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10 April 2015 @ 07:20 pm
Dev Retreat 2015  
I always have a post-event drop after a large event, and I just finished my largest event ever: 400 people for four days at the Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire. I started planning it over a year ago, and at the beginning of this year, I handed off most of the remaining planning (which is a lot) to my then-assistant (now successor as I've moved into my new role), but it still felt a lot like my event, especially since most people there identify me as a person who can answer their questions or solve their problems.

Also, although it was 400 very smart people, almost none of them are able to find their way out of a paper bag, which leads to a LOT of frankly baffling questions. Like: "Should I eat lunch before or after I put my suitcase on the bus?" Dude! You pick! Are you hungry now? Do you want to stop dragging your suitcase around? Both options are fine!

Overall, it was awesome. The Mount Washington Resort is fantastically beautiful, and the staff was unmatched by any other venue I've ever worked with, and the agenda worked super well, and our attendees were, in general, well-behaved, even if clueless.

On the other hand, we had a handful of prima donnas who threw dramatics over minor and soluble issues, which was a definite downside. My favorite was the fellow who, outraged, insisted he was going to fly home to California if he was going to have to share a bathroom. (Some of our guests were staying in townhouses with some shared bathrooms.)

But the highlight for me was that it was kind of a victory lap for me. This is the event I've run every year in my role as "Minister of Fun" at athena, and this group is sort of my "home base" group at the company. I was given pretty free rein to institute a number of programs that made their lives at work better and more fun, so they really like me a lot, and they're geeks, so of course I love them.

They surprised me with a thank you ceremony that involved a giant cake reading "So long and thanks for all the fish", and a set of gifts that included a fancy pair of noise-canceling headphones, a set of five gorgeous metal dice, a Star Trek sushi-making kit, an 8-bit mug, a useless box, a plastic crown and scepter, a velvet cape, and ... a drone. Oh! And an air cannon. And a truly absurdly decadent donut covered in frosting. And they said a lot of nice things about me. It was incredibly heartwarming and affirming.

Later, I sang karaoke by myself for the first time ever ("You Don't Mess Around with Jim" by Jim Croce -- with thanks to regyt for the suggestion), because I realized I was there with a group of people I truly didn't mind making a fool of myself in front of, and one of my colleagues told me she hopes her 8 year old daughter grows up to be like me, and another one told me that I make everything I touch better.

So, that was all super nice, and really well-timed, because outside of work, things are pretty sad and hard for me right now, but I have a lot of good friends, and my family is awesome, so I think I'll get through.
I'm feeling: complicated
eestiplika on April 11th, 2015 12:37 pm (UTC)
Being a minister of fun was a really awesome chapter of your time at athena, and i'm glad to hear that this -- heartwarmingly and affirmingly -- is how it bookended. Many more awesome, affirming worklife chapters to come!

Love love love love.

Kcatkcatalyst on April 11th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)
*hugs* Yay! I'm glad they were able to convey to you how much you mean to them. And all by themselves!
metaphortunate sonmetaphortunate on April 11th, 2015 09:14 pm (UTC)
Oh man, that is great. Way to move on on a high note!
Co-conspirator of Squee: fairymuffyjo on April 12th, 2015 03:39 pm (UTC)
What I am most glad to hear is that people have shown you the amazing appreciation of you that you have shown them. That is an amazing reward. You work so hard to ground yourself for the hard things and put the creative respectful things back into the world. I'm so glad you let people gift you in the same way. Accepting gifts is HARD! And this is beautiful.

And it sounds like you had a good time to boot!

Sorry to hear other parts of your world are hard, hopefully this is something full of recharge.
blkblk on April 13th, 2015 04:33 pm (UTC)
Certainly understandable to have some drop after something that awesome. I know you'll take some time to be gentle with yourself. Enjoy the memories and accomplishments.