This time last year, I was (very) seriously considering not returning to dragon*con as a staffer. 2007 was a draining, hellish year for the ‘con and easily the one where I enjoyed myself the least. There were large, intense problems from minute one and the hits just kept coming. Everyone seemed to be strung out — mentally and emotionally drained by the end, and I just wanted to go home. For being the one event I look forward to every year, that’s pretty bad. I always told myself that if it ever got that bad, I would get out from under working the convention and just show up as a paid attendee.

I’m glad I chose to give it another try.

2008 was redemption for me personally, and by all accounts it seems, for tech staff as a whole. We had our issues as we always do, but unlike 2007, we weren’t constantly barraged with demoralizing and horrible events that hit one after the other like a destructive wave.

* * *

Some time before ‘con, I set forward a time-management plan in an effort to not stretch myself too thin as I had in years past, and with few exceptions, I think it worked rather well. I had much more responsibility than perhaps I realized in the last year leading up to ’08, and much more visibility than I could have expected with my role as “head HR geek” for tech staff. I went from being a staffer on the periphery to someone that the room runners and staffers looked to first to resolve issues and work out problems.

I hate being “in charge” of something, because that makes it sound more self-important than it really is. Part of me still shudders at the idea of being tasked with leading a sub-group within a group that’s responsible for making everyone else as happy as possible. Suddenly, everyone knew my name and face, and that alone was jarring to a degree. I’d like to think it was sudden, but in reality, I was probably the last person to see that Amy has been grooming me for this job for the last three years or so.

This is all an accident.

Many of the old-schoolers like Thomas and Brian joke about the time when tech staff was seven or eight people. They say this for two reasons: 1) because it’s true, and 2) because it’s ludicrous to think of when you look at the size of the group now.

To the best of my knowledge, TechOps is the only section within dragon*con staff that actually has its own HR department. And somehow, I find myself “in charge” of said department. I never wanted such a high degree of responsibility, but it makes me feel good to know that the peeps above me actually have confidence in me and the people I’m fortunate enough to work with to do this job and to do it right.

I was blessed to work with a number of people that helped me do my job by doing theirs, including Patrick, Danielle, Amy, Stephen and my ‘wenches’ YarnGirl and Sunshine. Thanks to these people as well as an eye-opening personal experience or two, I find myself renewed in terms of dragon*con and in terms of a group that, over the course of the last five years, have become more like family to me than my actual blood.

I find myself anxiously awaiting dragon*con 2009, but in contrast, it’s an anxiety that’s positive, that leaves me with a fresh outlook and a fervor that didn’t exist before. My only regret thus far is that it’s only for one week a year.

But perhaps that’s for the best.