I’m actually rather grateful for questions when they come in, because I haven’t had to deal with writer’s block in weeks. They’re prompts and they give the entries some structure. Even if they’re talking about painful stuff. Don’t think that’s all the blog has become, though. I have actually been working on a few new posts, including a couple of new Spoilerific reviews. But in the meantime…
Maybe we can start here: The most personal insult from BoE/Tentmoot for ME was the bit with Air New Zealand and the celebrity airfares. I’d like to know what your perception was of that whole bit. What did “Jordan” tell you regarding the plans/finances for bringing all those Kiwis across the Pacific Ocean? Were you told, for example, that tickets to Tentmoot were selling like hotcakes and there was plenty of money to spend on bringing celebrities to the event? When everything crashed, what story did “Jordan” give you, explaining why there was “suddenly” no airfare?
You’re right, that’s a hell of an icebreaker! May as well plunge in headfirst to one of the worst weeks I’ve gone through. But I’ll have to back up to the planning stages of Tentmoot before we get to the airfare…debacle? Scam? Bullshit? Whatever you want to call it?
The idea for Tentmoot came directly on the heels of the first Line Party, way back at The Two Towers. That event was a success – inasmuch as it wasn’t a big enough event to fuck up. We still managed to fuck up parts – the tent almost blew away, the radio promos never happened (because Andy creeped out the DJ’s), the trivia questions got lost…okay, in retrospect, it was kind of a failure. But nothing bad happened, and people had a blast. And we made a bunch of friends.
Then Project Elanor happened (guess what’s going in a different post? Yep.) and it was a success inasmuch as Sean Astin really showed up, the garden got built, etc. People were excited and interested in other events. So Andy came up with a list of other events to do, all in one year. With no experience. And no idea how to do them. The Lost Palantir Film Festival, the Hall of Fire Music Festival…yeah, those are separate posts too. And I wasn’t even really involved in Hall of Fire, so I might not have much information for that one.
Once we’d relocated to LA, things were really hopping in planning Tentmoot. We each had our own “jobs” to do, but mine were surprisingly low-level. Andy made a big deal of keeping me out of a lot of it. At least, a big deal to me. I was the mouthpiece on a regular basis; giving speeches he had prepared for me. I prepared and gave presentations about things. But my job? Was taking care of Andy (and all of the Others).
I don’t really remember how we got the convention center. I do still have all the contracts, and our original proposal to Regal Cinema. Initially, it was just supposed to be a massive line party, but at some point it became a CONVENTION. I honestly can’t remember how, even reading through old documents. It’s kind of a blur. I do remember a “meeting” that happened on our porch in San Dimas – Bob, Sam, Diamond, Andy, Me and Sue. We discussed if we thought we could really pull things off – tickets weren’t selling yet and numerous problems were starting to pop up. Andy was relentlessly determined to make it work. I remember I wasn’t sure but I went along with him (which is the short form for about 80% of my life with him). I don’t remember what everyone else thought, but I do know we all agreed to push ahead.
All along, “Airfare for Kiwis” had been Andy’s job. (That, and talking to the agents of the Celebrity Guests. He didn’t talk to the actual celebrities – that was my job. My bribe, really. That, and how huge it would make Bit of Earth if we could pull this off. But I digress.) He said he and…either Bob or Diamond, I can’t remember…had the airfare donated. Ticket sales were deliberately kept from me too; I was incredibly, increasingly anxious during this time. I’ve discussed my untreated depression and anxiety, which led me into Andy’s arms to begin with. When we lost my house I was crippled by it. Now that Tentmoot was getting close, I was getting frantic. All the while, Andy kept reassuring me. Tickets were selling. Everything was fine.
Then one day early in December, Andy came to me and said the Airfare donation had “fallen through.” I was panicked, but he told me that he and Jeanine were working on an alternate plan, and that Jeanine was talking to a travel agent friend of hers. I was still worried, but he was adamant that things would be fine and I was not to fret. There was so much going on as things got close that I didn’t really see any alternatives.
The explanation Andy gave me for why the donation had fallen through was the same one he gave Jeanine; there was a donation from Air New Zealand, but they reneged due to increasing tourism to NZ because of Lord of the Rings. I was staying calm, and then Andy hit me with another shock: in order to “verify” the tickets, we had to come up with a credit card (with a limit greater than or equal to) the amount we needed. It was all frantic at that point. He swore that it wasn’t to charge the cards; it was just to secure the tickets, and then the actual money would come out of ticket sales.
Our only choice was to call around for volunteers to finance it. I fought against it, hard. I hate using the phone and the idea of calling everyone I knew to beg for their credit card numbers was humiliating and hideous. I don’t remember all the people I called. I know he made me call my mother and my father, despite my (correct) protestations that they would never, ever, ever help us in this. He made me call any friends I could think of, plus I had a list of people who had worked with Bit of Earth previously to pester. I was horrified, but I obeyed. That afternoon is a literal blur of panic and shame. Between calls, Andy was alternately reassuring and threatening me that everything hung on my shoulders at that moment.
I am sorry that my memories of that afternoon and the next day are not clearer, because that doesn’t help things. I do remember that he stopped me at some point, smiling victoriously. He told me Jeanine had volunteered her own card and paid for $15,000 in airfare. It wouldn’t get everyone there (and guess who got to handle canceling people’s appearances? That? Was also not fun at all) but it would allow the convention to happen. I was horrified. I could not believe that Jeanine had done that. One of the few things I do remember was begging Andy to stop her from charging it herself. I had a seriously bad gut feeling about the whole thing, but again, my concerns were irrelevant to him. Everything was going along fine now. According to Andy.
There wasn’t a lot of time between that day and the day we were supposed to leave for Oregon. According to the few old emails I have, the frantic calling was on December 7, and we were supposed to leave for Tentmoot on the 9th. We had become friendly with our neighbor in San Dimas, and because our apartment was a crazed mess of packing and preparations, I went next door to take a nap before that long drive. Bob and Sue had left earlier in the week. Everything was finally coming together. For the first time in days, I relaxed. And slept.
It wasn’t the first time I was awakened by trauma. Eventually I developed a phobia of napping, because when I’d let my guard down, bad shit would happen. I don’t remember who shook me awake, but Diamond and Little Sam were frantic. Andy had locked himself in the bathroom. They’d pried the door open with a screwdriver. That was when I got there. And there on the floor was Andy, apparently unconscious next to a pool of vomit that was mostly made up of pills. There was a note; it said that Jeanine had canceled the airline tickets, Tentmoot had fallen apart, and he was sorry. Someone had already called 911. I was beyond destroyed. I was in total shock, at a level that I wouldn’t experience again until we were stranded on the Canadian border.
We went to the hospital after the ambulance took Andy away (as he fought and begged the EMT’s not to take him). I remember seeing him in that hospital bed, pitiful and sad-eyed, with charcoal residue around his mouth. They’d pumped his stomach, in case he had taken more pills than he had admitted to. He said they were going to put him in a facility for a mandatory 48-hour lockup. He said he couldn’t “bring” anyone to reassure me. I was allowed to be there when they checked him in to the facility, and I remember taking great pains to ensure that he was respectfully treated in regard to his gender. I went home to a house where two other women were just as shocked and destroyed as I was. I don’t remember much of that night, except that I’m pretty sure the three of us slept in a heap, clinging to each other for strength.
Of course, with Andy in the hospital for 48 hours, it was entirely on Diamond’s an my shoulders to deal with the fallout. I remember many, many phone calls and emails. To everyone. All of whom were furious. Resignations from nearly every single person who had worked with Bit of Earth filled my inbox. Bob was enraged. Jeanine was interrogating us and sending us documentation proving that there had never been a donation. Seeing proof that Andy had lied was the worst of all; it shook all three of us to the core. None of us could figure out what to believe. We were completely lost without Andy’s leadership, and were unable to comprehend (or cope with) his lies.
In retrospect, it was a completely transparent move on Andy’s part. He was undoubtedly feigning unconsciousness. There weren’t any medications that were likely to be fatal in our medicine cabinet – he had mostly taken NyQuil Liquicaps, Advil and multivitamins. Further, the pills were all intact – none had even lost their shape. It is interesting that he did not take Tylenol (which, with its higher concentration of acetaminophen than NyQuil, carries a higher risk of lasting ill effects), even though the NyQuil Liquicaps were blister-packaged and the Tylenol was not. His dad was a firefighter, and I do know that he taught Andy about first aid, emergency protocol. Andy’s father and I once had a friendly conversation about a national kids safety program we’d both participated in. But I digress.
He most likely took several handfuls of the (effectively nonlethal) pills and immediately made himself vomit – Andy regularly made himself vomit, usually for dramatic effect. Then it was just a matter of lying still on the floor while we screamed and begged him to wake up, until the EMT’s “revived” him. And viola, he didn’t have to deal with the immediate, terrible fallout. He had 48 hours to just relax – he was always his usual slick salesman self, spinning the situation to us on every visit (we went as much as was allowed). He was even allowed to smoke.
When we visited him in the hospital, he said he’d “panicked and snapped” because he was so hurt and devastated. He maintained that he had gotten a donation that really did fall through, all the way up until after the next core switch. At that point, it became my fault, because I had “pushed Jordan so far” and he had been so terribly desperate to please me. Ultimately it was chalked up as one of the many failings of a previous core – Andy always, always badmouthed whoever he had “been” before. But again I digress. He was completely happy and at ease when we saw him, full of promises that everything would be just fine.
Maybe Diamond, Little Sam and I would have realized how much he was lying to us if it things hadn’t taken another crazy turn. Maybe we would have had a chance to process, and maybe, without distraction, he wouldn’t have convinced us that he was still telling the truth. But that was about when we found out that three actors from Lord of the Rings were currently stranded at LAX with no tickets either to go to Portland or back to New Zealand.
To be continued…
This post was edited August 4, 2014