November 20, 2009 / 2009 Fall JEA/NSPA / Walsworth Live

Last days in D.C. bring convention experience to an eventful end

Written by Tim Shedor

The morning after. It’s the repercussion that every high school journalist regrets from a hard night’s celebration of the convention’s last night. Saturday boasts the tensest moment of the convention – the awards ceremony that provides Story of the Year and Best of Show awards to staffs, a celebration for some and a devastation to others – and the night that offers a reflection on all the sleep lost last week.

So Sunday morning after the hotels clear and the pre-board passes are print out and the house cleaning service finally dares to open the fridge in the boys’ room, there was a loud, collective groan that sounded in D.C.

But no “bad day” story would be complete without a string of unfortunate events that truly demand such a huge groan to be released. My story is no exception.

Immediately after our group left the awards ceremony and took a seat at the Wizards basketball game, an NBA showcase that found us in the nosebleed section conveniently placed behind the loudest miscreants in the arena. For three hours we sat and stared, laughed, and sighed as the ruffians beat each other up and danced for the attention of the jumbotron.

To put the icing on the cake, the nosebleeds afforded no leg room. You get what you pay for in the cheap seats, and we were nursing our knees late into the night after two strenuous hours between hard, plastic seats and the shallow, unforgiving concrete.

When we returned to our hotel after a cumulative hour-long trek to the hotel, we spent an hour packing up. Souvenirs, laptop equipment, and exchange papers from Lakota East all were squished into our duffel bags. By the time my zipper split in two halves from all the strain, I had a thin crease of sweat and I wouldn’t devote any more energy or profanity to my defunct suitcase.

Finally, Sunday morning arrived. We had an hour-long bus ride to the Baltimore Airport and then an hour wait for the flight planned. But of course, that itinerary was too simple for providence to ignore.

For whatever reason, our group’s boarding passes were marked with eight “S”s across the bottom strip. We didn’t think anything of it until they began pulling us out of the security line.

The “S”s designated an extra security scan for us. First they put us individually through a cylinder with a rotating magnet. Then we stepped out for a complete pat-down. And then after our bags made it through the X-Ray belt, they were put on a table for individual investigation, where the authority would scan every compartment of the bag with a magic wand.

Fortunately, we got to the airport early and we were all able to board on time. I had a ticket for the back of the line, so I simply slept through the whole flight next to a business-classer. I woke up once we hit heavy turbulence an hour outside of Kansas City. That’s when I got air-sick, but for the reader’s enjoyment and fundamental blogging etiquette, I won’t go into details.

For the remainder of the flight, and for the rest of the day, I felt calloused and filtered – sort of like the feeling that comes from a day without a shower – and my interrupted sleep and gritty mood robbed my family of a cheery welcome.

As soon as I got home, I had a real home-cooked meal. Wow. Finally, a high to enjoy after a day of lows. I’ve never appreciated my mom’s cooking so much; a week of take-out and sit-down meals across D.C.’s metro were satisfying, but not quite as commodious as something spiced with a personal diligence and care from my family. It’s good to be home.

Tim Shedor