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Reason for Being

Monday got off to a heat advisory start. It would be very toasty all week, with advisories through Wednesday.

We are starting to talk about rental season stuff at work, including how to rearrange the "showroom" to accommodate both rental instruments and the influx of step-up/used instruments we expect to get. Anything new is exciting to me.

After work on Monday I was supposed to practice and go to the gym, but I got off to a late start practicing and was interrupted by a customer partway through, so called it quits in frustration. To be honest, it's difficult to practice right now. Rehashing the same old scales and etudes is just no fun after a while. Circus music is more engaging and more of a workout, but style-wise isn't really relevant to anything as far as I know. It's just hard to be motivated when there's nothing on the horizon, or nothing specific to work toward.

En route to the gym I realized I'd forgotten to hit Walmart in the morning for tupperware and cheap workout headphones, so thought I'd run over there quick and grab these before exercising. But of course, in the evening everyone is at Walmart, and checking out took much longer than expected. Exasperated, I gave up yet again. I went to the Asian grocery and looked around for a bit, then went home and ate a bunch of cookies. Whatever, don't judge. All my clothes still fit, m'kay.

On Tuesday, Dirk (education rep) came in and did most of the rearranging in our showroom. Together he and Matt and I lifted the heavy service desk and pulled it forward, then Dirk got to work fixing up some of the slatwall that had come loose from the wall through the years. Once that was done, it was safe to move some instruments around. Matt also gave me a bunch of instruments to be put up and listed, none of which I got to do because there were other things that needed attention.

On Wednesday I got to meet the owner of BAC, Greg. Just to keep things straight, Mike Corrigan is the founder, and Greg is the owner. The company right now is sort of split between all of its parts: the custom instruments/repairs/factory, the sales/rental/repairs store, and the rentals/Rent My Instrument .com. We talked a bit about how we might bring all of those facets together, then Greg and Matt went to lunch.

On Thursday Matt was only in the store for a little bit, as he had to go to the factory to help with repairs and such. Kristy and I got a lot done, but I would have liked to have put more instruments up for sale. That can be a part of next week.

On Friday, Charles (Web Designer, Director of Sales) called looking for his pen, which had mysteriously gone missing. Logically, it had to be at the retail store, 45 minutes away from the factory. There ya go Charles, I mentioned you in my blog! How's that for free marketing! ;) Lol. Seriously though, Charles is the person I call most often when I have questions about our POS and other functions that I've not been trained in yet am expected to know. He's a cool dude. Thank you as always, Charles :)

This week turned out to be a wash practice- and gym-wise. It seemed like every time I wanted to practice, there was some interruption, whether it was a customer who thought we were open until 6, or a phonecall, or an unexpected charge on my bill (I'm looking at you, Laclede Gas/Missouri Gas Energy). I went to the gym only once all week, and though I had good intentions for the rest of the week, I was just not feeling anything this week at all. Zero motivation.

Why am I here? What should I be doing? What am I practicing for? What's the exercise for? Sometimes I can't find answers to these questions, and at those times exercise feels like running a hampster wheel and practicing feels like hitting my head against a wall I've not been able to break through for seventeen years. I mean, really, now that the circus has ended, it's just back to the same old "how do I eat this week, next month, a year from now". It's back to those same old feelings of "I'm not good enough".

I guess there are a few reasons that being on the circus has actually made things seem harder upon getting back into reality. The hardest pill to swallow has been that it didn't seem to make a difference professionally. Gaining that experience in the circus has not made one iota of difference in my ability to get other playing experiences. I am still snubbed for auditions based on my resume. I am still not good enough to tour with Blast. I am still having to start at figurative "Level 1" with community groups and "freebies" and work my way up, just like when I was fresh out of college. There's nothing wrong with community groups, I'd even flatter myself by saying this is probably more a reflection on the current music industry rather than my skill level. It's just so frustrating. Musically, what was all of that for? I will never regret the experience, I will always be grateful, and I'll scrub toilets for the rest of my life if that was the trade-off for a few years of genuine life enjoyment with the circus. But I still have to wonder, was that it? What should I be reaching for now?

I am aware that tons of people go through this same thing constantly, without the luxury of having done what they love at least once, as I have enjoyed doing these past five years. I'm not wanting to whine here. Writing is a way for me to be constructive about what I'm feeling. Maybe these kinds of feelings need to go into a diary, huh.

Well anyway. Saturday was pretty slow. I cleaned, then went to get a haircut. It was strange to go into a hair salon and know that I might actually be able to come back there again. After the salon I went to the gym, as I was feeling bad about neglecting it the whole week. It seems to be much less busy on weekends. After that I came home and cooked some chicken soup. Like many parts of the country we're in the middle of a heat wave right now, but I had all the ingredients on hand. I boiled the chicken in broth and white wine, with peppercorns, mirepoix, oregano, thyme, and a bay leaf, with a little butter since chicken breasts have little fat. I'll pour it over rice.

On Sunday I got up a little early to volunteer at Lakeside Nature Center. There were more volunteers than last time, and much had been done by the time I got there, including chopping up the mice. I was spared once again from this duty...but my day is coming. **WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE**

The first thing I saw happening when I walked in was a great horned owl having pus squeezed out of his foot. He was clearly upset, clacking his beak loudly and flexing his talons. There was a vet on hand today, and she showed me that one of the owl's toes was "dead", unmoving. This owl would be going to a veterinary clinic to have the dead flesh amputated, and afterward he'd still be able to grip branches and prey. The other foot also had a wound which hadn't healed after several weeks...that's where they were getting the pus out. I watched as they disinfected and bandaged his foot, then returned him to his cage until it was time to go to the vet's.

Since the raptors were already outside, I helped my mentor to clean the mews, which didn't take long.

Then she tried to show me how to tie a falconer's knot, and unfortunately I'm a total failure at that! There are plenty of tutorials on youtube, I will have to practice. You can't hold the birds until you've learned it. I'm going to freaking learn it.

Next I helped with intake a little bit. All that involves is filling out paperwork when someone comes in with an animal that needs care. Today we had a baby squirrel come in, with no fur and with its eyes still closed. The woman who found it did everything right, she left it in the grass to see if the mother would come for it, and after 24 hours she brought it to the center. We signed it in, then put it in an incubator to warm up. Another woman brought in a possum who had just given birth. She was in bad shape and had probably been hit by a car, as she was found along a highway. Her jaw was broken and she was walking funny. I wonder how that will turn out.

Next I did a little goose wrangling. This snappy dude has a broken foot, and even his stylish purple cast has not made him any happier about being poked and prodded by evil humans who make him swallow nasty medicines. I held the goose while another volunteer forced his beak open, feeding him two kinds of medicine. Then we put him in another room so we could clean his space ('cause we all know how much geese love pooping 24/7). I helped to hose down his space and wipe it dry, then we laid down some blankets and water and got him settled back in.

Then a redtail hawk needed some attention. She was a pretty new intake, and it wasn't exactly clear where she was injured, just that she seemed disoriented. The vet felt the hawk's body and wings for injuries. There seemed to be a break or inflamation in one wing, so the hawk was given a bandage and some saline for dehydration, along with some medicines. Then we put her in a cage, where it was hoped she would perch, but instead she lay on the floor of the cage, a sign that she was not feeling well. We pulled her out again and lined the cage with blankets for her comfort.

After that we had some "junior volunteers" come in, local kids or scouts or something, so we stood aside and let them do some simple things like prepare vegetables and water for the animals. I got to enjoy a few moments just looking at all the animals. I noticed that the turtles have been numbered since I was here last, probably to prevent confusion over who goes in which tub. They do all look the same!!

Here was a groundhog, happily munching away on some fruit until I rudely took his picture.

I was happy to see this little man looking literally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The last time I saw him about three weeks ago, he had horrible mange scabs all over his body, was very weak, and smelled absolutely terrible. Fortunately for him, mange is highly treatable. He will be released soon.

Owl pellets. Not too thrilling, but I haven't seen so many before, and they were just lying around.

After a while it became clear that there was little else for volunteers to do that day, however I did notice that the pile of dirty laundry was very large. The nature center only has one washer and it doesn't work all that well. I offered to take the laundry to my apartment laundromat, and they gratefully accepted, although they insisted that I shouldn't make this a habit. After all, there's a lot of nasty stuff on those towels. But I had been prepared to offer in the first place: I had bought a big jug of bleach, industrial garbage bags, and gloves in advance. I threw everything into my car and went and did the laundry for about two hours, and even wiped the washers out with diluted bleach afterward. No one seemed to mind, and actually the cleaning lady came in right as I was leaving and started doing the same thing. Nice! I was happy to be of help this weekend :)

Back at home, I did my own laundry, then relaxed. Got some unfortunate news about a dear circus friend. Orest was seriously one of the coolest people in the circus. Big huge strong Russian dude with a fantastic work ethic and an awesome sense of humor. He would act dead serious 99% of the time, then would just randomly do or say something so uncharacteristically silly that anyone who saw him in those moments would burst out laughing. At some point today he had a massive stroke, and is currently in critical condition in a hospital in New Jersey. To many of us who know him, Orest is like Superman. It is unthinkable that he is fighting for his life right now. Please pray for him.

That's my week.

In other news, the people who bought the train car that I lived on, Car 38 (or 41406 as it seems to be known as any more) have been great about posting pictures detailing the process of gutting the car. The car was bought by Cincinnati Dinner Train, and the current plan is to make it into a "bar lounge". I think this is incredibly awesome and an appropriate fate for the "band car". Here are some pictures and captions being posted by Brian Collins, President/CEO of CDT, and Scott Jarrett, a mechanic/flagman who is working on the car:

The inside of a door or wall on car 39 (also bought by CDT). Photos courtesy Scott J.

This photo was accompanied by the following caption:
"Day one of the gutting and renovation of RBBB circus car 41406. We demolished room Seven today (that's my room y'all, first to go) so as to be able to easily negotiate the "B" end door opening with scrap being removed from the car. Removed and donated to charity all refrigerators and microwaves. Surprised on how well built the rooms were on this car, not easy tearing them out. Pictured below is room two before gutting (that's Jameson's room)." - Brian Collins

"Day three of the restoration of RBBB circus car 41406. Bedrooms seven and six are now totally out (my room and saxophonist Tim's room). All bed frames and mattresses have been donated to the C&O Heritage society in Clifton Forge W.V. and will be used in a crew car they are building. All of the appliances have been donated to St. Vincent DePaul in Northern Kentucky. So far, one of the small refrigerators and a neon light clock out of, I think, bedroom five, will be placed on the Cincinnati Dinner train. Finally, Megan, I was wrong, the worst room by far was bedroom one. Things were growing under the refrigerator." - Brian C.

"Day four of restoration of RBBB car 41406 finds rooms seven, six, five and four gone (5 = trumpet player Bill's room, 4 = keyboard player Matt's room). We start on the other end of the car next week." - Brian C.

I have to say, it's weird and cool to see our car partly gutted like this.
A strange feeling to know that the room I lived in for five years no longer exists.


Jul. 25th, 2017 09:14 am (UTC)
Re: Thoughts and a question or two...
It is always good to hear from you and as always I enjoy reading your posts. I know you are incredibly busy with your new career and life so I appreciate the time you spend on the blog.

I visited your train several times when it was parked for two weeks in Cincinnati this past March but always kept a respectful distance. I was tempted several times to approach some of the folks milling about to ask about a tour but considering the circumstances with the circus closing I did not want to impose since I'm sure they had more important things going on in their lives than to entertain a circus fan's request. Guess it really doesn't matter now.

I've been in contact with Mr. Collins at the Cincy Dinner train and he was kind enough to sell me an item from your former home so at least I have that. I really don't consider myself a "vulture" but rather as someone who cares deeply about the circus and feels that the circus community has been very unfairly vilified by extremists groups and spineless government officials. Circus fans everywhere are mourning the loss of Ringling and will for years to come. Seeking an actual artifact from the show is just my way of coping with that loss and maybe in some small way to help keep the memory alive.


Jul. 29th, 2017 05:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Thoughts and a question or two...
Sorry, "vulturing" was not meant to be offensive. IMO that's just what it is. I just thought "rescuing", "saving" or "collecting" would be too kind to describe what's actually happening. I vultured a piece of my train room before I left for the same reasons you describe. It felt trashy but if I hadn't done it there'd be nothing left of my room at all, and that was too sad. If things end up in the hands of people who will cherish them rather than turning them for profit on eBay, I think that's the best anyone could hope for.

Maybe Ringling was around for so long that it was taken for granted. for over 50 years that train passed through the same cities over and over. I know in the earlier years huge crowds would come to see the train and the animals unloading. In the past 20-30 years that tapered off quite a lot. Well, we have youtube videos of all that.

I wish we'd been in touch while in Cinci, if time allowed I would have gladly given a tour. Over the years I've tried to give them to as many people as possible. Sometimes it didn't work out because the yard was too dangerous, or the schedule didn't line up. But most circus people were happy to show their living space, especially to someone who would ask rather than just climbing on and taking pictures through our windows (happened a lot near the end).

It's people like that who give circus fans a bad name.

Anyway glad you got a piece of the train to take home.

Edited at 2017-07-29 05:56 pm (UTC)