One Year in Cotulla

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This week, Rick and I “celebrated” living in Cotulla, Texas for one year. The word celebrated is in quotations because this move was all about an opportunity for his career rather than our choice to live here. It’s hard to believe a year has passed already. But as life goes, it isn’t surprising how quickly time has flown by. After living in Phoenix for thirty years, this was a rather significant change for me. 

A little about Cotulla.

It is located halfway between San Antonio and Laredo. The whole town is just two square miles. The population is about 4,000. However, that is NOT including all the truckers! It’s closer to double that size with all the employees that work in the nearby oil fields and either live in their trucks or in tiny portable housing units. A small but very busy town, indeed. With only one street light the traffic is often very heavy mostly with semi-trucks, large diesel pickup trucks and sand haulers. It is not a small quaint town by any stretch of the imagination. 

The infrastructure is trying to catch up to the growing number of workers. So more hotels are being constructed. Unfortunately, restaurants are slower in coming, although there is a fair number of fast food joints. We have only found one decent establishment where we exclusively dine one glorious night of the week. I'm exaggerating, but it is a friendly family owned Mexican restaurant called El Charro. The manager and most of the employees see our smiling faces every Wednesday night. What a far cry from life in Phoenix!

You won’t miss much if you don’t stop by Cotulla on your travels along I35 unless I happen to be here…then you MUST drop by!

What do we do for fun here?

Uh, in Cotulla? Nothing. We have to entertain ourselves since there is no movie theatre, bowling alley, ice skating rink, performance center, nor anything else. There is an annual rodeo but it was pouring down rain that weekend. It is a good thing that Rick and I both like to watch movies. We can’t stream down here but thankfully we have a Netflix DVD account and there are two RedBox machines…although fair warning - they do not work in the rain. :)

Mostly our sanity comes from getting the heck out of here on the weekends for some semblance of a normal social life. Thankfully we have found some fabulous restaurants and nice movie theaters in San Antonio which is 90 minutes away. Corpus Christi and Austin are each about 2.5 hours drive so we don’t get there quite as often. And it goes without saying that returning to Phoenix periodically to hug my children and mingle with friends is absolutely cherished.

What lessons have I learned while living here in this two bedroom manufactured house in the middle of an oil field? You’ve heard the old adage ‘home is where the heart is’. Well for me that is switched around to 'heart is where the home is’! And I have actually felt that way most of my life. Maybe it has to do with moving a lot as a child, but wherever I lay my head at night becomes my home. 

I can work anywhere there is at least some internet access. Living without consistently reliable high speed service makes me pull my hair out at times. However, I’m very grateful to have any service at all! 

And I am very thankful for technology to keep me connected to my children, my friends and my colleagues. It is the next best thing to actually being there. (I sound like a phone company commercial!)

We do feel that this was a good move for Rick in his career and we await for what might lie on the horizon for him.

Despite feeling totally sequestered at times, I have always been self motivated so keeping myself busy with projects comes naturally. In this past year in Cotulla, I have started a blog (dianedresback.com), received news that our feature film is finally available on DVD (Atrophy - formerly Paranoia), produced a winning short film back in Phoenix (Smoke Signals), written my first novel (Promise of Protection), run a successful Kickstarter campaign for a longer short film currently in post-production (Blue Copper), and managed to pound out a first draft of my second book.

Overall, I am making the best of my living situation in Cotulla. I’m remaining focused on my goals and continuing to live my passion for creating through storytelling.

I am one of those individuals that believe that life is an adventure, a journey, and a gift. I never find myself feeling bored—thankfully, because living down here could make the best of us prone to going a little crazy!

Project ideas are beginning to form for 2015 and I’m very excited about moving forward on them. Wherever we end up living is only a side note to intentionally choosing to live a full and satisfied life.  

— For more information on my projects or to sign up for future announcements, please visit www.mindclover.com. My latest film project is Blue Copper and my novel is Promise of Protection.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Mid-Year 2014 Update

I missed last week’s blog—first time in six months! Probably due to being out of town and more likely because I haven’t been in my “creative” space lately, but in my “planning and coordinating” mode. So, this blog is more of an update on Mindclover projects.

While on my recent nine day trip back to Phoenix, I started out by attending the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival where we had one of our short films (INDIGO CHILD) screening. I was honored to have been part of a panel discussing women and filmmaking. The festival was very enjoyable, but more importantly, a time to network and reconnect with other indie filmmakers.

Then, it was on to two days of auditions. There is definitely some quality acting talent in Arizona. Making the decisions for cast members is necessary but always difficult!

The remaining few days consisted of several business meetings and personal appointments as well as time with family.

Once back in Texas, it took me a day to update all my to do lists for ongoing and upcoming projects. And, I’ve been staying focused on getting things crossed off of that list. For anyone that might be interested, I have four major projects remaining this year.

First, I’m really excited about a longer short film (about 20 minutes) that I have written and will be directing. The film is called BLUE COPPER. The auditions I held while in Phoenix were for the two lead characters. Here is the synopsis:

Hired for a month to care for 25 year old Hunter, Roz and her psychologically complex client develop a relationship based upon an undeclared mutual desire to liberate the other. Well-intentioned efforts lead down precarious and unexpected pathways.

I am thrilled to have Sara Dangler producing on the project and Bret Kalmbach returning from New York to shoot for us. My two sons, Devon and Trenton, will and already have had useful creative input on the script. We will be filming this project in Arizona this fall.

After supporting other people’s crowd-source funding campaigns over the past several years, this time we will be conducting our own campaign. Many people have become familiar with Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other websites that allow filmmakers, artists, musicians, and other creatives to raise money for their projects. People often want to help others achieve their creative goals and will happily contribute a few dollars to help see the project completed. And, in doing so also receive some fun rewards themselves. It is a growing trend in many creative fields, especially indie filmmaking. So, for those interested, stay tuned for more updates on BLUE COPPER on my website: http://www.mindclover.com/films/#/blue-copper/.

Second, I can see now that as with any type of writing (screenplay or manuscript), it feels like revisions and rewrites could go on indefinitely while attempting to achieve perfection! Knowing perfection is a moving target, soon I will be seeking an editor, then proceeding to the final version of my first fictional book. In addition to an ebook format, I met with a talented actor friend of mine to discuss a possible audio version as well. That will be fun!

Third, we will be doing a second project with one of my favorite clients, Phill Akinwale. A couple of years ago, we shot an hour long production of a narrative script he had written to train his clients in Project Management. There were seventeen local Arizona actors in the Time Machine fictional story. This time, we will be shooting a reality tv type of show and will be following a project management team through their process.

And last but not least, we had a development meeting while in Phoenix on a feature film that I have wanted to get off the ground for a while. There is still much to be accomplished, but we felt renewed enthusiasm about the project after a productive meeting. We are taking some long awaited steps to hopefully bring this film to life next year.

That’s about it. Busy and focused will be a good description for the remainder of this year. If you read this far, thank you so much for your interest and your support!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]