taz_39: (footprint)

On Monday I woke early to take Jameson to the airport. He's flying to Florida for a final in-person interview with a company that would hire him as a teacher.

I'm very excited and happy for him! But you know, I also worry. He'll be leaving the circus in a few weeks, and after that...when will I see him again? What if I don't get a job in the same state? What does this mean for us?

It's something we've talked about a lot. Both of us are very practical people, and it's clear that we both put career goals ahead of relationship goals at this point in our lives. And while I'm OK with that, I also don't want to lose an amazing relationship because I end up having to work at a McDonald's in Maine or something. I worry too much, but if there's one thing I'm confident about, it's that both of us will try hard to keep each other.

After dropping Jameson off, I drove to the very high-end Lenox Square shopping center to buy some nice clothes. This mall had a Coach, Bulgari, a Tesla dealership...oh and a cupcake ATM...all indications that I shouldn't be shopping here :P

After finding what I needed I went to Best Buy to recycle my old laptop. It's served me well for six years.
Then I went to Target for groceries and to look at storage options. I have no idea where I'll end up as yet, but don't want to be packing my room at the last minute, so decided on three large bins that would fit in my gauchos (train room storage spaces). I also decided to try some vacuum bags for my sweaters and other clothing.

Once home, I began filling the bins. Most of my belongings will go into cardboard boxes at a later date, but I also wanted some climate-proof options in case things need to be stored long-term. I neglected to take a picture of my disasterous room as I was packing. Just imagine it. Well, here's a picture of when I did a similar thing in 2013. Room explosion!

By the time that was all cleaned up I was surprised to see that it was dinnertime. The day went quickly. I ate dinner and while I was at it, listed a spare trombone slide for sale on Ebay. It's a good slide, I just don't need it what with all of the trombone purchases I've made this past year. Hopefully it will find a good home! I spent the rest of the night alternating between looking for jobs and trying to do something relaxing. I don't think I'll feel relaxed until I'm employed again.

The next day I indulged in waking up a bit later, then did a load of laundry, then drove the 40 minutes to the arena to wash my trombones. When I got there our dressing room was locked, but fortunately a building employee was nearby with a key and allowed me to duck in for a few items. Before I could begin washing there was a phone conference for our severance negotiations, so I took part in that for about 30 minutes. Then rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

Unless you've done it before, you seriously have no idea how difficult it is to wash a trombone slide in a tiny bathroom sink. Add that to the list of things I won't miss about touring. I carefully washed the inner stockings and outer slides, then wiped down the bells first with t-shirts and then with microfiber. I re-lubricated the tuning slides, then dried everything off inside and out with a Slide-o-Mix cloth. By the time I was finished it was nearly 4pm. Time to hit the road and beat the rush hour traffic.
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It turned out that the Smoke Ring was closed for maintenance, so the guys and I missed out on our amazing meal :/

Instead we headed over to Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand, a little corner restaurant that's on the way back to the train. They serve small-batch, organic chicken sausages in a variety of ways. I was expecting a sort of fast food environment...the food definitely came out fast, but the quality was WAY better than fast food! Jameson had creamy grits that he said were some of the best he's ever had. Tim (sax) was all about the meatball slider. Brett (bandmaster) had a full-sized chicken sausage in a hoagie roll, it looked great. I had sweet potato pancakes with breakfast chicken sausage links. The pancakes were fluffy and delicious and the sausage was flavorful and just a bit spicy. How have we never been here before?

I didn't get a picture of the food before we all dug in, but did find this poster on the wall to be pretty funny.

After our meal we went to Cafe 290 to see our friend Hardin play trumpet with a local big band. Hardin has frequently subbed in with the circus band, so we all already know he's a great player. This time we got to see him in a jazz element. The place was packed and the band was awesome! I think the only thing we didn't like was the frontman, he was very talkative. All the time he spent talking and preening himself could have been better spent listening to that great band. Ah well, what we did get to hear was very enjoyable. Had a great time :)

Jameson and I left after the first set, stopped at Walmart for some groceries, and crashed back at the train. So tired. (The train's staying in the same yard for Duluth.)

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I got to spend Monday with my Aunt, who lives near Raleigh. We had lunch at Calavera Empanadas, a really awesome little place right in downtown Raleigh. The empanadas were AMAZING. I have never had dough so light and fluffy! And the fillings were awesome too. I got the Al Pastor (pork and pineapple) and it was really delicious. They also had dessert empanadas...one had bananas and nutella, the other was pumpkin pie. So stinkin' good!

After our meal we went back to my aunt's place where we just hung out and enjoyed each other's company. I helped her to grade some papers (she's a teacher) and we talked about my sisters and brother, and our plans for the future. For my birthday, my aunt and uncle gave me a huge bag of treats from Trader Joe's! Turkish honey, fruit leather, sprouted wheat bread, Belgian chocolate, and much more. They also gave me some very nice "dressy" shirts (which I will hopefully have occasion to wear now that I won't be living in a train yard!). I am spoiled. Thank you aunt C and uncle A :)

For dinner we went to a local Chinese place. After that, I had to start making my way to Atlanta. It was a six hour drive and the train had left early, so I wanted to get there as soon as possible. I drove partway through the night and finished the drive the next morning, arriving around noon (thanks to traffic).

This might have been Jameson's last train run. He's had his car on the road for quite a while, so hasn't taken many runs (when you bring a car it's your responsibility to drive it to each city). Since I'd borrowed his car this week, he used the time to enjoy the train one last time. I hope it will be a good memory for him.

I spent that evening unpacking and rehearsing for an audition video that I'd need to do on the fly.

Wednesday was opening day. Nothing extra-special happened, we had a surprisingly short rehearsal and a decent show.

Thursday we only had one evening show. I used the day to complete my audition video; because there were other events going on at the arena, it really did take me the entire day to get all of my things done. By the time it was time for the show I was exhausted. It felt good to sleep that night.

Friday we had a split. After the first show it took almost an hour to get back to the train thanks to Atlanta traffic. Putting that on the list of things I won't miss when this job is over. I used the few hours of my day to do laundry and apply for jobs, then we went back to the arena for the evening show. At some point in there the arena personnel presented us with a cake, but I think it was part of a PR event because we weren't actually offered any :P

Saturday and Sunday were three show days to make what we call a "six pack" weekend. I was exhausted before the weekend started, and it didn't get any better as the shows went on. I overhear a lot of folks asking each other, "What will you do after this?" and "Have you found anything yet?" I hear a lot of rumors about how things are going among the various troupes and departments, and see a lot of discouraged-looking people. I think it's starting to really set in that come May, we had better have our lives together. I think this weekend is especially hard since we have so many shows. Normally this would be exhausting, but at least we'd enjoy our work and appreciate the audiences. But with unemployment looming for a lot of people, I get the impression that it's extra-hard to get through a heavy weekend like this.

So...I'm sorry for the lack of pictures this week. It was just very busy, and there wasn't a lot of time for fun.

Monday, two shows for President's Day. I'm posting this blog before we finish because not sure how late I'll be out tonight. Some band folks are planning to go to Smoke Ring for some tasty, tasty smoked meats. I especially like their roasted brussels sprouts! Then we'll go listen to a friend of ours play at a local bar. Should be a nice way to end the week.

For the next two weeks we will be playing Duluth, and the schedule will be much lighter. I hope I'll have better things to share with you.

Other stuff:

This week we got some horrible news. One of our beloved aerialists, Nadia, passed away unexpectedly. She leaves behind an incredible husband and father and a beautiful baby boy. Her death is a painful blow to anyone who had the privelege of knowing her. Thank you for being such a wonderful person, Nadia. A light has gone out in the world now that you are gone.

Britney (former elephant crew, floor crew) took this video from the perspective of the Ringmaster float. Pretty awesome!

Happy Birthday to Jonathan (animal specialist)! Looks like the clowns got him good!

(photo courtesy Jon M.)
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Two whole days off! Yay!!

After a slow morning I decided to walk to the Kroger about 2 miles away. Yes, I could have borrowed Jameson's car, but for a few pieces of fruit and a loaf of bread it didn't seem worth it. Plus the weather was warm, even if a bit wet.

I made it more than halfway there before hearing manic honking behind me. Roselli, one of our company bus drivers, had pulled up behind me in the animal crew's van. He was on his way to pick up our bus, which was in the shop on the days off for some tuning up. He gave me a lift. Thanks Roselli! You're a champ :)

I putzed around the grocery for a while and ate lunch, then it started to rain. I ducked into the ACE Hardware to ask about an insulated pot for my new flytrap. They didn't have any, but I picked up a spray bottle and a plug-in timer, figuring these may come in handy for all of this plant life. And...I bought another flytrap. Because they're fairly cheap, and I don't see them very often, so figured I may as well have two! You know, in case I kill one off :P

I again made it partway back to the train before Roselli hailed me from a nearby gas station. It was raining pretty hard at this point so I once again accepted his offer of a ride. So much for getting exercise today! Back at the train I put my groceries away, found a worm in the dirt, and cut it up to feed to the traps.
Interestingly, there's a way to cut worms to ensure that they have a chance of surviving the damage. I was careful to do this before releasing the rest of the worm.

That night some of the band guys went golfing! There's a place called Topgolf nearby, a tiered driving range with drinks, food, and games! The golf balls have microchips inside and are assigned to unique players, so that you can keep score. There are distance games, target games, accuracy games...it sounded like fun, but at the end of the day I've got zero golfing experience and wasn't about to spend six hours flailing around with a club. It looks like the menfolk had fun :)

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After the last show on Sunday we hoofed it over to a place Tim (sax) and Brett (bossman) found near the arena, called Smoke Ring. It's a southern BBQ place with a focus on meats smoked "low and slow" daily. On Brett's recommendation I opted for the smoked wings, and on Tim's I got a side of roasted brussels sprouts. That's the stuff!

Full of great food, we drove over to the nearest movie theater to catch Deadpool. It was graphic and violent and hilarious! A great way to unwind from a fairly busy weekend.

(photo courtesy Brett)

Then we enjoyed a blissful two days off. Well, some of us did. One of those days was a work day for anyone involved in loading into the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. But hey, at least the train didn't move. Sometimes a lack of movement is a nice break.

On Monday I relaxed.

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We spent the night in Raleigh. The next morning before hitting the road, we decided on one more meal at The Cowfish. Although we didn't get lucky with freebies this time, we still got fantastic food and wonderful service. Jameson had a bento box with house fries, edamame, cucumber salad, a half-roll of a specialty sushi, and a mini specialty burger. He said the burger was cooked perfectly despite its small size!

I had The Nature Boy's WOOO-shi BuffalOOOO-shi roll: chipotle bison, friend green tomatoes, feta cheese, onions, and tempura flakes, topped with chopped veggies, and chipotle aioli. It was REALLY good.

After that, it was time to hit the road. We drove about five hours to Athens, where we found a cheap hotel. The next day we visited a third 2nd & Charles (we're on a roll) but didn't find anything, so got groceries and went to the train. This yard is paved, a welcome change from the muddy yard in Raleigh. I spent the rest of the evening cooking food for the week, as we'll have a lot of shows and I know I won't feel like cooking during my down time. I tried boiling half of my duck eggs. They turned out beautifully!

On opening day we learned that the tiger act would be back in. Taba looked ok...hopefully he's all right. The show went well.
Koji (BMX, pictured airborne) was performing with a broken foot and acting like it was no big deal :P

(photo courtesy Koji K.)

Like with any other job, at any given time there are always several people performing with injuries or illness in the circus. So remember to applaud :)

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After our night's stay in a gorgeous hotel, Jameson and I went out to explore Savannah GA!

First stop, brunch at Funky Brunch. This place looks like a breakfast-y Mellow Mushroom.

(photo courtesy scaddistrict.com)

A unique feature of this restaurant is the tables, some of which have built-in griddles so you can cook your own pancakes! The kitchen mixes your batter and includes any fruits/toppings you'd like, and you assemble everything yourself. Neato!

We didn't get pancakes, but enjoyed some mildly alcoholic treats along with our breakfasts.

After that we wandered.
Savannah is a very pretty riverfront city, so just walking and enjoying the scenery was a big part of our day.


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We got off to a late start on Monday morning.

Jameson and I had pork chops and rice at the Pie Car for dinner. Dessert for that evening was my last Mexico Coke. I don't normally drink much soda so it was a special treat :)

We arrived in New Loredo almost on time; it didn't much matter anyway because we stayed there overnight.

On Tuesday we woke up early to do customs once again. Train crew came through first to confiscate any "banned" food items. I find this funny because all of my food at this point is stuff I snuck into Mexico from America at the beginning of the trip. Does that mean I can't take my American food back to America? Lol. So we went to Pie Car to have our passports stamped again, then waited and waited and waited to the point where people with early evening flights were freaking out that they might miss 'em. There was eventually a van to take people to the airport.

We finally started moving around 3:30pm, and stopped short of the border for American customs.


On the other side of the bridge, my phone started working. Aaah, 4G...the sweet, sweet nectar of civilization. I called my parents to let them know I'm alive. Then we sat in the yard until after 9pm while our water tanks were filled, animals were watered/fed/cleaned, and Pie Car was restocked.

Wednesday was an all-day run. I was able to tether my phone several times throughout the day to make plans for a short trip after we reach New Orleans. Otherwise it was a pretty boring day. I did all the things I normally do, and cleaned our donnikers, and didn't take many pictures because it's Texas. Rebecca and I are the only ones on our car this run; everyone else chose to take flights out of Loredo. I don't mind the quiet, but I'll be happy to get to our destination.

On Thursday we were able to make up quite a bit of the time we'd lost getting "side-tracked", and arrived in New Orleans pretty much on time.


Going through a lower income neighborhood, I can't help but think that America's lower classes often have better housing than Mexicans of similar standing.

We crossed the Mississippi River via the Huey P. Long Bridge. Neat!

I was super excited to be anywhere except on the train :P I remember the area and immediately found Big Lots, then Guitar Center for some Slide-o-Mix, then Walmart for everything I could carry (and that turned out to be too much). LJ and some other circus folks were there too, so we snagged a cab back to the train. I was happy to see my fridge full again! The water was hooked up, so I started some laundry and packed for my mini-vacation :)

vacay )
taz_39: (woody2)

The train stayed put this week...great for me, as I neither have to drive for hours or spend money on a hotel :)
Having my car with me has been wonderful, don't get me wrong. Driving is one of my favorite things to do, and hotels are a special treat. But a break from traveling is very nice too!

On Monday we learned that another winter storm would be hitting Atlanta. By late afternoon schools in the area had already been cancelled. The circus rumors were flying...would we have shows on Wednesday??

I spent the day doing domestic boring stuff like laundry, replacing my air filter, paying bills, etc.
Around dinner time Jameson, Tom and I went to see the Lego movie. It. Was. AWESOME. Go see it!!!
Afterward Tom and I went to Whole Foods, just for kicks. I had already stocked up on groceries, but picked up some extras like dried mango slices and a loaf of preservative-free wheat bread. It's the little things.

On Tuesday it was rainy but not too cold. I walked the 2 miles to Kroger, just because I wanted to and because if the weather got crummy later I wouldn't be able to get out much. Of course the grocery was a madhouse. It always boggles me that people stock up on refrigerated items, like milk and eggs. Logically, wouldn't it be best to grab the canned goods and granola bars in case of a power outage?

Speaking of logic, when I finally got back to the train I discovered that my room was locked. Train crew had done a safety inspection while I was gone and had politely locked the door behind them...and I hadn't brought my key. This is why you ALWAYS take your keys with you!!! Luckily Erik (head porter) was around and able to unlock it for me. Thanks Erik :)

Right inside the door was a new bungee cord to add to my collection. Really guys, I have so many, I don't need any more.........

That evening around midnight, you could hear the freezing rain begin to pelt the train. The next morning around 8am, an announcement was made over the PA system: our show was cancelled due to weather.
This is the first time since I've been here, and according to my boss the first time in twenty years that this has happened.

I thought I'd start the day off by clearing some of the ice from my car while it was still fairly slushy.
About five minutes in, my ice scraper broke. *sigh*
Ice is not nearly as much fun as snow!!

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taz_39: (woody2)

On Super Bowl Sunday, I drove up to Winston-Salem to visit my friends Jeremy and Charlie!
We went to a neighbor's Super Bowl party. By the time I got there, it was the 2nd quarter and, well....we only stayed for a half hour.

I spent a night with them and we shared a meal in the morning, then trucked over to Raleigh to visit my Aunt Chris. She took me to Daniel's, a very nice Italian restaurant. I had chicken piccata (a non-breaded version) with capers over pasta. Very good!

For dessert, my aunt and uncle got me a white chocolate raspberry cake! I felt very loved <3

Oh yeah, Tuesday was my birthday! I'm 30. Do I feel any older, not really!
Because my birthday was during load in and I wasn't at the train, I once again didn't get pied by the clowns. MUAHAHAHA.

On Tuesday night I drove to Atlanta for dinner at Jameson's brother's restaurant, TPS Pizza.
The drive down was less than awesome. It took an extra two hours because I went the wrong way at one point(!)...this must be what happens when you get old...so I wasn't in the best of moods when I finally made it at 7pm. But Jameson came bouncing over and gave me a big hug and a smile, and there went my troubles :D
We went inside to find that Kyle (Jameson's brother and the owner) had decorated a table for us!

There were markers at each table.
The writing on the walls and tables is from various people who have eaten there.

We shared a delicious handmade "Sloppy Southern" chicken pizza: BBQ chicken with pineapple and onions. The crust and sauce are homemade, the pineapple is fresh, nothing is prepackaged, and Kyle has a hand in making every single pizza.
TPS Pizza. If you're ever near Atlanta, give it a go :)
(EDIT: Closed as of 7/30/15, sorry :/)

My present from Jameson was the BBC's "Blue Planet" 5 disc set!!
Can't wait to watch it!! I love nature documentaries!!

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March 2017



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