If I want to add something interesting when introducing myself, I say “…and for fun, I run science fiction conventions.” Around the time I got recruited to be Hospitality Division Head at Worldcon 75, I was just starting a new job. I had left the old one because I was not left alone during my vacation, which was actually Loncon and Shamrokon. So not really a vacation? Weeeell, no. This is what I found out two summers ago: for me, volunteering is rest.
Helsinki took a lot out of me, for sure. The learning curve was steep in my life right then, and happening simultaneously in a number of aspects of my life – work, parenting, personal. Looking back at it, I am in awe of myself for having survived it. I have no idea how. Still.
I decided, when some aspects of my life suffered badly for that survival, that I would stop volunteering for a while and dedicate the extra time to myself. Boy, did that not work. I spent the summer after Worldcon 75 on an island, in a funk, not doing anything and it almost killed me. I did make some smart decisions about how I would continue to live and most of them have paid off, even if some of the desired results still elude me, like saying no every time I should.
Back to some volunteering was one of them, so I did accept a position at the Irish Worldcon in the end, even though I had turned some very appealing and interesting positions at the same con during the year. I think it might have been the fact that I finally had time to sit down for some coffee with friends, without having to rush off to get my kid from school or to make my swimming date or client demand.
The world is weird, SF fandom even weirder but I would totally not be the person that I am without all the experiences attending, working on and organizing science fiction convention. I learned so much I did not know I needed to learn, and so much I knew I needed to. It is a special kind of thrill to be a part of something that is done just for the sake of doing it – like volunteering at a Worldcon.
Volunteering- be it as DH, area head, team member or just a on-site gopher l- ets you experience the convention in so many unique ways. I had a lot of fun in Dublin but I do not think my own interests would have, left to my own devices, enabled me to have the experience that I did have, like accidentally dropping by the Chairs for Chairs panel while doing an assignment for social media. Or running into Catie Murphy and her heavenly fudge if I did not have to go to the press room. I think Worldcon might be how I practice being part of a herd. It is a nerdy herd, it is mostly made of cats and other strange creatures, sometimes it costs a lot of money to be part of it but I really, really like being part of it.
I was going to write this piece before the Irish Worldcon, back in August. I was too busy resting first, then sightseeing and then – volunteering for the con. I wish it were possible for it to be someplace in Europe more often so I would be able to do this more often. ConZealand is not looking like something I will be able to attend, but one thing I know for sure: I will still volunteer for them.