zombified plane state we’re all in, the only thing I’m thinking about is that I’ll be hugging my parents in less than 10 hours.  Ja, genau.”


It’s funny, now, to think that I spent a semester in Austria.  That last year around this time I was filling out forms and moaning over hideous passport photos and generally looking forward to departure.  And now that’s all finished.  People no longer ask me about it, except for today, when I ran into a friend I haven’t seen for about a year.  Since I studied abroad in the Fall and she in the Spring, we completely missed each other.

In the middle of the buggy sidewalk, we chatted about our respective journeys for a few minutes.  I bumbled a bit; for some reason I have a lot of trouble summarizing my time in Salzburg, because I suppose it seems more like a chapter of my life than a trip that can be compressed into a five sentence paragraph.

But, because the run-in made me nostalgic, and because my next travel adventure is three whole weeks away, here is last Fall in a nutshell:

Salzburg is utterly lovely

Especially near Christmas

Unipark, where I took most of my classes

My dorm

Other places I visited:


The Tower of London; one of my favorite parts of the whole semester. I could have stayed all day.

Vienna, where I saw an Opera (The Magic Flute) for four Euros.



Where this glorious bookstore is located

We also went to Versailles, but like a fool, I forgot my camera that day.



At the Berlin Zoo, I was nearly decapitated by a black swan. Figures.

Prague, home of the John Lennon Wall, oddly enough.


Where I took blurry (and illegal) photographs of Picasso masterpieces

Innsbruck, where a graveyard lies at the bottom of an Olympic ski jump.

And where Swarovski crystals are made, behind the creepy “head of the giant”


Dachau Concentration Camp (Munich)

And finally, I joined an Ultimate Frisbee team. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Sound of Music Singalong

In case you were at all wondering, the inevitable did indeed happen whilst I was in Salzburg.  A Sound of Music singalong happened.

In all fairness, the singing was prompted by Andreas (tour guide extraordinaire), who was fond of blasting the soundtrack as we hurtled through the Alps in our little coach bus.  The bus driver, in turn, was fond of keeping the bus bathroom locked, so there really was no escaping.  The only thing left to do was to sing as loudly as possible, and to pretend that you didn’t know every word of every song, including yodel solos.

Thank You. Have a Nice Day.

I worked my first solo barista shift today.

Cathy looked worried as she put her arm through first one coat sleeve, and then the other: “Are you sure it’s okay that I leave now?  I can stay, you know.  And don’t forget to check the milks every half hour.  When you wash them out you need to WIPE them, Holly.  Really wet the rag down, first, or it won’t do any good.  The pot coffee should be fine; I refilled them at two, but if someone asks, the Breakfast Blend is the freshest because fifteen minutes ago someone bumped the whole container off the shelf, and you wouldn’t believe…”

I shooed her away, happy to be alone before the majesty that is a softly hissing espresso machine and a rack of chocolate and vanilla mixing syrup.  I was sparsely trained, I knew it, but there’s just something about being the ruler of your own domain, the Queen of mango smoothies and cinnamonraisinbagels with cream cheese.

There wasn’t much time to bask in the glow of being onmyown before the three o’clock rush began.  After that, I scarcely had time to wipe the puddle of milk leftover from the economics professor’s white chocolate (no whip) mocha before I was whirling back around to scoop out Sour Patch Kids into a paper bag ($3.00 worth please, avoid the yellow ones).  Then the phone was ringing, and a man was asking for phone numbers.  Small hot chocolate with a shot of caramel.  Large apple cider, leave the cinnamon stick; last time my friend swallowed his whole and almost choked to death in the middle of Spanish.  Phone ringing again, same man, ohI’msorry I meant to call the number you gave me, not your number.  That’s all right sir, it was nice talking to you again.  I recommend the lemon poppy seed muffin over the lumpy-looking apple cinnamon bar.  You’ll take one apple cinnamon bar?  Three fifty.  No I’m not offended.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.  Hi sorry I can’t talk now it’s busy.  Nice to see you again!  Yes, this is my first day.  Salzburg was wonderful!  No, no Julie Andrews sightings.  Hot water with mint teabag.  One scoop dried mango.  Twist, reach for towel, mop at whipped cream explosion that frothed some poor soul’s mocha into

a volcano


couldn’t be


with a lid.

Thank you.  Have a nice day.



Things and Risk

My friends, I just left a riveting game of “Things” to write this post.

Before that was “Risk,” which I lost, due to my apparent lack of military strategy.

Before that were the Golden Globes.  (It seems that I need to go see The Artist.  Anyone?)

And before that, at around noon, I arrived on campus, where I plan to remain for quite a while.

Salzburg, bless its heart, didn’t feel like college the way my school here does.  Salzburg felt like a strange, extended vacation, with some learning thrown in for good measure.  It’s good to be back among those who wear hooded sweatshirts to class, those who think a late night trip to Jose’s for burritos is a thrill, those who celebrate when the temperature climbs above thirty.

Yes, I think I can be happy here for the next three semesters.


Day One

You may notice that, even after all my highly ambitious claims in the “About” section, it is now January 2nd and I’m posting for the first time.

Yes, I missed a day.  And I’m sorry.

However, in my defense, yesterday I was awfully busy watching multiple Minnesota teams playing multiple sports lose multiple games.  And then I was busy consoling myself with spinach dip and a victorious round of Trivial Pursuit.  And so it goes.

Anyway, I’ll simply post until January 2nd, 2013 to make up the difference.  No harm done, right?

To start out this blog, I want to make some statements about what I’m trying to do here.

Firstly, I’m an aspiring writer.  English major, as a matter of fact.  And while I’ve been blogging since 2008, I’ve never been exactly regular about it.  I tend to post only when I have something big to say.  Or when I’m feeling guilty about not posting.  Or during Finals Week when I need an outlet for my moans and groans, and justification for my procrastination.  This sporadicity has been getting on my nerves lately.  If I truly want to grow as a writer (and I do), then I need to make writing a daily habit.

Here’s where the blogging comes in.  At least once a day, for an entire year.  That’s the goal.  And although I thought about it, I’m not going to make a post word minimum for myself, and I’m not going to set any standards for content.  While I’ll certainly try to write thoughtful, illuminating, entertaining posts, I can’t guarantee that there won’t be days where I will simply compose some silly poem, or crank out a list of my favorite Spielberg films (Gremlins, anyone?).

The point is simply to write.

Additionally, I should mention that pardons will be permitted for emergencies.  Some days it’s simply not feasible to write a post.  These days are few, and I hope they won’t impact this blog, but if they do they do.  I’ll try to make it up to you the next day with some serious groveling and an extra-long post on a topic of your choice.

Finally, because we’ve just been introduced, and because you’re not sure yet whether to bookmark this blog or to simply check back in 30 days to see if I’m a liar or not, here are my credentials:

Blog No. 1 (The Personal Blog).  This blog chronicles the good the bad and the ugly, beginning my senior year of high school.  Prepare for drama, prepare for bad poetry, and prepare for tangible evidence that I have, in fact, matured over the past three years (I hope).

Blog No. 2 (The Travel Blog).  Last semester (September 9th-December 15th) I studied in Salzburg, Austria.  I had a fantastic time, learned a lot, and took more pictures than Mac can currently handle without running at a speed akin to corn growing.  Note: I visited many more places than are represented on this blog, but know that I have plans to keep posting until I catch up.

Thanks for hearing me out.  I hope to see you tomorrow.