Tag Archives: female fandoms

Until All This Fear Is Washed Away

Today is the last day of work before Spring Break.  Usually this means sleeping in, catching up on my to-do list, and enjoying time away from teenagers.  I’m never conflicted about break.  I always love it and am thankful for it…until this year.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are lots of things about break that I’m needing and looking forward to.  I cannot wait to sleep in.  I love the fact that I will have time to just think and to write some in order to process some life lessons that I got the last couple of weeks.  But this spring break does not really feel like a time to relax.  Why is this?  I’m sure you all know that I’ll be traveling to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to present our research on female dominated fandoms.  Originally, the plan was for Rhonda and I to do this conference together.  Now, though, it is just me, which frankly scares the hell out of me.

What the heck am I so scared of, you may wonder.  I’m not totally worried about the presentation itself, like you may think.  Yes, of course, I’m nervous about speaking in front of strangers, academics, and other scholarly types.  It is silly, really.  I talk every day.  I present all the time.  This audience, though, will be very different than the usual teenagers that I normally deal with.  This group will be paying attention to me.  They will listen and be focused.  My students don’t know enough (in most cases) to judge.  I cannot say the same about the people who will be in the audience at the conference.  That said, I know that our theory about competition in fandoms is a good one.  I’m confident in our research and our conclusions.  But I won’t lie.  I’m still going to be nervous as heck.  Still, this isn’t what causes me fear as I suspect my professionalism will kick in, like it does at job interviews.

No, my fear comes from a different place.  It is all about the social aspects of the conference.  I don’t do well putting myself “out there” socially.  I tend to be the person who sits back, watches and attempts to observe before I attempt interaction.  This, too often, comes across as me being distant and cold, which I’m always sorry about.  I don’t want the conference goers to see me like this.  I know about this personality quirk of myself and have generally dealt with it by avoiding going to social scenes alone.  Usually, when I go with someone else, I seem more human, more approachable as I’ll talk to the person(s) I’m with.  Let me give you a story.  In 2004, when the Duran Fans Convention came up, I desperately wanted to go.  I wanted to meet other Duranies and express my excitement about the band’s reunion with other people who “got it”.  Well, I didn’t have enough guts to go on my own.  Instead, I dragged a friend with me.  I never regretted that decision as I obviously had a great time and met lots of great Duranies there.  Would I have had that great of a time without my friend being there?  I don’t know.

This conference isn’t like a Duran convention or concert.  I highly doubt that anyone there will be a Duranie.  Likewise, I’m sure that there will not be an all night party in room 7609 in the hotel either.  When I found out that Rhonda would not be able to go, I did what I always do.  I turned to my mom to express my newly created anxiety and she is such an amazing person that she offered to go with me.  Then, my dad got sick and it became clear to me that she is needed here.  No, I have to face this challenge alone.

Now, I could just avoid going.  After all, my writing partner won’t be with me and I worry that I won’t do our work justice.  It will also cost me money and time, both of which are extremely valuable, especially during the school year  Yet, I know that I cannot and should not do that.  I must go.  It is important for our work that I go.  I’m hopeful that I will rise to the challenge and that not only will I present our work well but that I also am able to grow from challenging myself.  This could be really good for me.  It could be really great for us and all of the research and writing we have done.  More significantly to this blog, it could also be good for the study of fandom.  After all, I believe strongly that we captured the uniqueness of female fandom, something that needs to be shared and understood by academics as well as fans.

On that note, as I prepare for this conference, I ask that you all send me strength.  If I cannot have Rhonda with me, then, at least, I could have people holding me up when I really need it.  I hope.

-A

Inside my dark pit of despair and self-loathing

Today’s post comes from the file marked, “Things you’re not going to get to do after all”.

I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Amanda and I were invited to the Pop Culture Conference in Indianapolis to give a presentation on a paper we’ve been working on about the uniqueness of competition within female fandoms. We had to submit an abstract of the paper to the convention committee and in turn we were invited to come present our work. It was, and is, a huge honor to be invited. Academics from all over the world will be in attendance, many of whom are authors of the books we’ve been reading on the subject of fandom. Quite frankly, Amanda and I were geeking out just by talking about the opportunities we’d have to meet people, listen to talks about various subjects, and get our creative juices flowing.

We have been working on the paper off and on since we got word of being accepted, with the intention that I would fly to Madison over the weekend of March 24, we’d work to polish the paper and presentation together, and then drive to Indianapolis in time for the conference. It was going to be a real Thelma and Louise week for us, and we were both very excited.

For Amanda and I, this small victory comes from nearly a decade in total filled with research, observing, writing, and blogging. A lot of people, including my own family, thought we were nuts for doing all of this. I’d been told more than once that this is just an excuse to have fun and waste money. Not that I agree, but the words were put out there regardless, not to mention the countless insinuations.

I felt like having this invitation to present validated the time I’d spent on the blog, the writing, the traveling and yeah, even seeing Duran Duran.  The guilt of doing something that the rest of the family didn’t think I should be doing really tore at me, and continues to this day.  I never felt like I could justify my time or reasoning, and yeah for me, that mattered. I would constantly tell myself that we’d written not one, not two, but nearly three manuscripts (and we’re still working on that third one), and we were not going to give up. Hearing that our abstract for a paper had been accepted was so huge, I couldn’t put it into words. Still can’t. I needed that vindication.

There is this cliché that reads, “Life happens when you are making other plans”.  The words hit so close to home that I’m going to have them on my headstone someday.  Through a series of events we’ll just call “life”, I’ve learned that most of the time, I feel like I’ve got to put the wants and needs of other people first. This is one of those times.

As many know, my husband was laid off from his job in late November. He’s still interviewing and looking for work. The trip to Indianapolis is coming up rapidly. This trip does not equate to a paying job, or even an opportunity to make money. It is a chance to share new perspectives through this paper with academics and perhaps receive feedback. Sure, there’s the potential for learning, and networking, but I cannot deny that for the most part it would be mainly self-satisfaction that I’d be gaining by going.  While perhaps a worthy reason, it is not enough to justify the trip.

Yes, I’m disappointed. Aside from this morning while writing, I’m trying not to even think about it.  My success with that is pretty wobbly on good days, and on bad ones—and there have been quite a few of those lately— I just feel sorry for myself, which is nauseating. There’s definitely a part of me that feels like I’m the one always having to push aside my own wants and needs, which feels a lot like wallowing in my own self-pity, because it IS. In other equally weak and shameless moments, I envision myself sloshing around and slowly drowning in a dank pit of self-loathing, as I blame other influential, extended family members on my decision to remain at home. The peer pressure to be known as a good, caring, and selfless wife within my extended family is real. I want to please the right people by making a good decision. Basically, I’m a people-pleaser who is hopelessly addicted to affirmation from others. Rock on!

The final decision to stay at home from the conference was my own. Enough of that self-serving junk. I’m pushing the unhelpful thoughts aside, letting them go, and moving on.

So, Amanda is going to go and deliver the presentation on her own. As the abstract of our paper states, it is authored by the two of us, and I am continuing to work on it with her. But, it will be Amanda at the convention and I am sure she will do a fantastic job. I have high hopes that something good will come out of this for her, even if I am not able to take an active part there at the convention itself.  I hate that I’m not going, more than I want to admit.

In the meantime, I know many of you are wondering about OUR convention. I am not going to lie, I’ve been side-tracked lately. Surprise!! Emotionally, I haven’t been able to commit myself to more than what’s already on my plate. That said, Amanda and I are going to talk about it, figure some things out, and move forward.  Watch this space, and I appreciate your patience.

-R