taz_39: (footprint)

First thing on Monday morning, Jameson had a follow-up interview with a company looking to hire music teachers. It was a Skype interview taking place in our hotel room, so I got to be there and listen to almost the whole thing. It went really well. I think he will soon have a job for after the circus.

To celebrate, we went to Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Greenville (Jameson said it was still to celebrate my birthday, but I think otherwise!). I had this really awesome sweet potato pancake with a piece of fried chicken and pecans. Yum! Jameson had the fried chicken alone with creamy gravy, and a side of roasted brussels sprouts that were REALLY good! I didn't take pictures...was not in the mood.

While I am genuinely happy and excited for Jameson, I am also reminded that I still do not have anything lined up. It's not for lack of trying, but that doesn't keep me from feeling a desperate sort of urgency on a daily basis. What can I do today? Where should I apply today? What haven't I done, that I should be doing? Many people here are asking these questions and feeling this sort of pressure. The one thing that I really need to figure out is where I can start practicing my large bore trombone while on tour. Arenas provide a great deal of space, but not a great deal of privacy or soundproofing.

While all of these thoughts were bouncing around in my head, I got to see Jameson finally RELAX a little bit! He's been so tense and worried, just like me. But he is a good person, a hard worker, and a very determined and positive person. Things will work out all right, and I think his hard work is paying off, and he's finally getting closer to some job/life security, just a month after we all got canned. It's a wonderful thing.

We visited a 2nd & Charles just for fun. I found the next installment of the Saga series and bought it, excited to read it. We then drove to Greensboro to meet the train. It was a little late, so we killed time with dinner and a trip to the grocery store. We found out that on this particular trip, the Blue and Red trains had passed each other! Many people took videos and photos of this event, which was rare to begin with and now will never happen again.

I heard that some people in their excitement tried to high five each other as the trains passed. "It hurt but it was worth it," haha. Every vestibule was full of people trying to capture the moment. These photos were taken by Richard Stringer (very impressive as the Blue train was moving at high speed!) Looks like a cool moment :)

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Before heading out to Raleigh we stopped at another 2nd and Charles in Charlotte. I found an original GameBoy!!! You can buy these on Ebay for fairly cheap, or of course you could use emulators instead. But...the nostalgia got me. I bought it and ordered some games for it. They should be here in a week or two. In the meantime I had to make sure it worked.


When we got to Raleigh the train was close but not in the yard. We decided to get dinner at a place Jameson found, called The Cowfish. It seemed like a really weird concept. Sushi and burgers?? But we were surprised...it was FANTASTIC food! We both ordered the "burgushi". From The Cowfish website: "Burgushi items include sushi rolls created using burger components, and pick-up style sandwiches created using sushi components." The buns were probably the most amazing part, they were basically rice paper burritos filled with white rice and imitation crab, then smashed flat to resemble flatbread.

Here's my sandwich, the 4-S: Koji-marinated yellowtail, cucumbers, red peppers, sprouts and slaw, sandwiched between rice paper "buns" filled with rice and kani, and a side of sweet potato fries. It was incredibly good.

I have to mention that before getting our entrees, we lucked into a free appetizer! Someone made an extra blackened tuna nachos, and a server seeing our table empty decided to gift it to us! Wonton chips with crab rangoon dip, seared tuna, guac and sprouts...I definitely could have eaten these as an entree!

On top of everything, the service was amazing. The place was packed and there were birthdays being celebrated all around us, but somehow the staff managed to make us feel like we were the only people in the place. We're actually planning to go back on Monday. The Cowfish currently only has restaurants in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Orlando. If you are ever in these cities, I really can't recommend this place enough. Delicious food, great service, and a really cool vibe. GO there!

(photo courtesy nctriangledining.com)

After that we got groceries and went to the train "yard" (it's really just a very muddy strip next to the main road) where we saw the coaches pulling in. We felt optimistic at first, but then remembered Rule No.3 when overlanding: just because you can see the train, doesn't mean you're home :P We got a hotel and it was the right choice, because several hours later the train was still not spotted. We're learning :)

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Jameson and I stayed in Columbia overnight. The next morning we went to Mr. Friendly's New Southern Cafe for shrimp & grits! Or rather, he got salmon croquettes with his grits, and I got the traditional shrimp :)

It was delicious and creamy and savory. I'm jealous of people who can cook grits like this! The red stuff in the middle is a sort of salsa with sausage in it, it was really good. There were lots of other awesome things on the menu that looked equally delicious. If you're ever in Columbia stop in here!

After our meal we went to 2nd and Charles. If you are into thrift stores, pawn shops, used electronics stores, or used book and gaming stores, this is a great place for you! I could have spent hours digging through all the piles of lightly used books and games. There was even a section full of 70s-80s toys! The nostalgia!

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Woke up to a dreary Monday in Jacksonville, FL.
The view was still pretty good despite the rain :)


I was nervous about the audition, and wanted a little extra time to myself. And felt like a little pampering. So for only the second time in my life, I got room service. Smoked salmon and capers on a bagel and a "side" of fresh fruit (that huge thing is a side??).

Luckily I had a clean tupperware in my bag, so managed to save half the fruit for later.
After that lovely meal, I decided to walk to the performance hall as it was only 1/2 mile away. It was raining but I didn't care. Audition personnel were waiting to sign me in.

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taz_39: (woody2)

After the 9-pack in Atlanta, Jameson and I drove to a hotel in Gaffney, SC. It was right next to this water tower, which I'm sure many of you have seen from the highway:

After a much-needed rest, we continued to my Aunt's house in Cary, NC. Her adorable terrier Fred was there to greet us/beg for attention and treats.

I was thrilled to introduce Jameson to my Aunt Chris and Uncle Andy. They're generous, down-to-earth and often hilarious people! Throughout my life they have been like a second set of parents to me, opening their home to me when times got tough and supporting me despite the questionable nature of my career goal :) My Aunt is especially dear to me, because she reminds me so much of my mom.

She prepared stuffed shells, meatballs and shrimp pasta salad for dinner, and it was delicious! After some apple pie and cookies for dessert, we all relaxed in front of the TV. My aunt and uncle left for work early the next morning, but Jameson and I were able to sleep late; a blessing, as we have early shows every day this week.

We hit Target for some groceries, and I picked up some meds for my biannual sinus infection, then we found the train. On the plus side it's very close to the arena and NC State, and accessible from the road. On the down side, the yard is extremely muddy and difficult to navigate on foot, especially right next to the train. The slippery grass hides deep holes and sharp objects.

Eric, demonstrates the muddiness level of the rest of the yard.

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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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taz_39: (woody2)

Jameson and I drove past Knoxville and stopped at a hotel for the night, then went our separate ways...he went to Virginia to visit family, and I went to Charlotte.

The first thing I did was to scope out the arena, especially the parking situation (learned my lesson in Nashville). After that I was a bit tired so decided to book a hotel in Huntersville, a suburb of Charlotte where I used to commute for temp music retail work. Treated myself to a Trader Joe's salad and sparkling sake for dinner. A nice relaxing night :)

The next day I took my car for an oil change and since the train wasn't in yet, did a little thrifting and had a nice convo with my aunt over the phone. Around 3pm the train still wasn't in, so I did my grocery shopping and ate lunch. By 5pm I was getting restless, so went to the train yard to wait. The animal cars had recently been detached and were unloaded within an hour or so. After that I expected/hoped that the passenger cars would be spotted.
(note: "spotted" refers to parking the train in its final location in the yard. When a train is "spotted" it means that the passengers may disembark.)

No such luck. Along with several other overland travelers, I waited in my car for another two hours, playing The Room and listening to the radio, at one point going to a nearby gas station for dinner (it was snowing so most restaurants were closed. #thesouth). Finally the passenger cars came to a stop in front of us, and we were able to go home.

Because of the light snow--literally less than an inch--the tow trucks wouldn't come unload the flats. So load in had to be postponed to 6am the following morning. This is what's called a "load 'n go": unloading the flats and setting up everything at the arena with minutes to spare before showtime.

(photo courtesy 'Applesauce')

Our crew is pretty freakin' awesome, so they were finished several hours before showtime.
Since I was not involved in load in, I decided to install some Allure vinyl "wood" flooring that I'd purchased several weeks ago. It cost $40 for a box, and took me about 4 hours to install (due to incompetency). Although it didn't turn out quite as well as I'd hoped, it's pretty good-looking compared to my gouged, warped and eternally dirty original flooring.



I made quite a few mistakes, but most of them can be covered up. The biggest mistake was ending up just ONE board short...argh...SO FRUSTRATING. I used smaller pieces to fill that gap, but it doesn't look very good.
Also found out that my closet door is too low to open over this flooring. Sigh.

We only had single shows on Wednesday and Thursday. Both went well :)
The weather was much nicer on Thursday, but I ended up catching up on chores for most of the day...cooking, and applying some silicone caulk to my drippy sink pipes. There is no fire hydrant in this yard, meaning the washers will stay locked this week. I was super backed up on laundry, so spent some time at a nearby laundromat. Afterward I returned to the yard and got some pics of an intermodal crane sitting right outside my door. The tires are taller than me!

On Friday pretty much everyone on the train woke up at 6am to a cold room and the Beep---beep---beeping of the emergency power. We've recently swapped generator cars with the Blue Unit, and their generator is faulty. The joys of life on the rails! Train crew sure has their hands full this year!!!

Unfortunately, the rest of the week was pretty boring for me as far as circus goes. Sometimes that's how it is. Life is good :)

Next stop, Duluth, GA!!

Other stuff:

Congratulations to Mr. Feld, the "hardest working man in showbusiness", on his recent articles in Forbes and MSN Money (article txt is the same, click on either).

Some awesome new footage of the Marvel Live show in production.
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The run to Greensboro was short...it was scheduled to be 12 hours, and it ended up about 7!
I'm pretty sure that this is because Bubba, our new Trainmaster, is awesome.
Are we going to continue to be on time?? That would be fantastic!!

We also lucked out on the engineer this run. Short train runs are usually pretty jerky, because we pass through small towns or have to yield to other trains. But this guy, whoever he was, got off to such a smooth start that for the first time since joining the circus I didn't know what time we'd started moving. The rest of the run was equally smooth. Mystery Engineer, whoever you are, THANK YOU.

From 2008 to 2010, I attended graduate school at (U)NCSA in Winston-Salem, NC.
Greensboro is only about 1/2 hour from Winston-Salem. I used to sub in for the Greensboro Symphony, and had auditioned for UNCG as well. I spent a significant portion of my life here, and it was great to revisit a place that holds such fond memories.
I owe most of those good times to Jeremy and Charlie.

Jeremy and Charlie had a room for rent advertised on craigslist. I responded to the ad and Jeremy (or was it Charlie?) called me about five minutes later, thrilled to get a response from someone who seemed 'legit'. My aunt and I drove all the way down from New Jersey to check them out and see the room. I remember they were sitting on the curb waiting for us when we pulled up :) After meeting them and seeing the house, we drove off saying we had 'a few other places to consider'.
No we didn't.

Because of this chance encounter,
I made two of the dearest friends (and if I may say so, family) I will ever have.

These two have recently returned from a year in the UK, where they were attending school for landscape architecture.
On Tuesday we went to Stamey's BBQ for dinner, and then did some barhopping while catching up with each others' lives. They're working hard as usual. I can't wait to see where they end up in a year or two! These are two very talented guys. On Friday they came to see the train, then we spent the day driving around, eating, talking...just like old times.
It was great. It was definitely exactly what I needed...
a small break from the circus, with my two favorite people :)

I was so excited to have them on the train! I even shared my cake :D

Making faces over Americanos and cookies at Spring Garden Bakery :)

At this arena we had an Animal Open House, so I was able to bring Jeremy, Charlie and some of their friends to see the animals up close! They also came backstage to see some props, the dressing rooms, ferrets, a few costumes, the bandstand, etc.

Backstage is surprisingly boring...most of the excitement is in the show.
But I was proud to share my workplace with my friends :)

After the show we hung out just a bit more,
then I had to kick them out because Saturday was a three show day and I had a cold :/
Can't WAIT to see these two again!!!

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March 2017



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