Tuesday, January 27, 2009

pouring tea on a moving train

[I wrote this yesterday... but there was no reliable internet reception. So here it is today.]

Hello friends and family,

Right now I am in transit from Jacksonville FL to Birmingham AL, somewhere in the midst of Georgia. This is the longest train run we have had so far – we started out very late last night, and won’t be arriving until some time tomorrow morning. The country is interesting and beautiful, and as someone who can be happy puttering around their room for a very long time, I am enjoying it. However, being on the go for longer than a full day is quite different from the half-day or mid-night runs we had before. You can’t just wait to do things until after the train pulls in (as you could on a shorter run); you must go ahead and cook your breakfast, and flip your egg with one hand while you hold the counter for balance. As per the title of this entry, pouring my tea this morning took an awful lot of nerve. And I woke up with quite a startle this morning; I heard a clack when the train jolted, and opened my eyes to see that my broom had tipped over and landed resting on the bed, the end of the handle a mere inch above my nose. Yikes! Lastly (in the department of the more unpleasant things you should know), the showers are locked before we get home from the last performance and load out. So I still have the sweat of two shows on me, and so does everyone. Nevertheless, I can’t complain, because I have a window that has something new for me to look at every second, and a whole day to relax and enjoy it.

Although Jacksonville had nice responsive crowds, we are not so sorry to be leaving it behind. Besides the lack of things to do in that city, which I mentioned before, we had a good deal of bad luck. Most of it surrounded the Russian swings, which are precarious to begin with. The troupe has had frequent injuries in the past few weeks, but this time it was their equipment that went awry. The Russian act starts out the second half, and because of the high possibility of it having problems, the clowns’ chari vari is on right after. We are supposed to be there the whole time in the vom, waiting in case anything happens, so that we can cover. I have already seen two fingers broken, a smash to the face, and a serious leg injury right before my eyes! It is not a pleasant thought, but I will have to sit there and watch all the injuries that happen this year. Anyway, this opening night the act began, and one of the cables holding their rig just snapped! The whole thing began to sway in a most unpleasant way. Since they were only about three tricks into the act, there were just four of us clowns ready in the vom, and on we went. Being nervous and confused, Julio and I didn’t get the wall lined up correctly for Ivan, and the first jump of our act was a big splat as well! It was chaos. The next night they had reset the Russians’ rig with two swings instead of four. At the end of intermission the clowns were told to cover as long as we could while they ironed out a few more issues. So we said “OK!” because that’s what you say, and we went out onto the floor for at least 10 minutes and did whatever we could think of to entertain. It was quite a learning experience. After all the effort, they decided not to do the Russian act, and we were on. And then…. One of the finale bungies caught on fire, lord knows how.

We were lucky to have quite a few visitors though, which was really nice. On Thursday, Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs came to visit in the alley. They both used to work on the Blue show, and Ryan got his start in Smirkus. Now the two of them are off to work in Kelly Miller. The alley really enjoyed their visit, because we all admire them and they were fun to have around. That evening we packed eleven (yes, eleven) of us into their little car to go out to dinner. Eric and I were part of a television PR the next day that we had to be awake for at 3 AM, and since we got home from dinner so late, we decided to just not go to bed at all. That made Friday quite an exhausting blur, but nevertheless we were overjoyed to have a visit that evening from David, Tobin, and John Stork (all former Smirkos and good friends). We hung out with them between shows, and then they joined us in the very nice free-roll that the Gator Clown Alley of Florida threw for us. It was at an IHOP, and you can only guess the competitions that ensued after the discovery of ‘all you can eat pancakes’ on the menu. I’ll spare you the details. We returned home and fell asleep like rocks, or in some cases (mine perhaps), were asleep long before we got back to the train. Friday night felt like a mere nap, as it was followed by the three show Saturday. Finally rested by Sunday, we had an enjoyable two shows with a very brief visit from Christine, our former Smirkus counselor. Load out went pretty well, and it was on to Alabama, or as Julio has been singing in excitement all week, “Sweet dreams Alabama”.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

sorry it has taken so long...

Hello friends and family.....

Yes it's true, I have FINALLY started this thing! I do apologize for the wait. But literally, it's a circus, and I have been very busy.

Today I find myself in Jacksonville FL. If you have ever been here, then you may know that I am NOT busy today. It is a day off, as we start shows here tomorrow, and there is just nothing to do! No market run, no movie run, nothing in walking distance,... and the distance is not a particularly favorable one to walk alone, even if you aren't a little girl. So blog it is!

In a way I regret not starting this earlier, because so much has happened and I wish I could have kept you all more consistently updated. However, if I had been in touch from the beginning you would have had to hear an awful lot of complaining. Winter Quarters (the period of time we spent working on and putting together the show in Tampa), was very hard for everyone. For a while I couldn't believe how much my life had changed, and kept wondering why on earth had I left my lovely home to come do this? We were exhausted, cranky, and discouraged at the end of each day, and had very little time to recover and be ready for the next.

But now things really are looking up. We are out on the road and performing. I have begun to make many friends and learn a lot about different people. We are used to the zebras and elephants, the workload, life on the train, and the unavoidable attitudes. We have had two train runs so far, and performed 16 shows in 3 different cities. After all the hard times, it is actually feeling like home! I am growing more attached to this circus, and now I look forward to the year ahead with excitement.

Well I will wrap this first little message up for tonight, but look out for more updates, and some stories from what you've missed in the past few months.
I love and miss you all,