March 31, 2009

Weekend Excitement! (Part I)

Yesss! Three cheers for a busy but brilliant past few days. I left NYC and headed back to VA on Thursday evening after work to give the Cum Laude induction speech at Hampton Roads Academy, my alma mater. I was so excited about this opportunity but slightly intimidated, too. I mean honestly, how scary is it when you have 450 adolescents staring at you, waiting for something entertaining AND brilliant to leak out of your mouth ... and just waiting to judge.

This was definitely not here when I graduated. But cool nonetheless.

After much thought I decided to speak about failure. One thing I've learned over the past three years is how to appreciate my failures, sincerely. Or, perceived failures that is. People told me in high school that I couldn't get into UVa. I did. And I graduated on the Dean's List. I lost Miss Virginia twice. The first year I spent the rest of my summer in South Africa helping those with AIDS. The second year I packed my bags and myself up and moved to NYC on my own. Those are just a few on my laundry list of "failures". But, you see, all of these things gave me the opportunity to be where I am today. To cross paths with the people in my life now that have encouraged me to become the woman that I am, to go to Miss America as Miss New York - how cool was that?! And, most importantly, this organization gave me the opportunity to be shaken out. Rather than being built up into someone else, working for their expectations, I met myself for the first time. Head on. I don't know if I would have had that opportunity elsewhere.

So this was my challenge to them: allow your dreams to be beaten up and dragged around a bit. That's what is going to make them intensely real, make them tangible. We all want great things, but once they leave your imagination and meet an incredibly harsh reality there is no doubt they will be tested. Are you willing to protect your dreams? Each of you is capable of achieving great things. Respond to your failures with that greatness.

It was cool to be able to go back to HRA and see the great change that has gone on there. The physical atmostphere is so different (umm, jeans and t-shirts and hoodies and flip-flops? I mean, I know it's Friday but still!), but the vibe is the same. The eternal strive for excellence, the buzz of competition, and high standards are still in place. Also, my mom got to come watch me which was neat (again Paul, that is for you). Other than Miss America my family hasn't been able to see what a typical appearance would be for me, and don't you know she was right there in the third row smiling away. Rock star status, Lisa.

Then we headed over to Charlottesville to see the Virginia Belles Spring Concert. Y'all, it was UNbelievable. The alum just sat in the front row with their mouths gaping. And, you know how I put the link up last week so you could buy their cd? Well, I definitely got one on Friday night and I refuse to listen to anything else. SO good. You really should buy it. REALLY. It was so awesome to see so many of the alums back in town. So many of them are about to get hitched, or engaged. Holy. Cow. That is all I have to say about that. (!!)

No fear, I was back on a plane on Saturday for a 6am departure (3am wake-up call from the rooster herself, Lisa) to drive to Sullivan County for some pageantry! Linda Carbo and I had a marvelous time making our way there. The interstate leads you pretty close ... but to get there exactly you have to take the most insane winding roads for about 15 minutes. I'm glad I wasn't in Paul Brown's car with Erin Kennedy and Ken Nelson. Apparently Ken "was feeling extremely car-sick, just like he did when he was a boy." ACK!

We were extremely grateful to see this sign. So, fun, BEGIN!

I got to MC Miss Sullivan County Outstanding Teen, Miss Sullivan County, and Miss Southeast New York that evening. What an outstanding group of young ladies and women. They never cease to amaze me! Congratulations to Miss Sullivan County, Felicia Ramos. Miss Southeast New York, Melanie Hildebrant, and Miss Sullivan County Outstanding Teen, Nusrat Ephita! Felicia and Melanie I will see you guys in just over 3 weeks in Albany for workshop!

So, if you didn't think we were insane already, we decided we wanted to sleep in our own beds. Thus we scooted out of there at about 1045. I fell asleep in the back seat for a while (to the sweet melodies of the Virginia Belles ... you should buy it!) .... Then jumped up was we approached the Lincoln Tunnel. Just in time to sit in Saturday evening city traffic. Then we found a straggler right around Whole Foods at 1:30 am. He got in the car with us and we drove him home. He was pretty cute, too! And that is where this story ends.

I'm writing another one with more adventures very soon. So hold your horses!

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