After Action Report: My Return to ConCarolinas
It was not easy. I have posted about the decision to return but the actual act was even harder. I had to deal with a lot of people I still have sour feelings towards. I had to watch as people enjoyed a con that I put my heart and soul into for 11 years, with nothing short of a backstab as a reward. These deep and bitter feelings, despite all my efforts to forgive, made things difficult emotionally, when I had to deal with anything outside of gaming.
On the positive side, gaming went pretty well. I wrote my report about that on the JustUs Productions site. But in short, it was slow both Friday and Sunday but got reasonably busy on Saturday. They gave me a huge room for gaming and I never really thought I could fill it. However, at one point on Saturday, it looked reasonably full with a lot of gaming going on. I got to play a lot of games including Cthulhu Wars, which is a phenomenal game.
Forgiveness was one of my themes in my prior post about this subject, but that is easier said than done. I feel like I have forgiven to some degree but from what I learned after this past weekend, I am not there completely. This was quite evident when I had to deal with the 4 or 5 people involved in the situation. I was as professional as I could be, but I was also short and cold – not very friendly. I am not sure any amount of forgiveness I find will be able to drive me to be friendly with them again. And that might hurt the future of JustUs Productions at this convention.
What was also frustrating is that at least one does not realize their role in the situation. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that this one person was basically the start of the whole thing. She unjustly attacked both my wife and I and that set me off. From there, everything went downhill. But she walks into my gaming room expecting me to be all excited to see her and all I give her is a quick nod and a curt “Hey” with no smile or anything. I think I shocked her with how short and curt I was. It amazes me the lack of self awareness some people have. Then again, perhaps they all think I have simply moved on after signing the agreement. Maybe they took it as a sign that everything was hunky-dory. And maybe things should be, but I am not there yet. I am not sure if it is my social anxiety or anger, but I just can’t get there yet.
I asked a friend a simple question – “How would you feel if you worked on something for 10 years, built it up from a small event to something respectable, was at the center of the creation of the various traditions and symbols, and made it what it is today … to have it ripped out from under you by people you know won’t do half as well.” He could not give me a satisfactory answer because I do not believe he understands just how much I put into this con. And maybe no one knows except my wife. Walking around the few times I did, I saw remnants of what I had done while I also saw changes I would have never made. I could only shake my head and focus on what I was there for. I felt a certain pride but also some pain. I am not sure why or what I expect from all that work, but I know I feel like I was unjustly wronged and needed some kind of recompense.
At the same time, I promised something else to myself. Through the 3 years since our departure, I said I would tell anyone who asked the details of the situation from my perspective – all the dirty details. However, that has to stop now that we are business partners and I stayed true to that promise. I only told people I left and I am back. No dirty details. And I think that is the best route to go at this point.
I also could not find myself getting excited about any of the fandom stuff going on. Does that mean my fandom is dead? Am I too old for some of that crap anymore? As can be concluded from many of my posts about recent movies and TV shows, I have had hard time finding anything to be excited about. Nothing in today’s fandom gets me overly excited – not Star Wars, not Star Trek, not Marvel and not DC. I used to be heavily into Stargate, Babylon 5 and even Star Trek and Star Wars. Now that things have evolved, nothing about a fandom convention gives me that charge anymore. I guess age is taking its toll. After you’ve seen all the cool stuff in your 20s to 30s, it all starts to repeat itself in your 40s and 50s.
In relation to that, I was not at all excited about the media guest (and literary guest for that matter) that they had. My feeling is that in this age of appealing to millennials, if the year your guest last did anything in fandom starts with 19, then you are a wasting your money. And they did. Star Trek is dead, thanks to Abrams. There is no reason to get anyone from the old shows at a con anymore. I got them two guests for 2013 and 2014 that were rather timely and helped them stay relevant. For the past 2 years, they have left all that behind and started down that sorry path of irrelevancy. I guess they can say 15 years was a good run.
Gaming was a success given that it was a building year. I have said it on the JustUs article – we had a lot to repair and overcome. Three years of someone else’s half-assed work did its damage. Unfortunately, I do not think I conveyed the right air of forgiveness. Subconsciously, I probably felt that my presents should show enough of that air but I probably needed to do more. It’s going to take time.
This being a “business transaction” between JustUs and ConCarolinas, I was able to get a little recompense in the form of a fee. To coin a phrase, revenge is a dish best served green. I promised myself I would never do it for free and that is what I am doing. I will not put up with their bullshit for free. That helped in a small way.
The best thing about it is that it was not nearly as much work as working the whole con. The worst part is that it is too close to another con we are working. If we go back next year, a few things are going to change but I do feel like we have built a new foundation that can grow into what gaming was when I was with them in 2012. At least until I retire. Of course, I never even imagined myself doing this in my 50s but it looks like I might be.