Sunday, January 25, 2009

So close, and yet so far..

As I sit here in the airport in Las Vegas, waiting for the departure of my delayed plane, I've been browsing the internet for pictures of the pageant, checking emails, visiting facebook, think about what the new Miss America (Katie Stamm) is thinking right now, and reflecting back on the incredibly exciting and thrilling past nine days of my life! What an experience it was to be up on the Miss America stage!!!! In the moment, it didn't seem to be anything much out of the norm, but now that I've been thinking...I finally realized that I was on NATIONAL TELEVISION IN MY SWIMSUIT! haha!

My days in Las Vegas were amazing!!! We had early mornings, late nights...loooong days, but I wouldn't have had it any other way! Rehearsals in the morning, dinner out at restaurants, appearances throughout the city at night..we had the best of both worlds. Of course, once preliminary competitions started, we no longer had those experiences "out on the town." Instead, we spent all of our waking hours on the stage rehearsing for each night's competition, camera blocking for the live show, rehearsing, more camera blocking, oh did I say rehearsing? This was the first time in TEN YEARS that there was a production number at Miss America! It was so much fun! If you couldn't find me..I was part of the "scarf" group! Because of the practice I had learning all of the production numbers at Delaware's Junior Miss, America's Junior Miss, my locals, and Miss Delaware..I actually caught onto the moves pretty quickly!..I'm practically a dancer! (definitely JUST kidding!! =P).

Since the last appearances we had that I wrote about, we also got to drive go-karts!!! I came in 3rd place in my heat..which was a little disappointing seeing as I've been driving go-karts since I could reach the pedals!! My car battery was dying, I think. We also had a magnificent dinner at an Italian restaurant. They certainly did not skimp on ANYTHING..we were stuffed!!, but boy was it good! We also got to see Phantom of the Opera, and then met the cast afterwards! It was incredible! I had never seen it before, and was amazed at the costumes, sets, and the overall drama of the whole thing!

I JUST saw Art McMaster in the airport! I guess we have the same flight home hehe. We were just chatting for a few minutes and he looked down at my carry-on and just happened to notice the empty bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms resting on top! He said, "All diets are off huh?.." so true hehe. Then he proceeded to say that he felt the same way and really wanted a cheesesteak. My response: "I had one last night." Haha what a day!

Back to my stay in Vegas..the Phantom of the Opera was the last night before preliminary competition. I had been through the interview with the judges earlier that afternoon. My interview went so well! I felt completely comfortable speaking with the judges, got my opinions across, and really showed them who I was. The only thing I kept thinking right before I went into the interview room was: let down your guard, let down your guard. I guess it worked because I feel like they really got to know who I was and why I felt the way that I did!

Tuesday night came with a surprisingly low amount of nerves, and a high level of excitement by the end. I had my talent competition that night and performed "El Cumbanchero." My performance went very well and I felt very comfortable on the stage! I won the Talent Award that night! I was so honored, and I felt good being able to help represent the other pianists that had or had not competed in talent that night. It isn't too often that Miss America gets a large number or pianists, so it was exciting to bring some light to the instrument! Also, talent is my absolute favorite phase of competition so it meant a lot to me to be able to take home that award. I finally got to see my family and supporters that night at visitation. Before I could go though, Katie and I (Swimsuit and Talent winners) were taken to a special room for press photos. Then it was off to see my fellow Delawareans. It had been a long 5 days since I left Delaware, and it was so comforting to get to spend a little QT with everyone. I only wish that we had more time to visit. Afterwards, almost every contestant stopped by the "Hospitality Suite" to get some food! It's hard to really eat a good-sized dinner right before stage competition because of nerves, or anxiety, or excitement...your adrenaline just pumps through you and food is the last thing on your mind. However, AFTER competition, food is the FIRST thing on your mind!! so we all gathered to eat good food and spend time with eachother. Oh yeah, and this was the same night that Joe Biden officially became the VP of the U.S.! What a day for Delaware!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday came later for me than for others. My group was able to sleep in a bit. Those extra hours were MUCH needed! We ran through rehearsals for a few hours in the afternoon and it was on to the second night of preliminary competition. I had my On-Stage Question. It went okay..it wasn't my best expression of opinion, but I got my point across. I felt good about it so I was pleased. That night seemed very uneventful..only having the On-Stage Question..about 30seconds on stage..the competition part of the night went by very fast. We had visitation again which was lovely! and then another round of Hospitality Suite dinner at about 11pm. Sleep was the very next thing on my list!

Thursday..the last night of prelims! I had the Swimsuit and Evening Gown competitions. This was the busiest night so far..simply because I had two competitions. I felt great in my swimsuit and I absolutely LOVE my evening gown, so I couldn't have asked for more!!

From the last three nights, I had built up a lot of "momentum," will you, from night after night of competitions (interview, talent, On-Stage Question, then Swimsuit and Evening Gown). The momentum took a little dive on Friday though, because we had OFF from competition! We slept in, then spent the WHOLE day/afternoon camera blocking for Saturday's live show. It was clear that the time we had to "sleep in" was not sufficient. Every time you looked around..there were about 30 girls fast asleep ALL OVER the stage!..the steps, couches, chairs, floor, stools, benches, audience seats..you name it..they were sleeping there! We were wiped out!
Later that afternoon, we had a nice reception that led us to the Evening of Dreams event. I sat with many Alabamians and had a great time listening to all of the Miss Americas speak and entertain, enjoying the other live entertainment, great food, and dancing! One thing us ladies did not think about though, was our shoe situation. We put on the shoes that looked good with our outfits..NOT the shoes that went well with our dancing!..we pulled through though :)

Finally!..Saturday arrived!..MISS AMERICA! It was hard to believe! We rehearsed in the morning and were not allowed to leave the dressing room once we arrived at 6:20am. Talk about an earlllllly morning! Our sleeping stage (the actual stage) was more pronounced than the day before! Everyone was exhausted!, but once we began getting ready for the show, our adrenaline kicked in and we were ready to go! We made it through the opening number..which was totally awesome incase you missed it! Then the Golden Sash Winners from Countdown to the Crown were brought to the front of the stage to find out which girls were voted on most by America. ND, IN, GA, and AL were the America's Choices for the Top 15. Then Michigan was announced as a judges choice..then I heard my two favorite words!..."MISS DELAWARE!" I was so excited! I made it into the Top 15 at Miss America!!! After we were announced..we went to a commercial break and were immediately released to go change into our Swimsuits. We had only THREE minutes to get back stage and outside to our dressing "tent," change outfits, shoes, jewelry, lipstick, etc., and get back inside the backstage area to compete. Unfortunately, my journey to becoming Miss America ended after the Swimsuit competition..I didn't make the Top 12 cut. I was bummed that I no longer had a chance at becoming Miss America, but I was mostly bummed that I had lost in that sarong that they made us put on over our swimsuits during the commercial! haha I wish I could have been in my Evening Gown or had performed my talent, but I couldn't change that! I joined the other 40 contestants on stage-right to watch and support the Top 12 competing in the Evening Gown competition. In the end, Miss Indiana, Katie Stamm, won Miss America 2009..incredible! What a feeling!, an honor!, a responsibility!, a lifestyle change!, a moment of pure happiness!, an inspiration! WOW! MISS AMERICA!..and I know her! What a week!

I'll post pictures when I get home and can upload them.

I just wanted to thank EVERYONE who wished me the best and good luck, who prayed for my health and success at Miss America, who supported me all year, who sent me text messages, who left me facebook messages and wallposts, who wrote me letters of encouragement, and who thought about me while I was at the biggest event of my entire life. THANK YOU!!!! I could not have asked for a better support team, state, fanclub, cheer squad, for better friends, family members, board members. You all mean the world to me! and you made my experience at Miss America even sweeter! God has a plan for everyone, and although He can only allow one person the life-changing experience of being Miss America, He allows the entire nation to be touched, impacted, supported, and positively influenced by all of the Miss America participants and volunteers. This is an amazing organization and I feel honored to have represented the First State at the 2009 Miss America Pageant!

You can go to this website to see the Top 15 in Swimsuit competition:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/23/miss-america-swimsuit-com_n_160535.html


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