Chi-caaago Classic! Third year of this comp (since Nancy Tuzzolini and Jim Becker took over) and our third year here. This year we’re at a new hotel – a huge convention Hyatt Regency 10 minutes from the airrport (which, except for the fact that every so often the room shakes with a roar that blows out your ear-drums, we like cause it’s so convenient – means we can stay for Awards *and* make a flight home at a decent hour, too, for a change) with that Hyatt open-atrium floor plan thing where you can look up and see balconies upon balconies ascending up into the clouds all lined with greenery way up to the canopy of glass at the top, and where at any hour of the night you can see exactly who is walking with whom to which room, neon-lit glass elevators to help with this, and a dramatic lobby all huge open split levels, wide escalators, giant sculptures and hanging art pieces, exposed concrete, angles, conversation areas, dim multi-colored lighting, all very marvelous and echo-y.
Thursday night there was a wheelchair convention here at the hotel. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a wheelchair convention? I haven’t. Standing in the massive lobby looking up we’d see long parades of the tops of people’s heads rolling along on all those exposed levels. The glass elevators going up and down all night, packed with crowds of people in wheelchairs. The bar in the lobby – a big open hopping place with a giant fire at the entrance – crammed to the max and jumping (maybe jumping is not the right word) with 3,000 loud, partying-down people in wheelchairs. Fuh-reaky! I wanted to look away, I really wanted to look away. But alas! Nowhere to look! Cause anywhere I turned aughgh! More wheelchairs wheeling around every which way! These people were all acting normal, too, like they didn’t even realize they were in wheelchairs. I just kept thinking please just don’t anybody talk to me cause all I knew I would blurt out would be “Hey! You guys are all in wheelchairs!”
Yesterday morning we found ourselves squished into a soapy crowd of extremely clean, bracingly chipper, uber confident go-get-’em 26-yr-old salesmen in matching black corporate suits, severely starched white shirts, yelling instead of talking as we floated down together packed like sardines in our glass elevator. It was a national Head-Hunter-Recruiter convention. I looked up at the one soapy guy I was smashed up against (I had to look up to talk because they were all 6’4″ or taller – we felt like midget senior citizens) and asked “So if I wanted to get a job this would be the place to be?” which brought on such a roar of laughter (it didn’t seem like a funny question to me) I was afriad they’d blow the glass out of the elevator before we landed.
They seem to have vanished without a trace after their motivational breakfast.
So last night started with Opening Ceremonies at 8:30. Nancy came out – I forgot about this from last year! – like a beauty pagent queen! Holy Moses I am not exaggerating! She is STUNNING in makeup and a dress. Okay that didn’t come out right. She’s beautiful all the time, but man oh man this is a girl who cleans up well! That didn’t come out right either. But you know what I mean. She said her goal this year which she unfortunately didn’t achieve was to get Jim Becker, her co-host, to show up on time. She had, however, found another solution: “Cardboard Becker,” a life-size Jim Becker standing on the beach in his bathing suit beside his surf board. Very hunky, very cooperative.
Then introductions of the pro staff (Jordan danced for the FIRST TIME since surgery (December 9th) on his new knee! He’s being completely responsible, doing precisely what the doctor says, not pushing it faster than recommended, building strength slowly and carefully, everything just right. But still my heart was in my mouth watching him dance on it. Ughghghghghgh).
Then Rising Star: two adorable Novice couples (students of Jason and AnneMarie’s); Melissa and Gilbert; Jesse Cramer and Tina Price; and a couple I didn’t recognize.
Then Showcase: Mark and Kim Bloom; Miles and Tessa (same beautiful routine as at the Open); and Strictly’s.
Babies! Babies everywhere! Jason and Sophy’s baby!!! OH MY GAWD!! She is so CUTE!! Jasmine Kdep! She looks like both of them – Sophy says Asian features are usually dominant but this little girl is clearly half Jason: she has his round eyes and maybe his mouth, too. She’s 3 months old, relaxed, cheerful, smiley – they say she’s been easy from the day of her birth, never cranky, sociable, just a happy little sweetheart girl. Jason and Sophy have never looked happier.
And Rebecca’s baby! Ilyana! Oh my GOODNESS what a fat little chunk of a bruiser she is! Fat little arms, fat little legs, big fat cheeks, and HEAVY, like a bowling ball. The picture of rosy health. way, way, way too cute.
And Angie Cameron is huge with a baby boy about to be born at the end of April!
And Jason and Amy Barnes are about to have theirs in June!
And Tom Jennings and Melanie just had a baby boy last week! Michael!
And Yuna and Bill Cameron just had a baby girl three days ago!!
It must be Spring – all the animals are having babies at once.