Chairs Like Kidney Beans

So here’s my aforementioned Regionals run-down:

It all started with the outfit. The way I’ve always seen it is that if I am at least somewhat likely to muck everything up, I ought to at least be well dressed. Vapid and petty? Somewhat. Major confidence booster? Absolutely. So I spent 45 minutes trying things on and bothering my mother with my “western business attire” fashion show: “See, I like these light grey pants, but I don’t think that they compliment this navy blazer. How about my black one with them? Those lines would be a bit cleaner. Nah, I ought to go with a skirt”. But I did eventually settle for an outfit that made me feel as competent as Michelle Obama (Gosh, she dresses so well).  Because, hey, if you’re going to be participating in a simulated Congressional hearing, you need to look the part. (Also, I love the long, straight crease in dress pants.)

This is how nervous I was on Wednesday:  I was manic and couldn’t focus on diddley squat. This is how nervous I was Thursday morning: I had gone around the bend and had started to feel strangely calm and like I was going to throw up and faint at the same time. But everyone else felt anxious too, and it is sort of nice not to be the only one on edge.

We had to take a cheese bus to the University for the competition. The last time we all got on cheese buses for a school trip, the brakes on one of the buses failed while going down a very steep hill, and the the bus crashed into a tree and nearly tipped over. Thankfully, I was not on this bus, but Cecelia, Audrey, Doc, etc were. So let’s just say that no one was ecstatic about our method of transportation. The moment that everyone sat down, you could hear a chorus of seatbelts clicking shut, and the first time we hit a big bump and the bus rocked, everyone braced for impact. But we arrived in one piece and even survived a long COLD walk across the icy campus paths.

And I have to say that the actual competition slid by in a haze. My heart rate was akin to what it is after I have run three miles, and I couldn’t stop muttering to myself about National Defense Acts and the different Congressional committees. We stood around in an atrium and sized up the other teams and glared at our arch history/debate rivals. The fact that all of the other teams weren’t dressed as well as us gave me more encouragement that it should have. Still, it never fails to amaze me that some girls interpret “western-business attire” to include four-inch heals, their prom dress, and sun dresses. (But I’m not judgmental or anything…)

And suddenly there we were, sitting in a hearing room, perched on kidney bean shaped and colored chairs that were attached to the desks, because if a metal bar wasn’t holding the seats in the world’s most awkward and uncomfortable position, people would steal them. (Kidney bean desks go for a lot on the black market.) There were two “U”s of stadium-style desks, and each group was going to descend to the lower tier to present to the judges in the “pit”. When I wasn’t panicking and flipping through our binder of hundreds of pages of notes and muttering to myself, I was glancing around the room, my eyes wide, catching the gaze of my equally anxious classmates.

It began, and we watched Unit One present while we all held our breaths and willed them to give the right answers. They were good, so much better than they had been in class. In between  presentations, we all huddled around in groups and you could hear people  beating themselves up for not remembering the year of a court case correctly or hurriedly running through possible questions.

When it was our turn, I felt that weird adrenaline-driven focus descend, and I felt ready to lift up a car, or, you know, answer the judges’ questions. And after shaking Doc’s hand vigorously for God knows what reason, looking at Cecelia with crazy eyes, and constantly asking Milky and Chip if they thought that we were good enough, the judges came into the room, announced that we were going to be answering the question about committees, and introduced themselves. I mispronounced my own name (but I suppose if I had to pick a time to misspeak, that was it), but I read clearly and slowly during the presentation-portion. Then, there were the questions, and there was nothing about Monica Lewinsky.

I remember quoting Woodrow Wilson, referencing legislative reform acts, and talking about legislative efficiency, however the only the only thing I can directly remember saying was something long the lines of “after a bill is placed in the hopper, a Speaker of the House or the Senate can send the bill to as many committees as they deem necessary…”. I also remember saying the “the floor in the Senate or the House” while doing something very strange with my hands every time I was referring to whole body debate. I was nodding along with what our other group members were saying, and at some point I thought, I wonder what would happen if that projector just fell from the ceiling onto the old judge in the middle.

But when we crawled out from the second tier desks, heads reeling, Lily (I have to write a whole post on her sometime soon, because she amazes me. I honestly have the best friends.) and Noah said that it was our best one to date. Our teacher was pleased, and the rest of my group was satisfied. Unfortunately, little old me was convinced that I hadn’t spoken fluently and had given too many of our answers. But it was over. Over, over, over!

We later found out that we won (AKA moving onto the state competition), and I took my first genuine deep breath in a week.

Ultimately, what is the most important is that WE WON, AND I DIDN’T FREAK OUT! I may be too “emotionally-disabled” (not my words) to do a lot of things that my peers do, but I managed to participate in an incredibly stressful activity without having a panic attack or screwing up. I’m giving myself two points in the victory category for that. Now, I just need this winning streak to continue for when we go to States on the fourth of next month.

How’s that for a long-winded explanation? I think I’m a bit too verbose.

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