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Monday, January 5, 2009

Why I’m Here, pt. 1: A New Orleanian in Austin

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 2:11 AM

I told the owner of the New Orleans-themed restaurant I ate at today with my sister who just bought a house here in Austin, Texas, “New Orleans has made many of my dreams come true -- so long as those dream had nothing to do with money.” Not that I am money-obsessed. I drive a $500, 20-year-old Honda Civic. Cool. Fine. I have thusfar been willing to accept New Orleans’ abundant good vibes etc., in trade for stability. But I turn 35-years-old this Mardi Gras, and honestly would like to have a child soon, somehow. So I saved enough money to fix the upper control arms in my Honda (one of the wheels fell off on Royal last month; not the tire, but the entire wheel; thank god I wasn’t on the highway!) and I drove the dangerous distance to Austin to hunt jobs for the next two or so weeks.

I do not want to move away from New Orleans. 

But though I’ve published two books, worked at the St. Petersburg Times daily news for three years, and landed my writing in Newsweek, Spin, Village Voice and a hundred other great publications, during my eight years in New Orleans I've not been able to land a full-time journalism job. When I apply to great out-of-state magazines, they equate this extended lack of ‘real’ employment with an imagined laziness on my part, which couldn’t be farther from the truth, since freelance journalists not only exert effort writing articles, but also an inordinate amount of energy CONSTANTLY looking for opportunities to write. The eternal search is far more tiring. And when you do find a gig, you generally don’t care how it fits; recently, I’ve been working as “Associate Editor” of Pandora’s, essentially a girlie magazine (with a monthly sports car feature) run by an extremely nice lady who always pays me on time without any hassle. But ideally, I’d rather look at girlie magazines when I get home from a long day working as a general assignment reporter at a great daily newspaper.

And so I am here now, looking for more. And for the next two weeks I will document my Austin adventure on this blog, a task that will include interviewing former New Orleanians who are surprisingly happy here in Austin (which blows my mind because really, how could you be happy in any other American city after living in New Orleans?).

More immediately though, I will tell the story of how, on my first night here, I put my sister in the hospital… Stay tuned.

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