AP: Summer Nights

Moderator: JLMcCafferty

AP: Summer Nights

Postby JLMcCafferty » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:45 pm

@image http://media.rivalcastmedia.com/staff/w ... rImage.jpg

Three months later, she found her footing again.

It is the perfect end to a perfect day. RivalCon wrapped up this morning. I spent the rest of the day with one of my favorite people on the planet shopping at my favorite treasure store in the world, buying fancy dresses for the sole purpose of lounging in them on the cabana of my favorite hotel in greater Cleveland.1 2 The evening was spent alternating between talking business in the hot tub and bullshitting outside while watching the sun sink down, the fireflies twinkle dancing their happy twinkle over the lawn. Now I’m snaking home through the summer night along my favorite drive. I’ve got the windows down, the radio up, and no traffic to temper my pace. Every season has its perks, and summer’s are nights like this one: warm but not stifling, the air pregnant with possibility and adventure.

I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

But that is the entire point of RivalCon - to be given a very personal reminder of what it is we work so hard for, be inspired, and gather the energy needed to keep going. The people who support us are amazing. Having the opportunity to meet with them, talk with them, hear their stories and see the impact that the things we do have on them, is a very powerful thing. Petra summed it up really nicely on one of her visits to On Tap when she talked about how surreal it is to realize there are people who see your work as the thing that helps get them through their rough times, little pockets of brightness that they look forward to that give them the energy to keep trying.

Because believe me, that last part can be super difficult at times. In a 48-hour period of time at the beginning of May, life dealt a series of challenges that threatened to destroy everything I’ve worked for years to build. I could feel it coming. For weeks ahead of time, I kept telling the lunch group that things were going too well and I was nervous about when the other shoe would drop and how bad it would be. But even with that sense of unease, nothing prepared me for those three days. The details are way too personal for a public forum, but the fallout is worth discussing as it’s the type of thing that sinks so many projects and ventures. The feelings of anger and betrayal coursing through me were overwhelming, and it was affecting everything I did. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I countered the slowdown in my day job by obsessing over minute details in my remaining wrap-up projects and scaring the shit out of people. Time was not my friend, because in spite of having plenty of it I couldn’t even write. That, I think, is the most telling thing - every time I sat down to work, my thoughts were overtaken by what I needed to do to salvage my plans and dreams. The fan fic, our idealized, adventurous RCM fantasy universe, was too painful to work on, and the essays I started for the Accidental Podcaster always ended in brutal backspacing and tears. Every query about my projects, rather than being encouraging, felt like a taunt: things that I should be doing, but couldn’t bring myself to work on. I grew bitter, thinking of so many things I’d put on hold for years to help stabilize the people around me. Thinking of all the things I had planned for RCM, and the writing team in particular, that now had to be put on the back burner while I dealt with these other issues. Wondering if it was even worth it to keep trying. We were in the process of wrapping On Tap3 and prepping to launch the new show Board Stiff; it was a natural exit point to step out and re-evaluate where my priorities needed to be, because this wasn’t fun anymore.

It was not the first time I’d been at this bottom, but there were a lot of differences this time. I talked with people, for one. I didn’t hide things from my closest friends, and I talked to a professional counselor a few times for the first time since college. That was a big step, and it helped a lot. Another big one was having achievable backstage goals for RCM to focus my attention on. Creative can break off and hermit themselves for a while/if they recenter, but leaders, especially ops leaders, don’t get to do that. There are still vendors to meet with, bills to pay, contracts to negotiate, and fires to extinguish. Those things don’t stop because one is having a bad day, or even a bad month, and you don’t have the option of delay - there are hard deadlines for getting shit done. The options are either give up or step up, and when you have a dozen people looking to you for direction, giving up on the venture means giving up on them. In my book, that’s unacceptable.

But RivalCon was the biggest thing that kept me fairly grounded. It gave me an anchor point in an otherwise chaotic time. When you get those RSVPs, when you set up the goodie boxes and put in the catering order, when you pass secret messages back and forth for months to set up special surprises, it’s all solid, indisputable evidence of a culture you’re responsible for building and maintaining, of a culture worth fighting for. The fact that every single one of the three meet up events we’ve organized in the past three years drew people from not just all over the country, but internationally as well, speaks volumes. Pair that with the anxieties and other obstacles that a lot of our attendees face, and the rarity of that success, especially repeatedly, is something you can’t ignore. RivalCon is proof - solid, indisputable proof - that so many “impossibilities” are only a mindset waiting to be overcome.

That is what I was thinking about as I sped through the darkened streets after leaving the hotel. That, and a panel from one of Randall Munroe’s xkcd cartoons (the one I use for my avatar on our website), which reads “You can never know for sure what any words will mean to anyone. All you can do is try to get better at guessing how your words affect people, so you can have a chance of finding the ones that will make them feel something like what you want them to feel. Everything else is pointless.” I’d argue actions work the same way - people watch how you act, and react, and those actions have an effect. RivalCon is the celebration of that effect.

Because that’s why we’re here. Anything else would be pointless.

WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING: Karen Russell, Vampires In The Lemon Grove
THREE THINGS I’M LISTENING TO ON REPEAT: Dishwalla, Once In a While; The Wallflowers, One Headlight; Jim Croce, Time In A Bottle

1: Bonus: while eating Little Caesar’s Hot-n-Ready pizza, because WE DO WHAT WE WANT!
2: Bonus Bonus: this was actually not intentional, but hysterical. So the dresses we ended up buying, while different in style, happened to be in the same color and shade. We changed up in Vampy’s hotel room, and rode down the elevator with this guy who was trying super hard not to but kept sneaking looks at us (we are sexy beasts, it’s hard not to stare). Later, after Baron joined us, we went up to change into our bathing suits, and the same guy got off the elevator as we were going down. This time, dead stop, full stare. As we got on the elevator I suddenly realized that the wrap I bought matched Vampy’s, so both times this guy encountered us we were in new but coordinating outfits. Baron said he could hear our laughter all the way downstairs.
3: There is another essay that will post soon about the evolution of shows and why and when people choose to end ongoing projects. I never really understood that flow until I got into production, so I think it’s interesting, anyway.
Thoughts? Comments? Hate mail? Get the conversation started on the comments thread below, by email at jen.mccafferty@rivalcastmedia.com, or @BaronessvGosu on the Tweeter
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