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Circus Xtreme 2017 - Restarting in Orlando

On Monday I packed and made other preparations to go back to the circus. My Mom's friend Tracy came over for a bit, and we played cards. Later in the day they went to the grocery, and I took the opportunity to finish packing and relax a bit.

On Tuesday my sister Kate came to pick me up for the ride to the airport. I said goodbye to Mom and the cats. An hour later Kate dropped me off and I hugged her goodbye. It was great to spend so much time with family. That doesn't happen too often with this job.

Into the airport I went. I was the only one going through security, so was able to take my sweet time and chat a bit with the TSA agents. Once through to the gate, I saw maybe five others waiting for their flights...otherwise I had the terminal to myself.

My flight arrived on time. It had begun snowing, but as long as it didn't delay the flight I didn't mind.

Soon we were up in the air, and in no time at all we were in Philly where I caught my flight to Orlando. Somehow on a crowded flight I ended up having a whole row to myself! Wow!!!

It was a pleasant flight. As we were approaching to land I was struck by the difference between PA and FL at this time of year.

Jameson was there to pick me up when I landed. He took me to the train so I could unpack, then repack, because this week I'll be staying at his Orlando apartment. I watered my poor plants, which were still alive but looking rather wilted. The flytraps needed some trimming as well, some of the leaves were rotting off (this is normal).

Once everything was taken care of, we hit Moe's for dinner and hoofed it to Jameson's place. I was exhausted and slept well.

The next day we went to the gym. For me, it was the first time in about two months. I took it easy and did a basic workout to get back into things.

After that we got cleaned up and went to Keke's for breakfast. I love Keke's! Never gets old.

Then we did a little running around trying to find a desk/lap table/shelf/thing for Jameson's train room. He's reorganizing so that it'll be more comfortable for him to play keyboard and possibly record in his room. We tried several options that didn't work out. What ended up working was a site called ikeahack.com, where someone suggested buying a shelf from Ikea and attaching four couch legs to achieve the correct height. It worked! To celebrate we went to BJ's for dinner :)

Thursday was opening day. We had a full run-through of the show. I noticed several new clowns, new camel riders, new strongmen, all kinds of new people. Some new choreography and lighting have been added. But otherwise, I'm sorry to say, it's the same show we've had for the past two years. I have to wonder what crowds will be like this time around, as we'll be revisiting cities that have already seen Circus Xtreme. It's still a great show of course...maybe people will want to see it again!

Getting back into playing was tough. Overall the thing that suffers the most when I take a long break is control. Control over dynamics, range, breathing, etc. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the show went for me personally, but I did feel pretty tired afterward. It will take a few more shows to get back into the swing of things.

After rehearsal Jameson and I went to Hamburger Mary's for lunch. They had a special on a peanut butter-slathered burger with potato chips and pickles. We both got it, but Jameson added bananas to his. Impressive! I know it sounds weird but it actually tasted pretty darned good!

On Friday we had a split. The morning show was great, lots of screaming kids!

Afterward Jameson and I went to Panera for lunch, then he dropped me at the train so I could unpack a box of Christmas presents I'd sent myself from home. I put everything away, cleaned up, and relaxed until the evening show.

Saturday, three shows. The morning show was David Shipman's last performance as Ringmaster. I hope he had fun. We'll miss him!

And then, as you know by now, things took an "interesting" turn. We were called to an all-employee meeting, where we were told that both Ringling shows would be shut down, by May 2017. For the Red Unit, that means our last day is now May 7th, and for the Blue Unit, May 21st.

That's a heck of a bomb to drop on everyone right before bedtime. I'll bet few of us slept that night.

Sunday was very, very difficult. We got through the shows, I managed to numbly write a blog post recounting what happened. Then Jameson drove us home to his apartment, and I cried pretty hard and eventually fell asleep.

Today, Monday, we had a show for Martin Luther King Jr day. Ironically, shows have been sold out ever since the announcement. I'm glad that people will get to see the circus one last time, but a part of me is annoyed that NOW the crowds come out. But really, I know that most people just want one last circus experience. So we're working hard to provide that :)

During our shows on Sunday and Monday, activists were standing near the box office, celebrating. Now they're holding signs reading, "THE CIRCUS IS ENDING" and such. There was a tv-covered PETA truck driving around playing "Celebrate Good Times" (I didn't see what was on the tv screens), and from what I've heard protesters are still trying to get people to stay away from our shows. I'm sure they're very excited about the "victory", but c'mon...show a little class...

The other funny thing is that while PETA is claiming responsibility for ending the circus, they seem truly unconcerned about what will happen to the animals. For those who care, the answer is we don't know. I've heard that the camels have been sold to one of our animal specialists, which is great because he'll take wonderful care of them. The dogs are owned by the Emelins, so they'll probably go back to Russia where they'll continue performing (in other words nothing will change for them). The Felds have said they'll continue caring for the elephants. The tigers, though...I have no idea. Alexander Lacey on the Blue Unit owns his cats, and since he raised them himself there's no question they're in excellent hands. But the tigers on our show are privately owned, not owned by Ringling or the trainer. If I find out what's going to happen to him, I'll let you know.

As I said in yesterday's post, I will be blogging through the last day of the circus. After that, I will maintain this blog for you to read at your leisure. Once I have the time, I'll go back and fix the parts of the blog that are broken.

As you can imagine, during days off I will be searching for jobs. Next week we will hopefully find out more about incentives for staying through to the final shows. I wonder what I will end up doing next?

Now that there are really limited consequences to writing about what happens around this joint, you'll probably begin seeing more images from backstage, and hearing more raw nitty-gritty from me. I was never censored in my posts, but did always try to keep things positive and cheery of my own volition and to show respect to my employer. Now I will remove that filter (unless I am specifically asked not to).


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC)
Circus Xtreme 2017 - Restarting in Orlando
Dear Megan, so very, very sad for you, Jameson and all your friends who make RBBB the wonderful performance/event that is. Don't get me started about PETA, crazy animal activists and all selfish extremists in our world today. I am sure you all are feeling depressed, angry, sad and a whole cornucopia of emotions at this dire time but feel you and all the people at RBBB will be troopers and give your best performance to the bitter end.
All I can say at this time is me and millions of others wish and pray you all the very best and hope for a great future. Have fun, be well, God bless.
Jan. 20th, 2017 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Circus Xtreme 2017 - Restarting in Orlando
Thank you.
Jan. 17th, 2017 09:27 pm (UTC)
Have you seen this:

Writing yesterday on Quora.com about Ringling Bros. decision to close the circus down in May after 146 years, O'Malley, who is perhaps the most eloquent writer about circuses in America today wrote:...

PS: I got tickets, Worcester Ma. 3PM show on April 15th.

Edited at 2017-01-17 09:39 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2017 10:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, someone shared it with me on facebook :) Thank you! I'm flattered that they would paraphrase me.

See you in Worcester!
Jan. 18th, 2017 12:09 am (UTC)
Restarting in Orlando
Search for trainweb dot org /Carl /Circus2015 and about two-thirds of the way down the page you'll find a photo of yourself, I think it is you, playing during the Anaheim appearance. The last time I linked the address your page flagged it as spam and it never got posted. Also, you'll find a roster of the Red train coaches with house and RBBX numbers.

Finally, the unidentified photo from March 2015 is of a coaling tower.

Good luck and best wishes,

Jan. 20th, 2017 10:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Restarting in Orlando
I'm having trouble finding it, but will keep looking. There's a lot of material there!

Thank you for sharing!
Jan. 21st, 2017 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Restarting in Orlando
Add a / behind Circus2015.

Jan. 22nd, 2017 04:09 am (UTC)
Re: Restarting in Orlando
I tried that and got a "this page doesn't exist". I'm probably doing something wrong. Will try again!
Jan. 20th, 2017 08:28 pm (UTC)
Link to article accusing Barnum about not "retiring" animals properly
My family enjoyed your posts as I made a point of showing them recently. We agree there is no way that you could've turned down that red tabby kitty...what a picture!

Just ran across this on my Facebook feed and thought you might want to respond to it (I'd appreciate your response) and I unliked a group dedicated to "big cat sanctuary" who said snark about Barnum -- that is NOT why I joined that community. This community is dedicated to bats and...I want your insight because I'd be sad to have to unlike these guys too.


Edited at 2017-01-20 08:28 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2017 09:19 pm (UTC)
Re: This is the bat community page
No one should care what a bat sanctuary has to say about circus animals. Unless those people have worked with circus animals and know about their needs, they should not be making decisions about those animals or telling others what those animals need.

People who read this and take a bat sanctuary's word for how circus animals are treated are, frankly, not using their brains.

I can't singlehandedly stop people from believing all the garbage they come across online. Clickbait and false news articles are a huge problem right now, because people are stupid enough to believe everything they read regardless of fact or source. I can't MAKE people think to ask "Who wrote this article", "Who started this petition", or "Is what I am reading right now a fact". People are supposed to be smart enough to do that themselves.
Jan. 21st, 2017 12:49 am (UTC)
Re: This is the bat community page
Uh. Well. Yes, I hope I haven't aggravated you personally, and I don't have a problem leaving comments to the effect that you have stated. Certainly thank you for clarifying some reasons why others should bear in mind wether or not to take such things seriously because currently a lot of people did.

However, if you knew hard facts that entirely differed from their point of view, I'd be glad to restate those as well or at least make others aware it was going on (if they cared). The article and petition seemed entirely based on fear & opinion to me and not actual fact at all. Again though, I wanted 100% clarification which I've now received.
Jan. 22nd, 2017 04:22 am (UTC)
Re: This is the bat community page
Sorry. No, I was just expressing frustration, that wasn't directed at you.

It just amazes me that some random person from PETA, who is a dentist or a lawyer or a housewife or whatever random career field you can think of, can hold a sign saying "Ringling beats animals", and somehow that makes it true. Or some unknown author can write a clickbait with the headline "Ringling gashes baby elephant with bullhook" and everybody believes, from the mouth of an anonymous internet troll, that this really happened. It just...I can't.

Most people are not stupid. Really. I'm sorry for talking like that, and I'm sorry for having a burst of anger in your direction :( Please understand that this is an incredibly stressful time, that's not an excuse, it's just that it's scientifically proven that human beings often react poorly under stress. I've had to be very defensive all week, defending my employer, defending the animal specialists, defending myself for working here...and after a while of doing this I (apparently) get irritable. I'm trying very hard to have a better attitude.

Again, I'm really sorry. I'm not sure what else to say about the bat sanctuary except that I don't appreciate their petitioning against Ringling. I'm sure that they do good work elsewise. Follow them if you like, ultimately Ringling won't exist so no harm done.

Edited at 2017-01-22 04:29 am (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2017 09:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Link to article accusing Barnum about not "retiring" animals properly
Change.org is a petition site. I cannot comment unless I sign the petition.

Petitions on this site can be started by anyone for anything. A petition is not a news source or a fact, so please don't treat it as such. I can start a petition that all black people be removed from my town on change.org for God's sake.
Jan. 21st, 2017 12:05 am (UTC)
Re: Link to article accusing Barnum about not "retiring" animals properly
Megan, as always you make wonderful common sense but sadly too many people are deceived by fake news and petitions that like you say anyone can post even if they want to eradicate black people. All we can do is stand up and report the truth everyday and hope others will do the same especially on college campuses. I have always enjoyed your writing very much here and at other sites and admire you for always being truthful and telling the facts. Always wishing you the very best and am sure your career is just starting with a long and successful future ahead.
Jan. 21st, 2017 04:38 pm (UTC)
Okay, so here's some comments on your post which I enjoyed.

That runway is actually pretty beautiful to me, although I find turbulence is pretty personal in smaller planes. The comparison pics of the two states was a lot of fun. And I swear if one wanted a row to themselves that would never happen.

The first time I had eggs benedict I felt like I'd led a deprived life up until that moment. I'm pretty brave about food, but that burger sounds possibly too wacky for me (although I also have read articles swearing by peanut butter on a burger). However, I will only consider it because it passed the grade by you two. The fries look gooood.

I am the apparently rare breed who likes clowns, so I've enjoyed those pics. Did not realize strongmen still existed -- that's cool as well!
Jan. 22nd, 2017 04:24 am (UTC)
Yeah it took me a while to warm up to the burger, but I figured, what the hey :) You only live once. It was pretty good! Not sure I'd get it again, but it was fun.

Glad you like the pics :)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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