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Fully Charged Misc.

This year I got swept up in the circus, and it was awesome :)
I was blessed and privileged and honored to work with some of the most talented people on the earth.
I have learned so much simply from watching and listening to these people, and working alongside them.
From the train I've seen the remote, hidden, wild and beautiful underbelly of America.
In the cities I've seen the dirty and the immaculate, all different kinds of people,
American capitalism at its best and worst.
It's been a whirlwind, and as far as this blog is concerned, I haven't always been able to keep up.

There are many things that I didn't write about because I forgot to mention them,
or because I was worried about exposing too much 'behind-the-scenes' circus stuff.
But next year, I'm hoping to share more with you.
Now that I've got a handle on this new lifestyle, maybe I can be more organized with my posts :)

I hope to take more pictures and keep more notes about the things that happen everywhere we go!

As for this year, here are a few things that I never quite managed to squeeze into other blog posts.
I took a few pictures of some things that are everyday fixtures to me,
but might seem exotic and interesting to you :)

The cannon when not in use.

Brian (the human cannon) can climb inside to tinker with the hydraulics and such.

The low wire. This is what the high wire acrobats practice on.
They balance on the wire and hold a huge cloth fan to help keep steady.

(it's the oval thing in the corner by the red box)

This is the generator car on the circus train. The floor is textured and red, unlike any other car.
The car houses two CAT generators that are constantly running, and generate 600 kW each, enough power for all 300-some people on the train 24/7.
There's a low hum that you feel in your bones as you walk through the car.

This is a sign that's placed at the end of our cars when they're spotted in a yard.
According to my friend Ronnie, the sign signals Blue Flag Protection.
This is a very important warning to rail workers that the cars cannot be coupled or moved in any way.

Cool, huh?

Some funny/interesting things that happened during the year, that I never wrote about:

~ Our bandstand is split with the conductor, bass, drums, and keys on one side and all horns, keys 2 and guitar on the other. So that we can play together in time and communicate freely, we have in-ears that allow us to hear each other playing. The bandmaster also has a microphone so he can give us measure numbers, instructions, or verbal cues. But the drum cage's mike is close enough to the drummer that we can hear him during the show too :) He knows this, and sometimes he'll start randomly singing, making funny noises, or giving commentary. A few times he's played his harmonica for us. Once when the elephants came through the portal he yelled "OH YEAH!!!!" and I almost lost it, thinking of the Kool-Aid man busting through the wall XD

~ The ringmaster has an in-ear too. Every once in a while Brett (bandmaster) will try to mess him up by talking to him while he's announcing an act :P

~ Near the end of the year, one of the production managers held a rehearsal for the performers who juggle in the dark using glowing rings and clubs. Apparently they hadn't been lifting their arms in unison on the way out of the arena at the end of the act. So during that part of the act, the manager yelled "UP! UP!" to keep everyone in time. That evening during that act, the performers could be heard yelling "UP! UP!" as they exited the stage :)

~ Brian Miser, the human cannon, flies across the arena on fire in the 'Fire It Up' part of the show. Sometimes after landing, he will do a cartwheel while still on fire!!
~ Once Brian's cannon was having hydraulic trouble. To recalibrate it, he filled a black bag with sand to make it match his weight, then stood where he would normally land after being fired from the cannon. The bag was catapulted at him, and at the last minute he'd step out of the way and it would hit the floor with a BANG. Scary stuff!!

~ Rebecca (wardrobe) has these pattern weights that look like colorful marshmallows. One day she was cutting patterns in the hall and performers kept picking these up and juggling them or pretending to eat them, not knowing what they were :)

~ Once we saw a groundhog near the road while on a crowded bus trip. The Russian, Brazilian and Chinese performers jumped up from their seats to gawk at it. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but it was obvious they had never seen one before!

~ During one of our last shows, Slick (trumpet) nudged me and said "Lookee there...we've got a jailbreak in progress!" I looked over and saw a tiger (Katana maybe?) delicately picking at the lock on her cage with her teeth. Yiiiiikes...

~ In Mexico many of us got pretty sick. I was among those who got traveler's illness, and tried to fix it by going on the BRAT diet. Bad idea...it just made things worse. During one show I was feeling weak and shaky and lightheaded and awful. Asia the Elephant came out pulling one of the strongmen's logs, and just as she was doing that my vision kind of froze...I saw her walking in front of me for about 30 seconds, as though she were on a treadmill. After blinking a few times, the vision cleared and by that time Asia was no longer in the arena. Note to self: if you get sick, JUST KEEP EATING! Lol.
~ Also in Mexico, our septic truck fell off one of the flats and broke in half (it didn't spill). At the time it wasn't funny, but looking back it was pretty comical to see a truck full of poop dangling from the train!

Circus traditions:
~ On our last Sunday in a city, we have a preshow dance! A few minutes before the doors are opened to the public, anyone who wants to get groovy goes out onto the floor and does the Cupid Shuffle.

~ On your birthday, watch out for clowns!
It's a circus tradition for the clowns to nail you with a shaving cream pie to the face on your birthday.

~ New circus workers are called "First of May" because in the past, May was the time of year when workers and performers were hired.
~ Many workers and performers here have nicknames earned through embarrassing or funny events. Some nicknames that I've heard this year: Milk, Deuce, Applesauce, Slick, Broccoli, Scoop, Cheese, Toy Store.
~ If you are fortunate enough to find an elephant hair, keep it!! It's good luck!

Some funny band traditions:
~ On the last show of any given day, Slick (trumpet) yells "HOME STRETCH!" during the Bounce Stilts act, I guess to let us know we're nearing the end of our workday :)

~ On the opening day or first show in a new city, the guys in the band will often "suit up",
wearing suits and ties to rehearsal.

~ If we have a week that ends with a show on Monday, the Sunday before is called "Slick Sunday".
Slick brings us donuts :D
~ If we have two shows on Saturday instead of three, it's called "Deuce Saturday".
Deuce (drummer) brings treats :D
~ On Mondays (and sometimes Tuesdays) when the train is moving, if the bandmaster's on the train, members of the band will meet at the Pie Car for what I call "styrofoam steak": a ribeye steak with eggs and hash browns, usually served in a styrofoam container. At six bucks, it's affordable deliciousness. I like to substitute the eggs and hash with rice and salad.

Last but not least, some fond memories of Fully Charged, 141st Edition:

~ The moment I first saw the train, all silver and shiny...unpacking my things while curious circus people looked on...the moment Brett put the keys to my room in my hand and said, "Welcome home".

~ My first train run...I was so excited when the train started moving! I couldn't tear my eyes from the window. I hardly left my room because I was afraid of making a fool of myself stumbling around on the moving train. Eating my first Styrofoam steak in the Pie Car with Brett...bouncing from one side of the vestibule to the other, trying to miss nothing...standing on the vestibule at night and going over a bridge...it felt like flying.

~ During the first month, realizing that the gasps, screams, laughter I was hearing was not canned...it was the genuine reaction of the audience to the show.

~ Riding the Dallas light rail at the end of the day, and hearing peoples' opinions of our show, and seeing the excitement on kids' faces. It was very rewarding :)

~ Seeing PETA protestors at almost every show...carrying the same tired signs, pamphlets and propaganda at every city...dressing like animals to get attention. One lady wouldn't let us off our bus to get to work and had to be escorted away by venue security.

~ The first time Asia looked me in the eye with her very intelligent, golfball-sized eyeball. I got chills.
~ Realizing that the painted horse 2nd from the end of the string was bucking and kicking for show :)

Wish I could remember and share EVERYTHING. It was such a fun, scary, exhilarating, exciting year!
I'm sure next year's show, Built to Amaze, will be just as exciting!!!