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It turned out that the Smoke Ring was closed for maintenance, so the guys and I missed out on our amazing meal :/

Instead we headed over to Delia's Chicken Sausage Stand, a little corner restaurant that's on the way back to the train. They serve small-batch, organic chicken sausages in a variety of ways. I was expecting a sort of fast food environment...the food definitely came out fast, but the quality was WAY better than fast food! Jameson had creamy grits that he said were some of the best he's ever had. Tim (sax) was all about the meatball slider. Brett (bandmaster) had a full-sized chicken sausage in a hoagie roll, it looked great. I had sweet potato pancakes with breakfast chicken sausage links. The pancakes were fluffy and delicious and the sausage was flavorful and just a bit spicy. How have we never been here before?

I didn't get a picture of the food before we all dug in, but did find this poster on the wall to be pretty funny.

After our meal we went to Cafe 290 to see our friend Hardin play trumpet with a local big band. Hardin has frequently subbed in with the circus band, so we all already know he's a great player. This time we got to see him in a jazz element. The place was packed and the band was awesome! I think the only thing we didn't like was the frontman, he was very talkative. All the time he spent talking and preening himself could have been better spent listening to that great band. Ah well, what we did get to hear was very enjoyable. Had a great time :)

Jameson and I left after the first set, stopped at Walmart for some groceries, and crashed back at the train. So tired. (The train's staying in the same yard for Duluth.)

Tuesday I got up late, and spent most of my day applying for jobs. There was a brief union meeting around 3, and then at dinnertime Jameson and I were treated to some stellar sushi! Raven (my sister) had gotten us a gift card for Eight Sushi Lounge here in Atlanta.

We started off with some appetizers: calamari, and a "tuna crisp" each. The texture and flavor of the calamari was oddly similar to funnel cake! We both agreed that all it needed was a little powdered sugar and the difference would be minimal, haha.

The tuna crisp was AWESOME. The round crisps were very light, the tuna was paper thin, and it was all drizzled with truffle oil. Extremely delicious and one of my favorite treats of the evening!

Before ordering our meal, we decided to try something new. Something that we would not normally have gotten ourselves, but thanks to Raven's generosity we'd now be able to try. Wagyu beef nigiri.

Wagyu beef comes from a rare type of cow that has exceptional fat marbling in its muscles. The meat looks like this:

(photo courtesy huntspoint.com)

"Wagyu" literally means "Japanese cow". This cow is raised in Japan, although you can also find some of them in Australia and the US. In these countries, wagyu are often cross-bred with other types of beef cattle. The meat from cross-bred cows generally receives a lower rating than that of pure wagyu meat from Japan. Ratings range from A1-A5 (1 being lower and 5 being highest). The small pieces of wagyu that we enjoyed were A5-rated Japanese, which currently goes for around $100/lb in the US.

Now, I am not a fan of gimicky foods. Slapping gold leaf onto food does not make it any tastier if you ask me. And I've heard lots of ridiculous things about how wagyu cattle are raised. Jameson and I hesitated about spending the money on this beef. But ultimately we decided that life is short and that we should take this opportunity to try it. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad we did. It was NOT a gimmick. It was...well, kind of indescribable. I didn't know that it was possible for any beef to be so tender. More tender than a filet mignon, and very flavorful (I couldn't put my finger on the flavor and texture but later read that others have described it as similar in richness to bone marrow, and I agree with that.) It was a small bite, but it was one of the most memorable things I've eaten in my life. Ridiculously amazing for such a little piece of meat. Long story short, if you have the opportunity to try even a small piece of this very expensive meat, GO FOR IT. Yes it's expensive, but it's absolutely worth it.

When the last of the wagyu flavor was gone from our palates, we moved on to the main course. These were more standard-looking Americanized sushi rolls, but they were fresh and delicious and the presentation was wonderful. I had a roll called the Brady, which was really two 4-piece rolls: one was eel and the other spicy tuna, and both had seasoned yellowtail and crispy panko in the centers. The tuna roll had rice crisp balls and pureed mango. Both were delicious!

Jameson made the best choice of the night though! He got the Shinobi roll, which had crab salad and tempura crunch topped with slivers of filet mignon. It was just excellent!

What a great start to our week! Eight Sushi Lounge in Atlanta folks. You gotta try it!

Wednesday was another blessed day off. I used it cleaning my room, searching for jobs, and bringing my plants out of dormancy. The flytraps are still alive, but they are very tiny and don't look so good. I wonder if they'll make it. My two vines are doing well and just needed repotting.

This plant has been with me since 2007. I bought it when I moved to New Jersey, and it's been on cross country drives from CA to VA, lived with me during a two year masters program in NC, stayed in my room while I worked retail on Long Island, and has been on the train with me for the past five years. You could say I'm a little attached to it :)

This one I found on my travels, in a grocery in New Orleans. It had overgrown its pot and was in pretty bad shape. On clearance for $5. I took it home and cleaned it up, and it's been growing like crazy ever since.

You may recall that I had a Wandering Jew...I ended up "setting it free" in Greensboro because it kept spawning centipedes and wasn't growing well. They seem to do better in the wild anyway.

Thursday was opening day. Allen (sound crew) is a trombonist and has always wanted to try playing the trombone book, so he sat in for me on this week's rehearsal! He sounded great!

And while he was doing that, I got to wander around and enjoy watching :D I mostly watched the high wire...that act is behind me and to my left, so I almost never get to see it!

After rehearsal we had dinner and then performed the show. It was packed and went very well.

On Friday we had one evening show. During the day Jameson and I packed our things, because we'd be staying at his brother Kevin's place for the next two nights. Kevin lives pretty far from the arena, but by staying with him we avoided having to drive through downtown Atlanta to get to work (so really, it's a shorter commute). On the way to their house we stopped at Pure Taqueria. We've been to Pure several times before, it's very good fresh Mexican food. We both enjoyed beef tacos and the unusually warm February weather :)

We arrived at Kevin's house in the afternoon and were greeted by their pet pit bull, Blue. He's such a cutie!

(photo courtesy Kevin B.)

A little after that Kevin's wife Debbie came home. We got caught up and settled in, then enjoyed a few hours relaxing on their porch overlooking a small lake. Very relaxing and much needed quiet time. We drove to the arena for the evening show. It was sold out, and afterward it took a very long time to get out of the parking lot. It's just so weird for the circus to be "popular" all of a sudden. Jameson's family came out to see the show, I got to meet some of his cousins. Pretty awesome!

Saturday was a rare two show day. Feels good after last week's six pack. We woke up nice and late and got to the arena in time for the 1pm show. Mr. Feld was here again, visiting with everyone. Dima (former crew boss and Iron Jaw) was here with his son Sasha, having flown in from Philly. Sasha's mother Nadia passed away last week, so they came back to hold a memorial service for her among their circus family. It's not just a saying...circus IS family for many performers. Sasha was born in the circus and grew up here. I'm glad that they were able to come back, though very upset that it's because of such awful circumstances.

After the second show we had the memorial service for Nadia. In addition to being Dima's wife and Sasha's mother, Nadia was an amazing aerialist, human cannonball, and dancer. She was a wonderful person and touched many lives here. The service was held on the arena's third floor concourse. Some tables were set up with refreshments. Dima had brought a wonderful collection of photos of Nadia, and they were on display for us to view. The mood was sober and sad as we all filed past these images, showing Nadia's childhood, her adulthood with the circus and with her family, and some photos taken at her funeral. It was really hard to see. But I think most of us were very, very grateful to Dima for giving us this opportunity to grieve with him. We needed it.

After the service Jameson and I drove to his brother's, and talked about Nadia and her family the whole way there. I hope that Dima knows that he's got a huge circus family that will help him and Sasha at the drop of a hat.

Sunday was two shows. Nothing special happened...the shows were well-attended. After the second show we returned to the train. We stay in Duluth this week, so I will enjoy several days off while Jameson flies to Florida for an in-person job interview, hopefully the final phase in his quest for employment. And of course, I will spend a large portion of my time off practicing, preparing for auditions, and packing up my room. Such is life. See you next week!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 27th, 2017 12:55 am (UTC)
uh, that is NOT what choking the chicken means
Feb. 27th, 2017 04:11 pm (UTC)
I have a few more moments to comment now! I'm not surprised that calamari tasted like funnel cake, that's way too much sauce for me! I totally agree agree about wagyu beef, both my doubt and then the "it's a religious experience" reaction.

Are you applying for various sorts of jobs or focusing on musical ones, if you don't mind my asking?

You said centipedes and I was like, "Hell. No. Those things bite people". So, I looked it up. Turns out those are the tropical types and there are tempret types as well. I had no idea. People say centipedes are good because they eat other bugs, but millipedes are bad because they munch roots. Again...I had no idea.

Thank you for continuing to share life with the circus with us, I do envy the bond that your people have.
Feb. 27th, 2017 06:37 pm (UTC)

Yeah, the calamari was odd but everything else was great :)

I've kind of got a moderated job hunt going...

First I'll apply for jobs I want (music jobs such as tours, orchestras, music administration, etc) and writing/office jobs that would help me to improve upon that skills set.

By mid-March, if I haven't heard from these types of jobs, I'll begin applying to jobs that I'm less interested in and that are not necessarily music-related. I have retail and office experience so will be focusing on that. At that point I'll also have to decide where in the US to live.

By April if I haven't found anything it'll be whatever I can get in whatever location I've decided to move to. I'll begin moving and focus on any type of work in that location.

So there you have it.

TBH I wasn't sure if they were millipedes or centipedes. They're very small and brown, and last year I kept finding them all over my room. Realized that they were coming from the Wandering Jew plant, which when I'd bought it had root rot and all kinds of things living in it! I thought I'd cleaned it out well but I think there were centipede eggs living somewhere inside it, and they began appearing again, and I'm tired of it. Plus the thing gets mushy and weird easily. Throwing away plants is not a thing I normally do, but this was a much-needed exception.

Glad you're enjoying it, thank you for reading!
Feb. 27th, 2017 05:55 am (UTC)
Circus Xtreme Duluth, GA - Small Indulgences
Megan, as always love your stories because you are such a good writer who really makes one feel like they are with you. I really wish I was with you especially when you are dining... LOL! Your pictures make me so hungry because they are beautiful food. You have a real knack at finding the best and most unique places to eat. So happy for you and Jameson's adventures in life and always wish you both the very best, have fun, be well.
Until next time.....
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )