Eats, LEGOs and Other Things

Thursday, just another day. After data entry and lunch I finally scrubbed the shower, my least favorite chore. Then memorized half of "Prince Ali."

Jameson expressed interest in shrimp po' boys, which I've made for us many times and am happy to make again, except it involves another 90-minute trip to Whole Paycheck for the best possible shrimp. Which I'm happy to do, just have to plan for it.

We had another lovely thunderstorm tonight. South Florida may be flooding currently, but Central Florida is not and we need the rain.

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Friday, no rain in the forecast for another week.

Data entry while Jameson was at the gym, then after lunch did my Whole Paycheck run. I try to make the most of these trips, so also bought their cornbread mix and puff pastry and a few other things for future dinners I've got pending in my brain.

Traffic was horrific, and for whatever reason Whole Paycheck didn't have hoagie rolls! I spent a stupid amount of time scouring the store, even the freezer section, for some. It took much longer to get home than expected, and then I had to put everything away and make the tartar sauce, then Jameson wanted to tell me about his work meeting...so by the time all of that was done it was nearly 4pm, and I did not get to practice trombone today.

It was one of those days where everything I did felt stymied. Inadequate. Not enough. All I can see is all the stuff I HAVEN'T done: the dead potted plants outside, the banana tree that needs to be trimmed, the overgrown palm out front, the fact that I haven't exercised yet this week, the dentist appointment that I need to reschedule, the bloodwork that I'm putting off again because needles scare me. The dust on the fan blades and light fixtures. Meanwhile I've caught up on the vacuuming, laundry, dusting, dishes, mopping, bathrooms, my own data entry work, and most Disney music. And I'm cooking dinner tonight. But it's not enough.

I don't know why these moods/mental states come on. Maybe it's my dad's ghost; my self, and the things I did, were never enough for him either.

Well. I made grilled shrimp po'boys, and these were local wild-harvested pink shrimp. I didn't think it would matter but was surprised that the flavor was very different than the farmed white shrimp I usually buy. These were sweeter, had kind of a more dense texture, and were more "fishy" in a good way. Glad Jameson suggested this for dinner.



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Saturday, up at 6am because I was still feeling inadequate. My work is not enough, I don't do enough, etc etc.

Did data entry and coffee until 7, then breakfast and cleanup, then more data entry.
Memorized all of "Prince Ali." Now the only one left is the Mary Poppins Medley, but we're getting a new Princess and the Frog piece that will probably come first.

For lunch, tomato and mayonnaise with everything bagel seasoning on rice cakes.
This is a nostalgia meal for me. My mom used to make us tomato mayonnaise sandwiches with similar seasoning every summer.



More data entry, then Jameson went to hang out with friends for dinner so I decided to get some of the yardwork out of my face. Trimmed up this annoying palm in the front yard.

Before and after!



Around back, finally threw out my finger lime which is 98% dead and has never once even flowered much less produced fruit. Probably going to chuck the meyer lemon and black sapote too, they have run their course and I've essentially killed them by being on tour all the time. To replace them I'd like a pineapple plant (will have to see if they can be grown in pots), definitely another meyer lemon...and maybe Jameson will have an opinion on what the third can be :)

As I was trimming the bananas I heard thunder in the distance. And as I was finishing up an errant bolt of lightning CRACKED across the sunny, clear sky! Scared the buhjeezus out of me! One of the hazards of living in a tropical environment: just because it's not raining where you are, doesn't mean you are safe.

I hustled inside and cleaned up, made a simple dinner, watched the storm.
You can watch, too (recommend with volume on!)



Once the storm was over and it was clear that it wouldn't be raining again tonight, I went for a neighborhood walk. The rain had made it intensely humid, but it was only 82°F which is the best I'm gonna get here in FL.

Soon Jameson was back with his pleasant buzz from drinking with friends, and we relaxed for the night.

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Sunday I didn't set an alarm but was still up at 8am. Guess my days of sleeping in until 10 are behind me.

After Jameson got up I put in a little data entry time (because I don't deserve a day off or a weekend!) and then he wanted to go for a walk so I went along too. It was a shockingly eventful walk because the following happened:

- We saw a little girl in a princess dress skip out the front door of a house and immediately hock a loogie onto the sidewalk like a 40-year-old-man,

- A guy in a yellow sports car backing out of his driveway directly in front of us, and hit the gas so hard that he went flying into a bush, narrowly missed a mailbox, and landed in his neighbor's yard (We waited to see if he was ok...he was, so he was probably a moron trying to film a TikTok or something,)

- We were victims of a drive-by dad joke, from a guy with a white work van that said, "We fix what your husband broke" on the side. When he hit us with the punchline we both groaned and he cackled, I shouted, "HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!" as we crawled away in defeat :p

Eventful walk!

We got cleaned up and had lunch, then we both practiced. Jameson is working on stuff for an American Martians gig coming up, and I played through "Prince Ali" a few more times and started on the Mary Poppins Medley. Then we decided to start the LEGO sets that Jameson's friend got for us using her employee discount.



My set is the "Tiny Plants Collection." It's nine different tiny plants with three plants in each of the following categories: Arid Plants, Tropical Plants, and Carnivorous Plants.


Jameson worked on a Venom-Groot set. He is an experienced LEGO builder, and has even completed the massive 9,000-piece Colosseum set!
I decided to start with the pincushion cactus (the carnivorous are my favorites so I am saving them for last.)

Here's the almost-completed pot. There was a small piece missing from the pot rim, we couldn't find it anywhere so Jameson dug through his box-o-extra-bricks and found me an excellent replacement! Or rather, a "customization." I think it makes my first LEGO set even more special :)



The cactus was a tiny little guy and didn't take long to make, but I stopped to do laundry and document my progress several times.
The finished cactus. How cute!



When all nine are done I'm gonna hide them all around the house. Muahahahaaaa.

For dinner Jameson wanted a juicy burger so we went to Adler's. It is locally owned and by far THE best burger place in our area, but we don't go often because we both try to eat healthy. Jameson got their specialty burger which was a monstrosity topped with jalapenos, peanut butter, and bleu cheese (sounds very odd but he said it was delicious!) I had a classic burger, which I love because it's just a damn good quality smashburger with a lot of crunchy fresh veggies on top. It really hit the spot.



Back home we relaxed for a while, then Jameson went out with his friend Lea who recently got back from China. I had a quiet night of watching anime and researching new plants for the pool patio.

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Next week is a little more active. I have to make caramels for the band, and there's a dentist appointment, and at the end of the week I'm scheduled for two back-to-back days at the Magic Kingdom.


Finally It Rained

Monday was a surprise additional day of work at Disney (Keith forgot he'd scheduled an appointment and asked me to cover.)

There was also a sub on bass trombone, and it was an emergency sub so he did NOT actually know the bass trombone part and had to use a flip book. I felt so bad for him, flip books suck. This meant we had to keep it simple all day and do only basic sets with limited choreography. Because it's one thing to make someone read a part they're unfamiliar with, and another thing to ask them to do that while also doing choreography they've never done.

This allowed me a chance to finally relax and get comfortable performing the basic castle set. Ever since I've started with Disney it's been GO GO GO, new music today, new choreography the next day, more new music, now do this new thing, ok now it's your first day so don't f*ck up...it's been so much cramming that I haven't felt able to, like, settle in. Today I was able to get out of my head and just, be there in the moment. Look around at the guests. Interact more. Match how my peers were playing. And most importantly, CALM TF DOWN. I don't want to be having more panic attacks here.

The day went well though it was very, very hot. It got up to 108°F (42.2°C) heat index, and was humid and stifling. I hydrated and had brought extra snacks, so I felt fine albeit uncomfortable. No one gave me any notes/corrections so hopefully I did a good job.

Also, I was curious to know how much walking/marching the band does in a typical day and asked Keith about it:



Explains why I felt so knackered on Saturday. (yes I know that eight miles is not that much but have you tried it in 108-degrees, full sun and 100% humidity, for an entire day, while wearing a marching uniform and dancing around to entertain people? yeah didn't think so.)

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Tuesday I woke disappointed that it wasn't raining, but glad to see rain in the forecast. We need it badly.

Case in point, my vanilla beans:



Yeah, they're not gonna make it :( I did water them, but it has been SEARING hot and dry here, even with the humidity it probably hasn't been enough. Also, some random man generously took time to mansplain me in a gardening group on facebook that this "had nothing at all to do with the weather," but was rather the result of improper pollination. Boy, am I glad there's always someone in the universe to put me in my place!

TL;DR two beans have failed and the third is still hanging on and we will see if it makes it. Regardless, it was amazing to get this far with the blooms and pollination!

Also, my largest banana is trying to make a bloom, so that's exciting. Doubt I can get bananas the way this summer is going but we will see. A chance is better than no chance (at least to me.)



Was able to access my data entry work so did that pretty much all morning.
After lunch it DID rain on and off for several hours, and it was glorious. I think it's supposed to rain tomorrow too and I'm so glad!

In the evening my work site crashed AGAIN, but at least I got three hours in before it happened. So I cleaned our bathrooms and washed our bedsheets, and did a Target run with Jameson.

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Wednesday, up at 6am to see if there was work. There was, but there were still crashes happening so I only got about 1.5 hours in before it was time to eat breakfast and get groceries for dinner tonight.

By the time I got back Jameson was at the gym. I was able to do more work albeit with outages. After lunch more of the same + tromboning, then my employer's development team kicked us all out of the site so they could put up some defenses (turns out we've been under a ddos attack.)
So I dusted and then got to relax for an hour in the middle of the day, which felt weird.

For dinner I made Dude Diet cheesesteaks, which are slightly better than typical cheesesteaks because A) leaner cut of beef, B) replacing some of the beef with portabellos, C) only provalone cheese, no "cheese product" sauce, and D) you're supposed to use a whole grain roll that's smaller than a hoagie roll but I couldn't find any. They turned out great, really good flavor and texture, but I do wish they'd been more cheesy. Next time I may try adding a vegan cheese to give it that creaminess that was missing.

It didn't rain again, sadly. Maybe another day.

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The weekend looks quiet and I'm grateful for it.
I'll do more house chores and cook some more dinners (might even take some pictures...I haven't really been in the mood to photograph my own cooking lately.)

In closing, Random Stuff:

I've been trying to start two new shows this week on the recommendations of LJ friends. The first one is My Happy Marriage. I don't usually do romance so went into this with the same mindset as one cringing themselves into a cold pool: "I already don't like this but maybe it'll feel good once I get in."


(stock image)

IMO Pros:
The animation is very high quality, and the story seems to progress pretty quickly (I see that there are only 12 episodes.) It's also soothing/comforting to see two characters getting to know each other, building feelings for each other (character development,) and having any number of small pleasant interactions and adorable acts of thoughtfulness toward each other. There are many things to like here.

IMO Cons: I just started episode four and the hot male protagonist's hot brother just showed up, so I'm worried that this will now become a reverse harem anime. It was bordering on that already because of another male side character, who is currently being set up for a future "Boy Rescues His Childhood Crush And Professes His Love To Her" situation. But two love interests ain't a harem...and now we have a possible third in Hot Male Protagonist's Hot Brother. Coupled with the female protagonist's Cinderella-esque background of abuse and subsequent outrageously submissive/demure behavior, the show is reminding me strongly of Fruits Basket. Another show that I never finished because a) I found the servile, timid behavior of the female protagonist to be unbearably cringey, and b) I don't care for romance at a basic level, never mind escalating that to a mob of men competing over a single woman. I'll watch episode 4 to confirm where this is going because a lot of people are saying it's a great anime, the art is quite beautiful, and I would love to be wrong about where the show is headed.

The other show is Hazbin Hotel. I've tried to get into this series before after being impressed with music seen/heard via TikTok. But the first episode was so offputting that I kneejerk-rejected it. After reading a post by an LJ friend I've decided to give it another try, and have made it to episode four so far.


(stock image)

IMO Pros:
Initially I gave up on this show after one episode, but at the end of Episode 4 I did feel curious to know what happens next. It's not a cookie-cutter plot and I do like that; one of things that made Game of Thrones so appealing was that any character could die at any time, no protagonist was safe. I get a similar sort of unpredictability here, but having more to do with character development. There are characters who are being presented as "villains" of sorts, who have the potential to reveal that they're not what they seem later on. That's intriguing and makes me want to watch more.

IMO Cons: Right now I HATE the main character, Charlie. Her Pollyanna-ish optimism and blind trust have my eyes rolled BACK lol. I also don't like a lot of the "filler" musical numbers; every goddamned villain and side character does not need a vocal diatribe about their plight ffs. The song about Sir Pentius learning how to apologize...it was actually a touching and emotionally intense scene, and I felt that turning it into a song-and-dance watered it down very disappointingly. It could have been a powerful moment; someone who has never seen any reason to be apologetic, feeling sincerely sorry for the first time! But no, let's cover that up with a shallow little ditty and romp around the room. Eh...it's just my opinion that if a moment is strong enough to stand on it's own, it doesn't need a song to explain itself. Now that I've said that, gotta admit that I really liked Angel Dust's song, it was awesome. I know this is supposed to be a musical animation but the shorter interludes just seem WEAK to me.
And all of THAT said, definitely engaged enough now to continue watching.

"At Least It's Not Hot Out"

Thursday, a final Disney rehearsal before a full day in the park on Saturday.

I did three castle sets and the flag retreat. Was excused from the parade again, but rather than feeling grateful I felt embarrassed when everyone else came back to the dressing room hot and panting, having worked hard while I did nothing. But then, that's what Keith's whole day is like whenever I'm there shadowing, so I need to remember that too.

I think I'm getting the hang of things now. Still not perfect but the more I get to play-and-move the better it gets. On Saturday I'll get to play the Encanto medley in the park for the first time, and maybe the Classics Medley too weather permitting.

"Weather permitting" because it is HOT. Today was a high of 98°F / 36.6°C with a heat index of 112°F / 44.44°C. I don't know how people can spend the whole day outdoors at Disney in those conditions. Yes there are gift shops and restaurants to duck into but there's also an awful lot of unshaded ground to cover.

Anyway I felt that the day went well. The guys gave me notes here and there, some regarding small movements (i.e. when to have both hands on my trombone for Star Spangled Banner instead of one,) and others were for small musical things (i.e. holding notes a little too long or cutting them off a little too short.) These are very minor things that will naturally get corrected with repetition/familiarity, but I was glad for the feedback because I don't want to learn things wrong or get into bad habits. Really appreciated that they were watching me for mistakes! No one seemed worried that I wouldn't be ready, or concerned that I wasn't going to meet the band's standards, and that's what really mattered.

Back home I unpacked, had dinner, and collapsed with a big water bottle.

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Friday, up at 6am for data entry.

After lunch I decided not to practice the trombone for once (if I haven't learned what I need to get through Saturday by now, it's not going to happen in one practice session) and instead embarked on the long trek to Whole Paycheck. Kind of a treat to myself, and to get those items that are difficult to find elsewhere. Some of the treats that I indulged in:

- Salmon candy:
salmon that's been marinated in sweet-and-salty stuff then dried/cooked/smoked until it has a jerky-like texture. I've always wanted to try it and today they had a very small $4 container of it! It's good but very oily, and the skin is chewy and stretchy making it kinda hard to eat. You can FEEL the Omega-3s in it haha.
- Koia in exclusive flavors. My faves are Banana Creme and Fruity Cereal.
- Mezcla bars. They're a protein bar that is low fat and calorie so I like to have some on hand for travel (or in this case for my Disney days.)
- NuGo bars in exclusive flavors. Similarly to Mezclas, they're vegan protein bars. Most gas stations have them but Whole Paycheck has exclusive flavors like Almond and Coconut.
- Ingredients to make us a summer BBQ dinner
- Australian licorice
- A few bulk cookies
, today's selections were a pineapple cake cookie for Jameson and a guava sandwich cookie for meeeee
- Frozen sockeye salmon filets so I can make us sous vide salmon next week
- Grocery store sushi, we are posh like that.

It's almost an hour and a half round-trip for only a 15-mile drive, not counting the shopping, so by the time I got home I was very tired but had to put in at least another two hours of data entry. After that we had Whole Paycheck sushi for dinner, I vacuumed and packed a lunch for work tomorrow...and that was pretty much it. I'm nervous but what else is new.

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Saturday I was up early. First full day as a sub at Disney. No one there to step in if I collapse from heat exhaustion; no safety net if I forget my music or mess up the choreography. Here we go!

I got there way too early but used the time to do a run-through, warm up, and get partially dressed (it's easier to have my pants and undershirt on before the menfolk arrive.) My friend Will was on tuba and Sara on trumpet, but most of the other musicians were new to me. The Main Street Phil has 24 substitutes plus at least 12 full time members, maybe more. It is hard to keep track of everyone but nevertheless I shook hands and tried very hard to make names stick in my brain.

Jameson, bless his supportive and loving heart, spent the whole day in the Magic Kingdom to record the band.
I can't tell you how much it meant to look out into the crowd and see his face :)
My family (such as it is) is all hundreds of miles away, and my parents are dead. It means a lot to have someone in this world who would care so much about what I do, that they'd spend a whole day in 106°F (41.1°C) heat to watch me and record footage for me. It's hard to express how monumental that is.

I did all three castle sets, the parade, and the flag retreat.
Some screenshots, courtesy Jameson:





This was such a good picture but for some reason my phone seems to darken screenshots.


Hot Doggin' (free dance during Hot Dog Dance song.) I love any chance to goof off!


Critique:
The first and second sets were good, but I messed up the choreography for Encanto in a way that impacted where others could move around me. Everyone reassured me that it was not a big deal (and watching the video I agree, it is not noticeable to the audience whatsoever) but I certainly won't make that mistake again! My other biggish mistake was screwing up When You Wish during the parade, AGAIN, ugh I am tired of messing that piece up!! Something about it is slippery to my brain. The good news is that I will always drop out/stop playing when I'm crashing and burning, which means it's not usually noticeable to the audience. The bad news is that means a part is missing :/

Still, none of the mistakes that I made today were catastrophic. I received small notes from my peers, and got a second chance at Encanto for the third set and nailed it. I'd say it was a successful day!

Oh, I also had a pretty intense panic attack just before the flag retreat. I don't know what triggered it but can guess: maybe being in a high state of tension all day; the intense heat; being more hungry than I should have let myself get; and psyching myself into a freakout because "this is the last thing of the day, don't screw up or pass out from heat!" Physically I felt totally fine but internally was fighting the horrible sensations of panic. I suffered with panic attacks in the circus as well and was fully expecting that they'd resurface here, but that doesn't make it fun to go through.

Anyway, back to the GOOD parts of the day.

Actually before we get into today, here's a video that I found taken on June 6th while three of the four female musicians were rehearsing in the park. This set has all three of us ladies performing, which is super rare and may not happen again! Timestamps are in the comments. In the last song, When We're Human, I have two small solos.



1st set of the day: Mickey's Fanfare, Be Our Guest, Under the Sea, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Hot Dog Dance, Wanna Be Like You.


2nd set: Mickey's Fanfare, Be Our Guest, Encanto Medley. This was my first time playing Encanto in the park.


It's my job to hand out maracas during audience interactions, and doing that for the first time today finalized that I CANNOT use the Williams trombone in the park any longer. I can't risk the slide getting damaged as kids crowd around, while handling the awkward maraca bag, directing guests here and there, etc. So today became my trombone's LAST day in the park lol.

Some clips from the parade!
Parade start in Frontierland, we're doing the end of Frozen/Let it Go and then Hot Dog Dance.



When You Wish in front of the castle. Jameson didn't know that the band stops here; he just happened to be in the right place at the right time!


It's a Small World After All:


Jameson didn't record the 3rd set since we were repeating songs, so here's the flag ceremony, in which I was having a panic attack but nobody knows that. It's just patriotic stuff (see description for timestamps) but it's also one of the oldest ongoing events at Disney (since 1955!) and it's a privilege to participate.


In closing, a close-up of one of the buttons on my costume.


I was utterly exhausted by the end of the day.
Five sets in intense heat and humidity.
Walking (or marching) approximately 7-10 miles over the course of the day.
Sweating buckets. Hydrating like crazy!
But it was fun, it was successful, and I've already been scheduled to do another one on Monday!

Jameson and I had to drive home separately. He got so burnt! I was so grateful that he endured the heat for me today. He went to see the Dapper Dans and other shows as well, but still. We spent the evening crashed in front of the couch, him working on LEGOs and me editing and uploading and social-posting all of his wonderful footage.

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Sunday I was exhausted on several levels, but didn't feel "bad" thankfully. Still panicky/anxious but there's nothing to do about that.

Instead of data entry I finished uploading Jameson's footage, then made pasta salad and got some chicken drumsticks marinating for dinner. I did data entry for about an hour but then the site crashed and didn't come back. To be honest....I needed the break today. My nerves are destroyed and while I'm not sore, I'm physically tired and Monday might be more of a struggle. How do people do this gig on consecutive days??

The company data entry website never came back online; my bosses were discussing it when I finally gave up checking the chat around 7pm. At least if my hours are short this week it's fully justified, that actually takes a lot of pressure off of me.

For dinner: air fryer BBQ drumsticks, homemade pasta salad, sweet corn, watermelon.
The chicken was amazing but next time I want to do half of them with a BBQ dry rub so they'll stay crispy.



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Tomorrow is now another full Disney day for me. It's supposed to be incredibly hot again BUT it's supposed to start raining around 3pm. God I hope it actually does, if only to make our sets slightly shorter or cool things off a bit.

After that, I am very much looking forward to a week of catching up on household chores and memorizing the last two pieces in my Disney repertoire.

Sorry My Dude

Monday I was up at 6am. I have two full Disney days this work week and a dentist appointment. Not sure how I will make my 30 hours for data entry but will do all that I can. Emailed my boss to let her know I may fall short, and the reasons.

Work, lunch, tromboning, work. I was surprised to find that by 3pm I'd logged 6 hours! I felt stiff and my eyes were watery from staring at a screen for the entire day, but this is the kind of week it's going to be.

Jameson was coughing a lot, and he had a long meeting that evening, AND he found out that the Potential Awesome Job he's been waiting to hear back about is most likely not going to happen (someone else hired someone else before his friend could recommend him for the job, if that makes any sense.) I am crushed for him. Every time he gets his hopes up things come crashing down. AND he's sick right now. My heart is breaking for him constantly lately :(

I got us pizza while he was in the meeting.

After dinner while we were trying to relax I had a text exchange with the person who'd intended to hire me as a digital reporter after My Fair Lady came to an end. He texted to ask whether I was still training for reporting. Nope, sorry my dude. We had agreed on a start date, then two weeks before that start date you told me I needed a two-month certification program. It was nice of him to offer to cover the cost of certification, but that still meant I was out of work until it was completed AND I had stopped applying for work because I'd thought I'd lined up a job AND I'd already bought all of the equipment needed to begin said job. But I ain't mad. I ain't mad.

 


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Tuesday I was up at 7am, not early enough for data entry before Disney but I really wanted that hour for sleep.

This time rehearsal was blocking (physical movement.) Our Encanto medley has actual choreography, so we mostly worked on that and then added When We're Human at the end because that one has just light choreo. The guys were patient and accommodating, and I did well, but moving + playing the trombone is not my strong suit so I felt uncomfortable.

The result was when we went out to do our first set, I didn't play my best. Not terrible, but I was more hesitant and timid than usual. On the upside my choreography for Be Our Guest, Under the Sea, and Wanna Be Like You was improved over last time.

I was excused from the parade (they feel I've done it enough to be comfortable and also Keith was bored and wanted to do it) so I used the time to practice Encanto blocking. Then we did one more set (musically much better, I was pleased) and then I FINALLY got to do the flag retreat for the first time. I was nervous but it went just fine.

As we were packing up my boss said if I could come to rehearsal on Thursday we could run Encanto again, then on my first day on my own (Saturday) we could perform it in the park. Of course I couldn't say no! But this would mean truly no time for data entry, so on the way home I canceled my dentist appointment to try and gain some time back.

No photos/videos this time because I didn't have anyone in the park to record today.

Jameson said his head was splitting all day, and along with the coughing I think he's got one of the covid variants. My poor cookie.

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Wednesday, 6am, data entry and breakfast, more data entry.

After lunch, buying new sunglasses because I dropped mine yesterday from waist height and they absolutely shattered. Cheap crap. If this next pair breaks I'll invest in, like, brand name ones.

Practicing, more data entry, packing a lunch and things for tomorrow's rehearsal.
It feels weird to have more than one Disney rehearsal in a week, but I sure am grateful for the money (one 8-hour day at Disney = 20 hours at my data entry job.)

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Tomorrow Disney rehearsal,
Friday data entry,
Saturday my first full day as a substitute musician at the Magic Kingdom.

Jameson had planned to come watch my first day, but if he's still sick of course he won't.
I was gonna make caramels for the guys in the band too, but because of the extra rehearsal I don't really have time and will push it off until my next full day, the 21st.



Someone/The Universe Hears My Silent Cries

Woke up still bummed on Thursday.
I am trying to forget that I spent all that time working on and submitting and stressing over that audition.

La la laaaaaaaaaaaaaa



The usual routine, and a trip to the grocery for dinner ingredients.
Jameson has submitted his graduate project for review, and actually got some feedback for once (many times his professors remain infuriatingly silent) so he was cheery about that. Which he should be! Very soon he'll have his master's degree!

I was surprised to receive a gig offer in the evening, a referral from the music coordinator who hired me for Tootsie and My Fair Lady. Somehow I didn't think she could? would? refer musicians to gigs outside of her employer/the touring company. But maybe she's an independent contractor and can do what she wants, idk. Anyway I replied to say that I "could" do the gig, but had to then inform them of conflicting Disney dates that would necessitate extra travel costs because the gig in is Massachusetts.

They ended up finding someone who was fully available, which is great. I would've liked the money and the feather in my cap, but it would've been a lot to be flying up and down the east coast and doing both the Disney performances and a full show simultaneously. Clearly this time it wasn't meant to be.

For dinner I made us a coconut curry with chicken meatballs and mango relish on brown rice, a recipe we've done many times before. Still good.

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Friday again with the boring day.

I've been putting insane amounts of pressure on myself to get this Disney music memorized by the 8th (my first full day as a sub in the park) and I think it's backfiring now. I've been overthinking and stressing on it so much that my brain is not retaining as much each session. Gotta relax and knock it off. No one has said I have to have EVERYTHING memorized by that date...in fact no date was given at all, just "work on it for June."

I've got 2.5 pieces left out of the TWENTY that I was originally given. That's pretty damn good, right?
Unless I'm the only person walking into the next rehearsal with 2.5 pieces still not memorized.
Dangit.

I hit my 30 hours of data entry for the week at least, so was looking forward to a nice day off there.

For no reason other than to get us out of the house, I offered to treat Jameson to dinner at Lazy Dog. We had a nice meal, they have some seasonal items that are pretty good. Partway through dinner I was surprised by a text from a trombonist with the Orlando Phil, who accidentally double-booked himself and needed a sub for a charity concert tomorrow. Could I step in?

This is the second random, out-of-the-blue gig I've been offered in as many days. It makes me think that something, somewhere in the universe, hears my internal heartaching about music stuff. My mom's soul, perhaps. Or an entity that loves me, for reasons unknown to me. It feels....strange....when this happens (it's happened MANY times and I've written about it here, but maybe I should list the incidents out in one post sometime)

Anyway, the money was good and I'm free, so I said yes. A day off would have been nice but money is money and helping out on local gigs is what it's all about. The one downside is that this is a VERY formal event and I am a VERY informal person; I don't even own dress shoes! Once we got home I was able to scrounge up an acceptable black dress and jacket, but will have to pop over to Rack Room or wherever for shoes tomorrow before the gig.

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Saturday, Jameson woke up not feeling well. Some kind of head cold.
I went out first thing after breakfast to get the dress shoes. Options were extremely limited so what I got didn't fit right and wasn't what I wanted, but what can ya do. From there some groceries and another batch of bagels from my newfound favorite bagel place. It was early enough that their "Hot n' Fresh" sign was on, and when I walked in the door the lovely smell of fresh bread was in the air. Mmmmm. I got Egg, veggie, rye, and blueberry.

Back at home I got ready for the gig, ate lunch, and was off.
It was a debutante ball at the Orlando Convention Center. Quite the to-do. Young men in tails and high white collars, young ladies in white fluffy princess gowns and tiaras. I was subbing with the Orlando Chamber Symphony (a.k.a. the Orlando Phil But Smaller), which itself was taking this gig last-minute, so we had a two hour rehearsal beforehand. Because you don't want to mess something up and make someone twist an ankle in the waltz, you know!

The decor was somewhat cheesy to me, but if it made the debutantes feel special that's all that matters.



Rehearsing the dances, entrances and exits, etc.


After rehearsal we had a good chunk of time. I went to the garage to validate my parking.
"The letter 'N' on our keyboard is broken," the attendant said with a big grin, "so today your name is MEGA!"
We cheered and high-fived about it lol. Cute :)



I'd packed a lunch to avoid having to pay hotel prices for hotel food, so sat in the sun and enjoyed my pouch tuna, half-bagel, nuts, and Mezcla bar.

A lot of the orchestra members came over to introduce themselves, which I found surprisingly welcoming and really nice! Several people wanted to know why the trombonist I was subbing for was out, so I had the distinct pleasure of proclaiming, "He double-booked himself!" which earned a lot of guffaws and cringes. It's one thing to call out because you're sick or your car broke down or whatever, but messing up your gig schedule will get you razzed. A lot of people expressed that they were glad I could cover for him and that was nice.

The highlight of my night was a French hornist who came over to introduce herself, and while we chatted she asked where I was from originally.

"Pennsylvania."

"Oh," she said, "then are you here for school?"

I then got to enjoy telling her that I'm forty years old and very flattered that she'd take me for a student!

Finally around 6:30 it was time to hit the stage.
This was orchestra stuff, a few marches but mostly waltzes, peppered with speeches from the guest speaker (this guy). For those who don't know, the trombone doesn't play a whole heck of a lot in an orchestral setting, so to quote my circus boss, "The dollar to note ratio is skyrocketing!" Half the numbers were tacet, and the other half we played little accents and not much else. One of the easiest moneys I've made this year tbh.

In addition to the debutantes, there were some hired professional dance performances.
One was this duo, they've won something like six championships for their dancing. Very cool to see!



Before I knew it we were done and packing up. I made sure to thank the personnel manager and conductor and my buddy Will on bass trombone/tuba, and the two trumpet guys who were welcoming and awesome to perform with. Who knows if I'll ever get called again but it was a good experience and really a wonderful surprise. Not only the gig itself, but that an Orlando Phil trombonist remembered me at a time of need. That makes me feel good :)

And now I've played with every ensemble that I interacted with during Disney's Candlelight! The Florida Orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonic, and the Main Street Philharmonic. How wild is that!

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Sunday I was up at 8, though I wanted to be up earlier I was tired.

Breakfast and data entry. To the grocery for ingredients. Trombone practice. I didn't try to memorize anything new, just hammered home what I've got, and that went well. After lunch I did a little more data entry but stopped early because I needed to just be still.
Lying down with my eyes closed, listening to Jameson playing Fallout. Watching as my siblings texted each other about this and that.

I made Dude Diet "Reuben" turkey patty melts for dinner. Jameson has Meniere's, so he can't have Reubens because the salt content makes him dizzy and nauseous. And I haven't found any way to make corned beef without copious amounts of salt. This recipe has you make sausages with ground turkey and dill and other seasonings, to taste similar to corned meat. And you make your own thousand island dressing, subbing half the mayo out for Greek yogurt to make it healthier. Then sauerkraut and Swiss cheese and rye, smashed flat on the skillet. I don't make it often, but maybe I should as it's very good and we always enjoy it.

As the evening came on Jameson's cold got worse. I am not feeling great myself but am not sneezing or anything yet, so hoping against hope not to get sick. The last thing I need is to have a head cold on my first full day in the park a week from now. PLEASE NO!

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Next week's adventures:

- Tuesday all-day rehearsal at Disney
- Wednesday dentist appointment
- If Jameson's cold gets worse I'll make us some nice homemade chicken soup and crusty bread (chicken soup is another thing he can't have unless it's homemade, due to salt content.)


May Purgatory

Monday was I guess a holiday.

Neither of us are very patriotic, so we did absolutely nothing special.
In fact we both tried to work. Jameson got some grading done before his boss emailed to say "STOP IT," and since I work low-pay data entry that doesn't have holiday pay I could do as much or as little as I wanted, which turned out to be about four hours' worth.

And Disney memorization, and when the temp got up to 96°F (35.5°C) with a 100°F heat index, I declined to go for a walk and instead took a dip in the pool.



I did do laps in there; it's a short little pool but exercise is exercise. Swam constantly for about 30 minutes anyway, and it felt nice. Dinner was just Panda Express, watching Jameson play Botany Manor video/puzzle game until I got motion sick, and watching some anime.

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Tuesday was super-boring. I had a regular checkup in the morning, and after that did all my usual things (data entry, memorization, lunch, data entry.)

In the evening Jameson had a short rehearsal to help a friend, and I needed something other than staring at a screen, so went for an evening walk. It was hot, I didn't see any animals. Just walked and contemplated life.

We got our own dinners but Jameson was home early enough that we could have our usual evening chill time together.

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Wednesday wash rinse repeat.

When the days get repetitive like this I get twitchy. Feels like I should be "doing something," taking action in some way to keep from getting stagnant, to help myself get a better job or the next gig. But also, sometimes the best thing you can do is be still and keep your head down.

Feeling a bit dejected about the audition...I haven't heard anything and they have not viewed my videos since I fixed access to them. As part of sulking about it I gave myself a "treat" by ordering the Vedshakti toothpaste that I'd loved so much while on tour. Nothing else has made my mouth feel so clean for so long after brushing.

Jameson, also, nothing from his friend on the Potentially Very Exciting Job that he'd hoped for. This has happened to him so. many. times. We are both tired of it. At least in my case I generally hear back from people regarding gigs (at some point Hadestown will probably at least send a rejection.) But when it comes to non-music jobs, I get ghosted or screwed over just as often as Jameson does.

I guess we are fools to believe that when someone offers you a job, they're actually offering a job. Or for believing that when someone says they'll get back to you, they actually will. Because we both keep falling for it.

Anyway, I'm just griping over small stuff. We are both relatively healthy and both have work, and our complaints have more to do with feeling fulfilled in our professional lives, which truly in this day and age is a first world problem to have. Jameson had a dentist appointment in the morning. I did data entry from 8am-noon. We had lunch, I memorized Disney music and did more data entry and planned for what to make for dinner this week.

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And that's the week, folks. You must be relieved that for once I've posted something less than a mile long.

On Hope, Shadows, Birds, Bagels, and Potatoes

On Thursday I recorded my audition.

If you're Friends Only you know the deets already...so as not to bore people in this public post I'll just say that this was an audition for the non-equity tour of Hadestown. If you've never seen the show or heard the soundtrack (neither had I until this audition), the band is on stage with the actors and consists of violin, cello, guitar, trombone, bass, drums, and piano. The band is part of the show, wears costumes, interacts, etc. It's a VERY involved trombone part.

It took about two hours to record, and I did the best I could in the moment and in a style of music that I'm deeply uncomfortable with. Now to await crushing disappointment. I'm grateful to have been given the chance to audition...this is an epic trombone part, and I've never worked with this production company before, so to be allowed to audition is a privilege. But having never won an audition before (unless you count Candlelight this past Christmas) the odds are I won't win this one either.

The problem is, because I tried, there's now HOPE.
As a pessimist, I shake my figurative fist at it. Blast you, hope! I was perfectly miserable enough until you came along!

Other than the audition it was a normal day. I did data entry, and when it was dinnertime I made us air fryer chicken tenders. They were good but nothing special.

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Friday more of the same. I woke up relieved not to have the audition looming over me any more, but anxious about how behind I might be on Disney memorization. And I also REALLY need to practice the movements. I feel a little overwhelmed, but it's all pressure I'm putting on myself; I'm not going to lose the gig if I don't quite memorize everything by the deadline (so I've been reassured.) The pressure is coming from a social/professional perspective: I don't want to be the weak link who couldn't hack it. That's all.

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Saturday, wouldn't it have been nice to sleep in, but no. I'm behind on work because of the audition. My boss did know about it and gave her blessing, but I have guilt.

So, up at 7 on a Saturday to get in 3 hours of data entry, then lunch and cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping the floors, and driving to a great bagel place I've recently found because I'm still in my Bagel Era and damn do they make good bagels. When I got back Jameson was back from the gym, and was slightly put out that I hadn't brought HIM bagels, but he's been doing a lower-carb-thing and I'd thought he wouldn't want them. I'll get him some cream cheese tomorrow and a bagel and that should mollify him.

After lunch I practiced Disney stuff for 1.5 hours, which is a long time for trombone.

In the evening we drove to Orlando's Fringe Festival with some of Jameson's friends, to enjoy a hang and see some shows!
The first show was called Waiting Room, it was interactive. They had us fill out "intake forms" and wear headphones with three stations to choose from: Wait FM (music), a "sponsors" channel with ads for other Fringe shows, and I forget what the third channel was but maybe it was talk radio? There was kind of an implied Sci-Fi theme, something about "bonding with your shadow" and a lot of questions about birds (there was a QR code to about 10 different surveys, most of which had at least one bird-related question.) It was kind of a spin on the "birds aren't real" thing.



Anyway, our group was eventually called in from the "waiting room" and we had a fun little interaction with an actor...who asked us questions about bagels!! Well I sure came prepared, didn't I! The question was, "What's the best bagel you've ever had?" and of course I had to describe the bagel I got from Allie Boy's in Milwaukee: Pumpernickel bagel with chicken liver mousse, crisped chicken skin, date syrup drizzle, bacon, and chives. Before leaving we were also asked our favorite bird (mine is the cara cara.) I felt very seen with this activity...bagels and birds, two of my top subjects :p It was chance that things turned out that way but it made the experience especially funny for me.

We ate at "The Lawn" which is just a bunch of food trucks and a bar parked on the grass near Orlando Shakes (the venue.) We got pulled chicken BBQ sandwiches and drinks (mixed drink for Jameson, wine for me.)

The next show was sort of a Scooby-Doo-themed...thing....I don't know how to describe it? It was like a more adult Scooby-Doo mystery with a lot of sexual stuff thrown in, and a bit of sideswiping at Christianity/the picking and choosing of scriptures to control or hurt groups of people who don't fit a particular mold. I got it, and it was a funny show, but it was also quite weird and a bit forced with the message. The acting and singing, however, were excellent. A good time was had. Jameson and his friends knew several of the actors, so we got to say hello afterward.

We didn't get home until about 1am, but we had a lot of fun and got to blow off steam. I needed that, after all the tension of performing in the park and memorization and auditioning. Jameson needed it because he's more social than me, and he's had a rough week of inner anxiety waiting to hear about a potential job opportunity. We think the holiday weekend has been part of the reason for the dead silence from his "interviewer," same for me this weekend, I don't expect to hear anything until Tuesday at this point.

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Sunday I did not want to be up early, but got up at 8am for breakfast and data entry. I'd like a break from Disney stuff, just one day of not playing it or listening to it, but don't think I'll get that. So after lunch, that again too. Didn't memorize as well as I wanted, but did get to practice some of the movements by playing along with videos, so there's that.

Then I went to the grocery store for dinner ingredients, and back to the bagel place since Jameson had been put out that I hadn't gotten him bagels (I got him a sesame and a cinnamon raisin, his favorites; and a big cup of cream cheese :P)

Dinner was shepherd's pie baked potatoes, recipe from @cookingwithcarby on IG or TikTok.
Baked four potatoes, hollowed them out, filled them with ground beef that had been simmered in a red wine beef broth with garlic, onion, rosemary, parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and veggies.

Le simmer:



Filled potatoes, topped with fluffy mashed potatoes and melted cheese.


These were very good; the filling was exceptional, and I want to remember that recipe for use in pasties, with steak.
I needed to hollow out the potatoes more, hence no cross-section picture as you could barely see the filling. Luckily there was plenty of filling left so it'll be easy to add a spoonful to leftovers.

Before bed I forced myself to do more data entry. I need a mental break tbh. Not an outing like Fringe; just a day of mindlessness and quiet introversion.


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This next week I am thankful not to have an in-park rehearsal at Disney. It means I don't lose a full day of data entry, and I'll have more time to memorize too (it's much easier to memorize in the quiet of home, than the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom.)

I anticipate a slow week...and we hope that Jameson will hear back about his potential job, and that I will hear the results of my audition.

Castle Set, Audition Blues

Monday I was sad to get up at 6am, but it's a busy week.

Managed to get two hours of work in before driving the 40 minutes to my friend Pat's house for trombone repairs. It's not really "repairs" I guess, but the slide on this Minick trombone is garbage, and it's my only option right now to protect my Williams trombone from damage from the elements at Disney.

Pat is a trombonist himself, so of course he wanted to play the Minick (it's a rare horn.) He sounded fantastic (sorry I couldn't record, he doesn't care to be shared around online.) I'm always jealous to hear him play, but it's always a treat to hear him play!

Back home lunch and a big long audition practice session. I feel maybe a little more comfortable but am overall not pleased with my weakness at jazz, especially after hearing Pat play today. Trying to remind myself that everyone is different and has different skills, and it doesn't make me a better or worse trombonist per se that I'm weak in this area, and even though I'm not a strong jazz musician I've had such incredible gigs. AND I've never won a job by audition in my entire life, so certainly if I lose this one it should be nothing new and make no difference.

Then it was more data entry and packing a bag and lunch for Disney tomorrow.
Dinner from our favorite Greek place and as usual it did not disappoint.

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Tuesday, up at 6am to do an hour of work before heading to Disney. I felt frazzled and anxious because I couldn't stop thinking about the audition but I was SUPPOSED to be thinking about the here-and-now, and playing my first castle set today!!

As soon as I walked in, Keith (the trombonist I'll be subbing for) surprised me with a gift.
It's an enamel pin of Mickey as a trombonist!!



I love it of course and stuck it to my bag immediately :)
Matt (trumpet buddy) also had brought me a new badge holder, a fancy one that holds two ID cards and has tabs so you can easily slide them out to clock in/out. I felt like it was my birthday or something haha.

The best part of the day was that I wasn't alone; of the four female MSP sub musicians, three were rehearsing in the park today! Kristen (trumpet) and Robin (tuba) and I, and there was also a male sub on drums. I'm sure it's tough on the regulars to have so many newbs to babysit, but all of us are hard workers and were ready to do our absolute best.

Off we marched to do our first set. Keith kindly offered to record it for us!

Here is a 10-minute version, edited a little for transitions. The songs are Mickey's Fanfare, Be Our Guest, Under the Sea, Hot Dog Dance, and Wanna Be Like You.



Here's a 2-minute version with ONLY trombone highlights, my little solo hot dog dance, and the band finale :)


Trombone section screenshot:


Afterward I felt "ok" about it...mostly I had trouble with moving while playing. Didn't know quite when it was gonna happen so was always late and made some mistakes in the music because of the movement. But frankly, if someone had pulled me aside and verbally told me the blocking, I wouldn't have remembered it in the nervousness of this first set. Sometimes the best way to do a thing, is to Do The Thing, even if you're not 100% ready. Everyone in the band was pleased with how we did and said we'd only get better with time. Since these guys have been here for years, I must believe them!

We subs performed two castle sets and the parade. Kristen's partner was on hand and graciously took pictures specifically for all of the subs. Here are the ones she took for me!





This last one is my favorite. I'm right in the center of the band as we march down Main Street USA, the castle in the background. It's just...can you imagine how this feels, to be a part of something like this? When I'm old and grey, this will be one of the photos kept around the house so I can look back on one of the peak moments of my musical career.



We were supposed to do the flag retreat too but once again it was rained out. Perhaps I'm a flag retreat jinx!

It was SO HOT, and I felt disgusting and sweaty after each set. But at 90°F today, we are still 10-20 degrees cooler than full summer in Florida. So I'd better suck it up and get used to it and drink LOTS of water.

Before the end of the day one of our stage managers came out to get a picture of the women musicians.
Because today, for the (very likely) first time in the history of the Main Street Philharmonic, 1/4 of the band was made up of women.



Decades. We're talking decades of (likely) never having more than one woman in the band at a time, for it's entire existence. And on top of that, there still has NEVER been a female full-time Main Street Philharmonic band member.

Ya know...I like to think it's because women aren't crazy enough to go marching around in 100-degree weather in Florida all summer :p Joking aside, I felt humbled and happy to be performing alongside these women. And grateful and happy to have these wonderful, professional men showing us the ropes and welcoming us into their space. I think this band is made better, with men and women working in it TOGETHER.

Because we were actually involved in everything the day went quickly. I got home and told Jameson all about my day, and spent the night editing and uploading Keith's videos and responding to kind comments on the socials.

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Wednesday, up at 6am again because I need to start recording my audition and that will cut into my work time.

Pretty much worked up until lunch time, then tried to do audition stuff.

It went...ok. I managed to record two of the four pieces, and though they're not as good as I'd like this will let me spend more time on the other two pieces, which are very jazz/improv and difficult for me. On one hand I felt disappointed with myself and inadequate as a musician--isn't that funny? I just spent a day performing as a paid musician at Disney, a gig that thousands of musicians would kill to have...yet a random last-minute audition, that literally only one other person will ever hear, can instantly crush my self-worth. Ha! Human hang-ups are so funny. All I can do is laugh at myself.

By the time I was done I had a blazing headache. Probably a full day of scorching sun at Disney + marching for approx 7 miles in said sun + getting five hours of sleep + trying to complete a very stressful audition, all in a row, was not a great game plan. I had planned to work for another three hours but had to take a Motrin and lie down. The headache was gone within an hour, but then it was dinnertime.

After dinner I did work on my Disney memorization, but had to give my brain a break after that.

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Tomorrow I'll finish my audition material and send it off, and then I'll be able to tell you what the audition was for.

On Saturday we're planning to pop over to Orlando Fringe to see some of Jameson's friends perform in a show.
I actually have a week off from Disney next week, so I hope for a quiet week of memorization, data entry, and housework.

Unplanned and Planned

I got up an hour earlier on Thursday and was glad I did, even though I'll be tired. It feels nice to have an "extra" hour by the time I'd normally only have one.

I went for a walk at 11am because it was mid-80s and waiting any longer would mean mid-90s.
Didn't see anything special but it was good to get the exercise.

Back home and more data entry. I'm doing a really tedious bit today...I often volunteer for tedious work because I'm a throw-away employee and therefore am good for such things, rather than taking someone else off of their project, if that makes sense. Jameson also had a lot of grading to do so we kept "checking in" on one another to alleviate our boredom haha. Nothing to say except, "So...how's it going?" but at least it's a break from staring at spreadsheets!

Before dinner I went outside to look at the vanilla. The beans are definitely beans...they look like snow peas right now! No idea if that's how they're supposed to look or not, but I like it :)



Small video:


At the end of the day Jameson got info on a potential job...but I'm gonna have to vaguebook it until we get more info. Regardless it was very exciting, and he had difficulty concentrating for the rest of the night!

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Friday I was up extra-early again, partly because I want to have most of the day off on Saturday and partly because I had low-key tumultuous feelings about Jameson's potential adventure...and shockingly, a potential adventure of my own that I received last night. It'll require an audition, and the material is not stuff I'm comfortable with (ugh, JAZZ...*cringe*) but I want to challenge myself and take the audition anyway. Vaguebooking until I can give details.

I ended up not getting enough work anyway because of trombone practice and having to shop for groceries for dinner. Whatever, I'm doing my best. Dinner was just taco salads and they were crunchy and delicious.

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Saturday I "allowed" myself to "sleep in" until 8am.
Breakfast, work, lunch, and about 2 hours of tromboning, because now I need to learn this audition music in addition to memorizing Disney stuff. I've got about 20 days left to memorize all the Disney music assigned, and I have six pieces left which means I have approx 3 days to work on each piece. That's theoretically plenty of time, but some are easier/harder longer/shorter than others.

As for the audition, I plan to record it on Wednesday or Thursday. Like I said it's in a style that I'm not very familiar/comfortable with, so even though they asked for recordings "ASAP" I'm pushing that boundary as far out as I can.

Right now my practice routine for Disney = a full run-through of what I've got memorized, every other day, so as not to forget things. After the run-through I work on memorization. And on the alternate days I just work on the castle set and straight memorization. After either type of session I've added the audition material. I'll only have 3-4 days to work on that before it's GOT to be recorded and sent. But I've got my first castle set with Disney in 48 hours. Note that I don't get PAID to practice all of this stuff. Do you see why musicians want to be paid as much as they do for performances? Music doesn't learn itself, even for a professional.

And to top it off I get my period on Monday! Nothing like pain, exhaustion, bleeding, and bloating to make one feel really top notch for recording an important audition, and marching in WHITE PANTS in full Florida sun and humidity, amiright ladies??

In the evening we had tickets to Peter Pan at the Dr. Phillips, thanks to my friend Kevin who is Reed 2 in the pit orchestra. I worked with Kevin on Tootsie the Musical. We all went out to dinner beforehand at The Bao Spot, a new place in Orlando. It had a weird space--dinosaur--Star Wars themed interior?


(photo courtesy Orlando Weekly)

The food was very good but came out at random; I was the last of the three of us to order but got my food first, then came Kevin's food and the appetizer, with Jameson's food coming out last after I'd practically finished mine. They're pretty new so maybe they haven't got their sh*t together yet for timing but I hope they figure it out.

My bao: spicy soft shell crab with arugula and apple kimchi slaw. It was VERY good, super crispy and fresh. I haven't had whole soft shell crab in a long time and it was lovely. My other bao in the background there is the kalbi beef with kimchi, also very good, tender and well-marinated.



Two bao is enough for me but the boys ordered a few more as we talked, and Jameson got a burger that was sealed like an Uncrustable and fried, it looked pretty amazing tbh. We talked about musician nerd stuff and tour stuff mostly. Peter Pan is going to Monterrey next, and Jameson and I sort of cringed and looked at each other: Monterrey is where the circus got run out of town by a mob of hundreds, and where our animal crew got HIJACKED by a bunch of thugs on motorcycles (our animal crew was mostly huge buff dudes and former circus STRONGMEN, so the thugs got absolutely beaten to a pulp but it was still a scary experience.) Anyway, we warned Kevin, uh, "gently" about Monterrey. Maybe it's different now (I doubt it. Sorry Mexico.)

Soon it was time for the show. We had amazing seats. Thanks Kevin!!



The musicians, who did a fantastic job btw.


I went to the pit to harass Kevin before the show. Here he is warming up on flute! Notice the bass clarinet next to him. Tour musicians are often doubling on other instruments; some reed players have as many as five instruments to play during one show!


The show was great. Kind of a kiddie show but that's to be expected. The child actors did an AMAZING job, especially with the choreography. And the stage featured a hi-def screen that gave a lot of depth, and it really made the flying scene where they all go to Neverland the first time AMAZING. It felt like a ride! The kids are in the air on a fly rig system directly in front of the screen and facing it, to look like they're flying, and I wondered if any of them need to keep their eyes closed for it (I would.)

No spoilers but the crocodile was the best part :p

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Sunday, I let myself sleep until 8am again (just another lazy millennial who doesn't want to work!) and then got up to do the same as Saturday: breakfast, data entry, lunch, tromboning. I memorized more Disney stuff but don't feel any better about the audition music.

I had to exchange some bed sheets at Target so picked up dinner for us there too.
We had a pretty chill evening...both of us are a bit psychologically exhausted from preparing for musical opportunities that may-or-may-not exist. There's a tension while you're waiting to audition, or preparing material, or waiting to hear back about a job offer. It can wear you down.

Tomorrow I take my Minick trombone to my friend Pat to see if he can free up the slide.
Tuesday is Disney day and my first day doing a castle set, plus they could have me do the parade and/or flag retreat.
Wednesday I have to finish up any audition practice and set up for recording, and either do it on Wednesday or Thursday.

The good news is after the audition is submitted, I should have nothing else on the docket for the rest of the weekend except data entry and memorization. But it's going to be a tense week.

My Disney Soft Launch + Humdrum

Monday I woke up early and nervous of course. How else!

Breakfast and off to Disney. Said hello to everyone and set up my things in the warm-up room, then had a look at my costume. It was on the rack along with everyone else's, with my name (spelled incorrectly) on the separator. Don't worry, my name is spelled correctly on the actual costume tags!

Please DO NOT reshare this photo. Thank you.



Everything fit just as well as when I'd tried it on last. I still needed a hat so went with my boss to "the hat closet" to try some on. Also picked up some epaulettes and a plume and was ready to go.

My boss chose that moment to ask if I'd be ready to do a castle set next week.

I panicked for a split second, but then realized that of the eight medleys he gave me I've already learned two. All I need to be ready for a castle set next week is one more medley, because they are interspersed with parade music for the sets. That was a pleasing realization!

So I said yes, and my boss made the first set of the day reflect what he'd expect me to know for next week: Mickey's Fanfare, Let It Go from Frozen, the Hot Dog Dance, Mickey's Clubhouse, Be Our Guest, Under the Sea, and Wanna Be Like You. I watched the band play these and air-tromboned along. The only one I don't know yet is Wanna Be LIke You. Yay! I can do this!

For the second set I stayed in the break room to eat lunch, practice Under The Sea, and run through all of the parade and flag retreat music. When the guys got back from their set they all checked in to make sure I was comfortable and clear on when to stop and start, raise and lower my horn, etc. I was grateful for their willingness to help and support me; in my experience some guys like to give their subs a hard time, or be ornery because they don't like someone "moving in on their gig." Or the usual: hate my guts instantly simply for being female. But these gents have been total gents! There was none of that.
I said I felt ready. It all sounds straightforward, and it looked straightforward when shadowing, but it's different when you're doing things yourself and have the potential for your brain to go into panic mode. I had to trust that that wouldn't happen.

When it was time for the parade I got dressed in my full costume for the first time ever. I really love the pants and how well they fit! The vest is "ok" but I am excited for the new "female-cut" vests that we're supposed to get later in the summer. The parade starting point is a solid half-mile walk away from the Utilidors (that walk is going to SUCK in the full heat of summer) so we started walking at 2:15 for the 2:35 set. We got there, had some water that was waiting for us, lined up in formation...then the drums started the march cadence, and off we went into the park.

Actual footage! You can see me at the beginning in the very middle.



I was still nervous, but there were so many smiling people lining the parade route, and each time we stopped playing we waved and smiled and people applauded and were having a good time :)
I got all of the starts and stops just fine. Only had trouble musically on a small part of When You Wish; not surprising, that one is a bit tough in spots. I was never out of step once. I did drift a little bit forward and backward, not being used to matching pace in a square-shape (I don't have a marching background) but that is not very noticeable and will come with time.

My favorite part was when we did the little loop in front of Cinderella's Castle, which is also the part when we stop directly in front of the castle to play When You Wish. Imagine that for decades--since high school--you have dreamed of being a musician for Disney. And then when it finally happens, your very first performance is playing "When You Wish Upon A Star" in front of the iconic castle.

It's something I never dreamed I'd get to do.
I'll never forget it.


(stock image)

And just like that, my first Disney parade was over.
We marched backstage and as soon as we stopped the guys turned around and started congratulating me. "That was perfect!" and "Didn't hear any holes!" and "Great job!" and "You're officially one of us now!"

They are so kind. It felt SO nice.
The little cart with icee pops was waiting for us. I got a blue one :)

I even got cheered unexpectedly on the way back down the Utilidors: a woman in a food service costume started heckling "the boy band," saw me, and started screaming, "WAIT A MINUTE! YES! YOU GO GIRL!" I cheered back and we started a brief hullabaloo :P
That also felt very nice :) :)

I hadn't been able to bring my phone for the parade, but stayed in costume and brought it up before the next set, and asked the trombones if they'd be willing to do some photos. They kindly agreed! Our handler Donna volunteered to take the pics for us.

The trombone section (the guy who's about as tall as me is Keith, he's who I'll be subbing for most of the time.)



Keith and I doing poses!


The guys went off to do their set, and I went back downstairs...and ten minutes later they were back down there with me. They got rained out! Also the flag retreat was cancelled because A) the flag-hoist-thing was broken and B) another storm cell was coming through. We said our goodbyes, got changed, and headed out into the rain.

I was so happy to do this today.
Yes, playing in the sun and heat will be hard. Yes, I'm only a substitute, I am not as skilled as the regular players and won't be called more than a few times this summer to fill in. But truly...I have worked all my life to do this. Decades ago, as practically a child, I said, "I want to do THIS." And today I actually, really got to do it. I think it's a rare and wonderful thing. A treasure to hold in my heart.

Fought traffic all the way home where Jameson was waiting to hear all about my day!
I scarfed dinner and did laundry, then spent the night typing all of this up and accepting congrats on social media. I feel awkward? Bashful? About getting attention for this. But it also made me glad to know that fulfilling my dream today brought some people vicarious joy.

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Tuesday, we are back to the monotony of data entry!

I was up early like usual to do it, and got about 3 hours in before the company website had some sort of error and none of us could save our work. Annoying!

So I stepped away to vacuum, wash my Minick trombone, make iced tea, and make strawberries n' cream popsicles using a months-old vanilla ice cream and strawberries about to go bad. 1 + 1 = delicious.

Random fact: after the band got rained out yesterday, I realized that I do NOT want my Williams trombone to get rained on, and therefore shouldn't be using it in the park. My Minick trombone is also a rare horn but has all its lacquer so I will use it instead. At least that's what I said, but when I practiced it later I was SO disappointed. It's nowhere near as good as my dear Williams. Argh. I worked on Wanna Be Like You but didn't try very hard...I felt mentally tired after yesterday in the park.

Meanwhile Jameson was out getting his tattoo finished. It's Queen's logo for their Japan tour.
Here are the before and after photos. The first photo was taken after his initial session, and the second was today.



He likes it a lot! It took about four hours today and eight hours total to complete.

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Wednesday I was so happy to wake up to a thunderstorm. How soothing! And we badly need the rain.

Data entry all morning. At 11 I stopped to go get ingredients for dinner and random groceries.
Lunch, trombone, work, dinner, which was "Summer Pasta" from Dude Diet: Wheat spaghetti with zucchini, tomatoes, pancetta, shallot, garlic, balsamic, basil, red pepper flakes, and ricotta salata. My favorite is when it's all the veggies together, before adding the pasta.



My plate. Ricotta salata cheese is difficult to find, so this time I tried cotija and it was an excellent substitute texture-wise (flavor was not the same but it's ok.)


After dinner I had wanted to do another hour of work, but was slapped sideways by a sudden migraine. I don't get bad headaches too often, and when I do it's usually either tension, eye strain, or barometric pressure. I am lucky; one Motrin and closing my eyes for an hour will usually eliminate it completely. Did that and felt better, but not until 9pm.

Thursday I hope to go for a walk, Saturday we're going to see Peter Pan downtown (I have a friend in the pit), and other than that nothing on the docket.