"Down here at Cape Spartel is the celebrated cave of Hercules, where the hero took refuge when he was vanquished and driven out of the Tangier country. It is full of inscriptions in the dead languages, which fact makes me think Hercules could not have traveled much, else he would not have kept a journal."

-"The Innocents Abroad," Mark Twain

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Look, Ma, No Hair!

If you have spoken to me at length, you know that I have been planning this for a while. If I was accepted  to go to Austria, I said I would wait until I got back. If I wasn't, I would do it that summer. I was accepted, as you very well know, and have finally gotten up the nerve. Today, I had my hair cut to donate to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer. (After about 6 months of being back...)

Here I am this morning, for my "before" shot:

There is no great story here; I was a bit nervous to have it cut after so long, but was ready today to have it done with!

 When it was all over, I am proud to say that about 13 in/33 cm were cut off to mail in.

My hair hasn't been this short since... 7th grade? It will not stay in a bun, I doubt it will braid well, and I won't even attempt a French-braid. But maybe I can curl it in under three hours?


Ok. Well. Happy New Year.
mary beth

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Hallo, liebe Leute! I trust you're all doing well this abnormally warm week before Christmas. The pictures I have for you today are rather scarce in number, but it has been manageably busy time since I last wrote. (Yes, I consider blog-writing to be like writing a letter, but it saves time because I write to everyone at once!)

This seems to be my time to catch up on shows and movies, which I am not about to complain about. The list begins: a friend and I went to see a local production of "Annie" last Friday, which I am slightly embarrassed to say was the first time I had seen it all the way through! Another friend of mine was one of the performers and did a stunning job, of course :). The show itself was held in a small theater with Victorian design, which created a rather intimate environment.

I had my own performance this past Thursday, just the second of the season - late winter/spring will be much crazier! (I relish the challenge; let's hope I actually manage to make it through.) The school winter concert went well enough, us being a small orchestra.

Friday was the premier of The Hobbit, which I was eagerly anticipating. If I had been allowed, I would have gone to the midnight showing... ah, parents. You have to love them. But that's fine, because I saw it FRIDAY night instead! If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend doing so - it was just what you  could have asked for, if not more. Oh, but the music - during the Misty Mountains song (not sure of the proper title), I could have wept; it was beautifully developed.

This coming week, I will be seeing the new Lincoln movie and Les Miserables as well, and will be sure to share my opinion with you! And a second showing of The Hobbit may be in order...

Last tidbit: we (finally) got our Christmas tree yesterday! It has lights, the star, and tinsel, but no ornaments as of yet. Soon!

Until then, merry Christmas!
mary beth

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An American Thanksgiving

Good afternoon, ladies and gents! (Even if it's not afternoon right now where you are, it it somewhere.) If you are American, I hope your Thanksgiving was filling and sleep-inducing. I went down to visit family, and must say that it was a good time. We did the usual - ate, took pictures, went Black Friday shopping... since we were not in the city, there were very few people out before dawn (as well as fewer stores).

The kids' table (minus yours truly)
The MAIN food table before it was ambushed... pies not included :)
When you're waiting in line at 6AM, things like this tend to happen...
Friday afternoon, we all split up at the theater to see movies. It was, for me, a clear choice: I saw the new James Bond movie. Now, I had never seen a James Bond film before (how shocking!), but my uncle told me afterwards that this one was a bit more intense than the previous ones. I still enjoyed it, but be prepared if violence is not your thing :)

Where am I today? Home from school, in bed, sick. How typical - we are off for three days, THEN I am sick. Hope to be going back in tomorrow! At least the Monday night concert (who schedules a concert on a Monday?!) went well, and I heard yesterday that I was accepted to play for All-State! If you are interested in coming to the performance, contact me and I will let you know the date and location.

mary beth

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Eat More Bananas

Hello, hello! I just realized that I seem to have fallen into writing about once a month, which seems to be a pretty good schedule for me right now. Why didn't anyone tell me my senior year would be this crazy? And yet it seems as if I have little to tell the world about where I've been and who I have seen.

I have been actively visiting schools and narrowed down which ones I will be applying to. Looking back now, I realize that I do indeed have some pictures to share with you from these short trips! My most recent was to northwestern Pennsylvania, which is lovely this time of year. Actually, I think everywhere is rather lovely this time of year, so perhaps it's just my preference for fall. :)

Just a friendly reminder?
Now that I look back at these, though, they don't really look very fall-like...

In rather sad news, some of you may know that I had a rabbit named Muffin - yes, you did read that correctly, had. He passed a week ago and I just wanted to mention him.

Last but not least, I auditioned for All-State Orchestra today! Hopefully I will be accepted; I have no clue when I will be told.

stay warm!
-mary beth

P.S. Oh, and the hurricane happened since I last wrote! We are fine, just lost power for a couple of days. Here is a picture of what happened in our area... rain and lots of fallen leaves!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Books, Dancing, and One Book in Particular

Hello to all! I must say I am really loving this fall weather we are having lately... as long as it stays crisp like this, I will be happy. Halloween, how I eagerly await your arrival! (Provided we actually decide to do something for it.)

I had hoped to attend the National Book Festival, and failing that, went to Baltimore's instead. I didn't get to see the author that was at the National, but had a lovely time exploring nonetheless :)

Photo-bombers to each side of me, and I thought the church looked rather European
What I brought home...

The weekend before last was one of those high school-highlights - my senior homecoming. All of this cliche stuff is beginning to really hit me... I was looking forward to it, started to dread the event the day of, but ended up having a fabulous time, of course! Below are a few highlights, all of which were taken beforehand. Thanks, Mom & Dad! Naturally, homecoming week I did not take any pictures, but just so you know, I did dress up for mis-match day, toga day (seniors only), decades day, and school colors day and went to the game. We won ;)

(Back to book news...) You may know that J.K. Rowling came out with a new book recently - her first adult novel, entitled "The Casual Vacancy." I was afraid that it would be quite some time before I got my hands on a copy, but reserved it at the library the day it came out. Just a few days later, I got the notification that it was available! I finished it today, and I have to say that it is (overall) enjoyable. However, what everyone else is saying is very much true: if she did not have her reputation, it would most likely not end up a best seller. On the other hand, if people did not have such high expectations, maybe it would have been better received... read it for yourself and find out! (But do realize that this is an adult novel - not Harry Potter in any way whatsoever!)

Last order of business: you can now find me on Twitter and Goodreads!

Hope you're doing well!
mary beth

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Catching Up

Well, the school year is back and in full swing! I have been prompted to begin writing again... we'll seen how long that lasts. Admittedly, I feel like I am cheating a bit now with the name of my blog, but it'll stay to both confuse you and keep things simple. :) And where are the adventures going? Schoolwork? You mean I actually have to stay home and focus all of my time (thank you, AP US history) on homework?

Actually, I would be lying if I said I wasn't glad to get back into it all. On the other hand, what can be infuriating are the different perceptions/assumptions of some who have not experienced the same things I have. But I forgive you. We are different people, after all. Just please don't tell me you speak "Australian" after I tell you I was in Austria. To quote my generation, that is just "so wrong on so many levels."

Sarcasm aside, I have been doing a few other things with my time... sort of. A few weeks ago, I and my dad went camping further north, where we were very lucky to be without rain until we got to the car to leave for home! If you know my dad, you will know how astounding a feat this is. While we were there, we spent a good deal of an afternoon searching for mushrooms, and I am pleased to say found many. Sadly, of this many, almost all were poisonous. But I do have a few pictures:

And now that you are tired of mushrooms, I will finish up quickly! In case you are wondering, my school's football team is doing well so far this season - I have made it to one of our two home games so far. (There goes my goal to go to every one this year.) Secondly, I want to wish Marion a happy birthday and thank her for a wonderful '80s party! I enjoyed dressing up, as usual :)

hope you're all staying busy!
mary beth

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trip to the Windy City

This past weekend, I had the privilege of accompanying my dad on his business trip to Chicago. The first day he was not required to be there and was mainly to visit one of the city’s several universities, which I left with a good impression of. We flew in, arriving about 7:45AM local time, before dropping our luggage off at the hotel and heading to the campus. After touring it, we went to a tiny burger joint on the corner and had lunch before actually checking in to our hotel. Later we went to the Art Institute, where we saw this exhibit, among others, which did a good job of making fun of art that is typically taken a bit more seriously: 

DAY 2, I was on my own to explore! I spent many hours walking around Millennium Park, home to the famous Cloud Gate or “the Bean;” Navy Pier, which has the country’s only museum dedicated entirely to stained glass; the Cultural Center, which also has a huge Tiffany dome; and the now-called Willis (instead of Sears) Tower, which I did not actually go up.

DAY 3, I went on a tour of two of the city’s theaters, the Oriental Ford Theater and the Bank of America Theater (which has had many other names that were much better). For lunch and a bit of shopping, I took the train over to Chinatown, where I did not take any pictures… and managed to make a fool of myself while eating. If you see me, feel free to ask, but I am not about to write it out for the world. In the evening, I relaxed due to the fact that I had killed my feet. Afterwards I took my dad to Millennium Park so that he could see a bit more before we left the next morning. And for dinner – we had a Chicago pizza [pie]!

Have a good first day of school!
mary beth

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Note From "Home"

Last Saturday, I woke up, rushed, and drove to the airport, sad to be leaving my host family that had welcomed me so lovingly into their hearts and home.
I flew from Salzburg to Frankfurt.
My flight was on time.
I missed my flight to the US.
I ran around to several different counters, spoke to different representatives, and had to go through passport check stations multiple times.
I rescheduled my flight - leaving in about 7 hours.
I reached the US, finally found my luggage, went through customs, had my bags checked.
I left the security area and saw my brother in person for the first time in almost a year.
He ran and got my parents, and the joy and relief were tangible.
Two hours of driving later, we were at our house.
I slept.

Having been in the US for a full week, I feel that it is about time to start recording my reactions to being what may be called "home." Yes, it is, but not fully. I miss Austria more than I had expected and less, as well - it depends entirely on the moment. Resuming my old life is reassuring but also unsettling as I fully come to realize what it means. I have to partially let go of things I have become used to. What I had forgotten had to be taken up again.

Much of what I first experienced - reverse culture shock - was simply just being overwhelmed. I did not, have not, seen too many people since coming back, but just going out to Walmart was shocking for me initially. I had forgotten how much space we have here that allows us to expand in such ways; I once asked one of my Austrian friends if she thought that Americans were wasteful with their land (she having been to the US). She said that before she went, she had thought so, but after seeing the layout, mindset, and way of life we maintain here, she now fully understands it and does not think it wasteful. I agree with her, but there is still a little mocking voice in the back of my mind despite the fact that it is already normal again.

If you took the time to read this as I lived my year in my adopted country, thank you :) It was brought to my attention that many were not sure whether or not I intended to continue blogging after the allotted year was over, and I would like to inform you all that I believe I will! It may be a bit different that before, but I will always be glad to have readers. Naturally, I am not taking as many pictures, but here are two that I snapped along the way...

I was glad to see Muffin again :)

And one American adventure I had to have: Chick-fil-A sandwich!

best wishes,
mary beth

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Beautiful Ending

For my last week in Austria, we easily managed to keep busy. We had lovely weather, and our weekend was spent taking the train/hiking up the Schafberg (pretty but hot!) on Saturday and visiting a medieval festival Sunday (where I experimented with shooting a bow & arrow!).

On Wednesday, we celebrated the 4th of July/my return! It was fun for everyone - and I shared the American tradition of making s'mores (a first for them)! A bit amusing to teach my friends and family to make them since I'm so accustomed to them, but I am glad that I was able to pass it on.

Today was my last day of school and last full day in my adopted country; I cannot express how much I will miss it and my friends and family here! Thank you to everyone who has welcomed me - most especially my family. I love you all and will miss you until we are able to see each other again!

see you at the airport dark and early,
mary beth

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I can now say that I like octopus

Hello, once again! I have much to catch you all up on - the end is near! I will be returning to the US on Saturday, and this will be my second to last post before I leave Austria. Putting off my blog for so long was first due to my busy schedule, and now has more to do with the fact that this is admitting I am leaving soon. Which I am not sure I want to do after my year here...

Let us begin with the beginning of June. My host mother and I share the same birthday, and we celebrated and had a lovely time :) The second weekend of he month, we went on a tour of some of Austria that I had not yet seen and went over into Germany to see the one and only Neuschwanstein! (Which, as you can see, was having some reparations done.)

Innsbruck, Austria, as shown by my perfectly straight photography.
Guess where this was?!
Alpbach, Austria, said to be the most beautiful town in the country.
I am of the opinion that the snails here are much prettier than ours...
See the series of waterfalls? Those would be the Krimmler Waterfalls, which we went partially up...  
I went to visit my friend who lives close to Vienna, where we pretty much enjoyed spending time together, so there's not too much to say. Other than the fact that her host family's cat just had kittens:

The next week, my family and I went to visit the small yet beautiful country of Slovenia (borders Austria, Croatia, and Italy). We stayed in a villa with a view of the sea, and it was quite hot, so we spent a good amount of time in it, too! For our last night, we stayed with friends of the family, who were kind enough to take us out on their boat to let us swim in deeper water. (They also made sure we were overly-fed; it was very well done, though!)

On our way to the coast, we stopped in this part of the country, on the Soca river, WHICH IS WHERE THE 2ND NARNIA MOVIE WAS FILMED!!!  

Believe me, it was cold!

I had octopus twice on this trip - my first time trying it! - and this is actually the 2nd. The first I had rather late, so it was too dark to be able to see anything. (Well, you could, but I looked back at the pictures later, and let's just say they didn't look too appetizing.) 

The sea where we swam, as seen from the boat :)
My last week is almost up, and I will share that with you soon enough! I trust you are all still doing well, and happy Independence Day to those of you in the US!

mary beth

P.S. In case you didn't figure it out, the house we visited was upside down ;)