For those out of the loop because you don't hear me whining and panicking in either real life or on facebook, about a year ago I went to a conference and the discussion about the 2009 locale came up and I somehow talked the conference organizers and my department/school into thinking it would be a great idea for me to handle it this year.
So the last month almost exclusively and weeks and weeks worth of time over the last year have been spent picking menus, picking thank you gifts, arranging awards and plaques and voting ballots, writing emails, writing website content, requesting information from authors, asking IT to fix/add things to the conference site, dealing with emails from guests that couldn't come, guests that could come and wanted to bring a doctoral student, guests that had said they were coming but now couldn't, etc. And worrying about which classroom had the best views and offered the nicest lighting, which local pubs were open past 5 in the summer, what the taxi options were when the hotel shuttle stopped at 11, who needed parking and where could they park and how do we get the passes to them and what am I going to wear and who is going to introduce the keynote and ohmygoshwhoisthekeynote and noonetoldthedeanandnowihavetowritehisintrospeechinadditiontomyown...
It has been exhausting. Utterly exhausting.
But this weekend brought 60 fellow researchers--mostly senior faculty who may be asked to write my outside letters* in a few years--from smarty-pants schools from the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden, France, Venezuela, Brazil, Singapore, and more to campus. And while I certainly didn't plan this thing myself (I had incredible support from our administrative support staff, IT, ideas from other faculty, the prior planners and a co-planner at another school who could not attend, etc) in the end it was my reputation that was going to be sealed by this weekend; as well as the reputation of the department, school and university. No pressure.
But it went really really well. Really well. I'm riding a nice long exhale for another day or two as I stare off into space and focus on that thing I seem to recall called sleep. I've had no more than 5-6 hours any night for the last two weeks and those were restless and anxious with a side of crabby kids and thunderstorms...and so with that, good night.
*Outside letters are sort of like letters of recommendation. When you go up for tenure you are basically re-applying for a lifetime hire at your school, these serve as the "unbiased" recommendations, usually from people in your field who are more senior than you and at equal or higher ranked schools. AKA, the invitation list.