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Overlapping Worlds

Monday was a pretty good day. I arrived at work on time, and got a lot done before my boss got in that day. Placed several orders, got a lot of school instruments polished and cleaned, that sort of stuff. Way cool. But the coolest thing? My boss, the one and only Brett Barlow, was in town and made time to visit!! I was so happy!!

As you can see he still hates having his picture taken :P

Neither of us had a lot of time. He had to keep driving for another ten hours to get home, while I had a limited lunch break. But we got caught up as best we could, and I gotta say, I was just happy to see him. He brought me some chocolate pumpkin loaves made by his wife, Theresa. These are seriously The Best. They're so good that when Theresa would bring these out to the circus, anyone lucky enough to receive one would bite it immediately to prevent others from eating it!!

Brett and I had lunch at Burnt End. My first KC BBQ since moving here. It was very good! I wasn't a fan of the cucumber salad compared to Dinosaur BBQ, but the ends were legit!

We talked about the circus, and life after, and how everyone is doing. Brett's working to get his real estate license, and will have to take a test for that next month (he'll do awesome). In the meantime he is doing a lot of work around the house, and is getting used to wearing bifocals. Sitting in that BBQ joint with him, it felt like we were back on the road, grabbing a bite before preshow.

After our meal he drove me back to work, and we parted ways. See you again soon, I hope!
After work I stayed late to practice, but once again was interrupted by people showing up thinking we close at 6. So I'm on the hunt for somewhere else to practice.

Tuesday sucked. I don't feel like being cute about it, it was awful. We got the update on Orest (circus crew boss, strongman) and the news just gets worse and worse. Not only did he have a massive stroke, when doctors cut him open they also found a brain tumor. There is little hope for his recovery. Partway through the day I saw a post on facebook, in broken english, that seemed to say Orest had passed away. I shared this information, only to be corrected a few hours later. Very embarrassing, but I'm glad I was wrong.

In addition to that, there was some sort of snafu down at the factory that my boss had to go handle, and it involved looking up documents from long before I worked here. These documents involved a skill that I am not trained in and have no job experience with (trust me, I've checked my resume and LinkedIn and memory extensively to make sure I haven't misled anyone). As the issue compounded, I became more and more frustrated with my inability to complete this facet of my job. On top of that, there were some weirder-than-usual customer issues that just made the day harder. In the end my boss decided to bring some folks down from the factory to train me, which I was really, really grateful for.

So on Wednesday I was greeted by Charles (Director of Sales) and Dirk (Education Rep), both of whom used to do the work that I'm now doing. We had a little pow-wow, and Charles took the time to spell everything out for me. Literally, writing step-by-step instructions. I would rather have someone spell things out for me like I'm an idiot than do a poor job. Thankfully these guys were willing to take the time; not every employer would. I'm looking forward to getting this part of my job duties right.

The rest of Wednesday was pretty uneventful. It was very hot out, with a heat index of 105. After work I went to the gym, then home.

Thursday was a little better. I got lots of orders placed, although one of them was rather late and had to be rushed due to a variety of factors. We also got in a saxophone (pretty sure it was from a college student) with The Most Disgusting Mouthpiece I Have Ever Seen. Oh my LORD. Kids, clean your mouthpieces. YOUR MOUTH TOUCHES IT.

Right before closing the shop for the day I heard (this time correctly) that Orest had passed away.

If you didn't know Orest, you might have thought he was an intimidating, huge, muscle-head Russian dude. But once you got to know him, he was so much more than that. He was kind, and professional, and had this great goofy streak that I looked forward to on the rare occasions when he let it show. We used to share little moments and jokes on the arena floor in the time between preshow and start time. Even though he was incredibly busy and took his work very seriously, he made time for a quick joke, or even just a nod and smile as he walked past.

Orest did really like to work out. Like many circus people, he had a membership with Planet Fitness (personally I thought PF was too wimpy a gym for the likes of Orest!). Jameson and I also had memberships, which we kept after the circus closed. About a month ago, Jameson sent Orest a joking message saying Orest had better watch out, as Jameson might catch up to him muscle-wise. Orest sent back a photo of himself lifting Jameson's body weight. Wish I'd kept that picture.


In the most recent show, Circus Xtreme, floor crew had to set up huge BMX ramps in a limited amount of time. Every night I loved to watch Orest, who would grab two drills, one in each hand, and stabilize the closest ramp in minutes. Total bada$$.

Orest was loved by many circus people. His death was sudden and unexpected. But his strength continues to lift us all up. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you. (sidenote: all photos are from Orest's facebook page. If you want credit or are offended, holler. Thanks.)

Having gotten the news of Orest's passing, I decided to hit the gym after work and lift extra weights in Orest's honor. Then I went home, and after getting cleaned up, had a "Russian salute" for Orest (a shot of vodka). I don't know if Orest was much of a drinker, but wanted to give him a good sendoff. See you down the road.

On Saturday I decided to go to IKEA because my French press broke earlier in the week. Before heading out, I got a lot of chores done, including vacuuming, dusting, ironing work clothes, and running various updates/scans on my computer. While I was doing all this, Jameson was meeting up with his Dad, who flew down to Florida to see the Encore rendition of Hairspray that Jameson will be performing in. While I was driving to IKEA, Jameson sent me a picture of their lunch. Wowzers!

IKEA was PACKED. I waited in line for about fifteen minutes for lunch. Worth it! Love that salmon and pilaf. After lunch I found the French press pretty quickly, but checking out took forever. On the way out the door I indulged in a frozen yogurt. All that for a French press, but hey, that's good coffee brewed right ;)

Back home I finished updating the computer and got busy cooking for the week. I made boiled chicken again, this time adding some lemon zest, which made a really nice flavor difference! Then I boiled eggs and made the last of my forbidden rice. After all that, finally, I took a break. There's a big circus "reunion" going on in Baraboo Wisconsin this weekend, and many of my friends were attending. It was great to see that they were having fun :) Here we have representatives from the Red Unit Animal Crew, Train Crew, and FCP (Concessions).

(photo courtesy Susan B)

One of the events was a large parade, featuring former circus employees as the main event! Looks like there were a LOT of clowns!

(photo courtesy Chris B.)

Elephants of course, complete with showgirls!

(photo courtesy Chris B.)

A colorful old circus wagon bearing a load of happy guests!

(photo courtesy Chris B.)

A lovely group photo <3

(photo courtesy Circus World)

I opted out of this event because of time. With all the driving involved, I would have only been able to spend a partial day enjoying the festivities. Plus, I dunno...it seems kind of soon. It's only been about three months. But it's great that it was a good time. Next time!

Sunday was Jameson and my dating anniversary!! We've been together for FOUR WHOLE YEARS!! I've never been with anybody for so long. And it's awesome :) Right now it's really difficult, being apart. But we enjoyed a lot of great time together on the circus, so I try to appreciate that and see this current separation as temporary. There's nothing for it but to get back to him as soon as I can. It's only a matter of time! In the meantime, my dear, thank you for four wonderful years. I'm glad we found each other in this crazy world.

I should have volunteered at the nature center on Sunday. I wanted to, but also felt that there were other pressing things that I needed to do, like find somewhere to practice. I can't do it at my apartment complex, it's too loud and I'd feel uncomfortable. The store was fine for a while, but with rental season coming there will be people constantly showing up after hours, so there's no point continuing there. I decided to drive out and visit a local community college to see if they had any practice rooms. Apparently on Sundays they don't have any classes...the campus was completely empty. It felt really odd just wandering around. Nice digs though.

I went first to the "arts" building, hoping to find practice rooms there. I was surprised that the door was open. Inside I found out that it was a visual arts building. A visit to the school's curriculum page told me that all music classes are held in an office building near the performance hall (duh, but the building's name has nothing to do with the arts, so maybe I'm excused this time?). I drove over there, but there seemed to be an event going on and I didn't feel comfortable wandering around in my gym clothes with a bunch of nicely dressed folks. Yes, I was in my gym clothes, because my gym was nearby. I went and did my time, then hit Whole Foods. I know I've just been talking about saving money and all that, but there are one or two things worth getting in there that won't break the bank...in this case, Epic jerky, which makes a great snack at work or after the gym. I got my goods, drove home, and spent my evening doing some research on places to apply for seasonal work during the fall. Not sure if I'll need to get a second job at that point, but the application period is now, so now is when I need to be looking.

That concludes another riveting week with yours truly.

There has been an update on the renovation of Car 38, courtesy Brian Collins:

"Well into the restoration of RBBX 41406. First pic shows a section of the banner board removed to expose the original, "very dirty", unpainted stainless steel. We plan to blast all of the silver paint off of the stainless steel so as to get the car back to original."

"The second pic is of the "A" end where bedrooms 3,2 and 1 were. The refrigerators from rooms
1 and 2 and the washer/dryer combo are being removed today."

There you have it. Car 38 is pretty much entirely gutted.
In addition, Brian shared a descriptive write-up on the car's history, to be included in the Dinner Train's route guides:

"Our newly acquired Ringling circus car 41406 was built in 1950 by the Budd Company as a 44 seat coach car for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The SP assigned number 2226 to the car and used it in regular service for the next seven or so years. Sometime in the late 1950s, the SP sold the car to the Texas and New Orleans railroad who re-numbered it as car 438. In 1961 the Texas and New Orleans sold the car back to the SP who then assigned it number 2365. Like most Budd built cars, coach #2365 was sold by the SP to Amtrak in late May of 1971 when Amtrak was first formed. Amtrak assigned it number 4413. It served as a coach car on Amtrak through the seventies and then was shopped at Amtrak’s Beechgrove Indiana shops in 1980 where it received full 480 head end power or “HEP”. Sometime around 1980 Amtrak again re-numbered it as 4016 but then retired the car in early 1981.

"In March of 1981 Amtrak sold coach 4016 to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus for use as housing for Ringling personnel. We assume it was at this time that RB&BBC renumbered the car as RBBX 41406 and assigned it to the red train as car 38. It is our understanding that the car has always served as the residence of the circus band members. We do not know the interior configuration prior to 1997 but we do know that in 1997 the car was shopped by Ringling and seven bedrooms were installed. Entering from the “B” end, single bedrooms seven, six, five and four were on the left followed by the restrooms and shower and HVAC systems built in the middle of the car. Continuing toward the “A” end was single room five and then two larger rooms, six and finally seven.

"In April of 2017 all RB&BBC cars were auctioned off after it was announced earlier that year that the circus would be closing down after nearly 150 years of continuous operations. In March of 2017 the circus red train came to Cincinnati for the final time. Cincinnati Dinner Train owners Brian Collins and Bill Thomas were able to visit the consist at Undercliff yard near Lunken airport, and actually cherry pick which car they wanted to bid on for use on the dinner train. Car 41406 was chosen and a bid was placed. In late May it was announced car 41406 had been awarded to the Cincinnati Dinner Train. The process of removing the entire interior down to the bare frame began in early July of 2017. Car 41406 will be remodeled into an entertainment bar car for use on the dinner train. It will replace the current Queen City Tavern car and will provide an improved performance area for the Queen City Sisters as well as a full service bar and increased lounge and viewing areas. The two restrooms in the center of the car will be retained. The newly remodeled car is scheduled to be placed in service on the dinner train in 2018. The 41406 car number will be retained but a new car name will eventually be assigned. We are prohibited by contract to retain the outside Ringling banner name or the outside logo, but plans have some sort of tribute to the circus and its heritage to be displayed inside the car.

Now we know the full history of the train car I called home for five years. Neat.

In other more depressing news, our former GM took this picture of several Ringling train cars, a wagon, and surprisingly our lighting grid, sitting in a junk yard awaiting scrapping.

(photo courtesy Rob L.)


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 24th, 2017 03:26 am (UTC)
So sorry about Orest. :(
Jul. 29th, 2017 05:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I hope you're doing well. Haven't been stalking you on LJ as much lately :/
Jul. 30th, 2017 02:39 am (UTC)
Nothing much to stalk lately anyway! But I am doing well, thanks, and it looks as if you are, too.

And now, I'm actually going to post an update! :)

Jul. 25th, 2017 12:56 am (UTC)
So sorry Meg.
Jul. 29th, 2017 05:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Orest
Thanks. Life isn't fair, huh.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )