Often people ask me if I’ve lost my mind, and normally the answer is yes, but this time it’s a little different. For the last few weeks, I’ve been telling folks close to me that I’m leaving New York and moving back to my hometown, Dallas, TX. Then I get that deer-in-headlights have-you-lost-your-fucking-mind look. I’m used to that look, so let me explain.
Being a film critic / journalist / blogger / whatever-you-want-to-call-me has afforded me the ability to travel and live around the world. I’ve been to France, Germany, London and Canada, and lived in Los Angeles and New York back-to-back, respectively. As a writer, I’ve covered Cannes, Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, LAFF, TIFF, AFI, DIFF, AFF, Comic-Con, and every film festival I’ve ever dreamed of covering (a lot of IFFs, I’ll tell you that much). This sounds awesome as I type it — and I’m extremely grateful for it all — but I’m not sure how many are aware how lonely it can get traveling solo and moving around so much. When Gordon and the Whale was alive and kicking, I had a second family and a lot of us attended festivals together. Once I shut that down, life took its course as it tends to do and everyone (thankfully) went on to bigger and badder things. GATW afforded all of us that and it makes me incredibly happy to know it.
Moving and traveling did reward me with meeting the weirdest, wildest and most wonderful people working in the industry today. But the fact remained, I hardly saw people outside of a movie theater or festival party (which I tend to avoid these days so I can focus on writing). And let me be the first (or second, or whatever number) to tell you that making new friends in a new environment isn’t easy at 31 when your idea of “fun” is going to bed at 9:30pm every night. Oof.
On June 10, 2012, something profoundly amazing happened in my life: my sister had a baby girl. (If you are keeping score, that would make me a proud uncle.) This didn’t change my life as much as I tried damned hard to let it do (life is funny, sometimes), but it did make me realize how important family is (being thousands of miles away and having a new family member tends to have that effect on you). I was living in Los Angeles at the time of Rylan’s birth, did not like living there, and decided to give The City of Dreams a shot. Maybe it’ll kick that old feeling of loneliness in one of those Manhattan sewer gutters creatures call home. But since I’ve become more of a homebody these days, “go out and make friends, dude” hasn’t been easy — anxiety has a funny way of sneaking up on you and playing dirty little tricks. It also doesn’t help that I enjoy spending most of my time going to a theater to watch and then review a movie, or watching a screener (or multiple screeners) at home. (Calling all ladies who like to watch a lot of movies — I am single. And I like kittens and puppies.)
Back to living in New York: things kicked off great — I started working in indie film distribution (a dream) at Cinedigm and fell in love with the city. [Note: Cinedigm let me go around Christmas, along with several other employees (our positions were “eliminated”) when the company merged with another, bigger one. Oy.] I hate driving, so the subway system was a huge selling point. I remember tweeting on my first day in the city that I was going to spend the rest of my life here. New York is definitely a city of dreams and the coolest place I’ve ever visited and lived. But (there’s always a “but” in these stories, isnt there?) after a while, I still felt like there was still something missing in my life (technically, a job if us girls are being honest here). I knew weeks ahead of time I was not going to be at Cinedigm much longer (last one in, first one out, right?), but I got to return to doing what makes me happy: writing. Fun fact: I never wanted to be a writer (all of my English teachers could and would attest to that), but with Gordon and the Whale, I fell into it. Now it’s something I can’t let go of and I’m really lucky there are people out there who want to know what I have to say and sites out there who want what I have to say.
But then I started watching Rylan grow up from the sidelines — in photos and videos, and man it sucks. Never thought I’d say this, but it was really tough to leave when I visited home. Moving around so much has made me realize family is so, so important to have in my life. Additionally, every time I come home to visit Dallas, I visit with friends I’ve made through skateboarding, college, and Gordon and the Whale, and I feel alive again. So it was kind of a no-brainer moving back to Dallas would happen, eventually. And so this is what I’m doing now. So long, Big Apple, thanks for letting me nibble a little bit.
As you read this, I am on a plane heading back to the Lonestar State, where I’ll get to pester (I mean love, of course) my family, be the coolest uncle ever (I will fight you if you try to be a cooler uncle than me, but you must be under five feet tall), and be around the people who’ve really, honestly, truly inspired me to push myself harder.
I’m still going to write, review films, and interview the big, bright minds in independent film — word slinging is what I know best. Another thing I’m very excited to share it that I finally got my foot in the door with festival programming (something I believe I’m good at and hope to do full-time some day), and I will be attending all of the great festivals that have privileged me with a press or industry badge, but the biggest reward of all is now I get to come home in an area very close to my family. It took me a few years to learn this (I can be a little stubborn, you know), but it’s what will make me the happiest. This is the right decision. Now if I could just convince a lady that charm comes with the crazy, I’ll be set. (Would you really expect me to not end this on some funny self-deprecating joke? C’mon!)