Archive for Month: May 2017

A Thousand Days of Prairie

My Augustana adventure ended no less than 11 days ago, and based on my activity on social media one might think my blog career ended that day as well, but I can assure you that’s not the case.

After having successfully moved out of the dorms—and less successfully condensed all my belongings into two suitcases—I made it back to Norway for the summer. Now, however, after some actual relaxing and quality time with my family, I felt the urge to blow some life into this place again.

This past week has been filled with a lot of reflecting and a lot of trying to calculate the length of a day, because I still can’t seem to understand how my three years at Augustana could go by so fast. When I think about this chapter as a whole I feel like there’s a whole chunk missing; almost like I closed my eyes for a moment and suddenly woke up ten minutes later  — only to realize I slept through a whole night. But when I think about everything I’ve done, experienced and been a part of, I’m amazed it hasn’t been longer.

Photo: Mike Shafer.

This sort of reflecting has also made it very clear to me that these three years have been the best of my life, thus far. Which is something I give God the glory for.

And do you want to hear a fun fact? I graduated exactly 1000 days after I first arrived on campus. Yes, one thousand days! How cool is that? Y’all know I have a thing for whole numbers. You see, despite my lousy math skills, I do recognize the beauty of a round, whole number. If I was to write a book about this, it would be called A Thousand Days of Prairie. I like the sound of that round, whole title too, haha.

A photo from my road trip last week.

Anyway, in my previous post I told you I had some big news to share, and even if I hate to leave you hanging, I have to ask you to wait a few more days. The details just have to be ready first. But I can tell you this: since I’m an actual journalist now and have to maintain certain standards and avoid so-called sensationalization with my writing, I think I can say that these news are pretty extraordinary. Oh, by the way, I’m not pregnant, engaged or any less single than usual, so don’t expect anything of that sort — although, that would’ve been almost as surprising as these news. Just stay tuned.

Bless you all,
Maria

Graduation

This weekend was special in many ways, but mostly because I graduated! I have now officially completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in journalism and a minor in theatre from Augustana University. I’ll need at least a handful of blog-entries to reflect upon these three years on the American prairie, but before I delve into that, let’s talk about the day.

Photo: Jessica Ruf.

Up until this weekend, this whole thing called “commencement” was something I’d only seen in the movies, so the fact that I—inside a packed arena with hundreds of students and thousands of spectators—got to wear one of those flat hats and a tent-sized gown was an almost surreal experience. It was so formal and ceremonious that I, at one point, told myself I wouldn’t be the least surprised if I happened to run into the Pope or Harry Potter on the way out.

If you think I’m exaggerating, please remember that in Norway there’s no such thing as a graduation ceremony when you finish your degree — unless you’re a nurse or want to host it in your own living room, of course. So excuse me for being a little overly fascinated with everything from the “faculty regalia” (aka the professor robes) to the “tassel turning” (when the President of the University “bestows” the degree upon you, and all the graduates move the tassel from right to left at the same time to symbolize that they did it!”).


Photo: Jessica Ruf.

Anna and I also happened to be on the news that day, so if you want to see what that flat hat looks like with a moving head inside, please consider clicking on the video below:

We were simply waiting for Elin outside the restrooms when we were approached by the reporter, so those of you who now think I seek out the media to put my face on your TV-screens better think again, haha.

 

Photo: Jessica Ruf.

Even if we didn’t all have our parents with us there in the Arena, Ana, who works in the dining hall at Augie was a great supporter. No less than five nationalities in one picture: Irene, me, Ana, Carina, Anna and Elin.

And then the mandatory “holding-the-diploma-in-front-of-a-greenscreen-while-smiling-like-a-sorority-girl-picture.”


Photo: Jessica Ruf.

Once the ceremony was over, Anna’s parents adopted me for the day and threw an amazing open house-party for the two of us.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Augustana community, and even if this chapter is about to come to an end, my heart will always have a tint of navy and gold. More about that later.

Also, I have some huge news to share later this week, so stay tuned!

Photo: Crystal McDowell/Pinterest.

Blessings,
Maria

My Apologies

Happy Saturday!

Yesterday I attended my last ever class at Augustana, and now I just have to find a way to get all my finals done next week — while also catching up on everything I missed when I was in the hospital the week before. The fact that I’m about to graduate is still sinking in, but I’ll say more about that when it’s done sinking.

But anyway, I made a very unpleasant discovery this morning. I was writing a paper and decided to use the solid word “obnoxious.” It’s a word I’ve embraced and used frequently throughout these part three years in the US, mostly because it’s so fun to say: Obb-noch-shuss, obnoxious.

However, as I’m reflecting upon my use of this word I suddenly see how obnoxious it is to use words you don’t know the full meaning of.

In improv class earlier this year I was asked how Americans seem compared to Norwegians, and I responded with “Americans are really obnoxious in comparison. Especially Midwesterners.”

Silence in the room.

You see, I thought obnoxious meant: Outgoing, lively, lighthearted, energetic and animated, and I honestly thought I delivered them a compliment so great that nobody knew how to respond — hence the silence.

The second part of that sentence was supposed to be “theatre people are even more obnoxious than normal,” so you can only imagine how relieved I am that I stopped when I did.

It made sense to me to say Americans — and especially theatre people — are much more outgoing than Norwegians, but today, while writing my paper I decided to actually look up this highly versatile English word.

AND I’M MORTIFIED! Oh my God!

The Merriam Webster dictionary got it all wrong!
Apparently it means “extremely unpleasant,” “disgusting,” “harmful,” “distasteful” and “nasty.”

And I can’t even begin to think about all the other times I’ve used this word to describe something or — even worse — SOMEONE I think of as fun or energetic.

My deepest apologies to the wonderful members of 33rd street improv. I’m surprised you let me be a part of the group at all after such an incident.

And after this realization I’m filled with a tremendous gratitude over the fact that our live show turned out so well, despite the prejudicial, ethnocentric and ignorant Norwegian person you had to deal with during the process.

33rd Street Improv. Photo: Jayna Fitzsimmons.


Love you,
Maria

Seven days of spring

Thanks for all your love and get-better-messages I’ve received since I told you about my hospital visit last week. You’re truly amazing <3

After a week of laying in bed, eating nothing but bread and baby servings of french fries I now feel much better. Several pounds lighter and a couple of shades paler, but better! Thank God.

It’s been a week of contrasts. When I started to feel sick last weekend, it was snowing and I was—like I mentioned in my previous post—freezing my butt off (mostly because of the fever, but still). And now, as I took on my first day back in the world, I had to deal with sunshine and 28°C (83°F). It felt like I had slept through a whole season! Which I probably did, in South Dakota terms. Spring must’ve been last week.

Just a screen sample from a video I shot to illustrate what snow looks like.

Oh, and before it fades too far into the past, I just want to share something fun! Right before the whole kidney thing I had the pleasure of attending a so-called “friend raiser” event with the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House (the homeless shelter where we shot “Over the Bridge”). I was honored just to be invited, and enjoyed the fact that I could see the gala venue at the Hilton downtown from the inside, but I had no idea what was awaiting me there.

In hindsight I see that I probably should have taken the hint, but oh well. I just remember thinking people were unusually welcoming, “but hey, these people run the biggest homeless shelter in the state — hospitality is their thing,” so I didn’t think twice about the fact that everyone knew my name or wanted to say hi.

Apparently I was “the guest of honor” — something that only became clear to me when I was asked to step onto the stage area in front of a 170 people crowd to receive a “Sincere Appreciation Award.” I did not see that coming, but I can’t express how much that particular award means to me. When Sarah and I started producing “Over the Bridge,” our main goal was to raise the awareness of homelessness, and by receiving this type of recognition from the people who sacrifice blood, sweat and tears to help the people in need in Sioux Falls, it feels like we succeeded.

We have won several awards for the filmmaking aspect of it, but nothing felt quite like receiving a humanitarian award for the work we did. The circle was suddenly completed, and I now know that Over the Bridge has fulfilled its purpose.

To God be the Glory.

Photo: Naras Prameswari.

Maria

Not how I wanted to start my week

I don’t really have the energy to write this post, but I’m so bored that I’ll do it anyway. Besides, it helps distract me from the piece of bread I’m trying to eat with my complete lack of appetite.

So, if you’ve been following me on social media, you probably stumbled across this “gorgeous” picture on Sunday:

Well, it’s been a bizarre couple of days.

On Friday I noticed some weird back pain that I automatically blamed on the hard workout I had done earlier that morning. I was so busy I didn’t even notice that my appetite was unusually low or that the pain was clearly different from the feeling of sore muscles.

And on Saturday I felt exhausted, but I had, after all, had an extremely busy week with homework, workouts, meetings and film events (I’ll tell you more about the latter next time) so nothing strange about that. My back was still bad, but hey, after having spent almost a decade as a competitive athlete, some back pain is nothing to whine about.

I then went to the movies and had some ice cream that I was unable to enjoy because it made me nauseous, but I thought it was just stale.

Then on Sunday it dawned upon me that maybe all these things were related. I felt absolutely horrible in the morning, and after church two of my friends said I “seemed a little off.” Meanwhile, I kept wondering why my room was so frickin’ cold. I bundled up in layers, laid down in bed and suddenly woke up three hours later. I never ever nap, and a whopping three hours is not like me. I kept shaking because of the cold, and was seriously considering calling maintenance to ask if they were trying to give us frost bite by keeping the dorms so cold. Haha, just kidding, I knew I had a fever at that point.

When it didn’t get better and my stomach had decided to join my back’s rebellion, I called the doctor to ask what to do. So, before I knew it I was in the ER and got diagnosed with a kidney infection.

“Ah, that’s not so bad,” I thought to myself.

Then I googled it:
“A kidney infection requires prompt medical attention. If not treated properly, a kidney infection can permanently damage your kidneys or the bacteria can spread to your bloodstream and cause a life-threatening infection. Kidney infection treatment usually includes antibiotics and often requires hospitalisation.” – mayoclinic.com

Okay then.

Last night the pain got so bad I literally thought I’d pass out, so I was put on IV painkillers and even had to get a CAT scan.

According to my friend Jennifer, this type of pain is “one of the worst ever… ranks right up there with having a baby.” She’s had a kidney infection herself, and is expecting her second child this month, so I think she would know.

I have no idea how I caught this crap. Apparently it can be caused by an untreated UTI, but I haven’t noticed any such thing, so only God knows how it found its way to my kidneys. But I was discharged from the hospital this morning, and have medical leave from school until next week. I feel almost guilty for not going to class, but I think some relaxing will do me good. I’ve even promised my professors to rest … writing this post may be pushing it, but please forgive me.

I want to give a huge thanks to my friends for their incredible support and encouraging words. Love you.

Also, I finished eating that piece of bread I was talking about in the intro. I feel very accomplished, and nauseous. But oh well.

FaithSeeds.com

Blessings,
Maria

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