This week is craaaazy.
I'm having my last few days at work, and that's one area of life where there's just not a lot to do, so I do what I can and try to kill time the rest of the time.
I've completed a spreadsheet of grocery stores, restaurants, and points of interest around each theater on tour.
It definitely doesn't encompass everything, and I won't get to do everything on the list either.
But it's a good quick reference in case I find that there's limited time to explore in a city.
Other than that my focus has been on the prep for making soft pretzels and caramels for my coworkers.
It is going to take up most of my weekend for sure.
I'm super nervous about it for several reasons, mainly that I've never made so much bread at once before, I've never worked with a caustic chemical like lye before, and I've never made pretzels before.
To kind of mitigate my nervousness I first tried asking a few questions about lye dilution and safety on my facebook bread baking group.
"Well if you're so worried, why don't you just use baking soda?"
(times five, because multiple people felt the need to share this bit of wisdom one after the other waaaay after it had already been said and I had already given perfectly legitimate reasons for not using baking soda)
"The dilution in your recipe is wrong (said about a King Arthur Flour recipe). You need to do it MY way because *I* do it this way ALL the time and MY pretzels are PERFECT".
Followed by umpteen pictures of THEIR pretzels.
"If you're not experienced enough to be making pretzels then maybe you shouldn't be making them."
You get the idea. Never, ever ask questions on facebook unless you want to be beaten bloody with peanut gallery criticisms and commentary about everything EXCEPT what you actually asked about.
One kind soul actually did respond to say that she makes pretzels frequently, and has no problem with handling lye as long as gloves and eye protection are worn. No fumes either at the dilution required for pretzels. This was great to hear, I had been really worried about fumes. I thanked her in a PM and then deleted the pretzel post because I don't need to keep hearing about how I'm not making pretzels the way other people want me to make them.
Listen, if someone will buy me all of the ingredients, I'll make the pretzels however they'd like.
As I was still nervous, I did a lot of my own research and then finally sent a message to the person who'd written the pretzel recipe I'm using. Fortunately for me they are a kind, responsive human being who wrote back explaining and clarifying many steps of the process. I'm still a bit nervous, but at a more normal "doing-this-for-the-first-time" level. Getting reassurance from someone who has done this before was just what I needed. I'm grateful.
On Sunday Jameson took us to Universal Horror Nights!
After having some delicious bao buns and drinks for dinner we went straight into the line for the Beetlejuice haunted house.
It was about an hour wait. I'd say two-thirds of people in the park were NOT wearing masks. It was very hot and humid as usual, so it was understandable for people to take them off a bit while we were waiting in line...but most people just didn't wear them at all. It was, ya know, disappointing.
But anyway, the Beetlejuice house was SO COOL.
Lots of scenes from the movie, iconic characters, memorable music, and incredible production value.
I've never been to Universal's Halloween events, and was super impressed by how detailed everything was and the high quality of the staging, lighting, costumes, and animatronics.
Next was Haunting of Hill House!
Aaaaah it was SO COOL! There were some truly impressive effects in this one! No spoilers though :P If you go to Universal during the spooky season this haunted house is VERY worth the wait to get in.
The only disappointing bit, we agreed, was that there were some characters in there that had nothing at all to do with the plot of the show, and therefore detracted from the experience. There were also some major scenes and rooms that had been left out in favor of smaller show moments, and personally I think it would have been more effective to center the house around the three biggest locations in the series and build out from that. But what do I know. Again, a really awesome experience.
After another snack (pizza fries and sweet potato dessert fries!) we roamed the "scare zones", which are outdoor themed areas where scarers can chase you around and get up in your face to scare you and stuff. These were unfortunately a bit subdued, probably at least partially because of covid and distancing and because too many idiots were not wearing masks and couldn't be approached safely. But also, some of the themes were not all that clear. Jameson expressed disappointment in the scare zones, having experienced more intense scares in years past. But I had no context, so to me it was all very fun and creep-tastic.
I called this scarer Burlap Sack. She rushed us right as Jameson was taking the picture. Good job Burlap Sack!
Here we are getting chased by some sort of "Submit and Obey" soldier-thing. Yeek!
Along the way we noticed that I, especially, was getting approached more frequently by scarers plying their trade.
We thing it's because I was wearing my mask, so the scarers felt more comfortable getting up in my face.
But their efforts were unfortunately kinda wasted on me. I used to work in a Busch Gardens haunted maze, and I am NOT easy to scare whatsoever. My interest is usually in the costumes and the lighting and the scare as a whole scene as it is taking place, so I'm watching Burlap Sack rush us and thinking, hmm, cool that a simple potato sack could be so effective, the fact that she's short is advantageous and adds a disturbing element. I wonder if she only approaches people who walk into the boundaries of this red lighting...oh shoot, I forgot to act scared!
My Debbie-Downer-ness aside, the scarers for the most part did an amazing job considering the whole distancing thing.
To wrap up the evening we did a few more houses, including one in which our friend Lea was performing as a devilish singer!
She wasn't very scary but she was a great visual up on stage!
Then there was this theatre-themed house. Look how COOL.
This was a REALLY good time, and a much needed night out for both of us.
I'm so glad we got to have a sort of "date night" before I have to leave.
Jameson is excellent at planning and setting up outings like this for us. It's a skill that I lack, so I appreciate it so much more in him.
We went to bed exhausted but happy.
On Monday I realized it would be the last time I was seeing some people at work. Sh*t is getting REAL.
After work I was supposed to have steno class, but my teacher had a family emergency so it was cancelled.
Instead I practiced both trombone and steno, 45 minutes each.
I was very tired and didn't want to practice trombone, but all day facebook had been abuzz with the news that the Finding Nemo show at Disney had been cancelled. For the longest time it has been listed as "temporarily unavailable" on the website. It's closure extinguishes hope for a lot of the former Disney entertainers who were hoping to be hired back soon. Not to mention now there are even more performers out of work in Orlando, and even fewer opportunities for them.
For this reason, when the devil on my shoulder complained that I was tired and could skip practicing just this once, I ignored it.
Going on tour is a massive privilege at a time when so many are struggling and yearning to do what they love.
I feel a lot of pressure from having this opportunity. It's motivation to do the best possible job I can do, and appreciate every moment.
Tuesday was my last work-from-home day.
It makes me nervous and excited just to think about it.
Because after my last day at work, this coming Saturday, only TEN DAYS left until I fly out on tour. WHAT...
I did my work as usual, and practiced steno in-between.
After class I had a lot to do...I ran to Publix for beer for the pretzels and PubSub for me for dinner, scarfed it down, and got to work making one of the two batches of caramels I am putting together for my coworkers.
As I write this I'm setting up my little camera stand for a Zoom training session for tour.
My computer camera is completely defunct, it won't turn back on any more.
Hopefully my computer can hold out until Black Friday so I can get a new one at a discounted rate.
After training I'm probably going straight to bed. Jameson is at rehearsal and will be home late.
Wednesday: another batch of caramels, steno class, and pretzel dough prepped and into the fridge!
Thursday: baking pretzels!