Monday, October 19, 2015

The Conference Adventure Continues

Part 1 of my conference adventure can be read here.

As one would expect from the title Long Beach Indie Film Festival, a lot of movies are played. They started on Wednesday and went through Sunday.

We did not take part in all of those events. My mom and I showed up on Thursday night (well, technically, very early Friday morning), then left Sunday morning. I would have enjoyed staying the entire time, but my work schedule and pocketbook couldn’t handle it.

My registration fee gave me the option of going to the films, and I’m sure they were amazing, but I decided I wanted to explore the area instead. I’d never been to Long Beach, so I wanted to do some touristy stuff.

My mom and I were both up early the next day, only because we have been conditioned to be early risers (thank you so much, kids and dogs!). However, the view from the window made it all worth it. We headed down for breakfast and sat on the veranda, and when we finished, I saw a dolphin playing in the water (I couldn’t get a picture of it; it was too unpredictable). I love dolphins. They are such amazing animals, so seeing one started my day out right.

This was the view from our hotel room.

This was the view we had every morning from the veranda while we ate breakfast.

My mom got online to check out what our touristy options were, and we decided to go see the Queen Mary and the aquarium. As luck would have it, we were able to buy combo tickets that got us into both places. We decided to check out the Queen Mary first.


I’m not gonna lie, the size of the ship was incredibly surprising to me. It was like a freaking floating city! We had the options of doing a guided tour, a recorded tour, or a ghosts and legends tour. Guess which one I picked. 

 
Yep! Ghosts and legends. You know me and horror. I can’t pass it up.

The tour didn’t start until 11:00, and we had some time to kill, so we headed onto the ship to check things out. We didn’t do much, just sat around waiting for the tour to start, assuming they would let us know. As 11:00 ticked by, I became concerned. We decided to ask what was going on, and we discovered we had been waiting in the wrong area!

I was devastated. We tried to find the tour group, but I had no idea where they had gone. I went back to the check in and told them we couldn’t find them. I wanted to cry. I was looking so forward to the tour. The woman behind the counter was so nice. She changed our tickets so we could go on the 12:00 tour, and we made sure we were in the right spot when that started.

We weren’t expecting much. In fact, we were expecting it to be like a haunted house, and that’s exactly what we got. Mom and I laughed practically through the whole thing. I won’t lie, I did get a little scared. It was so dark at the bottom of the ship, I thought for sure I was going to trip on something. Thankfully, I didn’t.

At one point, while going through a dark hallway, I fought back the urge to freak out the rest of the tourists. My mom and I were at the head of the group, and we were traveling pretty fast, and I wanted to start screaming like a banshee just to worry them, but I refrained.

After that tour ended, we explored the ship a little more, got lost for a while (which is surprising since it’s a freaking ship and there’s only so many places we could go, but we accomplished it), then headed back to the aquarium.

I have pretty high standards when it comes to aquariums. I’ve been to the one in Denver multiple times, and it’s awesome. It sets the standards for how aquariums should be. I must say, the Aquarium of the Pacific held its own. It was fantastic!

We learned about jelly fish, saw a sea lion show, I pet some sharks, and so much more. The entire time I kept saying, “The boys would love this!” And they totally would have. It was so cool.

This was a giant stingray in the shark tank.  I did not pet it.

These were some sharks in the shark tank.  I didn't pet them, either.

Stingrays and bonnet heads in the shark petting pool.  I touched one of the bonnet heads.

Zebra shark in the shark petting pool.  I touched this one, too.


We finally called it a day and got back to the hotel after 4:00. We were both exhausted at this point, so after a power nap, we had dinner, sat by a fire on the beach, then headed up to bed. I waited for 9:00 to roll around, then fell asleep.


The Conference

On Saturday, my plan was to spend the entire day at the conference. We got to the convention center a little after 9:00. We asked one of the employees where we were supposed to go, and they directed us to the far side of the building, so we headed down.

The email I had received earlier in the week said I needed to check in, so I was looking for a check-in table. I couldn’t find one, so we consulted the email again. It said registration was supposed to take place outside the ballroom, which was located upstairs, so we headed up. There were tables up there and a person behind them, but they weren’t part of the conference. They were set up for a funeral. That was no help.

On the way in, I had noticed a sign outside that said something about the conference, so we decided to check it out. That wasn’t any help either. It was just directing traffic for parking. We headed back in, and I asked another employee where I was supposed to go.

“You’re here,” he said. “This is where it’s at.”

“Is there a registration table somewhere?” I asked, trying to keep the panic/anger/frustration out of my voice.

“That I don’t know. I’m just security.”

I had seen some people in one of the rooms earlier, so I headed in to ask if they were part of the conference. Thankfully, they were, and they informed me that they hadn’t checked in but let the organizer know they were there. I asked who that was, and they pointed him out. After saying hello and asking what I needed to do (which was nothing), I took a seat and waited for things to start.

The first panel was at 10:30. Three graduate students were going to talk about children’s television, and I was interested, so I headed in. By 11:00, the audience had arrived. It was mainly middle school and early high school kids, but the panel did their presentations. I wondered if they changed their presentations to cater to the audience, but I never asked, and they did a great job.

After that was lunch. I met my mom at the end of the convention center where they had a little food stand and we had Panini’s. After that, it was time for me to get ready. I headed to my room to prepare.

Each room was supposed to be equipped with a projector and a computer, but ours was missing the computer. We let someone know, but as time ticked closer to 1:00 and he hadn’t returned, I was brainstorming different ways to show my movie clips. I didn’t have a solution, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to show them. A computer showed up in the nick of time.

As was the theme of the day, we didn’t start at 1:00. We didn’t start until about 1:20. There were supposed to be three panelists, but one cancelled. I went first, and my presentation went awesome! The audience was engaged and seemed genuinely interested. We had some great discussions, and they asked wonderful questions. The audio didn’t work for my movie clips, but it didn’t matter; there wasn’t much to hear anyway.

I was grateful that there were only two of us because my presentation went a little long. I was allotted 15 minutes, but I think I took 30. It was worth it, though. I had a blast!

After the second panelist did her presentation, I went to one more demonstration, then Mom and I headed back to the hotel. By that point in time, I had a raging headache and just wanted to relax. We had an early dinner, then called it an early night.

The next day, we were headed back home. Our flight didn’t leave on time, but it wasn’t 3 hours late. Mom and I were picked for the TSA pre-check—which was amazing!—and we had planned ahead, so we had some time to kill in the airport. By the time we finally boarded, I was done. I just wanted to get in the car and see my babies—the furry ones and the human ones. I got home that night about 8:00.

The trip was an adventure. There were some amazingly bright spots, and that made it worthwhile. It will be interesting to see how the conference in Philadelphia goes…

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