Monday, November 16, 2015

Now THIS Was a Conference!

I had the opportunity to go to the MAPACA conference at the beginning of November. I was giving my Women and Slasher Films presentation on Saturday, so that gave me all day on Friday to attend panels and soak in what people were researching and working on. I wasn’t disappointed.

There were so many different panels I had the opportunity to attend. I went to one where the panelists talked about different things from WWII. One presentation was about some sculptures in Greece that were tributes to the Greek soldiers and the victims of German brutality. That was incredibly fascinating.

Another panelist talked about the accessibility of WWII photos online and how that is both good and bad, while another panelist talked about women’s roles in the war and how they were portrayed by Hollywood. I didn’t get to see the end of that presentation because it ran over and I had to get to my next panel, but the part I saw was incredibly fascinating.

There was also a panelist that talked about journalists during the Civil War and how they impacted and changed reporting during times of war. It was something I had never even thought about previously, so I learned something new.

There were quite a few horror panels that I had the opportunity to attend. The overarching theme of one was how the familiar becomes frightening, so the panelists talked about The X Files and representations of the South; the vampire Lestat in both books and film; and Pet Semetary, the book more than the movie. They were fascinating.

Another horror panel I went to had panelists that talked about Nazi zombie movies, and the presenter pointed out how surprised she was at how many existed and how many of them weren’t very good. The other presenter talked about the color of horror and how films use color or lack thereof to create mood and atmosphere. Both of those were also incredibly interesting.

I’m not diving into too much detail about each presentation because I could go on and on about how fantastic they were—and they really were. I learned a lot listening to all of these presenters, and I was amazed at what people chose to study. I love how passionate they were about their subjects. I get the same way in my research, and it’s always wonderful to hang out with like-minded people and bounce ideas and passions off one another.

This was exactly what I enjoy most about conferences. It’s a group of intellectual people getting together and sharing ideas and inspiring others. Not that Long Beach didn’t have intellectual people, it did, the format was just different.

MAPACA was what I expect conferences to be like. It had a registration table, I got a badge and a schedule, and I decided which talks/presentations sounded interesting and attended them. There were discussions afterward, and the attendees were able to ask questions. There was also networking that occurred, and friendships were formed.

I did this conference on my own; my mom didn’t go with me like she went to Long Beach. It was incredibly nerve-wracking, but it turned out fine. The day I drove to the airport, I was incredibly anxious, and I spent all morning taking deep breaths and convincing myself that I could do it.

My stomach was in knots, and the voice in my head was screaming that I should just stay home. The weather wasn’t cooperating. It had snowed the night before, so part of the highway I had to travel on had black ice and snow pack, and the speed limit was 45 mph.

Still, I trudged on. I knew that once I got there, everything would be fine.

For the most part, it was. I was still nervous when I got to the airport because I hate flying, but I had helpers if I needed them. On the way out, I actually didn’t need them. I was pretty proud of myself. The flight home was a different story. Nothing bad happened, but I was leaving early and my nerves were in overdrive. I couldn’t keep the anxiety down, so I had a little help.

I didn’t do any sightseeing or touristy stuff while in Philly, mainly because I didn’t have a lot of time—I wanted to be at the conference—but also because I’m not an overly adventurous person, especially when I’m by myself. I figured I needed to ease myself into the experience. Maybe next time I’ll do something fun and check out the sights.

All in all, I was really pleased with how the experience turned out. It was more in line with what I thought a conference should be, and I was inspired and excited to be there. I was asked to come back next year and do some more panels, and I’m seriously considering it. It’s in Atlantic City, so that will be a new adventure. I’m also thinking I can convince others to go with me—not to the conference, but to take in the other sights.

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