Alright. I’ll just give a play-by-play of the days.
Friday- Left house at 11 am. We planned on leaving at 9, but things just took more time than we thought. As we got further down the road, we realized we wouldn’t make it to my dad’s cousins house in Fullerton, get ready, and drive back north an hour. We would have to stop somewhere to get ready and go straight to the party. I hope this ends up somewhere famous, because it’s kinda too funny to not tell. We stopped at, essentially, a truck stop in Bakersfield and got ready in the shower room. My mom sweet talked one of the ladies to let us use a shower room free of charge. Normally you pay like $8 to use the shower. All we did was just change our clothes and do our makeup. An hour later, we emerge from the showers at a truck stop wearing gala dresses and our faces all done up and the jewelry and the everything…walking through the building with truckers and tourists and travel-weary families starring and whistling at us. Here’s the thing. My dress was skin-tight. I had trouble breathing standing up. How was I supposed to sit in a car for 3 more hours? I had to keep the back unzipped. Normally, that would be fine, and it was… Until we found the house and they had free valet. Yeah. The guy opened my door, and I couldn’t get out until my mom came over to zip me up as soon as I stood up. So, that was kinda awkward. The house hosting the party was Michael Scotts. According to IMDb, he is a major director of 37 titles and producer of 17 in Hollywood. His house is in a gated community in Beverly Hills, same neighborhood as Oprah, and must have cost at least $17 million. I mean, his pool house had a game room, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bowling alley, spa room, mineral bath, and so much more. His property included a full tennis court, a full basketball court, a volley ball pit, a swimming pool, 3 hot tubs, and overlooked directly onto Hollywood and Los Angeles. We socialized for about 1 1/2 hours, until 9, and then they served a buffet dinner of dishes from around the world. At about 10:30, we had a small ceremony where we received our official sash and certificate dubbing us as our countries representative for the pageant. We took pictures for about an hour in a few different spots, and then we were free to leave, and boy did we. My mom and I were exhausted, and we still had an hours drive to get to Janet’s house, change, wash our faces, get settled, not to mention meeting her for the first time ever, all that jazz. We got to her house at about 1 am and said very short ‘hello’s and went to bed.
Saturday- If you don’t already know it, my brother is a Marine. He is currently training near San Diego, CA, which is about 2 1/2 hours south of Los Angeles. We were staying an hour south of Los Angeles, making him about an hour away. He was allowed weekend liberty, free time off base for a limited time on the weekend. How could we pass on that opportunity of seeing him when he is that close and free for a day or two? We picked up him and his best buddy at about 10 am and spent the day at Disneyland, about 20 minutes away from our home base. His best friend, Lucas, lives in Minnesota and had never been to Disneyland. We had to take him. It’s a given when you are so close and we are oh so experienced. So, we did Disneyland and we did it good. By that I mean we did all the necessary rides for him to say he had the best experience he could. Enchanted Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, Indiana Jones Adventure, Tarzan’s Treehouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster, It’s a Small world, and I don’t think it counts as a ride, but we also rode the train that goes around the park. Funny story about that. While on the train, there are a few tunnels. In the tunnels are small scenes, I guess you would call them. Just things that keep your entertainment so you aren’t in a black tunnel for 5 minutes straight. We went though the tunnel with the grand canyon and the dinosaurs. By the time we got out, I was the only one awake out of the four of us! My mom, Jordan, and Lucas had all fallen asleep in their seats. I started laughing, which woke my mom up and she woke Jordan up and he woke Lucas up. We were all so beat, Jordan and Lucas from night watch and training and Mom and I from not getting to sleep until 2 am. They had breakfast before we picked them up and we grabbed food at McDonald’s outside the park at about 4 and dinner at Subway on the way home. We left the park at about 10, grabbed dinner, and drove home to Janet’s house. Cousin Janet has 2 spare bedrooms and had set up two beds in each room. Mom and I shared a room and the boys shared a room.
Oh! I forgot to add something about that day but I don’t feel like rearranging everything to try and fit it all in. We cannot go anywhere without knowing someone. Almost always, we run into someone we know somehow. At Disneyland, we ran into Jordan’s friend from high school, Jeremy. Jeremy is going to film school in Hollywood, living in Los Angeles and is addicted to Disney. He was there with his parents. That’s not all. I have a cousin whom I have briefly met once at his sisters wedding. While we were on the tram that takes you from the parking lot to the park entrance, I was on my dad’s phone (we had traded for the week so I would have a GPS and internet access). He was tagged as at Disneyland with a friend also. We didn’t run into him, but he was there. I was 350 miles away from home and still running into people we know. I’ve run into people in San Fransisco which in 140 miles from home. My mom ran into someone in Alaska while on a cruise who knew my grandmother on my dads side. My great-grandmother ran into a student in some random state in central US while traveling across country, the both of them. She had spoken at his class 2 weeks before.
Sunday-I had an interview with the judges at 1 pm at a restaurant in Beverly Hills. We decided to sleep in a bit and didn’t leave the house until about 11:30. Cousin Janet had made us all bacon and French toast. Lucas and Jordan were so happy! Homemade meals, warm beds in a warm house. It was great for me to see them so happy, knowing and not exactly knowing what they’ve been through in the past weeks and months, being homesick and tired of only seeing a handful of people. They really appreciated the touch of home and family. Anyway, I had the interview. Basically it was like speed dating, but it was interviews for the judges to pick the top 15. We had 3 minutes to talk to that judge before we moved onto the next. There were about 8 or 10 judges and then we were done for they day. They guys and Mom waited up the street at a diner until I was done. Their liberty ended at 6 pm, and I was done at about 2 pm. We were about 2 hours away from their “home”, se we just drove back instead of trying to squeeze in anymore sigh-seeing. After a long good-bye (because we didn’t know when we would see him or them next), we left. Mom and I called it night as soon as we got home, after dealing with some rental car issues. Our rental was acting up that day, so we asked them to exchange it.
Monday- We finally go to sleep in without setting an alarm! The only thing I had was a rehearsal in the evening. One of the other girls had offered a short practice before rehearsal to show me the basics of the dances so I wouldn’t be completely lost. I had that from about 7-8 and then the group rehearsal at a dance studio at 9. The studio was only 20 minutes away, so I used the extra 40 by buying snacks at a grocery store near the studio. I spent 9-1:30 am in brand new heels and I thought I was going to cry by the time I got to the car to leave my feet hurt so bad. Got to bed at about 3.
Tuesday- This night was different. We had rehearsal from 8:30-10:30. At 11, we were the VIP guest at the hottest club in Hollywood called Supper Club. It was a big deal. I mean, Tuesday nights are their main nights of the week. Chris Brown has a table there every Tuesday night and this night was no exception. So yes, he was there. I will be honest. This place was not my scene and I don’t know why the director chose this place for us to make an appearance, other than publicity. The music was so loud I had a ringing in my ears for an hour after I left. People were smoking and I smelled horrible when I left because of it. There were women coming down from holes in the ceiling ‘silk ribbon’ style wearing ruffled underwear and glittery pasties. The music was horrible rap about sex and weed and drinking. I can see myself going there if I was asked for a specific event, but I would have to think long and hard about it, and I wouldn’t stay very long, like maybe 30 minutes. That might even be pushing it. I stayed for 1 1/2 hours, our minimum time needed.
Wednesday- For the pageant, we all began wearing a cocktail dress, but I hadn’t gotten mine yet. I went to the directors house in Studio City to get it so I could shorten it a few inches. She said it looked better a bit shorter. So we were there at 10, I left at 10:30, and drove back to Fullerton, an hour away. I had rehearsal that night 9-1:30. So I was in Studio City twice that day, 4 hours total of driving. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but that’s all I did that day, besides rehearsal.
Thursday- I was surprised, but we didn’t have anything on the agenda for Thursday. No rehearsal, no interviews, no clubbing. Just sleeping in, watching TV, eating whatever I wanted, and going to bed early.
Friday- One of our sponsors for the pageant who does spray tanning from home. I am horribly white, even though I live in California. You would expect me to be tan. The bikini I wore was white. If I went on stage, you could hardly tell I as wearing anything all because the bikini blended in with my skin. So, I got a spray tan. It was kinda awkward. I wasn’t wearing anything on top and a thong on the bottom in front of a woman I have never met. She even insisted I take off the thong because I hadn’t worn the bikini bottoms since August and I might not know where the lines would need to be. Uh, no thanks, I’ll pass and take the chance. You know all those horror stories of spray tans coming out orange? Yeah, not me. Mine came out brown. Dark brown. I went straight to rehearsal after that, too. This stuff makes you feel sticky, like you had just put on sunscreen, but the feeling doesn’t go away. No makeup, no shower, only allowed to wear loose clothing, not even a bra, for 8 hours. I was so embarrassed. The director even said she didn’t recognize me at first. She told me as soon as she did… an hour into rehearsal. It took her an hour to figure out who I was. The last day of rehearsals in the dance studio. While I was in rehearsal, Jordan had called and asked if he and Lucas could hang with us again for the weekend. Yes! So she left and was back, without getting lost I might add, by the time I was done at 12:45. On our way out, we were handed a bag of free items from some of our sponsors: spray tanning supplies, free shirts, free makeup, and a few other things. We didn’t have time to prepare the rooms for them, so they slept on the couch in the living room, falling asleep watching TV. I showered as soon as I got home. I walked inside, grabbed shorts and a big night shirt and went straight into the shower. I looked and felt so much better after that shower. I wasn’t dark brown anymore. I was a mild golden tan color. And finally went to sleep, happy I didn’t pull an opposite Michael Jackson 2 days before the pageant.
Saturday- One of the things in the goodie bag was a $25 off card from a clothing store in Santa Monica at the Third Street Promenade near the pier. Sounds good. It’s a good place for Lucas to see. The beach, the pier, the shopping, the typical stereotypical California. So, I go into the shop and the cheapest thing I find is a dress for $160. I had $11 in my purse. Thanks, but no thanks. We ended up window shopping for a while and ended up by the pier. Boys will be boys. They wanted to go swimming in the ocean. It was 55 degrees and cloudy. We walked back to the car so they could grab some dry clothes for when they got out of the water, but they had forgot their overnight bags at the house. No ocean for them. My rehearsal call time was 7:30, so we decided to go early and just see where the theater was. As we were pulling away from our parking spot near the beach, I realized I ran out of one of my prescriptions. I had more at Janet’s house, but that was an hour away and I only had about 1 1/2 hours until my rehearsal. We found a pharmacy and I was able to get more of what I needed. I got to the theater and we ran through the show once from 8-11:30. We wanted to get it done twice, but we ran into staging problems that needed to get fixed and lighting and things just took more time than thought it would.
Sunday- Show day! We were about 45 minutes early to the theater for a 11:30 call time, so we got McDonalds for breakfast. Jordan and Lucas helped me bring in my things and I said good-bye to them. We were leaving the next day, no more weekend fun and adventures. We rehearsed until 5, had a catered lunch, and then had 6-7 to get ready for a 7:30 curtain. We didn’t actually start until 8:30 because…well… I don’t know why. I was ready on time. Heck, I was ready at 6:15. I didn’t have much to do to get ready. I didn’t have a personal hair stylist and makeup artist do me. The first number, we were in cocktail dresses, and alphabetically by country, we announced our name and country to the audience. Mine was, “Good evening! I’m McKenna Hardy, proudly representing the country from sea to sea, Canada.” They then announced the top 15. Then we had about 4 minutes to change into our bikini and we had a number in that. The top 10 were announced and had a small interview from the judges. Then each person go to do a small runway walk in their bikini’s. After you walked off, you went backstage to change into your evening gown, or gala dress. We did the same runway walk as the bikini’s, and then the top 5 were announced. We did a number with a singer and the walked off stage. When the curtain went down, we went into our opening spots and set before the curtain went up. Top 5 went up and awards were announced, things like best smile, best dancer, best body, miss congeniality. Then they went through the whole 4th runner up all the way to the winner. They also announced all her prizes, which I don’t think was necessary. I felt it was kind of rubbing it in our face that we all lost. If you wanted the audience to know what she won, have the list in the program book. As soon as it was over, I took a few pictures out at the red carpet and I left. My feet hurt, I was tired, I didn’t have anything else going on, no after parties. I was the first person to leave. We got home at bout midnight. Sounds kind of like a fairytale: beautiful dress, didn’t win (first place or a prince), home by midnight. Unfortunately, it stopped there. It didn’t go on to somehow me getting my dreams. It ended with me back in school and work. Back to reality. No more La-La Land. For now.
Monday- We tried to shoot for leaving at 9, but I think it was more like 11. Made some stops here and there for food and restrooms and for my mom to take a nap from driving. We made it home at about 6. First thing I see when I get home is a dirty, messy kitchen with dishes piled up. I spent my night unpacking and washing my sheets and blankets so they seem fresh and clean; any amount of comfort I can get, I’ll take at this point.
Tuesday- My first class starts at 9:30 and I don’t get home until 2. Then I have another class at 6:30 pm. Back to reality. Time to play catch-up.
I’ve been home a week, and I feel that that experience did nothing to me. If it didn’t happen, I would be at the same place I am at now, except we wouldn’t be even more in debt. Nothing has changed. No prize money, no newfound friends. My experience was mainly sore feet, clubbing, and some free stuff, which I didn’t need, I could live without it. I didn’t even meet anyone that could help me in my career, not in a way that I can call them and ask for help or advice. I am being brutally honest here. It’s like I said in the post before this one, I am just that kind of person, I guess. I have been through3 experiences where everyone else felt like it was a family experience, but I always felt like the black sheep. I didn’t have a single relationship that actually lasted after those events were done. It’s just me and how I am, but I’m not even sure what it is in my personality that makes me this way. I do have friends, I just don’t make friends very well, I guess. Maybe I am content with what I have that I don’t want or need more.
Even with all that said, because I know what to expect, I’m already playing with the thought of interviewing for this pageant in 2 or 3 years. I know what to expect, I know how to act, dress, who to talk to and how. I did a lot of watching how other girls did things and maybe that was an advantage to me so I know what to do next time.
Like I said in my last post, this experience wasn’t what expected , but I am kind of sad to be home. I began thinking of how I would execute a plan for moving down to Los Angeles and I realized, if they say yes and after I get a car, I can move into cousin Janet’s house in Fullerton. One hour from Los Angeles, an hour from San Diego, the two places I really wanted to move to. Now I have a possible place right between. Rent would be so much cheaper, already furnished, and since I would pay rent, I wouldn’t have to pay for the utilities and cable. Honestly, all I have to do to is buy a car, get my driver’s license, find a job in Fullerton for rent and insurance, maybe even apply to the closest community college or junior college.
- Save about $5,000 for used car.
- Get drivers license, buy car.
- Move to Fullerton.
- Apply and pay for college.
- Get job to pay for rent and car insurance.
Mind you, this isn’t going to happen in the next few months. It might not even be until next year in the summer, 1 1/2 years away. That’s fine with me. As long as I still have a contract and I still want to move forward with that goal and career, I’m good.