Faith

The Tub

I’ve already gotten used to seeing “August” in my calendar, but there’s one thing I’m still not used to; the tiny tiny knot in my stomach, and the slight rush of stress hormones flushing through my veins when I realize what that means.

It means another summer has passed — another wonderful summer spent together with my beloved family and friends has come to an end.

The long Scandinavian nights, peaceful dinners, and evenings of joyful conversation created a hint of the carefree existence that belongs only to childhood, but the responsibilities of being an adult are calling my name.

Every August I have to step out of this warm bath called summer vacation at home, and onto the cold bathroom floor of adulthood.

Deep inside I know that the discomfort of wet hair and cool air will only be temporary, and that I’ll soon adjust to life outside the tub, but August hits a special spot in my gut, regardless.

I’ve lived most of my adult life in the US. I’ve hugged my parents at the airport with a ticket to the US in my pocket nine times. I’ve flown west across the Atlantic with my belongings condensed into a suitcase nine times. And I’ve left the safe and familiar behind in return for new adventures … nine times.

This is what I do, what I have to do, and what I want to do, but stepping out of the warmth and comfort is a challenge every year.

However, I believe God has a special plan for this year and I’m excited to see what it is, so I better step out of this bathtub and get dressed.

See you in New York!

 

– Maria


Photo: Rannveig Froestad.

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”

Thank you for all the views and comments on my previous post — I truly appreciate y’all taking the time to follow my journey, even when the update-consistency isn’t top-notch.

As you know, I had an incident that almost turned me into a real New Yorker, but I never told you exactly what happened, so here you go:


Still high on the feedback and relief of having completed our films, my classmates and I attended the annual “end-of the year-party” with the program and faculty. And when the evening turned into the wee hours of morning and people went to the respective homes, I went to the Bowery House Hostel — my home for the next few days. (Because, you know, I lost my new apartment and was technically homeless. Read more HERE).

Once I had walked through a camping area for other homeless people, waited for almost half an hour outside the door before anyone let me in, I hauled my suitcases up four flights of stairs, took a long shower and looked forward to the first quiet night/morning in a while.

This (over-priced) hostel was — as expected — anything but spacious, and the walls separating the rooms looked more like bathroom stalls. The ceiling was basically just a grid that let no sounds go by unnoticed. I could almost hear which brand of potato chips my neighbor was eating, and there was at least two different octaves of snoring and breathing streaming out of the stalls. Some of the other sounds I’d rather not describe in too much detail, but you can probably think of something juicy on your own.

But, I decided not to care — something I’ve become increasingly good at whilst living in New York. I was just happy to have somewhere to stay after the whole apartment situation, and I laid down on the bed feeling accomplished by how adaptable I’d become.

That was, until my reading got interrupted by a brown spot in my peripheral vision.

The spot started moving further up my shirt collar — still too close for me to see what it actually was — so I grabbed it. Held it. And examined it. Yup, it was one of those little creatures I frequently googled when I first moved to New York — a bedbug. A very large bedbug. I could see all its defining features, and I was not about to let is suck my blood and infest my luggage.


They were everywhere. Here’s one I found on the wall when I grabbed my things.

So, in a pure Erin Brockowich-moment, I marched into the crowded lobby, still in my mini-shorts pyjamas, slammed the bug onto the reception desk and calmly commanded I’d get my money back and all my luggage cleaned. The reception guy, clearly freaked out, squished the bug in panic and ran to get plastic bags for me to put my clothes in. The money refund, however, wasn’t so easy.

My secret tool in situations like these is usually “sweet-innocent-immigrant-girl-with-broken-English-who-is-far-away-from-home-and-very-very-scared,” but when that doesn’t work … oh man, can I be a bitch.

I did get my money back. It just took a bit of an effort and an attitude on my part.

I didn’t even know I had the ability to be that cold and demanding at the same time, but it worked. And gosh, it was quite satisfying.

Pyjamas are clothes too

The only clothes that hadn’t been exposed to the bugs was another pajamas, still one of those mini-shorts ones, so I got changed, grabbed my laptop, harddrive, a water bottle and left this bug-infested hole they call the Bowery House.

The essentials: Harddrive (because filmschool), laptop, wallet, toothbrush, facial cleanser and a water bottle. Photo: Kai Torres.

The attention I got walking the Manhattan streets at 2 PM in this outfit was slightly different from the attention I usually get at that hour, but I called my dear friend, Kai — who already had guests at her place — but she handled the whole situation gracefully. I ended up sleeping my best night in weeks — on an air-matress on her livingroom floor.

Here’s proof, haha. That lady always knows how to capture the moments. She named this “The Cocoon.”

I got all my clothes taken care of, and I inspected every millimeter of my suitcases before I flew back to Norway. It would be a shame if I re-introduced these creatures that haven’t been a problem in Norway since the early 1900s.


Courtesy to postworld.org.

Bottom line

Even if this felt like an unnecessary experience — especially since I already was exhausted from weeks of around-the-clock working — I chose to see it as a rite of passage. I’m definitely one step closer to being a New Yorker now, haha.

I still don’t have anywhere to live on Manhattan, but I choose to hang onto what Frank Sinatra would’ve said:

 

But more importantly, what God says:

 

Now let’s see what He has in store.


I’m currently in Italy, relaxing and recharging, so all the stress from the semester feels a little more distant right now. Will tell you more later.

Have a blessed evening,
M


Jewelry by Skjaeraasen.no. Photo by Rannveig Froestad.

U-Hauling Away

Dearest readers,

I used to be rather unforgiving when my favorite bloggers went MIA for more than a week — it would be pretentious to assume that my blog is anyone’s favorite, I know — but instead of apologizing for my five-week absence I’ll welcome y’all back — Welcome back! 🙂

After my last post, one could think I got so comfortable on the prairie that I simply chose to stay, but before I tell you about that glorious piece of adventure, let me create some context for you.

You all know that I struggled hardcore with my housing situation earlier this spring. So, long story short: After days with phone calls across the country and meetings with brokers, my roommate and I lost our new apartment (deposit included). So, the day before I flew to Sioux Falls I didn’t know if I’d have a place to live when I returned. The irony of the situation was that the film that got me into NYU in the first place was about homelessness . . . Add this on top of the fact that I’d be out of town for four out of the 14 already-too-few days I had to edit my film, and you have a world-class stressload.

You can only imagine the relief of boarding the plane knowing that I could just fly away from all my troubles for a little while.

As a result, the whole trip to Sioux Falls became a safe haven where I didn’t have to worry about a thing. My dear Alma Mater, Augustana University (arranged by Dr. Mike Nitz) had taken care of everything; the flights, the schedule and most importantly — the HOUSING. I had a whole apartment for myself — a rare luxury for a poor student in NYC.

I did four guest speaking events on campus, and the audiences ranged from freshmen to a large group where the median age was closer to 80.

In between these more serious commitments, I looked like I was devouring a microphone, I had several other meetings lined up about a film I may shoot in Dakota next year. I also had some time to catch up with my dear friends who still live in the area.

Like these two amazing humans, Dr. Jeffrey Miller & Dr. Janet Blank-Libra (who besides being legendary journalism professors, also put in their fair share of effort into making film school become a reality for me).

And dear Ana who throughout my years at Augie always made sure I ate well in the cafeteria, and who taught me some new Spanish words every morning

And these folks here, who mostly distracted me from my homework. Or maybe it was the other way around … Anyway, you know I love you.

And my lovely Brittany! (Who gave me the best reason to come back next year — she’s getting married to her prince, Michael!)

And shortly after, my fellow Norwegian Augie-Viking announced that she’s getting married next year as well! I’m counting days!!

All in all I could not have asked for a better weekend at my old stomping ground. It was kinda strange being back, walking around campus like I used to, but this time without the burden of final exams. It was also weird being there without my full house of friends, but in turn, it was truly heartwarming to run into former floor-mates, professors, staff and other acquaintances. Too bad I didn’t have time to catch up with everybody. (Thinking of ya #StagecraftFam).

I left the Midwest feeling rested and recharged for the last stretch of the semester, and God knew I’d need it.

Back in NYC

Thankfully I got permission to stay in my apartment for one extra week, but my roommate Alejandro had to move out the day I returned. And as the relatively naïve person I am, I offered to drive the moving truck: a 17-foot beast all across Manhattan to Brooklyn.

As if narrow streets, heavy traffic and raging drivers didn’t exist.

Due to the lack of parking space outside our building, I had the rather immature idea of entering via a sidewalk … which happened to be a liiiittle more narrow than we thought. At one point there was only about three inches clearance on each side, but Alejandro is a champ and guided me through: not sure if he feared more for his life or the health of the truck, but a couple of close calls later we made it without having gotten sued nor fined. #EverydayMiracles

(This was after we almost got stuck)

Six hours later he had successfully moved into his new place. I, on the other hand, found myself in the situation of not knowing if I’d even find a new place to stay … again. As a foreigner in a city where you need a US guarantor to get approved for almost any apartment on Manhattan, I once again had to lift my eyes to God in faith (and desperation) for a solution.

To be continued.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about my new film, the premiere, my thoughts about having completed my first year as a grad film student at NYU Tisch. I may even share the experience that took me a giant step closer to being a real New Yorker — a story you don’t want to miss. Stay tuned!

Blessings,
Maria

From Dakota with Love

After my previous post, “Expectation vs. Reality in NYC” some of you jokingly asked how I could possibly like this city when I made it sound so awful, so in this post I’ll try to explain how I really feel about this place called New York.

First of all, the post was meant as a satirical, yet accurate, depiction of the New York-lifestyle. It’s not comfortable, it’s not easy, but in return — so incredibly rewarding.

I realize that living in a closet-sized room on the fourth floor with no elevator, not owning a car and wandering in crowds of thousands inside dirty subway stations and smelly alleys may sound intimidating to some. It’s inconvenient, busy and yes, at times smelly (I thought so too when I visited the city for the first time in 2014.) I even told myself I would never ever want to live here. Read more about my first encounter with the big city HERE.

But crossing the Atlantic Ocean at 20, followed by three years in South Dakota changed me in ways I never anticipated.

Sioux Falls was amazing in every possible way (minus freeeeezing cold winters) and I believe my time there gave me the best possible preparation for this new chapter.

With Augustana president Rob Oliver and the incredibly talented Kofi Gunu & Matthew Watt. Photo: Becky Blue.

I had three of the best years of my life, thus far, at Augustana, and I’ll be forever thankful for everything the Augie-community gave me. I actually enjoyed it so much I was unable to see myself living anywhere else — until I suddenly one day could no longer ignore my heart’s whisper to apply to NYU.


With some of the finest people in the state of South Dakota — also known as “The Fam”

While I’m convinced Sioux Falls was the right place for me to be during those three years, I often felt a little restless; as if God was working on something with me. I always seemed to live in a pace of my own, in a constant hurry, working on a never-ending stream of projects with a calendar fuller than stomachs on Thanksgiving. It was exhausting, but in retrospect, I see that had it not been for all those projects I would never have gotten in to the grad film program at NYU, and had I not gotten used to having packed schedules I would likely have disliked the NY-lifestyle.

You see, New York is like a wave of fast-paced people trying to catch trains — but literally and figuratively — and inside that wave I find peace.

I suppose the city’s pulse beats in the same rhythm as my heart.

I cannot describe it in any other way, because it’s not logical. In fact, nothing about my journey to New York was logical; the strong calling I felt towards coming here went far beyond my own reasoning.

Looking back, I’m sometimes baffled by my decision of only applying to one grad school, especially since that very school also happened to be one of the most competitive ones in the world.

I’m not trying to pump my chest and give myself credit for taking a leap of faith, I’m just saying that the gravitation I felt towards New York was rooted in something much deeper than my own desire.

I believe that God led me here, and for what reason I have yet to know. In the meantime, I will embrace this journey and praise him for His grace.

I would not be here without Him, and I’m determined to do everything I can to glorify Him on my way.

Have a blessed day,
Maria

Eveybody’s grown up, and then there’s me.

Seeing how many of my former classmates are all “grown up” with boyfriends, fiancés, husbands, kids, houses, cars and down-paid student loans have made me think thoughts that felt distant when I was at Augustana, but suddenly very close now that I’m here in Norway.

I’ve felt a combination of relief and gratitude for the freedom of not having to “grow up” yet; of not having to worry about buying a station wagon, finding a job, planning family vacations or weddings, arguing about how to raise the kids, and about making secure, logical and reasonable life choices.

But in between that relief and gratitude, there’s doubt. Logical doubt. Tempting shortcuts rooted inside comfort-zones. So many easier options, secure options, reasonable options.

“Am I making the right decisions with my life? Is my dream worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Am I the only one in the world not wanting to settle? Should I settle?”

Photo: Mirjam Lavelle.

You see, Norway is a paradise for secure, logical and reasonable life choices. I’m surrounded by people who’ve done it all the “right way.” You know, the way banks, parents, teachers, coaches and neighbors have advised you to do things from the day you were born.

The Utopia for comfortable and predictable lifestyles is right here in Norway — everywhere I turn I see logic screaming for attention.

Still, I choose not to listen.

Please don’t get me wrong; my heart bubbles of joy when I see people who found their way, their job and their loved one. I’m thrilled to see that their relationships are thriving, that their coffeemaker was on sale, that their station wagon runs well, that their honeymoon-tickets were cheap, that their baby said a word, that the lawn is recovering from the winter and that their student loans are paid down. I’m happy for them, I really am.

But I also know that behind my occasional moments of doubt and temptation for “the comfortable,” I have to continue working towards my dream; the dream that won’t be satisfied by having a house, a car, a coffee-maker and a nine-to-five job.

In the midst of all the noise, I need to follow my heart and trust God.

Photo: Mirjam Lavelle.

So, what am I trying to say?

– In my head there’s nothing logical about NYU Tisch, or even attempting to apply to the program. Less than two percent gets accepted, and it’s so expensive that regardless of how fast I say the number, it still takes a great deal of syllables to pronounce the cost in its entirety. Meanwhile, I could have studied for free at a Norwegian university, settled with my journalism degree, gotten a normal job and started saving up for that station wagon — but once again I ignored logic and went with my heart.

Sometimes I feel confident in the decision, and sometimes I ask myself what in the world I’m doing.

Yesterday fit the latter description. I felt freaked out when I thought about the tremendous amounts of money that goes into my dream, and about the things I sacrifice.

But I tell myself that even if I’m not close to buying a house or a car, and probably can’t afford anything big enough to earn the name “apartment” for quite some time, I’m at least fueling my dream the best I can.

I don’t need a perfect lawn or a nice coffee-maker for now, I need to make films.

The rest is up to God.

Maria

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