Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have Your Cake And Eat It Too...

YEAH RIGHT...Whatever beanpole thought up that saying was NOT competing in Miss America. If they were they would have said, "have your cake and eat it too but feel really bad about it afterwards". Way to lead all of us on thinking that this mess was true. As I found my birthday(and my mid twenties) quickly approaching I found myself in way too many cake situations. I knew I could have my cake, but could I eat it? As the domineering(but caring) eyes of my Miss Kentucky friends loomed over me as I blew my out my candles on Monday night I knew they were thinking the same thing...I could have thought of 24 reasons why I should not participate in cake at this point in my life and one big one why I should(and it rhymes with should, because it is good). Sorry. I'll make up for it.

However, what I cannot make up for is my blog negligence. I am sorry. But due to the swine flu, I cannot keep my promise about the 'kisses for cancer' campaign for Luke's fraternity(that I had promised I would participate in if I went longer than a week to do my blog). We will have to think of another punishment(or opportunity).

And another thing while I'm doing food confessions/questions I have a simple statement. Funsize...funsize is no longer fun or funny when you eat 13. I came to this realization alone, backstage in Louisville on Saturday where I was the emcee at the Miss Louisville/J-Town preliminary. I quickly went from performer to thief as I found myself stealing the funsize candy bars from my friends' (the contestants) goody bags while they are onstage. But we're all friends, so it doesn't count as stealing, more like borrowing without returning. I used to think of myself as funsize, but it is no longer fun to have no space for weight to disperse. I performed FAME songs as well as my Miss America talent and Proud Mary(in a fringed dress that weighed as much as me before I ate the 13 candy bars). I love being Tina...something comes over me. When I start that monologue..."Ya Know, Every Now And Then..."I feel my soul come alive and for four minutes on that JTown stage I was Tina, sans the legs. I love emceeing these locals, and seeing other girls in my position just one year ago, eager to have a shot at the best opportunity in the world. And I still love emceeing even though Ean got to stand up there and tell stories and I got to direct people to where the restrooms were located on occasion. I got to talk about fun stuff too...and I got to see all my friends!

So to begin at the beginning...my severe bronchitis and I found ourselves in Ashland for dos days. I did nine schools, a preschool, a nursing home, and way too many restaurants. These kids were funny...I mean funny. They all brought their wind up cameras for photographs and when the teacher would forget to wind it up before taking the picture they would get so frustrated and embarrassed. "I'm glad it wasn't wound up" I would say, "because now we get to stand here and be friends for longer." They would smile that toothy grin. The nice people of Ashland, and the Miss Ashland pageant, had a wonderful reception for me at the tourist bureau...they present me with may things...including a 'Welcome Miss Kentucky' cake. We ate all around the actual phrase and they gave me the leftover chunk. I knew that it would not be a good decision to take the cake up to my hotel room so I gave it to the people at the front desk to offer to the guests. They must have set it out in the lobby, because when I came down that morning I had three of the nicest truck drivers ready to meet Miss Kentucky in the parking lot..."We saw the cake!" they exclaimed...I have three new best friends who showed me their living quarters on their trucks, and I decided that I need a semi during my reign...I feel that it would be a great investment and a great way to travel.

The next day in Ashland I did three schools in the morning, then I had a two hour break before my next pack. So, I'm sitting there and I look across the street and I see this huge nursing home...I knew I saw it for a reason...I should stop in...So I did...and oh my gosh it was the best thing I could have ever done with two hours. We forget about them. They are the kindest most appreciative group on this earth. So I walk in and ask the lady at the front if there was anyone that I could visit. The activity director just happened to be standing there and was just taken aback with surprise. "Well of course!". So we went nonstop for two hours. From one room to the next, then into the great rooms for the performance segment of my visit. Ha. There was this nice man who could play the piano like no other, and I did a concert in that nursing home. I belted out Martina McBride and gospel songs...they would sing along...they would talk...they would roll their wheelchairs right up to the ends of my toes to listen. They reminded me once again of why I wanted this job so badly. I'm so glad I stopped. The nice activity director said that they were going to plan a Miss America activity in January. I know I will have a great group of fans watching in Ashland.

So nine schools...I'll spare you...they were fantastic and all so great. So that was Monday thru Wednesday. Thursday I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off then ended up at the rehearsal for the Susan G Komen Runway for the Cure fashion show and auction. The next day was the event. I was the emcee...or ad-libber shall I say. I had a program book with some notes written it it and about three and a half hours to fill in...it was great practice for Miss America though, and great inspiration to stop eating cake(upon seeing the models). Each time one would grace the stage I would move further away from the runway. Breast cancer awareness and fundraising of any kind...you can count me in. I was glad to be a part of this pink explosion that turned out to be a GREAT event that I hope will continue here in Lexington. And my mom thought it was really funny to purchase a young man in the date auction for 'her daughters'...funny...she was so embarrassed when he though he was for her...that's what she gets. "No it's for her...I'm married!!"

Kearney's reception, then on to another emcee event, then on to another pack of schools. My birthday was on the 26th and I've been having a bit of trouble with the idea that I will be 24...nuts. So I go into Dairy Queen (for a salad) and I am waiting at the counter. I look down and make a comment to the cashier(whom I have already asked to describe how good the pumpkin pie blizzard is in detail), "Oh candles, my birthday is tomorrow and I'll be...24." "Oh", she says, "Well there's just the perfect amount of candles for you in that box then."..."WHAT!?"...I said..."There are only 24 candles in this pack?!" My hair seemed to turn grey right in front of my eyes. At that moment I realized that I was on my way out. I will have to buy two packs of candles from now on. For the rest of my life the person handling my birthday cake situation can never say the phrase, "Oh, just pick a pack of candles!!...Now they have to pick up two!...That or buy those big awful numbers! That day was almost one of my first sad days as Miss Kentucky. However, my frown was turned upside down when my family came up for round one of birthday celebrations. Then all my Miss Ky crew attended my 'real birthday dinner' or 'my last supper' as Jamie referred to it on Monday. My friend, and fellow cupcake, Ashley Upton Gabbard had balloons, multiple hats, and a cake that triumphed over my elderly saddness...no matter how many candles were springing from that fondant I could have only been moved to happy tears. The Postels, Kim, Marcia, Jamie, Lisa, Mom, Luke, Tanner, Carson, The Uptons, The Gabbards, all of my friends were there to remind me that I really do adore 24.

My Christmas card photo shoot(part one) in Barbourville was short lived because of the rain, but Joetta and I will make up for it this week...get ready for that Christmas card! Then today I found myself 3 hours away in Greenup Kentucky, where I did four elementary schools and a middle school. Greenup moved on up my list of favorites as I ended up in a concert like experience singing a requested Miley Cyrus song with the elementary(who just happened to be decked out for rock star day) screamed along. Then at one school there was the nicest little boy who raised his hand and said, "Miss Kentucky, I just love the ribbon you're wearing today." As you will see in my pictures I was not wearing a ribbon today, but I thanked him so much for his compliment and for being so kind. "Are you always this kind to people?" "Why yes, I sure am!" he says in a jolly voice from his indian style position on the cafeteria floor. I was walking away and I glanced back to see if maybe he was just joking about the ribbon in my hair...and he wasn't. I still haven't figured it out. He was so sweet though. They all were. Then there was one school that I almost lost my composure at when I asked, "Ok boys and girls, who can tell me the word in this song that I am about to sing ("Somewhere Over The Rainbow") that the song is all about...and the word that I am going to talk to you about today..it begins with a D..."..."DRUGS!!" two children yell at the same time. I got worried for a second until I remembered it was red ribbon week...All the schools were wonderful today and I have officially gone Green(up). Oh, and as I was leaving there was a sign on the side of the road that said, "Welcome to Greenup, Home of the 199? Miss Kentucky Tonya Virgin White" I teared up...then quickly realized that I could not tear up while driving in the mountains...it's hard enough to stay on the road without blurred vision.

And I'm sorry for the delay, thank you for not giving up on me. I promise you that my Halloween costume will more than make up for any strife or impatience I have caused you. I still love this so much...every day...there is nothing more I could ever ask for than to give every second of every day...HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

P.S. Thank you for all of your endless support and love during my preparations...and thank you for my birthday wishes.
P.S.S. Mr. Mike Fromm, I will miss you terribly. Thank you for giving the world your wonderful daughter Chelsea.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I rushed home from doing 7 schools in Rowan County on Wednesday to get lowlights after another round of honesty from my little friends brought me back to reality. I get this question a lot, but never this answer. "How old are you?" a first grade little boy asks. "How old do you think I am?" I continue on as I always do. "Um, eighty nine?". "EIGHTY NINE!!??!!". "Do I look eighty nine, why do you think I look eighty nine?" I realize that I probably should not have asked this outloud but it is too late...here it comes...."Because your hair is white." Got lowlights that night and thus far have had no more confusion on that matter. But that lowlight night was a mere glimmer in the distance at that point in the day...the marathon day...the best day...I will get to that soon.

So, Monday, Nashville to work out with my little rat trainer Josh. Got to see my sister Jade and cousin Thea. I am also pretty sure that I ate a decoration on Jade's counter. It was a pink cupcake(that I shouldn't have been handling in the first place) that after a few bites I realized may have been either a candle or doll food. I wish all food that I tried to eat was fake. Dash on to Louisville where we entered into the secret back entrance of Heather French Henry's design studio. It was dark...until she walked out into the abyss and lights it right up. Anyone who knows Heather knows what I'm talking about when I say she kind of glows. She took us up to her studio where we talked about Miss America, furs, and dresses.

Then I begin my own version of MIDNIGHT MADNESS as I arrived back to Lexington that night, pretty mad that it was already past midnight(I had to leave in about 4 hours for the next day). I began to gear up for the rowan county school district day(the one that I alluded to in the beginning). 7 schools...one day...no room to play(or so I thought). It was intense, but so am I, so it was fantastic. Tilden Hogge Elementary, McBrayer Elementary, Rowan County Senior High School, Rodburn Elementary, Clearfield Elementary, Rowan County Middle School, and The Morehead Youth Development Center) I feel like I'm singing the Johnny Cash 'I've been everywhere' song when I rattle off the schools I did that day. But, the superintendent has the prettiest most wonderful wife, Lucy, who has this drill down to a science. She picked me up, initially she was my driver, she quickly became my best friend. We went from one school to the next to the next to the next. I felt like the president. We would pull up to the back entrance. I would jump out and my little feet would hit the ground running. I hand over my ruby red slippers to the first teacher I see, then my cd to the next, all the while someone is briefing me as we power walk into the gym where the kids are on pins and needles...waiting. "Schools name?...Elementary, Middle, or High school?...School Mascot?...Demographic?..."...and..."Hello ____ Elementry_____, are you excited to be out of class?!?!" It happens in less than a minute. So clearly there are several funny occurrences when you come in contact with more than 3,000 whipper snappers. Favorites = at the high school a brave soul raises his hand and asks if I could please sing 'Friends In Low Places". "Well, ok...if you sing it with me." He and his friends leap over their seats and join me onstage without hesitation. We begin the tune and they are amazingly in sync...was this event staged?...I then look over at the boy beside me and his shirt says 'You Look Better With Me'...I think I was punked for a yearbook photo op. As I am leaving they ask for pictures, they then whip out their cell phones and begin sneakily looking for someone to take the picture. "Can you have cell phones in school now?" I accidently blurt out. All at the same time the teachers realize what is going on, as do I, and the student now has to explain himself. "Uhh, I use it as a calculator." Smooth. Then on to the next school, the next, the next...So many great children, "How much longer will it take for me to get bigger?" "How tall is your dad?" "Why is the sky blue?". THey kept the questions coming. I also signed a teacher's bald head(Gov Beshear signed the other side) and got to see former Miss Kentucky Tonya Virgin-Smith, who is just as beautiful as the day she won...all before lunchtime.

Mid day we headed to the All Seasons restaurant (adorned with a Welcome Miss Kentucky sign). A group of us had lunch then as we were leaving two of the nicest men(who owned the restaurant/home goods/flower shop) came around the corner and handed me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers larger than most of the children I had seen that morning. They then hand me a homemade pumpkin roll...oh no...someone is going to have to roll me onstage in a wheel barrel if I keep experiencing the splendors of these hometown baked goods). They are euphoric.

Right back to the routine after lunch and before we knew it Ms. Lucy and I were coming down the homestretch and quickly approaching the final stop of the day at a juvenile detention center for teenage girls (the Morehead Youth Development Center). It's really easy to inspire a group of starry eyed children, but I knew this group could be harder to win over. We made it through the security and there I was standing in front of them...Their apprehension and my reservation disappeared into thin air within 2 minutes. They were the best audience I've spoken to yet. These girls may have done some bad things in the past, but I can tell you that after spending two hours with them inside these gates, that I know they will do good things in their future. They are so good inside, they just need someone to remind them of that. I was honored to be that person. They had me singing every song under the sun(or rain on that day). "Sing Beyonce'!!", "Sing Carrie Underwood!", "Sing Amazing Grace!". They sang along, they clapped, they laughed, I cried. I didn't want to leave.

Thursday, back to Louisville where I spoke to two different groups at Thomas Jefferson Elementary where the school theme is 'to learn like rockstars'. Maybe this explained their immediate requests for me to sing Mariah Carey, Beyonce'(again), and several artists that I had not heard of. They were rockstars.

Back to Lexington then right back to Louisville for the 'Outrunning Autism' event. A while back when I was at the capitol rallying for our autism insurance reform bill I met several people from autism organizations across the state(this is how I find myself at these great events). This time I volunteered my passion for the cause and was forced to drag along my disdain for physical fitness since it was a fundraising RUN...dang...I prefer bake sales and dinners, but for autism I will do anything. So, I was expecting a run. However, I was faced with a nature hike/marathon on speed. A man named Jim Ball(who has 2 grandchildren with autism) was running for 24 hours straight, so I thought I could at least join him for an hour...surely it won't be that hard...wrong. At a few points in this ultra intense experience I felt that I was on a Japenese game show and my cousin Emily, a real runner, who was running behind me was in constant laughter was the mean American laughing at this crazy show. I too was laughing so hard at my situation that I nearly tripped over about 70 tree roots and walnuts and at one point a crazy squirrel(all while being slapped in the face by tree limbs, etc)...and all in the freezing rain. But like I said...anything for my favorite cause...and for these great people. Then on to the Hard Rock Cafe for a Susan B Komen benefit concert. Michele Branch, Safety Suit, and Better Than Ezra took the stage, and once again, the lead singer from Better Than Ezra took my heart. Long story short, one spring break at Sewanee we all rented this big home down south and went for the week. At the end of this week we found ourselves at a concert where Better Than Ezra was in the line up. We started off in the middle of the stands, however, I found my way to the front of the stage and quickly fell in love with the lead singer...he gave me his guitar pick...I was hoping he would not remember this situation and that I would refrain from reminding him, but I found myself right back at his mercy(look at my face in the picture at the top). He is the nicest man in the world. Noone is Better Than Ezra.

The next morning I roll(aka drive 3 hours) into the mountains for the annual Red, White, and Blue parade in Martin, Ky. Whoa. So, this town is in the middle of a flood renovation and is being completely uprooted(every single building) and moved to a higher point right next to it. It's wild. The people there are so welcoming. I wanted to uproot some of their children and move them to Lexington with me.

Then to round off the weekend I spoke briefly at our local directors meeting on Sunday. All my friends (the local preliminary directors) were there. These people, their commitment to the Miss America system, and their selfless generosity to their winners each year is why I am able to write this blog. Thank you.

Now I have to get off this computer and drive to Ashland, Ky tonight...See ya latah alligatahs...

P.S. Go to www.greentwithtamara.com and get a huge laugh out of my spaz go green video clip...you can watch all the states...and you can VOTE!! Don't judge my environmental knowledge from this clip...I was hungry.
P.S.S. Grandma and PaPa, thank you for finally breaking down and getting a laptop so that you can read my blog. Thank you for always being my biggest fans. I miss you every day and can't wait to see you soon!