Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Conference Adventure

The Long Beach Indie Film Festival conference was destined to be an adventure, and it started months before I set foot on a plane.

Early in 2015, I wanted to find new ways to promote myself and my work. I thought long and hard about what I could do, then decided to try my luck attending conferences. I’ve always enjoyed going to conferences. They are an awesome place to network, geek out, and get inspired. But I decided I needed to do more than attend. I needed to present. So I searched Google for conference call for papers and submitted proposals to those I found interesting.

The Long Beach Indie Film Festival conference was one of the first ones I submitted to—way back in May 2015. I was elated when I received my acceptance. I couldn’t believe I would have the chance to present my work to people in California. I was so excited, I immediately signed up for the conference, reserved the hotel room, and got plane tickets. I wasn’t going to ruin my chances of going by not being prepared or let them change their minds.

A while later—maybe about a month or two—I received an email that said the conference had to be rescheduled because renovations to the theater that was their main venue weren’t completed. What? I thought. No way! I already have my ticket!

Frustrated and slightly sick to my stomach, I texted my mom (she was going with me) to let her know. Since we already had our tickets, we decided to pay the fee to change the flight dates. After $200 per ticket, we were set to go again. I emailed the conference coordinator to let him know I would still be there, but mentioned the dates couldn’t change again because I couldn’t afford it.

I called the hotel to let them know of the date change and to get new reservations, but the conference organizer hadn’t informed them yet of the change and therefore hadn’t signed a new contract. Since there was still plenty of time, I was told to call back later. And I did. Multiple times. And every time they told me a new contract hadn’t been signed yet. This happened probably six or seven times, and I was also emailing a hotel representative and the conference organizer so they could get the contract taken care of.

I have a Type A personality, so I like to have all of this stuff taken care of and a plan in place for traveling. I can be slightly flexible, but it’s not fun for me. It causes anxiety. This was a big deal to me to have this taken care of.

Finally, I received word that a new contract had been signed, so I called to get my reservations. There was a slight problem, however. They could get me a room at the conference price for Thursday and Friday, but Saturday they were booked.  But all was not lost. They could squeeze me in and get me a room at regular price—at over $200. What? Holy hell!

My mom decided she would see if she could find something cheaper. She did, so we decided to stay there. It was only 0.6 miles from the convention center, so it would be an easy walk. Once again, we were set up for the trip.

The Trip Begins

We left at 12:30 Thursday afternoon to get on the plane in Denver. We normally take 287 down, then take a “short cut” on a road called Owl Canyon Rd. It’s mainly dirt roads that allow us to bypass Fort Collins to get on I-25. When we got to the turn off on Owl Canyon, we realized it had been gated shut. Crap! Now what?

We had to follow the road straight and hope it hooked up with I-25. It did—but only after taking us through Fort Collins. Son of a…! The whole point was to avoid the city. Plus, there was construction, so the detour added 45 minutes to the trip. Because of my anxiety when it comes to traveling, we built in a cushion to our travel time. Thankfully, we were fine—we had plenty of time.

We finally made it to the airport and I checked my bag and down we went to security. Both my mom and I are the queens of picking the wrong line, so the first one to check our boarding passes was slower than the rest. Then, the one we picked to have our stuff scanned was slightly faster than erosion. They were training a new person, so they were scrutinizing every bag like it held lost treasure. Took.F-o-r-e-v-e-r.To.Get.Through.

Eight years later, we were free to get on the trains to head to our gate. Still, we had plenty of time—I always plan for this sort of thing—so we grabbed a snack before sitting at the gate and waiting to board.

We flew United, and they load the plane through groups. We were in group four, so we had a while to wait before it was our turn. While standing in line, the anxiety grew to panic, so I figured it was time to take my helper. I popped my pill and waited for it to kick in. It was pure bliss when it did.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:30, and everyone was on the plane ready to go. I like to sit in aisle seats, so I just happened to poke my head out to see what was going on in front of me. There was a guy standing in the aisle stretching his legs, and the flight attendants were milling around and preparing for takeoff.

I also noticed the captain walk out of the cockpit. Oh, man. That’s probably not good. A few minutes later, he announced that one of the defrosters on the windshield wasn’t working. It would take several hours to fix it, so we all had to deplane and they would let us know when another plane would be able to take us to LAX.

Are you kidding me? But there was nothing I could do, so I grabbed my stuff and followed the rest of the passengers off the plane.

The next flight wasn’t leaving until after 8:30, so Mom and I headed up to the United lounge. She had some free passes because she’s a frequent flyer. We passed the time as best we could, then headed down to the new gate to board the plane.

We finally left Denver at almost 9:00, so we didn’t get into LAX until late. We had done some research and discovered that a shuttle was going to be the cheapest option to get to our hotel in Long Beach, so we ordered a van and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After an hour, my mom went to ask what was going on, and she was told that a van should be on the way, but then the driver would have to agree to take us to Long Beach. WHAT?! After all this time, they could tell us no? My mom said she was giving them 15 more minutes, then we were getting a cab.

I don’t know if any of you have been to LAX before, but it is crazy—even late at night. Vehicles are constantly zipping in and out of the passenger pick-up zone, and people are going in and out of the airport. A cab wouldn’t have been hard to find.

The van showed up in the allotted time and agreed to take us. They were also taking another couple to a different hotel in the area, which was totally fine. I was incredibly exhausted at this point, so I popped in my ear buds and fell asleep.

We arrived at our hotel after 1:00 in the morning. And this was just the beginning of the excitement…

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