Archive for Month: October 2016

New York City

Good afternoon!

While I was in LA I thought it’d be impossible to find room in my heart to love another city to that same degree, but I guess it’s like having babies: there’s always room for more love. Not that I would know, but that’s what I’ve heard people say, so, heh.. it must be true, right?

I first visited New York two years ago, and after three days of holding onto the greasy poles inside the subway cars, walking through the hot steam from the sewers in the streets and feeling trapped beneath the tall skyscrapers, I told myself I’d never ever want to live in that city. But as with LA, I’m now in love with the place — I could move here in a heartbeat!


Last time I’d just moved to the US a few weeks earlier, and at the time, I thought even Sioux Falls was huge, so no wonder I felt overwhelmed, haha. But now, two years later. I see the beauty in all that chaos.

2014: Yes, I was as exhausted as I looked. Photo: Karen Jøsendal.

So why am I here, you ask? Well, as senior at Augustana I have some big decisions to make, so I’m here for some meetings with NYU Tisch School of the Arts! I still have two more meetings before I’ll fly back to SD later this week. I’ll tell you more about all that later.

I’ve avoided all the typical touristy stuff because traveling across the whole continent in three weeks has put a toll on my financial resources, but I’ve found cheaper ways explore the city. Running, for example, is free!


In LA I was so busy I didn’t have time to eat much besides the vegan snacks and green juices they served everywhere, so I haven’t hesitated with trying out some less healthy treats this week. It’s cheap too!

The famous “cronut” is apparently a must-try in New York, and it was worth every single one of those calories.

Croissant + Donut = Cronut. Add me on Snapchat: Maria Lavelle
Supposedly “The best fries in the US” are found at Pommes Frites on Manhattan.

Now I’ll get ready for my meeting, so talk to ya later!

Be blessed,

Hello from the other side

If you’ve read my previous posts, you may remember that I’ve traveled from coast to coast in the past couple of weeks: From Los Angeles to Washington DC, and then to New York City. Therefore, I found the headline above to be decently fitting.

It also happens to be a line from Adele’s song “Hello,” and the fact that I’m able to reference a song is just astonishing! (You all know that — with the exception of the Christian radio in my car — I don’t really listen to music, ever, haha)

Anyway, after a number of delayed flights on Thursday morning, we made it to Washington DC 14 hours later. I honestly didn’t mind all the waiting because 14 hours is still way shorter than the normal 24 hours it takes to get back and forth to Norway, but I kept that to myself — I didn’t feel the need to add more weight to my reputation of being a so-called “track mom” lol.

Anna Stritecky, Taylor Olsen, Elin Haegeland, me and Julie Vu.

Throughout the next two days we attended several journalism sessions at the Associated Collegiate Press conference at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

The highlight of the conference was probably when we skyped with Edward Snowden. If you don’t know who he is shame on you please go see the new movie about him. It’s great!

Edward Snowden.

Then on Saturday my dear professor, Jeffrey, and the rest of the group threw an amazing birthday party for me! We went out for pizza, before they surprised me with a six-inch tall s’mores cake at the hotel. One of the best birthdays ever <3



We also visited the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King Jr. held his legendary “I have a dream”-speech (and where Forrest Gump was reunited with his Jenny)


Staying true to our roots.. heh. If only. Naras Prameswari.

Then we got a tour inside the The Washington Post’s newsroom, before we sat in on their morning conference! For a journalist that’s as neat as it gets, sort of.


Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Matthew Housiaux.

In addition to all that, we went to the National Gallery of Art to see Da Vinci, Monet and Van Gogh’s masterpieces, the Newseum, and Chinatown.

Taylor’s favorite painting 😉
Chinatown with Elin Haegeland, Taylor Olson, Julie Vu and Anna Stritecky.

My dear friend and running partner from Augustana, Matthew, now works as a White House-reporter in DC (yes, that’s as cool as it sounds) and I’m so glad we got to catch up over breakfast! We had so much to talk about that we both got back too late for our appointments, but whatever, friends first, haha!


Yesterday, the Augustana crew flew back to Sioux Falls, and I took the bus to New York for a couple of errands, and now I’m here. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Have a blessed afternoon,

In the City of Angels — Part 2

Good morning!
It’s been less than 50 hours since I returned from Los Angeles, and now I’m back at the airport with a ticket to Washington DC in my pocket. No time for relaxing just yet.

In DC I’ll attend a journalism conference together with a bunch of other Augustana journalism majors, stop by The Washington Post for a tour, catch up with my dear friend and marathon-buddy, Matthew, observe and experience the capital in the midst of these crazy election-times and celebrate my birthday before I head to New York on Sunday.

Oooh, that was a long sentence! Well, catch your breath and carry on.

I’ll tell you more about it later, but first I wanted to respond to the requests about an extended LA-post. So here it is!

Things got a little stressful the week leading up to the trip because there were so many “extracurriculars” that suddenly popped up in relation to the Awareness Festival. I was invited to a meeting with Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. to show the documentary in the State Theater (which is still being renovated, hence the run-down Eastern-European vibe in the video below)

Then I also had to fit interviews with KSFY, KDLT NBC, the Augustana Mirror and We Are Moving Stories into my schedule. But it went well, and I was very relieved when I finally got to the airport.


Click to see the interviews below:

Read the feature story in the Mirror HERE.
Read the interview with We Are Moving Stories HERE.

Like the news anchor mentioned, I did get to visit Universal Studios while I was there, and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.! Just to see the sets of many of my favorite movies and to walk on “Spielberg Drive” was an experience of its own, haha.

Then in addition to a Gala dinner, another cocktail party, and more red carpet stuff I also went to Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach and ate at the legendary In-N-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard. Ahh, what a city <3

Photo: The Awareness Fest 2016.
Photo: The Awareness Fest 2016.
That look. Hehh… I think I took “resting bitch face” to a whole new level. Mac’scuse me. Photo: The Awareness Fest.

I loved every minute of the trip, and I felt blessed to have the opportunity to see a tiny little part of the film industry from the inside. I’m hungry for more!

Trip sponsored by: Cinema Falls.

Now the plane is boarding, so I’ll talk to ya in DC!

Bless you all,
Maria Lavelle

A Taste of Hollywood

Good afternoon!

I’m on my way to Santa Monica Beach, but I’ll try to squeeze in a short little post first. I made it to LA on Wednesday, and since then I’ve attended film screenings, participated in panel discussions, Q&As, walked up and down the red carpet, gone to parties, exchanged business cards, showered off all the makeup, and slept — before it all repeated itself again the next day.


Haha, I know some of you got stuck in the “gone to parties” sentence above, but before you let your mind tell you what that means, let me explain. I’m NOT talking about the red-plastic-cup-kind-of-party where you play beer-pong, get wasted, smoke weed and grind on the dance floor — because you all know I HATE those kinds of parties, and that I avoid them to the best of my ability.

From the screening of Over the Bridge.

I’m talking about the types of parties where you dress up, walk around with a glass in your hand — pretending your high-heeled shoes aren’t slowly killing you — while you introduce yourself to other filmmakers and producers, exchange business cards, talk about projects and eat vegan snacks. Apparently, that’s what they call a “Hollywood party” haha! I think, after two decades on earth, I have finally found a type of party I like.

Anyway, Over the Bridge screened on Friday and was followed by a Q&A! To me, it was a big deal just to screen in the LA Live Regal cinemas downtown, so the good response was just a bonus! I also got it touch with a filmmaker who had made a film about homelessness in the LA area, and it was really interesting to see how much the location actually influences the issue.

From the Q&A
From the Q&A in the Regal Cinema Theatre.

I just wish Sarah Kocher and the rest of the production team could be here with me. This would never have been possible without your support and efforts out in the January cold earlier this year! You’re the best <3

I know I’m repeating myself, but I also want to thank Cinema Falls for funding this whole trip, the amazing faculty and students at Augustana, my two dear journalism professors Janet Blank-Libra and Jeffrey Miller, my family and first of all, God.

I’ll write more about everything else and post more pictures later, but thanks for stopping by!

Bless you all,

Interview with “We Are Moving Stories”

Hi all!

I have an early morning interview with KSFY tomorrow, so I should go to bed pretty soon, but I just wanted to check in and share an interview I did with “We Are Moving Stories” last week. It’s about why we Sarah and I decided to make Over the Bridge, the production process and what impact we hope it will have as it’s about to be screened at the Awareness Fest in LA later this week.

Click HERE to read it!

Good night,

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