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Lessons Learned

Before I joined the circus, I was always afraid of the ocean. These two facts are unrelated:  I did not take to the air because the other elements frightened me.  I was simply afraid of the large waves, the unpredictable patterns.  Years ago, when I was home between semesters at school, I went to the beach with my family and another family.  The other family included a young girl of nine or ten, and she wanted to swim in the ocean.  I went with, staying in the shallows but keeping an eye on her.  I saw a huge wave approaching, and realized I had to save her.  For a few seconds I ran through the water, slowed by its weight.  As I got closer, I saw that the wave was not just big…. it was huge!  I turned around, abandoning the girl I was meant to be watching, and began slogging back towards shore.  Since I had turned my back on the wave, it slammed into me and drove me face first into the ground, dragging me across several yards of rough, rocky sand, and sending my bikini top floating out to sea.  The girl whom I had attempted to save jumped under the wave, and was fine.  She would have been perfectly alright without me unsuccessful attempt at heroics.  I would have been fine if I had jumped under the wave: But rather than dive underneath, I had turned and run, and gotten hurt in the process.


Since that time, I have become a professional and somewhat recognized acrobat.  My friends and parents laughingly tell people that I have “run away with the circus,” although i had the full support of my family.   People who watch the show are usually amazed by my “bravery,” as they call it, although hanging by one hand, high in the air, isn’t exactly brave when you know you won’t fall.  But we don’t tell the audience that!  The danger is what makes aerial acts exciting, and I face that danger everyday without a hitch.


Except for today.  Today I faced my other fear, something that scares me even more than big waves: tornadoes!  Well, not a tornado.  A tornado warning.  Which is a potential tornado, and that’s really just as bad.  All day I was terrified, looking around for the tornado that may or may not hit our tent (which could so easily be blown down!)  or our trailers (which could so easily be blown away!).  I was shaking so hard I thought I might faint.  For a moment, I regretted my decision to run away with the circus, to make myself part of a travelling show.  I longed for office buildings, for sturdy houses, for basements.


Then the storm hit.  Not a tornado yet, but a bad thunderstorm.  We were told over announcement that we could go back to our trailers, or stay in the tent.  I decided I should sprint to my trailer and hide under the bed before the tornado arrived.  As I was sprinting out of the tent, another performer was sprinting into it, and we banged our heads.  Hard.  Really hard.  Hard enough to require ice, and leave a giant swollen lump that was visible from the audience when I did the silks act.  (the show must go on, and I performed both my numbers even though people teased me that from now on I would need to wear a mask like the Phantom of the Opera).


These two things are random fears that both bit me in the butt when I tried to get away from them.  In both cases, had I remained calm, I would have been alright… but in uncanny parallels, both thing that terrified me, only hurt me because I was afraid.


I guess what life keeps trying to remind me, is that you don’t run away from the things that scare you….  you run away with the things that excite you :).


Well, off to ice my head.


Where… where is everyone??

It is intermission in our second show of the day here in Durham, NC, and…. nobody is here!  The first show was almost empty and this one is not much better.  In my section, there was no one.  Literally, no one.  During the show I saw two people sitting there, but it turned out to be Imageone of the guys who sells popcorn, taking a 2 minute break.  When I bow, I am facing section J and K. Today I actually bowed to nobody!  It felt like a practice!!  This town isn’t too bad though– we get 4G internet, which means I have unlimited netflix.  


My parents came last weekend to see me perform in Wilmington.  It was good to see them, but one of the rare times when i don’t have any spare time to hang out!  After doing 2 shows on Friday, I went with them to eat dinner and got to bed around midnight.  I had to set my alarm for 3:45 AM to be in full costume and make-up by 5:30 for a parade.  We had to leave super early to get the cannon down the street before they closed all the roads for the Azalea Parade!  After an absurdly early morning we just had to sit for hours, and hours, waiting for the parade.  They gave us breakfast but there was no coffee, so the ringmaster and I walked to a gas station.  We arrived to see our human cannonball already there, pouring coffee.  The ringmaster ran over to him and said “Kellan!  Don’t drink it all!”  He sounded so desperate that we all just started laughing.


The actual parade, after all the waiting was done, was soooooo much fun!  We were in the back of a flatbed truck but Lavinia, Perilito, and I climbed onto the top of the truck.  We were second in the parade (right after the cannon) and waved to everyone going past.  I high fived a few traffic lights and almost got hit by a cable going across the road!  We all saw it coming and lay down flat to avoid being clotheslined!  After the parade we had 3 shows to perform.  Thank god for red bull and coffee!!

My parents filmed my act, so hopefully I can get a link up soon.  The producer of the show and his family were watching on Saturday night, so I am glad that everything went really well and it was a pretty big audience.  Having a small audience like we’ve had today just isn’t the same.  It brings the energy level down a bit.  I always try to perform well, because you never know when one of the kids in the audience will be inspired to become an acrobat, and just because it is a small audience doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone sitting in the bleachers, having a life changing experience!


Well intermission is almost done, time to put on my show socks!



They didn’t know whether they could weather the weather

The weather here has been insane.  It has been cold, then rainy, then hot, then rainy again, then cold…. and that is without even moving between towns!!!  But the most insane things have been happening on our jumps.  Last jump was only 51 miles but our driver, who is also the ringmaster, had a terrible tooth ache.  He couldn’t take his medication, since it might interfere with his driving abilities, and was therefore in horrible pain the whole time.  His brother is a patch man and couldn’t leave the lot until the tent was down, so we had to wait for hours  before leaving.  The sleeper truck where I live is actually attached to the tent, so I couldn’t have left any earlier anyway, unless I wanted to wait in the new lot for my bed to arrive.The ringmaster, however, lives in a trailer and could have been in the new lot, set up, medicated, and asleep by the time his brother was even ready to go!!


The elImageephant truck hit something in the last town and the floor buckled.  While the truck is getting repaired they have a smaller truck that they borrowed from someone else.  It seems like everything will not fit into the new truck– and when I suggested elephant tetris, no one was amused.


The acts have been going well.  We had to have an usher meeting because some other performers have been showing up late, leaving early, using phones, and just not ushering right in general.  I am happy to report that, as far as I know, section J/K has had no incidents 🙂 .  Well, except for the Romanian girl who ushers with me having a fever.  She had to go to bed and miss the second show so I worked as an usher for both our sections– and sat a total of 10 people.  It was a sadly empty show!!  Then, since she was sick and could not perform in the lyra number, I look her place in the line instead of dancing in the middle like I usually do.  When we first learned the dance (before I started dancing in the middle) I learned the dance for the right side of the ring…. and the girl i was filling in for dances on the left.  I think I played it off because i only almost collided with one person.  She is all better now, so I get my usual place back!! 

Well intermission is almost over!  TTFN


Dreams really do come true

We had three shows yesterday and we’re halfway through our third show for today– but I feel great!  I don’t have to sell tickets before the show–Image only work as an usher, which isn’t too hard.  I work in the back section, which has the fewest chairs and, for some reason, the fewest audience members.  It is a pretty good section– with the way the big top is set up, you can see everything from every seat, so there really aren’t bad places– but for some reason nobody buys the seats in section J or K!  However we are right next to the general admission seating, so sometimes people sneak in and try to sit in the VIP chairs!  Still, even when the show is crowded and people end up in the wrong seats, it is not a terribly difficult job.  

After the show starts I stay and watch the tiger act, then run back to my room in the bunk truck.  (My own room!  All by myself!  Even if I had a roommate– which I did when I first arrived– the space would be luxurious compared to the 8-person trailer I stayed in on my last tour).  I have plenty of time to get dressed and stretch before the silks act.  After silks I have all of intermission and several more acts before I have to be ready for my swinging lyra number.  I go to the cookhouse, play on my computer, get dressed, try to practice the ribbon dance, and still have time to spare.  I need to get a new hobby!  I don’t like wasting time, and I can only rewatch Sherlock so many times before I will be able to recite it word for word. (OK, I can already recite the last episode word for word!!).

In my copious amounts of spare time I plan to learn Spanish as soon as I can get my hands on a Rosetta Stone or one of Vi’s old textbooks.  I am also working on the show I am writing (Yes!  it is still happening, just being postponed for a little while….).  Any other suggestions?  I was looking into online courses, but my internet is spotty and I don’t know if trying to download classes will use up all of my Overdrive Pro’s monthly data.


time to suit up!!


Let’s pretend I have been keeping this blog the whole time

and I will fill you in on everything you missed.  But I will do that later.  This post is going tImageo be all about The Mud.  This wasn’t just any mud: OK, it was just any mud, but there was a lot of it.  Seriously, a lot.  Just, so much mud, you wouldn’t believe.   I waded out to my silks and pretended I was in Cirque du Soleil’s “O.”  Luckily I had some oversized mudboots, purchased in desperation during the last big rain storm, but even those did nothing to save me during Finale, where we walked through ankle deep water in heels to bow.  Even audience members had to get wet walking to and from their seats! 


Yesterday the shows were cancelled because of the damage that The Mud had done to the parking lot.  Frankly I’m surprised nobody’s car got stuck!!!  It was sad not to be doing the shows– even though the time off gave Meatball and me a chance to go to a huge buffet, we would rather be working!  The show is amazing and I am finally getting a chance to do the aerial acts I was trained for.  By the early evening, we had so much pent up energy that we couldn’t sit still.  Since the ring was still too muddy to hang my nice white silks, I played tag with the elephant trainer’s daughter and grandsons.  The tiger trainer’s husband came to see what everyone was doing, and dared Meatball to jump into the mud.  In exchange for two bottles of whiskey, Meatball let us film him running down a hill and diving into a giant mud puddle.  Once the video is on Youtube, I will provide a link.


Well intermission is almost over!  Time to put my costume on.  Until next time,


y’all arent the first barbie dolls i’ve worked with

M, the crew member who gave me the tiger eyelash, also works the camel rides. He has been offering S and i camel rides. We didnt have time to visit the camel (except to give it treats) but we did finally get to go on the carnival rides. The skaters came with us and told is what rides to go on. They didnt choose well though, because right before we got onto the swinging pirate ship, some guy threw up on the person in front of him. Then on our next ride, someone threw up into a bag while we were riding. The next ride we went on was the ” crazy dance” and it sure was crazy! When we got off I realized that the whole time, I had been smiling like I do in shows. I guess I am just so used to any crazy movement being during a show, that I do the showgirl smile on reflex!

That all happened last night. Todays shows were 9retty uneventful… we only had two, and since the cyclone broke and came to a screeching halt during yesterdays second show, I have things pretty easy. Then during teardown, the shriners brought us pizza and soda. I love shrine circuses! They are nice to us. They gave our boss a really cool sweater, but S and I couldn’t find where the sweaters were so we didn’t get any. Although I guess that’s alright, because it is wayyyy to hot for sweaters right now! The air feels heavier…. and although cyclone is my favorite act, I was a little glad I didn’t have to climb up into the oven at the top of the cuppola!