This is the story of my first-ever nail competition. Don’t let this happen to you. I decided to enter just three days before the competition. I didn’t get the contestant package and I had no idea, what I was getting myself into.

I had a hard time finding a model on such short notice, but I found one and she said I could count on her to meet me at the agreed upon location and we would drive down together. First mistake. I waited for an hour for her to show. I called and called but got no answer. So I decided to go anyway and beg someone else to model for me.

I got to the hotel an hour before the competition began. After I told a very nice employee my dilemma, he said he would find me a volunteer. With five minutes to spare before registration he presented me with ... his wife. He had called her and asked her to help me out, which was very nice, only she was a nail biter and I had very little to work with.

Second problem: The place was so dim you couldn’t see what you were doing, the table was too wide, and the chairs were too low. While I had anticipated the light might not be sufficient, I was unable to find a desk lamp before the competition, so I brought my snake light. Nails by flashlight — not a good thing. The lesson is to always bring sufficient lighting with you.

I made the nails so thin that one broke while I was filing it. I had to do a repair but even with the loss of time, I finished in the allotted 1½ hours. All in all, I felt I did the best set of nails that I’ve ever done — and on a nail biter no less. I was so exhausted that I decided not to stick around and wait for the results. I drove the two hours home and slept for 12 hours. It was a great experience. Would I do it again? Maybe. Next time, I’ll handcuff the model to me and bring a lamp.

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