Regular readers will know that I’ve had a lot of stress planning a conference lately. The conference is now over (Hallelujah) and now, in the post-apocalyptic world left behind, I’d like to tell you about it.
A lot has happened, particularly between Best Friend and me, so I think I’ll spread it out a bit. This post will cover the conference and my next will tell the story of me and BF…
Months of planning and organising culminated in possibly the most stressful weekend of my life. Friday kicked things off with a welcome wine reception. We had around 80 delegates, most doing a fair bit of travelling to get here. I had mentioned to BF that I would quite like to do the opening speech. It sounds selfish and awful but, of the two of us, I am the better public speaker and I thought I’d probably be the better choice to welcome since I am the friendly, outgoing one.
Everything went well, aside from the fact that BF kept going awol and disappearing for forty minutes. There was a minor issue with security that I had to sort out and generally keep things moving and make sure everything was going well. The speech was only about two minutes to kick everything off. After the special guests had made their speeches, I invited everyone to continue to drink up the wine and eat the cheese and felt free to go chat to my friend Caroline.
BF pulled me aside and criticised my speech for not mentioning everyone on the committee. The only names I had mentioned were mine and BF’s as we had been sending all the emails and were meant to be the two organisers so everyone had already heard our names. After I walked away from him with a feeling that I would never be able to win, he dragged me outside to chat. I refused to apologise and he in turn saw how stressed I was and gave me a quick cuddle until someone appeared in the stairway.
Saturday was the main event – a full day of papers with coffee breaks, lunch, a workshop and then the conference dinner. I had made up a comprehensive rota of everything that needed to be done and had handed it out at our last committee meeting. Everyone left them sitting on the table and ignored my careful plans. I had a clipboard (decorated with pink flower stickers) with all the signs and info needed throughout the day. I left it down for two minutes and the committee witch had stolen it. I got it back and left her with the registration lists…boy, was that a mistake.
Everything went smoothly until after lunch. Everything that needed done had been done, mostly by me while the others sat around looking important. I made time to pop into papers relevant to my research and had my own phone as well as BF’s for emergency calls. At lunch, I was looking forward to a break and a wee chat with Caroline but, on venturing to my handbag for pills, discovered the registration desk was unmanned with our float left sitting open, so ended up minding it. After lunch, I went to a panel only to be called out by BF. Committee Witch had decided that my numbers for the conference dinner were incorrect. I had only been working on the registration lists and payments for weeks, she’d first seen a version of them that morning, so obviously she knew more than me about it all. Convinced we needed to order more dinners, they started going through why I was wrong and they were right. No matter what I tried to say, they did not want to hear it. I took the lists and shut myself in a room with a computer to work at the spreadsheets. After going through everything twice, I arrived at the exact number I had given them earlier. I tried to calmly explain it to them but, once more, they refused to accept my word for it and needed BF to confirm. He knew absolutely nothing about them but came and stood beside me while I restated my case yet again. After listening to me, they decided they were right anyway. Satisfied that a decision had been reached, BF disappeared once more. I went to the toilets and cried. Caroline was in a panel listening to papers, I couldn’t go in and listen myself while so emotional nor could I loiter in the foyer with the rest of the committee.
A friend happened to text to see how it was going and I spilled it all to her. Within twenty minutes, she had arrived at the university to give me a hug and hold my hand. We waited til Caroline got out and I did my last round of room checks, putting up signs, etc and we escaped. I had said from the beginning that I wouldn’t be around all day and I would need a break in the afternoon. Of course, no one had listened. BF was texting to find out where I was… I was in a cafe with my two friends and a lovely girl we had picked up at the wine reception. Asking for the largest hot chocolate they had with whatever crap they offered with a hot chocolate. the waiter asked if I’d had a bad day. When I said yes, he returned with the most massive hot chocolate known to mankind with double flakes, marshmallows and a mountain of whipped cream. It was pretty awesome.
I felt oodles better after that. Went along to the AGM to support BF and then had a little rest in the office with BF and Caroline before heading out for the dinner. Right from the moment we entered the room the dinner was in, I felt close to tears. I don’t know why, I was just incredibly emotional. I sat with Caroline, the rest of the committee sat at a table on the other side of the room. I waited for BF to invite me over but he never did. He did the thank you speech. He did really well but by the end, the tears had spilled. In his list of thanks, he kept the committee to the end and me to the very last. He thanked me for doing a little bit of everything and writing everything down in my notebook to keep him right.
I know that he meant well and what he said was true but it didn’t do justice to all the time and energy I had spent on everything. Everything caught up on me, the exhaustion, the pain, the hormones, my feelings, everything.
The conference is over now and it all went smoothly. There were no major crises and we were commended by everyone for our organising. But now, afterwards, I feel like something has changed. I feel like things might never go back to the way they were.