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Aaaah Monday. A glorious day of rest :)
I woke up early out of habit, and after a nice breakfast, thought I'd take a look at my Tampa blog post from two years ago.

The photos were gone. ALL of the photos, in every post that I looked at :(

Probably 95% of the photos used in this blog are linked from my Facebook.
Sometime in the past month, Facebook archived all of my photos that are older than Sept. 2014...changing all of the image locations.

Yeah. So now I'm going back through each post and restoring. each. picture. one. at. a. time.
So if you notice posts without pictures...just be patient. I know about it, I'm fixing it. And I'm seriously considering getting a premium account so that this never ever ever happens again.

Anyway, after spending several hours replacing pic after pic after pic, Tim and Bill dropped by and offered to split an Uber with me to the nearest mall. I gratefully accepted. Got a haircut, picked up some white shirts, looked for some black flats but no luck, and hit Target for some groceries. Then back to the train for another FOUR HOURS of pic after pic after pic.

I woke up excited on Tuesday because we were supposed to have an elephant walk. Excitement quickly turned to dismay after looking out the window and seeing grey skies. By the time we all piled onto the bus it was pouring, and by the time we arrived at the arena it had been cancelled. Bummer!
It did stop raining long enough for Siam, Mable and Baby to ring in the new year :)

(photo courtesy Tampa Tribune)

On the way back to the train, Rebecca mentioned that she could use some casual labor in the wardrobe department for load in/out. I quickly volunteered. Any circus employee can perform extra work within the circus where needed. Side work like this is called "cherry pie".

I joined Rebecca and several cast and crew members on the 1:30 bus back to the building. The wardrobe wagons hadn't arrived yet, so the first thing to do was "assess the dressing rooms". Rebecca is great at this.

Everything seemed to be in order. Next, we waited for the wagons to arrive.

The first wagon pulled in, and everyone got right to work!

Once the doors were open, a ramp was installed and we began working together to unload the wagon.
When the wagon was empty, the ramp was moved so the empty wagon could be parked elsewhere.

Pairs of workers would grab the boxes and roll them to the corresponding rooms. There were five wagons to unload, and the process took about 1.5 hours. Sometimes it can take longer depending on how many people are working, how large the building is, how far the wagons are from the building, etc. Here's Hannah and a strong handsome Wardrobe gentleman (forgive me for not getting his name) taking a rest after all the boxes have been unloaded.

I have never done load in/out before. But the hard-working, seasoned men and women of the wardrobe department made sure I got it right!
In the beginning of the year we'll be passing through many areas where I've lived and worked. Because of this I've opted not to be on call for Wardrobe until after April. It's a bit selfish, but we get to spend so little time with family out here that I feel this time it's worth it. And hopefully after Hershey I can help the Wardrobe department more often!!

The next day was a long one...rehearsals in the morning followed by a run through at night. There was a significant break in the middle of the day, so Jameson and I found lunch at Oishi Channelside. Great sushi! We also shared a yummy baby octopus appetizer.

For New Year's Eve....we did nothing :P Some folks celebrated with a BBQ and fireworks in the yard. Sounded like fun, but I was so tired...and New Year's Day was opening day!!!

We kicked off the new year with a two hour lighting rehearsal (in which performers stand in certain positions while lighting is adjusted, very exciting let me tell you) followed by a full run through at 3pm. Then there was just enough time for dinner before the premiere.

Jameson was excited to get going!

The preshow crowd was very good.

(photo courtesy Applesauce)

It was a strange and wonderful thing to join the rest of the band on the bandstand, instead of hiding in the audience like last show. I had time to warm up! How nice :D The clown blowoff was also WAY more exciting than Band Gag ever was!! The Clown Alley this year is a great group of hardworking, hilarious folks. I'm sure you'll enjoy their acts in the new show!

The first act went very well. I was tense and excited (I'm sure most of us were!) but kept it together and played my part.
Here's the crowd at intermission:

It was great to finally have an audience again! I love hearing the reactions to each act. The Mongolians got heavy, sincere applause. The elephants got gasps and cries of amazement as they did handstands and tub spins. The poodles always get a big cheer when the littlest dog hurdles over the largest. And the Wheel act got a big gasp of horror when he got the jump rope wrapped around his leg and almost bit it :P Biggest cheers of the night probably went to the BMX troupe. They were AWESOME.

Former Ringling Boss Clown Dustin was there to visit us and enjoy the premiere of Circus Xtreme. He took some amazing photos!

It was a great opening night!
Afterward everyone went upstairs to enjoy an Opening Night party graciously thrown by the Felds. There was delicious catered food, a tower of cupcakes, and an open bar!

There was a small open area for people to dance.
The adults seemed more interested in the food, but the kids got into it :)

While Jameson and I were stuffing our faces, Alana Feld came by and congratulated us. "The band sounded great!" GOSH it felt good to hear that!!! :D

The next day was photo day! The band was called in at 1:30 for our shots. Those of us who could bring instruments did; the rest of us (keyboards) had to fake it and hope for a good Photoshop edit. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ringling Bros. Red Unit Circus Xtreme Band!

FotorCreatedAfter that, it was time for the group photo. It took nearly an hour to coordinate everyone. Hopefully the results will be decent! And then we had a show, and it went well. Yay!

Saturday was the start of our first six pack. Everything went well again...a dancer fell off a camel, a strongman couldn't quite get a grip on the 500lbs he was lifting with his teeth, the band had a few snafus during the last show. But these things will happen, and overall it was a good show day.

Sunday was similar. Three shows, great day. Our first six pack, complete! That was a great feeling :)
Next week we are in Orlando, so Jameson and I drove overland to his apartment and will meet up with the train on Tuesday. We've got a nice relaxing two days planned. For our newest circus employees it's the first train run of the year! How exciting!!!

Other stuff:

A nice article on Circus Xtreme from the Tampa Tribune (CLICK HERE to read).

Some photos from Winter Quarters that I held off on posting, in case of whatevs. The ringmaster float, the "Adventure Boat", a small blue bike, a BMX rehearsal.

A tiger playing in the water (did you know? Tigers actually enjoy swimming!). I'm told it's chewing on a "ball". Not very round is it :P