Friday, July 31, 2009

Page Turners & Buffie Summer Reading Club

Despite the nasty rain, Nirvanna and I met up with Arnie at the Malverne Public Library to celebrate and encourage reading. We were guests on Page Turners which Nirvanna perfectly described as "The View" but with librarians! haha It was a really great appearance to explain the Miss America Organization to people there. So often, people just do not have a great understanding of this organization and what it does for young women. I think we were both great representatives of what Miss America stands for and what great things it can bring into our lives.

On Page Turners we were able to talk about reading and how it has shaped our lives as well as briefly share our favorite book. I've quoted my favorite many times in this blog, but I'm happy to bring it up again: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. And although this is a post about reading, here is the video link where you can see him delivering his lecture at Carnegie Mellon. It's incredible.

I also was able to step back into my childhood and remember the "Buffie Summer Reading Club" giggle. giggle. Yep, that's what we did for fun growing up, and it's how we earned fun prizes like 1 book = Dairy Queen, 5 books = having a friend over, 10 books = taking a friend to a movie or spending the night, etc. We were cool. But in all honesty, I spent a lot of time at the Southport Public Library or in our make-shift treehouse reading and I'm certain it shaped who I am today. I'll admit that I'm not actually a huge reader - I've become more of one on the subway in NY - but with that being said, I can't imagine how I would have been had I not read so much as a kid.

Small correction, Claire,
After reading one book--your prize was......another book:)
President and CEO
Buffie Summer Reading Club

Our episode of Page Turners will air on Long Island in the first week of August and will be webcast in the Page Turners archives soon thereafter.

Visit the Malverne Library HERE

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Miss Duneland rules the world.


Ok so that might be a little dramatic - but they sure are ruling pageant-world!! To explain, my first local title was Miss Duneland 2007. At that time, I didn't really understand the comradery and sisterhood that the Miss America Organization could provide for me. When I won Miss Duneland, I truly entered a family, and as my director said "Once a Duneland girl, always a Duneland girl." It rings true to this day. Well let me tell you about a few Duneland girls:

As Miss Duneland 2007, I crowned Katie Stam Miss Duneland 2008 - ring a bell, anyone? Yes, Katie went on to win the Preliminary Interview Award and Miss Indiana 2008, where I was her 2nd RU and fellow Interview and Swimsuit winner. Then on to Miss America where she won Preliminary Swimsuit and of course, won Miss America 2009!!


The same year, Lydia Daley was crowned Miss Duneland's Outstanding Teen 2008. Megan Thwaites, MDOT 2007 (my teen) won Miss Indiana's Outstanding Teen that year - 2008! Lydia was 2nd Runner Up.

In November (before Miss America), Katie crowned Nicole Pollard Miss Duneland 2009. After being 1st RU two years in a row, Nicole won Miss Indiana 2009 along with Preliminary Talent and Interview! Lydia, MDOT 08, won Miss Indiana's Outstanding Teen 2009! She was crowned once again by Megan Thwaites who crown her in her local a year ago (and is her best friend). [I did Lydia's headshots.]


This list goes on to celebrate the successes of Miss Duneland titleholders, both in Indiana and other states. As a sisterhood, we have now dominated Interview in 2 states, and have created quite a tradition of back to back Miss Indiana titleholders. Perhaps a Miss America back to back is on it's way? We'll see!!! Good Luck, Nicole and Lydia!!

Obviously the Miss Duneland Organization and my director Jan have made quite the impact on me because she laid the foundation for me in MAO. One way I give back to them is by continuing as the webmaster of the Miss Duneland website that I designed 3 years ago when it was my title.

Visit here!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Jen Corey is Miss DC!!!


Soooo delayed, but things have been pretty busy lately! JEN IS MISS DC!!!! Almost a year ago, I met Jen Corey at Sweetheart when she was Miss D of C Sweetheart, 1st RU to Kate Marie Grinold (Miss DC 08-Top 10 at Miss America). Well, easily said, Jen is pretty much a rockstar...and so are her family members. After sharing mucho time together at Sweetheart, riding in the "BS Mobile" together along with NJ and DE, Jen and I became quick friends, far beyond pageant land. I wanted to go to work everyday just so that I could get on gchat and talk to her :) I spent Thanksgiving in Long Island with her family, we went to the Presidential Inauguration and Miss America together, and she was there supporting me in Albany at Miss New York. Great girl.


At Miss DC, I met up with Ashleigh Udalovas, Miss NJ Sweetheart '08 (1st RU '09) and then spent the evening with our former Miss NY, Leigh-Taylor Smith, and the new Miss VA, Caressa Cameron. The show was great -- 14 contestants, Kate Marie riding in on a motorcycle to dance the finale of Center Stage, lots of salsa dancing and leather. Pageant, right? haha Loved it. My Miss IN roommate from last year, Ashton Kunkle, placed 4th RU!! Jen won the CMN award for raising $10,000 in the past 3 years (WOW!!), Overall Swimsuit, Evening Gown and Talent!! This girl has a shot at Miss America Talent awards for sure - she captivated the audience and probably won before she even opened her mouth to sing because she looked so stunning and in character. (Opera - O Mio Babbino Caro) When they called her name, it was soooo exciting, it was like I had won something! hahaha Although I won't be going WITH her to Miss America, I am so excited to pour my energy and excitement into her as she prepares for this dream!

I'm actually currently designing her website, business cards, autograph cards, thank you notes. I'll post them soon! The cool part that's finished is her platform logo. Jen's grandfather started a trash company that is basically responsible for waste in NYC now. She has grown up with this and recycling, etc and changed her platform this year to reflect that and her support of the green movement. With a little pageant double entendre, she perfectly named her new platform "Let's Talk Trash." And here is the new logo. Fabulous, right? We have a photoshoot with garbage trucks set up for next weekend. I'm excited.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The aforementioned "Perspective" blog.

A few weeks have gone by. I’ve read my blog over and over and discussed it with my mom, and we both feel a bit uneasy about something. When I write a blog, I write naturally with my realistic emotion. These are my personal views, and unless I’m reporting a news event or action regarding my platform for example, what I write is opinion – an opinion that I believe in, yes, but I’ll be the first to admit subjectivity. In my blog after Miss NY, I was honest about my disappointment that I did not walk away with that job and title. But as I have shared personally with the girls in the Top 5, I was incredibly proud to be standing there at the end with those 4 and do not want to take anything away from them because they are outstanding women, each very unique individuals, any of whom truly could have been Miss New York. And this extends to the remaining 16 women as well. I had a personal disappointment for falling short of MY goal, not a disappointment that anyone else won. [If that can even make sense…?] No matter what my intention, I cannot control perception, which requires sensitive semantics and thought. In writing a blog in the public forum of the Internet, I open myself to potential traps, and I think I fell. But here’s to it being a stumble and something from which I have picked myself up and moved on with sincere apology to anyone I may have offended.

I absolutely look forward to continuing my relationships and growing in the new ones with girls whom I have met in this program – whether that means roadtrips to state pageants, watching So You Think You Can Dance, eating guacamole, going to the lake, cheering each other on in local pageants, or Facebook chatting into weeeee hours of the night. Miss NY brought us together, but there is much more to the friendships that develop in this Organization, and I am so thankful to have found my NY family. When I moved to NY, I knew a few people from my internships of previous summers, a few from BSU, and one from pageantland who connected me with many new friends, but it was in February when I truly felt like I had begun that community development everyone needs in a new home. When I plan a trip to Indianapolis, I find myself saying “I’m going home,” but then when I’m there and talk about leaving, I once again say “I’m going home.” And I mean to New York. I have two homes now, and that just encourages me to reflect on allll of the positive support and love I have from all over in my endeavors, both in and out of pageants. I’m a lucky girl.

Lastly, there is someone to whom I did not give enough credit, and she is Leigh-Taylor Smith. This girl is amazing. Miss New York represents a state in which she can truly be a change-maker, not a parade-waver. But, you have to have the guts to do it. We all know that NYC is a land of opportunity, but only to those who take advantage of it. It is so easy to hide or get lost in this city, and LT is someone who jumped at every opportunity and created so many for herself. She has set the standards incredibly high for the new Miss NY, not just based on her performance at Miss America, but because of the way in which she has empowered youth, supported this system and organization, and presented herself as a role model for people. People. Not just young girls as Miss America so often narrowly focuses. She has motivated and inspired me, my family, anyone who reads her blog, and most likely anyone with whom she has come in contact or conversation. New York State and the Miss NY and America Organizations are lucky to have had her this year because she has most definitely left a memorable mark. And the greatest thing is that although Miss NY is now in her past, the lifestyle of passion for volunteering and positive change will continue far beyond the time that the crown is passed. She is a true champion and this picture captures it perfectly. Thank you, LTS.

I love Dolly Parton.


Just days before leaving for Miss New York, I flew to Jackson, TN to see my good friend and Sweetheart Sister Brooke Waddell, Miss Greene County compete for the title. She was the returning 1st RU and therefore under a lot of pressure with expectations. Expectations of others, yes, but expectations of herself. We all know our potential and our capability for this job, we just hope that others – 7 strangers – can see that too.

We went to the Miss TN lunch where they handed out the MAO and MTN awards. Brooke won the Miss America Community Service Award for her work with her platform “Reach to Buckle Up.” Her platform work is incredible as it stems from a personal story. As a former college basketball player, Brooke breaks the pageant stereotype and becomes more relatable when she speaks in schools. You should see how the kids in her presentations are drawn to her like magnets, hanging off of her every huggable limb. She has IT.


I was able to see Friday night prelims and Saturday finals. The show was incredible to watch – live television really structures the show and makes things fly! Brooke looked stunning in every aspect of competition in the Top 10. In each conversation leading up to the pageant, she said “I could not have run one more mile, watched another minute of CNN, sung my song one more time…I’m ready.” That’s the feeling you have to have. 100% prepared to leave it all on the stage and see if the judges are smellin’ what you’re cookin’. Let’s just say they were having appetizers and salads with Brooke and didn’t quite make it to the steak. She was 2nd RU to Miss Tennessee. No, not . - !!!! Stefanie Whittler is the new Miss TN.

“GOOOOO BROOOOKEEEE!!!!” This is what echoed in my ears for days following Miss Tennessee from sitting next to Brittany Waddell, the twin sis.

As hard as it was, Brooke was incredible. I admire this woman immensely for the way she dedicated sooo much to this program, yet she had the ability to at that moment let it go, seeing it in the perspective of her life. She had amazing family, boyfriend and friends there cheering her on and she knows she is loved. It may not have been the motivation I had envisioned, but watching Brooke lay it out there on stage with all of her heart was what lit yet another fire under my butt for Miss New York. I flew home on Sunday to head up to Albany Tuesday morning. I followed suit and left it all out there, and we know the story from there. You better bet Brooke Waddell was calling to check in, encourage me, and quickly to congratulate me and send hugs and love from her family immediately after Miss NY.

You’ve been a blessing in my life, Brooke, and we are living proof of what this Organization does for women, relationships and personal growth.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Miss NY 2009 - Final Review.


I think at this point most of you know the news….3rd Runner Up…Claire Buffie, Jubilee!! ← bummer, not exactly what I was hoping for.

Flashback…hours before. (wooosh sound effect)

Sunday was the day. I felt nerves all day, but I don’t think it was nervous, I think it was excited. They were nerves about sustaining my performance and living up to my own high standards that I had set for myself. I feel as though I did. After the opening number and intros, we were immediately called into the Top 10 and I was called 5th. So exciting – I just stood up there and soaked it all in. Game on. Swimsuit, Talent, Evening Gown (which would not stick after a sweaty talent haha)

And then there were 5. Keelie, Marina, ME! yayy!, Alyse, Inga. Our scores were in and we just had the last impression of a Top 5 question, but it was ANYONE’S game even at that point.

My final questions were:

Regarding my platform: President Obama has publicly voiced his opinion against gay marriage. What can he do to repair his relationship with the LGBT community?
First it is important to educate people on Obama’s stance that he supports domestic partnership and civil unions and although does not endorse marriage equality on a federal level, he does support the freedom of the states to decide. As long as he continues to grant the states this individual freedom, and protect other gay rights under the law, he will be naturally repairing his relationship.

And my random question: What do you want to do before you die?
Travel. To every continent. Europe and Australia are checked off my list and Africa is the next one on the list to see my sister Sarah – who is watching now via live webcast! I want to travel everywhere and experience cultures from as much of the world as I can.

Change back into the gowns, hold hands with the girls and say a prayer, and take a really really deep breath. I’ll tell you what, Sweetheart sisters…you were all going through my head at this point. So many of them (now us) have won multiple prelims and felt amazing about what they brought to the stage, and have not won their state titles. The same thing then happened to me minutes later.

4th Runner Up…Keelie Sheridan, Brooklyn
3rd Runner Up…Claire Buffie, Jubilee
2nd Runner Up…Marina Montes, Suffolk County
1st Runner Up… Inga Schlingmann, Manhattan
Miss New York 2009 Alyse Zwick…Westchester County

Honestly, at this point, I was numb. But as people hugged me and I was able to see the people who came to support me in this quest, I let go and I realized that these friendships are worth more than any crown. Then I was announced as the Overall Interview Award Winner. To have worked so incredibly hard for something, and have been recognized in each area of competition, and then stand so far away from my goal, left me confused. Must I have been judged down in the final ballot (all scores are wiped out and judges just rank you) because they’re scared of my platform (??) If so, that saddens me. We obviously have a lot of work to do towards equality.

As I’ve said in emails to others, I was 180% proud of everything I did during the week on stage, in that interview room, and backstage. I was authentically ME throughout the entire competition and wouldn't change a thing. People say, "Everything happens for a reason." I'm looking for that reason, knowing it may not come for a while. I do believe in karma, and that all of the hard work I have put into this year will come back to me, just perhaps in a completely different form. Again, thank you all for your support and encouragement. I know I made myself and all of you proud by being true to who I am and what I stand for - equality, respect and justice - even if it cost me that sparkly head piece.

What I gained/maintained from Miss NY this year (thus far):

$2300 in Scholarship - going towards Continued Education classes at Parsons The New School for Design
$295 cash back from my program ad sales
$500 from my local = $3095 total in scholarships from Miss New York 2009.
Preliminary Swimsuit Award – validation for all the work I did at the gym with Chris
Preliminary Evening Gown – whew! A reward for THAT process, and major thanks owed to soooo many people
Overall Interview Award - I present an inarguable platform of respect.
Some true friends.
Tighter abs from laughing.
My integrity.


I’m still a local titleholder – so keep reading…
☺ Claire
Be yourself.