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It's Been a Year

This week went by so quickly.

On Monday I had a half day at work, and in the afternoon an audition for Disney. No, not for a job, just to be on the call list. A call list provides the employer a fast and easy resource for booking musicians...for example if a guitarist gets sick and they need a sub, they just consult their list of auditionees, all of whom they've heard and whose abilities they've scouted. And for the musician, of course, it provides a cobweb of hope to cling to that one day you might get a call.

My audition was "ok". Playing has been weird lately, as I'm maniacally switching back and forth between three completely different horns every week. That kind of thing takes a while to get used to. Excuses aside, it wasn't the best but it wasn't terrible either. I won't hold my breath.

The rest of the week was busy and tiring. Jameson especially had a difficult week, what with trying to replace the broken dishwasher and trying to get someone to fix his broken keyboard that he needs for upcoming gigs. On top of other things. It was a frustrating and challenging week for both of us. But we got through it, and things will get better.

I'm learning more at work, but always feel like I'm not doing enough and just going too slow. My trainer assures me that I'm doing fine, but I worry. My desk is starting to look more homey. I've set up a hot water kettle, the box of teas that Jameson got me for Christmas, and the stuffed "this is fine" dog of course, and Raven's book of poems. I've also brought in a few circus pictures and scattered them around. But until I get my desk lamp it's too dark for pictures. They like to keep the lights out in our office...on one hand it's a bit annoying and on the other I appreciate not having fluorescent bulb-induced migraines.

On Saturday I enjoyed waking up late. In the afternoon Jameson and I went to the Amway Center to see Marvel Live!, as Rebecca (former Ringling Head of Wardrobe and our roommate) had gotten us tickets. It was very strange to be back at the arena after all the time spent there with the circus. As we parked the car, I recalled all the times we'd waited in line to get out of that garage after a day of shows. As we passed the loading docks, my memory seemed to overlay a circus film onto everything I looked at...I could see the black Harlans parked on the ramps, and Dima standing nearby supervising with a watchful eye, and the white Ringling wagons lined up neatly on the street and just inside the doors. And huge grey figures shuffling into the arena on silent ninja feet.

Inside was even more nostalgic, because this was still a Feld show and the concourse was set up the same as it would be for the circus. We walked past the FCP vendors and tried to see if we recognized anyone. Jameson had invited some of his friends and their kids, and together we made our way to the seats Rebecca had gotten for us. Turned out they were in the section behind where my side of the bandstand used to be. This is a pretty typical place for the box office to seat employee guests when it's a full house.

Although the show was definitely geared toward young kids, there was a lot to enjoy. Marvel Live! nearly closed after its first year, but since then more characters have been added and noticeable improvements have been made. The costumes are absolutely excellent! I loved the Hulk suit/framework at the end, and also the alien creatures in one scene. The pyro, lights, and lasers were all coordinated to fire off at very precise moments in the show (i.e. a character shooting a gun = pyro where he pointed it, or SpiderMan's webs rocketing out from wherever he pointed his wrist). It was really very good...better than I was expecting for sure. One of our favorite parts was a motorcycle chase scene. Just extremely impressive and skillful riding!

Afer the show we got to see Rebecca for a brief moment up on the concourse. She's super busy lately (being the boss woman and all ;) ) and we were glad she found time to come say hello! She told us a bit about the costumes and props, and before she was called away again Jameson and I got big hugs <3 We hope to see you again soon Rebecca.

After that Jameson and I found dinner together, then met a bunch of circus people at a nearby Uno's. We got to reunite with Brett (bandmaster) and his wife Theresa (dancer/admin) and their son Bennett; Chantal (production) and her husband Richard (clown) and their son Liam; pretty much the whole Iverson family; Angelica (teacher) and her newborn daughter; Jerome (bass) and Sasha (Dima's son).

(photo courtesy Jameson)

(photo courtesy JLI)

We had a wonderful time. I can't tell you how good it was to see these people again. And it seemed like no time at all had passed since we were last together. As Jameson put it, "It's like we're just picking up where we left off." If it weren't for how the kids had grown, we could have imagined we'd all been together yesterday. I was so glad to make new memories with my circus family, especially as today is the anniversary of the closing announcement.

Over the past year many people have said to me, "You need to move on", or "It was just a job, get over it". I agree in a general way. But I also think that such comments can only come from those who were not in the circus, and who cannot understand what was lost when Ringling Bros. closed.

Anyone who worked there, whether for days or for decades, will tell you that the circus was much more than "just a job". I spent more time in the circus than I did in high school. And none of us just did our work and went home at the end of the day, as you would for a "job". We woke up together, we worked together, we ate together, we traveled together, we went to sleep together. We protected each other. We lived together for years and years. There were people in the circus who were born and raised there, and know no other life. There were people who stayed until they died. How many children were born and raised in your office cubicle? This was more than a job.

I wasn't circus by blood, but lots of people were, and their dedication was infectious. Never had I taken such pride in my work. Never in my life had I held a job where I thought, "I could do this for the rest of my life," until I'd worked for the circus. Many people go their whole lives without experiencing the joy of truly belonging somewhere. How sweet it was to me, knowing that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I was able to be natural, and to be myself, and to do things my own way, and all of that was completely acceptable to everyone around me. I was beyond blessed to experience that. But to then have it all taken away, and to be cast in such a shameful light as we were...I have since been seriously considering whether it really is "better to have loved and lost", if it means living the rest of your life knowing you'll never be in that place again.

We all certainly need to move on. And we are all trying. But this was not some nine-to-five where you pay your dues and then shrug and say, "Oh well, it was just a job," when they hand you your pink slip. The end of Ringling was a death and a tragedy to those who were involved in it. After the final show, all of us were crying. Grown men and circus children and the production team and concessions and veterinarians and train crew and dancers. All of us invested so much of ourselves in the circus. We truly loved it. And it's gone, and we can never get it back. That hurt a lot, and it will take a while to get over.

So while I can appreciate the need to move on, I also feel strongly that most of us require a fair period of mourning. It has now been a year. I spent Saturday night with a table full of talented, wonderful people, most of whom STILL have not found good jobs post-Ringling. It is pretty damned hard to move on when there's nowhere to go. It will take more time.

There is also still a stigma associated with being a Ringling employee that's pretty difficult to overcome when it's being thrust in your face at every turn. I still get hateful messages from animal activists. I and many other circus employees are still told to our faces that we torture animals like it's fact. It's pretty horrible to be honest, when a complete stranger hears "I worked for Ringling" and suddenly there are grounds for all kinds of accusations to be heaped on your head.

I wish for all of us to be able to move on and do great things. I want every single Ringling person to have a wonderful life from here on out. I don't think a single one of us is there yet, and I don't think any of us can get there by simply "getting over it". But in the meantime, it's very good to know that we're all still connected in ways that extend beyond our time with the circus. In that way at least, I think we really are able to start moving on.

On Sunday I did some early morning work for a local wind ensemble, then came home and made meatloaf for Jameson and I. He went to rehearsal at 4, and I cleaned up and wrote this post, and prepared for the work week. Is the weekend over already? Ugh.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2018 09:51 am (UTC)
A sad anniversary
I remember this day vividly when I heard the announcement on the radio while driving to my early Sunday morning shift at WKRC-TV that the circus was closing. It was as if I had been punched in the gut. I realize that I am just a mere fan and while my personal investment in the circus pales in comparison to yours and your circus family, the pain and loss is very real too. I'm sure other circus fans feel the same way.

I consider your post on 10/1/2017 to be your masterpiece when you led us on a trail of circus memories in KC but this post is right up there with your best. How anybody could read your heartfelt writings and not be moved is beyond me. Thank you for sharing those with us.

It is good that the circus community is still active and hopefully will continue for years to come. The loss of Ringling doesn't have to be the end of the circus and I will do my best to support and patronize those circuses that remain such as Carson & Barnes and Kelly Miller. If we can keep but one circus alive then the animal rights extremists can never fully achieve the warped victory they so evilly crave.

God bless you, Jameson and your entire circus family in 2018.


Jan. 21st, 2018 09:04 pm (UTC)
Re: A sad anniversary
Thank you.
Jan. 15th, 2018 05:08 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, Megan. I'm so glad you and Jameson got to see your friends again! But I take great exception from the idea that you should be moving on. It wasn't just a job, it was literally your family, your home, and your whole life. It reminds me of the years I lived in Germany. It was just the best, and although I've literally moved away, back to the US, I've still treasured it in my mind as one of the best times I ever had. Not to make myself miserable that it's not practical for me to live there anymore, though, but so I can hold onto that feeling to guide me to the next "best time of my life." And it has - a few times. I think you're perfectly justified in holding this experience close to your heart for the rest of your life! And for what it's worth, I think you'll find another kind of dream job someday, too. 😜
Sally Bill (Facebook trimbone girl from Indianapolis)
Jan. 21st, 2018 09:06 pm (UTC)
I was only in the circus for five years, so I don't think it's fair for me to say it was my whole life, when for others it really was. But I appreciate what you're saying, and thank you.

I can't imagine anything else that might be a dream job for me. Still I need to be grateful that I got to experience it at all.

Thanks much Sally <3
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )