Maybe I was just cracked out from judging rounds 5 and 6 - and having to evaluate cyborg feminism, a critique of proliferation discourse, and the merits of seeding algae - but I thought that being stuck in Minneapolis actually wasn't that bad. I wasn't on the schedule for round 7, so I crossed the skyway from the tournament to our hotel and went downstairs to the hotel gym, which would not be newsworthy except that it was my first opportunity to run since I suspended my gym membership on December 1st. (The only tragedy was that I dropped my iPod during a sprint, and it sort of fired across the room and died. Luckily, nobody else did.) I also finished Kenji Yoshino's Covering when I was on the elliptical, which is so, so good. It may be the first time that I've ever read a book and simultaneously had a crush on the author and wanted to be him when I grow up. Psychoanalyze that.
And then I went upstairs to shower and found a voicemail from my brother, who (surprise!) was flying from New York to Fargo and was told that he'd be stuck in Minneapolis overnight. After a lot of interfamily conferencing, my dad suggested that we rent a car and drive back together since the storm had died down since the afternoon, but that was impossible, so David somehow convinced my dad to drive down and pick him up instead. (I refused, partly because I wanted to hang out with people that night, partly because I felt obligated to help Melissa get the team back to Shanley, and partially on principle.)
I didn't have to judge the double octos, which officially freed me from judging the rest of the elim rounds, so I met up with David at our hotel and caught up after not seeing each other since April. Then Melissa stopped by, and then all the kids arrived, and then Megan called and we decided to walk down to Panera to meet Megan and her roommates.
Funnily, Panera is NOWHERE NEAR our hotel in the labyrinth that is the downtown skyway system, which somehow led us through the convention center, two parking garages, and the Hilton, where we had to shove through a mob of people waiting for the Minnesota Vikings to arrive for the night. We finally just gave up and walked outside, where it was cold enough that they probably should have cancelled Holidazzle like they did tonight. Luckily, we totally watched the parade on Friday, and watched everyone prepping for it inside the Hyatt on Saturday. It was almost as fun as when Melissa and I went to the National Cowboy Museum in Norman, Oklahoma, or when we toured the USS Constitution in Boston. You could take Melissa to jury duty and she'd make it awesome. At the parade, we saw a terrifying wagon train of children dressed as animals that looked almost exactly like the scene where Danny DeVito kidnaps of all the children in Gotham City in Batman Returns, which became even funnier when the tiny cow and tiny giraffe started beating the shit out of each other in the middle of the parade. We almost hijacked the Twinkle Bus because we thought it would handle the blizzard better than our minivan, but decided that a bus covered in blinking lights and snowflake spinners might be a little too conspicuous for a stolen vehicle.
We eventually made it to Panera, and had approximately thirty minutes to catch up with Megan before the restaurant closed and everyone parted ways. David and I ran across the street to meet my dad, and then my aunt drove over from her place in Minneapolis and we caught up before David and my dad had to zip back to Fargo. Jean and I decided to stay and order another round, and eventually ended up closing down the restaurant. Yay! (This is what happens when your aunt is cooler than you are.)
Shanley requires that coaches take the kids to church on Sundays, so Melissa did that in the morning. I'm pretty sure that doesn't apply to judges that are chaperoning on the side, so I found a Caribou and got coffee and read updates on the recount before meeting everyone back at the hotel, loading up the van, and driving back to Fargo. I thought staying an extra night was actually kind of nice, but this might be because I didn't have to grip the steering wheel with white knuckles for five hours, tensing up every time we passed one of the two dozen cars that had slid into the ditch or hit the median. My job was to switch out the CDs and to skip any songs that might be considered inappropriate, and to occasionally pass Swedish Fish and Chex Mix to the kids in the back. Whatevs, I did it well.