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After the last show on Sunday we hoofed it over to a place Tim (sax) and Brett (bossman) found near the arena, called Smoke Ring. It's a southern BBQ place with a focus on meats smoked "low and slow" daily. On Brett's recommendation I opted for the smoked wings, and on Tim's I got a side of roasted brussels sprouts. That's the stuff!

Full of great food, we drove over to the nearest movie theater to catch Deadpool. It was graphic and violent and hilarious! A great way to unwind from a fairly busy weekend.

(photo courtesy Brett)

Then we enjoyed a blissful two days off. Well, some of us did. One of those days was a work day for anyone involved in loading into the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth. But hey, at least the train didn't move. Sometimes a lack of movement is a nice break.

On Monday I relaxed.

Excuse me as I digress for just a second. Recently a few people have commented on the fact that I enjoy more down time than the average bear (time between shows, days off, sleeping time, etc.). Their commentary has brought it to my attention that few people who read my blog know what my life was like before I joined the circus.

I'm not going to bore you with My Life Story. I will say that because of my life experiences leading up to this point, I am well aware that I am extremely fortunate to have "down time". I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate this job and the benefits that come along with it. So I hope no one is reading my blog and thinking, "Gosh, what a spoiled brat!" or "She doesn't know what a real job is like." I most definitely do know, and that experience allows me to cherish what I'm enjoying now. My first few months of blog posts reflect how grateful and relieved I was to receive this job. Current posts tend to focus on the day-to-day, but believe me, I am still grateful and humbled every day.

What I'm getting at here is, if you don't know me personally, please don't chide me for enjoying the life I have now. Anyone who'd like to know what I did before joining the circus, feel free to ask! I've got nothing to hide. Almost nothing :P

Anyway, Monday. Relaxing. I did laundry and cleaned while Jameson ran errands and took his car for a much-needed oil change and cleaning. When he returned I borrowed his car for a grocery run.

On Tuesday I borrowed the car again for some errands. Partway through the day it occurred to me that it's been two years since I repotted my plants(!) and I really should at least give them fresh soil. I drove to ACE Hardware for the soil and some basic terra cotta pots. That was supposed to be all...but in the back of the greenhouse I found an overgrown Wandering Jew. I felt bad for it. I took it home.

Oh, and a Venus Fly Trap!! I have raised these before with great results and would like to try again.

The rest of my afternoon was spent pruning and repotting my two philodendrons and the Wandering Jew. The new plant needed much pruning, as in addition to being overgrown it was also overwatered with many rotting and dead parts. This little guy was also eating it.

My other two plants have some sentimental value. The oldest I bought in 2007, on the day I moved to New Jersey to start a new job. The other I found in 2012 in a New Orleans grocery store, overgrown and on clearance because it was choking itself to death and no one wanted it. It was a good thing I remembered to repot that one as it was becoming a little rootbound. So now I have a whole side of a table dedicated to plants. Here's hoping the two new ones make it to spring!

Opening day was nice, an average rehearsal and one show.
The next day we had a photoshoot in the afternoon for the new programs (because now that the elephants will be out, we'll need a new one). It went quickly and we had some time to kill, so Jameson and I hit Pure Taqueria for "lupper". We had been here two years ago. Delicious then, delicious now. I had the grilled fish tacos with housemade grilled pico de gallo, salsa verde, and black beans.

Afterward we were curious about a pie place across the street and decided to check it out. It was called Crave Pie Studio. They had mini 5" pies on display in the cases. Jameson got the last Dutch apple pie, and I snagged a specialty pie called "The Fiery Courtney": Aztec chocolate, chili powder, coconut chunks, and real whipped cream topped with shaved almonds. Yowza!!

(photo courtesy Crave Pie Studio)

After that we went back to the arena and messed around until the evening show (which went well).

Saturday, three shows. Jameson had friends at two of the shows, so I didn't see him much :P And apparently Ludacris dropped by for one of the shows and to check out the elephants.

(photo courtesy Ryan H.)

Sunday, two shows. Attendance was light compared to Saturday, but the crowd was energetic. Back at the train I enjoyed a piece of The Fiery Courtney, oh man, it was AMAZING. We've got to go back to that pie place someday!!

We have one more week of shows here in Duluth, which means the next two days are days off for almost everyone!!

Other stuff:

Elephant crew apparently has a "poop chart". Why is this important? First of all, to monitor the health of the elephants (it's good to be regular!). And secondly, so that crew members can have an idea of which elephants might begin pooping during the show and be ready with those shovels! #themoreyouknow

(photo courtesy Bernadette)

A short clip from the high wire POV! Mustafa Danguir jump roping. Eeeek, I can't watch!!

Happy Birthday to Monjok Monjok and Jonathan Miller! There's no escaping the pie :P

(photos courtesy Lindsey)

I walked in on an argument between the bossman and Jameson, about which pie is the best, and specifically why key lime pie is/isn't in the "best" category. Weirdos.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2016 01:47 pm (UTC)
Having traveled with a carnival for many years, I hear you when you say people think you have the life with the circus. I got that all the time. People don't listen when you talk about doing 8 shows in three days, that's a lot of work. They don't realize that besides being on at shows, there is so much behind the scenes work that has to be done. Setting up, maintenance, and for you practice and rehearsals. All they see is the finished product, bright lights, music and entertainment. They don't see all of it, so they just don't understand.

When I was on the show, some weeks were easy with downtime. Besides the usual set up and cleaning we would open three days from 3 to 10 or 11PM. those were easy weeks. But then you would fair season, and pull into a location, set up and be open every day from 8AM to midnight for two weeks straight. Add in the cleaning schedule and restock schedule and that's a long hard run. Then add in tear down after midnight the last day, relocation which meant hauling by truck overnight after tear down, (first load often left before tear down finished.) and setting up the next day on the hour or two of sleep you got in your vehicle while waiting for stuff to be located on the new lot. Then set it up and open that night. The short weeks make up for the long ones and you enjoy the short one knowing the long ones are coming.

I love readin about your adventures. This uesday ticket for your unit go on sale locally, I plan to try to visit this time when you are in my area.
Feb. 22nd, 2016 04:08 pm (UTC)
Wow, didn't know you worked for a carnival! Very cool :) I knew a lot of carnival folks from Reithoffer's before joining the circus. If you come out to a show, let me know so I can come say hi!!

To be honest, I got defensive in this post because of other circus people who DO have to load in, load out, and do the heavy manual labor you describe. The band is fortunate in that we don't have these duties, and so we typically end up with an "extra" day off whereas many other circus employees must work. Some circus employees probably think the band is a bunch of slackers because of this.

I posted on facebook a few days ago around 9am commenting on how quiet the band car was (because everyone was sleeping). I received several comments from friends in the circus, none of which were rude, but all of which expressed some underlying feelings. They were something like this:

"It's only quiet because the rest of us had to get up early and go to work."
"It must be nice to sleep in, maybe I'll get to do that someday too."
"Yeah those 15 hour work weeks sure can drain you!" (that's sarcasm.)

Anyone who knew me before I joined the circus knows that I worked very hard, all the time. I have been a janitor, a cashier, a hostess, an assembly line worker, a projectionist, a confectioner, a retail manager, and more. With the exception of college, for the 12 years before joining the circus I have always worked at least two jobs at any given time. The most jobs I ever worked at a time was four in 2011, one year before I joined the circus. During that time I was lucky to have one whole day off per month.

The comments made me defensive (that'll wear off). They also made me realize that when I'm posting pics of fancy food and writing about all the fun stuff I get to do, I need to remember that people don't realize that my life up until this job was a massive struggle. I need to consider the feelings of people reading my blog who don't know much about me personally. But also, I don't need to tolerate flak from people who don't know me ;)

That's what that was all about. Sorry for the tirade. As always thank you for reading!
Feb. 22nd, 2016 05:55 pm (UTC)
No worries, sometimes you just need to vent.

And you may not have those duties, but how many years did you spend studying music? How much of your time growing up did you put in to perfecting your craft? How much work is involved in maintaining your ability to continue to play your instrument? in maintaining that instrument? in learning new music? It's not manual labor, but it is significant. It's not slacking because you are not out pulling cables or hanging lights. You have your own type of work and they have theirs and neither is any less important in putting on that show.

Yeah, I spent 13 years on a traveling carnival in New England. On the off season I worked, either in a factory or retail. For a while I worked a factory job for 4 - 10 hour days a week then left Thursday night to work the show on the weekends.

I worked concessions, games, sometimes if they could bring in my ice cream joint and needed a ride jock I would even run a ride. I was the liason with the local boards of health for licenses and ordered and maintained the inventory for some of the food joints.Mostly I worked the ice cream, fried dough or popcorn/cotton candy joints. The last three years I was out there I was the key holder and held the keys to every joint(food or games) and stock truck on the lot. Then I retired.

I hate it when my friends who knew I worked the show would say That I "ran away with the circus." I always have to correct them, "I worked a carnival, not a circus there is a big difference. Circus' have animals, carnivals have rides." And they always asked about side shows and the people who are involved with them. It really opens ones eyes about how people react to side show carnies. We occasionally had a side show with us for some of the big fairs, they are just people like everyone else.

FWIW, I bought the DVD you recomended called "Circus" about the Big Apple show. I found it really interesting and entertaining. I don't think there was anything on it I didn't already know or at least suspect. But it was enjoyable to watch. Thanks for the recommendation.

Edited at 2016-02-22 05:56 pm (UTC)
Feb. 23rd, 2016 03:56 am (UTC)
That's true :)

Wow! You're a jack-of-all-trades for sure! Sounds like it was a fun and/or interesting job if you stuck around for that long!

Yeah, circus people hate being called carnies too. Two different things people! Haha.

Glad you got to see "Circus", what a great documentary! I need to watch it again soon!
Feb. 23rd, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
I just got tickets!
Saturday May 7, 3PM show in Manchester NH.
I will look for you.
Feb. 23rd, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
Cool! I'll try to remember and be around before the show starts!!
Feb. 23rd, 2016 01:53 am (UTC)
Time Off
Haters gonna hate. :P
Feb. 23rd, 2016 03:57 am (UTC)
Re: Time Off
Tru dat!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )