Dream Ramblings

[Originally written on 1.19.06]

Memories are plaguing me tonight.  As I sit here watching the Sopranos, drinking whiskey after having smoked a bowl, someone sleeps nearby and the scene brings this mind to an apartment in E-town four years ago.  The familiarity of the situation does not cease to amuse me, as does the fact that I left that asshole for what I thought was a better one and still find myself right where I was before.

The chaotic sequences of my dreams the past few days have surely been influenced by my choice of stimulus during waking hours, as the subconscious tends to pick up on that sort of thing while also manifesting fears and desires.  Here are the things that I can remember.

Last Nite: Swing music filled the air as bodies twirled around a dance floor.  Decked out in vintage attire suitable for a Hollywood film, I was in Jon’s arms and he looked just as stunning, his face unchanged by year of drug and alcohol abuse.  We danced closer than anyone else despite the upbeat tempo that continued to swell, our passionate one-on-one conversation secluded from the rest of the world.  Removed from prying eyes, we were engaged in passionate kissing, and when there was a small break between them, he inquired what I would like to do.  Upon replying, I suggested it was something not subject for public display. Then I woke up.

The Nite Before:  The Garden State was under an alien attack, War of the Worlds style with people screaming in every direction.  The neighborhood is already in run and Jon comes strolling through the rubble like a postapocalyptic warrior, shouting orders into a crackling radio before hoisting me to my feet.  Walking along the desolate Parkway, the sound of incoming fire had us on edge though he encouraged me to keep going, insisting that we had to get out of Jersey and it needed to be soon.  Adrenaline and fear kept the heart racing at a fast pace as shelter was sought, and everyone has the collective thought of I’m going to die.  At some point we emerged from our safe hiding places, and all seemed calm until some sort of craft fell out of the sky and the screaming started all over again.  Kind of glad I woke up from that one before getting stuck in it.

The Nite Before That:  On carnival grounds, wearing high heels and dressed to kill, I am excited to be seeing the Family.  The entire Outlaw Cirkus crew was gathered and seated in rows of wooden folding chairs.  Smiling faces and warm hands greeted me, as it had been a while since we saw each other yet everyone was engaged in conversation as though no time had passed.  Austin and Aaron were up front, the two of them placing a kiss on both cheeks and complimenting my appearance.  We then sat down for a variety show, though there are suddenly other people around us who are making rude comments, so the three of us decide to leave.  Unfortunately that is where I lost the dream.

For some reason that least dream brings up memories of the time I spent hanging with Jerry.  Often I spent the evenings after work sitting in his bunk and just listening to his stories.  At his point it doesn’t even matter if they were true or not, due to the fact I appreciated that he made the effort to tell them at all.  While he talked to the other workers and whatnot, I like to feel that we a different kind of connection.  Right now I miss sitting in his room, smoking a joint and watching movies.

One night while at the spot in Frederick, Jerry hatched an idea.  The bunk house was set against a hill, and there was a pair of mattresses stored in the back.  Well he suggested we take them and  prop them up on the hill, thus creating a couch.  While someone tried to discredit his idea, the rest of us set to work pulling out the mattresses and placing them as suggested.  It actually turned out well even though trying to cram everyone onto this makeshift couch was a whole other feat.  Anyway, this had been done for optimum viewing pleasure of the selected film of the evening, as Jerry had a t.v. and DVD player that he was kind enough to share with everyone so long as someone provided a movie.

That night it happened to be Swing Kids, which I purchased earlier that week at Wal*Mart out of curiosity.  The bio had piqued my curiosity: based on a true story about the rebellious youth of Nazi-Germany that just wanted to enjoy swing music, the bonds of friendship between four young men are tested when one of them two of them are recruited into the Hitler youth.  This helpful article has much more information about the whole movement, which I have found quite interesting as far as historical gangs go.  Watched it again last night on account I was just in the mood to and perhaps wanted to fill my head with swing music in the hopes of having more dreams.

For some reason I have been looking forward to going up to Clifton, perhaps excited at the prospect of getting over the awkwardness of going out by myself.  Though I had invited Jon, there was some work he had to do on the Mercury, otherwise he would have been more than happy to accompany me.  He did send me some spending cash, which really wasn’t necessary but that’s just how he is, so I sent him a mushy thank-you note in return.

Drinking the last of this whiskey and then going to step out for another smoke so I can be off to bed and get an early start tomorrow.  In two more weeks I will be moving out of here and I can’t wait.  It’s time to replace old negative memories with new positive ones, and it will be much easier when a certain someone is out of sight and out of mind.  However, I need to take care of a few things first and will begin taking care of that business in the morning.

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Post Carnival Withdraw

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Since returning from the tree lot, I have been eating once a day and drinking myself stupid every night, making a sad attempt to fill up this void and kill the pain that is suddenly plaguing me.  My gut is rotten to the core and just thinking about food makes me ill, but I know I should try to put something in there other than alcohol.  For some reason, when I’m holding that bottle I feel as though I am becoming my best friend, but that might not be a bad thing.  When I’m swimming in whiskey I can clearly see why he has such as distaste for the holidays and why he always avoided them, thinking that maybe I should too.

Drinking always has an effect on my dreams.  Not last night but the previous one, I had a dream that I was still on the road.  After a long afternoon of putting up sidewall in the tent, I go into the bunk house to find Jerry, asking if he can help hold the ladder or something.  If there were any more details, I can’t recall them now, but just having that interaction again made me happy upon waking.  Jerry was an awesome guy, and out of all the people who traveled with us, I miss him the most.  He joined up in Syracuse and took on the role of Bozo, also helping with setup and tear down.  For those that don’t know, Bozo is a clown in a dunk tank that gets paid to insult people.  He often recycled the same handful of lame one-liners, yet still found a way to draw a crowd and keep the green rolling in.

We smoked together on a number of occasions, and he shared lurid details of his life with me for whatever reason.  He was in prison for fifteen years, for having been in a fight and accidentally killing the other guy.  Though it was unintentional, he had a weapon on him or something, but essentially he got charged with manslaughter and away he went.  There are tears tattooed on his face to signify this and one other for the time a fight in prison yielded the same result.  Jerry would joke that he had been a kung-fu master and he just acted on instinct when defending himself, which I’m not sure if I entirely believe.  There were an assortment of other tattoos he had acquired while in prison, and even more that he had done himself, a few which were actually pretty good.  The two pieces I remember was the face on his elbow he had done while looking in the mirror, and the demon on his chest that was supposed to be a Superman style shield.  It came out the way it did because he had been tripping on acid at the time he was tattooing it, which is an important lesson on why drugs and body mods don’t mix.

Jerry also spent his teenage years and early twenties as a skinhead, though I never did find out why he decided not to pursue that lifestyle anymore.  He used to have a website up and said the Feds had it shut down due to the content, then came looking for him.  Again, he wouldn’t go into exact detail about what it was beyond “some heavy shit”, so trusting the validity of the story is not a hundred percent.  However, a liar would be more boastful and have no problem spilling trivial facts, especially unprompted.  He didn’t have a habit of talking with many of the other sideshow crew beyond pleasantries, so why I had that honor is kind of a mystery but cool at the same time.

Whiskey is also a bad influence on spontaneous decisions and there is no such thing as a ‘bad idea’ until you are suffering the consequences of it while sober.  For whatever reason I decided to dye my hair SFX Blood Red last week, and in the beginning the color was brilliant, reminding me of when I had done my hair that shade in junior year of high school.  However, I forgot to wash it in cool water, so the red was  bleeding any time I got my hair wet or any kind of styling product was applied.  This is especially unfortunate since the bathroom and all of its towels are white and the last thing I want to do is touch any of it while crimson dye is running across my skin.

Short-lived success was followed by bleach which removed the majority of the red, though there are still a few orange spots I would like to touch up prior to applying toner.  According to the bottle it’s a white blonde, so hopefully I will achieve the effect I desire.  The front was left red to match the wefted extensions that have already been dyed, red that transitions to black at the tips.  Well, somewhere along the way I set to cutting my hair with clippers and wound up with a Chelsea, though I am pretty happy with the result.  This made the second bleaching come out more even than the first, and the toner took much better than expected.

Though this may seem really trivial to talk about, altering my appearance is something I tend to do to avoid other self-destructive tendencies, which I know I’m not helping with the alcohol.  Besides, my birthday is coming up in a week and I felt as though I needed a change in order to celebrate.  Oh, speaking of such, I tried to get tickets for the Leftover Crack show I wanted to attend, but Vintage Vinyl had none and neither did the venue’s website.  Could be possible that I waited too long, though I am going to try calling Starland directly just to double-check on the sold out status.  While it is not the worst thing in the world, this does make me feel as though the birthday curse is trying to make a return, as silly as that sounds.

Well, I have errands to run which should keep my mind off the fact I haven’t heard from Jon at all since I got back.  His postcards rarely leave my side, and at night when I’ve got the whiskey goggles on, I try to find some hidden message I may have missed before.  Desperation is an ugly beast when your heart feels empty and you find yourself willing to do anything to keep it quiet.

Still Hanging Around

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Well, there seems to be some delay in heading down to Maryland, that being there is no one to take care of the livestock from the menagerie, as that person is currently overseas.  This is important since their owners [aka my bosses] are going to be occupied with running the tree lot and all, so I am still in Jersey and unsure of what to do with myself.

My car is dead but I did get permission to make use of a truck today, so I am trying to think of what to do before that opportunity is over.  Must go to the store while also avoiding vast amounts of holiday shoppers.  Though I had planned errands for Saturday, I took one look at the massive line of cars just waiting to get in the parking lot and said fuck that.

Perhaps I will invite the Canadian to come hang out with me for a few days, seeing as how he is bored to tears back in PA.  He left quite a hilarious message on my phone last night, which ended with “I’m going to kill someone by the end of the week.”  A visit to James is also in order, if he would return my call or reply to a text message already.

Since there is not much else to write about, I figured now would be as good of a time as any to discuss what has been happening behind the scenes.  Something happened two weeks before I left New Jersey on this sideshow tour.  Something I only shared with a few people, as I had convinced myself it could be worked out and I wanted to believe that more than anything.

The person I have been performing with since the beginning of the year has decided he no longer wished to continue doing so.  Which is pretty funny since he is the one who initially contacted me after seeing one of my advertisement seeking locals interested in learning some skills.  He is also the one who asked me to move in, and I was stupid enough to get us both this job even though I should have gone alone.  Though I feel like a fool for having trusted someone with sideshow secrets who now clearly has no respect for its traditions nor the culture they come from, I suppose it’s better knowing their true feelings rather than continuing to waste my time one someone who clearly doesn’t appreciate it.

Part of me feels as though this was planned, as there has been tension between us that results in petty arguments that left me wondering if he was purposely trying to drive a wedge between us.  Remember that this has been a purely professional relationship, thought does not make it immune from the same issues that arise in romantic ones.  In fact, spending time with the Candian sparked an unusual jealousy, though the two of us are nothing more than friends who enjoy watching movies, playing video games and generally hanging out on account that’s what friends do.

Anyway, at some point during our travels he decided to inform me that not only were we no longer going to be performing together any more, but that I also had to move out after the tree lot.  Then I found out he expressed this desire on that trip out to Altoona.  Well shit, someone should have told me sooner so I could have been better prepared when surprised me with the news.  Oh, and he also decided to tell me that he used me to get back to Jersey in order to get his truck, which is the only reason he agreed to use his AAA card to have my car towed.

While I am pretty pissed about that, I need to stay focused on the work I have ahead of me and then worry about everything else when I am in a position to relocate.  The rest of this year is going to be a long, hard journey that I have to face alone.  Right now I honestly have no reason to trust outsiders – all they do is lie and bullshit to get their way, using you up until there is nothing left and then tossing you aside like a piece of trash.

Emotionally closed for business until further notice.

Moving on to a slightly different subject, I was browsing the web for any mention of the sideshow since there were several reporters who came through taking pictures and asking questions.  Well, this led to the discovery of Rideaccidents.com and this article:

Carnival worker killed while setting up ride

(Tuesday, August 23, 2005) – In Syracuse, New York, a 29-year-old carnival worker was crushed by an amusement ride he was working to assemble. The man was placing wooden stabilizing blocks underneath the structure of the Enterprise ride when the ride shifted and fell on top of him. Rescuers had to use a fork lift to free him. He was rushed to a local hospital where he died.

The man worked for James E. Strates Shows of Florida. His death has been ruled an accident by state police. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun its own investigation.

This is of interest on account I was there when that happened.  We were rolling out the tent for the menagerie and next thing we know, a group of people start running towards one of the rides.  Cue security personnel pulling up in their golf carts.  Next comes the ambulance, and then the media.  Two hours later, we found out what happened from our boss and needless to say the mood was kind of solemn for the remainder of that day.  Assembling rides has to be the most dangerous carnival job – over the past few months I have heard plenty of stories about injuries and deaths that occur during setup.  It is very different to actually be there when something happens, and I was a bit surprised to find no mention of another death that was in the paper during that same fair, nor of the man that fell while putting up the Indy 500 coaster in Maryland back in September.

Nothing we did was nearly as dangerous, but believe me, there were plenty of bumps and bruises from set up and tear down. And that one time Moose fell off the stage. That’s a whole other can of worms tho.

Before leaving Jersey for another month, I decided to go ahead and acquire the piercing I have been coveting since Summer, that being an earl, or more commonly known as a horizontal bridge.  Earlier today, I headed up to New Brunswick with intentions of going to Sinister Ink, but for some reason I was unable to locate the shop.  If I had more time, I would have walked around until I did find it, but I was borrowing a vehicle and just wanted to get the piercing, so I opted for Sparks instead.

Despite the fact that the piercing room is rather small in an equally small and oddly spaced hair salon, I known several few people who have been pierced there with no problem.  As mentioned, I was using someone’s truck due to the fact my car is still dread, otherwise I would certainly have made the drive all the way up to Starlight to have the piercing done by Dom.  Plus I may have stretched the truth about where I was going, otherwise I likely would not have had a vehicle at all.

Two things that bugged me a little:  the simplistic form I filled out with standard name, address, birth date and a few yes or no questions; the fact that the piercer tried handing me a bottle of ear care solution along with an after care sheet.  What the fuck was that?  Considering I have a few dozen piercings and once apprenticed as one, I would like to believe I know a thing or two about piercings, to the point that I don’t need the spiel about after care.  Unless I have a piercing in a part of my body that I am not familiar with regarding healing time/process, in which case I read everything I can and just listen to my body.  Anyway, the sheet suggested that I use the solution to clean my piercing, while at the same time prompting customers not to treat their it with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.  Guess what’s in that ridiculous solution?

At that point I was glad I knew better, but imagine people actually using that shit because that is what they are told.  Not trying to discredit the piercer, as everyone’s body is different and therefore generalized after care is not always going to work.  He definitely should have know better than to hand out a product that should never be used on any piercing ever.  Okay, rant mode is off – I was just really surprised by the whole thing.  The other 44 piercings apparently do not project the idea that I know how to care for my modifications.

Everything was clean though, otherwise I would not have stayed.  A new needle came from sterile package, jewelry was properly sanitized prior to insertion, clamps were also freshly opened, gloves never came off and skin was prepped as per usual.  He also took his time while marking the entry/exit points, as well as suggesting the position where there was the most amount of tissue in order to lower the risk of rejection.  Having to to lie down on a table was also weird, as most shops have chairs, though I fixed my mind on the soothing ocean noises that filled the room.  It has come to the point where I don’t really get nervous about being pierced any more, but the adrenaline iss still there and makes it hard to keep relaxed.  Focusing on the crashing waves, I was transported to a sandy beach on a beautiful sunny day, my best friend holding my hand as we walked across the pale beach. Deep breath, needle goes in; exhale, needle goes out.

The damn clamps hurt more than anything – it felt as though someone just pinched my bridge really hard.  After sitting up, I realized that the Canadian was right when he said that area has a pressure point, as I most certainly was receiving the effects of the piercing as a small centralized headache.  Over all, I am quite happy with the outcome.  Right now the skin the bar is sitting in is still a bit swollen, but that may be due to the fact that the 12g jewelry is a bit short. Facial expressions cause the skin around the fresh wound to pull a bit, causing slight discomfort.  As long as I don’t intentionally hit it, I should be fine.  Must keep make up away from it as well, but I am not going to be performing any time soon so that shouldn’t be too hard.

Well this turned out longer than I had intended, but there has been a lot going on and I wanted to get some of this off my mind before going back to work.

Just Visiting: Part 2

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Where to begin about getting here?

Well, I originally planned to visit last week but that was delayed due to work related issues.  For some reason, after we finished the scheduled Shocktoberfest dates, we waited for a while after tear down to pack up the items used in the sideshow so that they could be hauled out to Altoona for storage during the winter.  Since our next jump is to the tree lot, we aren’t going to be needing the second tent, banner line and other sideshow related things.

It just hit me that we aren’t going to be performing any more, and while I am looking forward to the upcoming work, I already miss waking up early in the morning to get myself stage ready and get on with daily duties.

Anyway, a few of my co-workers took the four hour journey with my bosses, while I was left here with a few others to keep an eye on everything that was left behind.  The day was spent the day smoking and watching Shallow GroundDawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead.  Around eleven I get a call that on the way back, the truck [and cause of delay mentioned above] blew its transmission, therefore stranding everyone in it three hours away.  My bosses returned later on that night – the bunkhouses were then moved, though I would have preferred to know that it was going to happen right then.  Being in bed and half asleep while you are in motion is a really strange sensation, and I was kind of pissed due to the fact several things fell that I didn’t want to have to step on or over if I needed to go to bathroom.

The new location of the bunkhouse is out in the open field by the ‘prison’, which I learned upon  waking the next morning and stepped outside to see a massive pile of animal shit sitting beside us.  Well that was just lovely.  Though aware we had to vacate the spots we had been in for over a month, the park was getting ready for its Christmas themed attractions to be open, and two tents do not exactly fit into a winter wonderland theme.

Oh, so the stranded co-workers were rescued on Monday night and returned at three in the morning.  Yesterday I had AAA tow my vehicle, which had mysteriously decided to stop working weeks ago, back to Jersey.  That was a fantastic three hour and rather quiet drive, as I had to take someone with me on account they were  the one with the AAA card.  While I do not want to get into details or specifics right now, his attitude regarding a professional relationship has been pretty shitacular, but I try my best to put that aside on account we were both asked to work the tree lot.

Now one would think that is where the adventure ended, but no.  While on 95, the tow truck driver had to make a pit stop and re-fuel.  Taking a moment to stretch out my legs, my purse must have fallen out of the truck as I discovered its absence at the driveway.  Managed to convince him to drive back out to that spot on the highway so I could locate the valued item – I did not want to lose my cell phone or driver’s license, especially with everything I had to go through just to get the damn thing back.  Fortunately I was able to find it, so at least that ended on a positive note.

Will be in Jersey for a couple more days until we head back to PA so we can all go down to Maryland to work the tree lot.  Apparently I am going to be inside a trailer making wreaths, which is definitely not the worst thing ever.  There is talk that the wages will be more than what we were getting paid weekly for the sideshow, but anything is fine by me. We have also been informed that everyone get a cash bonus at the end of the year.  My plan is start looking for an apartment or something when I return for good, as I no longer want to reside with a person who had decided they want to perform solo.  Yea, have fun what that considering I taught you everything you know, and you wouldn’t have been traveling all this time without me.

Whatever, I do not want to get caught up in those emotions right now considering I still have a job to do.  When that is over, I am unsure of what I am going to do, though I have the option of returning as a crew member of the sideshow next year.  There are no concrete plans on that end right now, and there are other possibilities to pursue depending on what the situation is like.

It feels strange being here right now, and I am at a loss of words to explain why.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Jersey and I always will; there is so much I want to do when we return.  Life has been very interesting these past few months – I left not knowing what to expect, and that is pretty much what has been happening.  However, in having this experience I do have to wonder if this is the only thing I want to continue doing.

There are other interests that I would like to pursue, though in doing so they would interfere with choosing to travel, and I cannot deny the fact I want to discuss everything with Aaron before I make any decisions.  No matter what, I cannot see my future without him in it, and I feel as though our relationship has gotten to the point where we either need to take the next step or just go our separate ways.

In need of a shower considering I have unintentionally set a record for nine consecutive days without one and am going to have a new set of piercings added to my ears in the near future.  Speaking of mods, I recently started the process of removing built up black dye from my hair.  Thus far, I have bleached exactly once, which brought my ends to that familiar coppery red color and made my roots a pale yellow blond.  While I have actual bathroom access, I am going to do a touch up and will not have the chance to do it again until I return.  Not too worried about that since I am going to try really hard not to damage my hair in the hopes of keeping it blond for a while.

Now I am just rambling so this is going to end.

Just Visiting

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Currently, the sideshow I have been traveling with since July is stationed in Sinking Spring, PA – we are there as part of a local attraction that is open for the Halloween season called Shocktoberfest.  We have worked long hours since day one, where performing takes up ten to twelve hours each day and occasionally we break out the Midnight Madness and will be in that tent until one in the morning.  However, we are now operating on the schedule of the spot we’re in, as it is open Thursday through Sunday.  This means that there are three days during the week where we aren’t working and that feels really weird after having adjusted to the way things go.

Then again, this is an entirely different setup than a carnival lot – we are actually in a former industrial park that was purchased by some local guy and converted into a space with three different attractions that are peddled as ‘haunted’.  The ‘asylum’ looks like an old park building that they just filled with props, though apparently it’s painted to glow under black light and also has 3-D elements, and we are occupied on a piece of land to it’s left, the menagerie next to us and about a quarter mile of park that stretches into a large open field which is also used as a flea market on occasion.  Crossing that you come to the ‘prison’, a completely man made structure that must have taken hours to construct, and on the opposite side is the entrance of the hayride.  This takes you into the woods, though I haven’t had time to explore that yet.

Anyway, since Jersey was only a two hour drive, I asked my boss if it was alright for me to take off and visit.  Imported a Canadian with me, the Human Pincushion who is currently fucking with me while I am typing.  While I certainly did not expect to make a friend while traveling, I am really glad that I have had the opportunity to get to know someone else who has chose to perform an act that has such a high physical demand.  That is a story for another time, as I made promises to take him sight seeing on account I couldn’t pass up showing off my home state to someone who has never been here before.

Activities planned for this dreary day include driving up Unimax, as I may have spread the tale of its legendary existence and my friend not only wants to see it, but expressed interest in purchasing some jewelry.  Being more than happy to oblidge, I would like to make the most out of the trip since I am unsure if there will be another chance to visit before we move on to the tree lot.  Hitting up a diner is in order as well, since you can’t come to Jersey without experiencing some greasy goodness consumed in a retro atmosphere.  Do they have diners in Canada?  For various reasons I must see James, and introducing one good friend to another can only have a hilarious outcome.

Really hoping that I did not catch the Carny Flu – despite being really excited to show off the Garden State, my energy has been seriously lacking these past few days.  However, this will not deter me from driving into the City, which is worth feeling slightly crappy in exchange for being able to purchase massively affordable jewelry before hitting the road again.

Before I head out, I wanted to note that I am likely returning for good around the 25th of December, which works out well.  Having been saving most of my money this whole time, I plan on keeping with the birthday tradition of getting a new body modification, and I have something in mind that I wanted to do for a few years now, so I might as well jut get it done already.  As far as actual plans for my birthday [or NYE] go, there are none at the moment since my thoughts have been a bit preoccupied with work and travel.

There was a postcard I had received that got buried in the pile of mail which has accumulated since I left, though my partner’s mother was kind enough to set aside anything addressed to me so I did not miss out on bills or anything.  Without even seeing the reverse side I knew who it was from – the picture on the front was of a roller coaster we rode together a few years ago, though I remember the view from the top of the lift hill and the breathtaking sunset that followed as though it happened yesterday.  There was nothing written aside from my name and address, or so it seemed to anyone who looked at the postcard before it came into my possession.

Invisible markers are a brilliant invention though, and after a minute of scribbling I saw the message attached to the image that brought back happy memories.  The length was unimportant compared to the strength of emotion put into the small words crammed into the writing space provided.  It was the fact he thought of me, often enough to have gone out of his way to purchase something he knew I would see and instantly think of him.  At first it was really difficult not to have any contact with him, but as I fell into the routine of work and travel, I cam to accept that this is just how things are.  They have the potential to change, and what seems like an insignificant scrap of cardboard is exactly what I needed to remind me that I am not as alone as I may feel.

That is enough for now, even though there are so many other things that I could write about, but those stories are being saved up in a journal for the time being.  What I can say for sure is that I have really been enjoying this whole experience and definitely feel as though it is helping me on so many levels.

Establishing Independence

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

For three days I participated in festivities where people  happily set off various explosives in honor of the nation’s freedom.  This far exceeded any of the neighborhood activities that may have popped up when I was younger, with the exception of the community fireworks that was open to everyone.  Being in an area where no cops were going to come check out what you are doing is always a plus, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The morning after a successful show at Otto’s, I was in a great mood and patiently waiting on the transportation I was informed would be provided at a certain time.  When the white ’57 Cadillac slowly crept up the street, I had to wonder what I was getting myself into and why I even sent Jon that letter in the first place.  He didn’t even have to get out, as I was already on the edge of the grass tightly clutching my bag, shielded by sunglasses and hoping I was presentable since my ‘hawk decided to do whatever it wanted despite an attempt to tame it.  Climbing inside, a tropical scent exuded from the white leather interior, cool air blowing from chrome vents and a fat joint lightly smoking in the ashtray.

He smiled and greeted me warmly even though the roughness of his voice showed; seeing him without the usual clown makeup was still strange, though the silvered hair groomed with pomade and aged face tattoos gave him a distinguished appearance.  “How are you, Angel?”

“Doing fairly well,” I said, returning the smile as I picked up the joint and relaxed into the comfort that surrounded me.  “How about yourself, Austin?”

“Oh, are we so informal now?” he chuckled, a hand nonchalantly sliding across my knee.  “Aaron told me that you are going out on the carnival circuit, and as much as he wanted to be here, you understand he needs to stay where he is for a while longer.”

“Is he alright?” I asked, the concern evident as I tried not to think of the worse.

“No baby doll, I am sorry to say that he had a relapse and is seeking treatment to get clean again before he can come home.”

My stomach wrenched into knots as my heart sank, but being upset wasn’t going to help Jon one bit.  The desire to quit drugs was a prominent one, yet he became a victim of his addictions far too often and constantly struggled for a fresh start.  On a few occasions he said they were a means of punishment for failing to do what his heart desired, though it was difficult for me to fully empathize with his experiences and that was a helpless place to be.

That evening we camped out on a remote beach, sending fireworks upward and watching as their colorful spark showers burst against the star-filled sky.  We grilled up some fish and vegetables, polished off two bottles of wine and sat next to each other while toasting marshmallows.

Activities which had been planned for the following day were postponed due to the massive quantity of rain that plagued the area for almost the entire morning.  When the clouds moved on and the sun warmed up the sky, we were cruising with the windows down and swapping stories of our favorite Outlaw Cirkus shows.  Though we stopped along the way for lunch at a diner and sundaes at an ice cream parlor, most of the time was spent getting high in the Cadillac and just enjoying the ocean breeze.

Free fireworks were watched when night came again, drinking whiskey and being wrapped in a warm embrace.  He was as much of a gentleman as Jon, having served as the patriarch to Outlaw Cirkus on a number of levels and mentor to us both.  As I mentioned earlier, there were collective intimate moments that involved the three of us which had been infiltrating my thoughts since I read his letter.  Nothing had ever been done without full consent, though influence from intoxicating substances and a desire to satiate curiosity may have played a role in those decisions.

The first move was his, hand sliding across my waist to pull me closer, his eyes sparkling as lips parted and sought out my own.  It was nice, gentle and far less aggressive than kissing Shane, the tenderness causing a flutter of excitement somewhere inside of me.  The next move was mine, curling my fingers around the nape of his neck as I returned the gesture and wondered how far either of us was willing to go.

“Did Aaron ask you to take care of me?” I asked while stroking his hair.

“Even if he did, I am capable of making my own decisions,” he replied, a hand cautiously settling on my thigh.  “You underestimate yourself, Angel.”

“There is something I have to tell you,” I said, distracted by where that hand wound up and momentarily losing my words to a seductive sigh.

“Can it wait?”

“No, I was unfaithful to Aaron once and I cannot be consumed by the guilt of doing it again.”

“You seem to be enjoying yourself just fine,” he teased, now looming over me and sending endorphins into overdrive.  “Tell me to stop baby doll, and you know I will.”

Except that I couldn’t;  his expertise of carnal knowledge had me writhing in submission and I wanted more.  Austin certainly delivered, and over the course of the next few hours I thought of no one but him.  There did not have to be any approval of our passion, for it was something meant for just the two of us and the millions of stars that looked down on our sweaty bodies.

Independence Day was celebrated with an afternoon of grilling and drinking lemonade under the shade of tall pine trees.  In less than three weeks I would be leaving all of this beauty of the Garden Sate in favor of life on the road.  Reality had yet to sink in even though I had been out on several shopping trips to acquire new clothes – colorful tank tops and skirts in comfortable cotton that would offer me versatility – and a metal train case for all of my makeup.  Having settlement money from my accident collect interest also allowed me to order some shoes and body jewelry on-line, having enough to use for gas and food as needed for the first few weeks while traveling.

There were more fireworks, both of the festive variety and those we created ourselves, and a long drive down to the end of New Jersey where we stood on the beach together gazing into the endless ocean.

“Angel, we are both very proud of you,” he said, squeezing my hand.  “We love you very much and hope that this experience gives you what you are looking for.”

Coming back was necessary, but that did not stop me from wanting to stay with Austin, entertaining schemes of taking that Cadillac down to West Virginia and bringing Aaron back, reuniting the unholy trio who pursued a life of decadence once more.

However, I am set to depart on July 22 and was subjected to a tearful good-bye.  The first fair I am going to be performing at is four and half hours away in Bedford, PA.  A few other spots have already been booked which will take us further into Pensyltucky, though after that the route is yet unknown.  There is a lot of sewing to do in the meantime, and I should probably call my dad.  Have been trying to figure out what to tell him since I have no idea how cell coverage will be, or if I will be able to answer the phone when he calls.  Though I am certainly not ashamed of what I am going to be doing, I haven’t quite figured out how to say: ” Hey dad, I have a great job! Yea, I am going on tour with the carnival doing sideshow acts!”

The only reason I have to mention it at all is due to needing my car insurance paid, which I likely will not have time to send out with the traveling and working I will be doing.  Dreading the possibility of hearing that disappointed tone in his voice, but I am getting paid to do something I love and already have the full support of my Family, so I need to focus on that and get things done before time runs out.

Becoming a Greenhorn

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Well, I am no longer able to contain my excitement.  Up until now I have avoided discussing details about what I have been working on, as I tend to get paranoid and did not want to wind up looking like an ass for having talked about something without actually doing it.  However, since I have zero worries of that happening I can finally gush all I want.

Next month I will be leaving New Jersey and joining up with the Great American Circus Sideshow, which will be doing a tour of the East Coast until October or November.  This will be an authentic 10-in-1 complete with a tent and huge banner line that does daily shows.  My duties will include appearing on the bally and inside stage, as well as being a part of general set up and tear down.  Unfortunately I offered Electric Sideshow as a package deal and have to take my partner along, but I am getting paid in cash to do something I enjoy and cannot complain.

The fact of the matter is that I have wanted to do this since Jon and I stopped performing together, and it’s hard to believe I am actually going to achieve such a long-standing goal.  As much as I would rather be doing this with the man I love, I know he would not want me to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.  Then again, I sent him a letter telling him all about it in the hopes that it would urge some communication out of him, though I conveniently made no mention of my affair with Shane

Strange how there are going to be many things I will miss about the Garden State, such as great shows, drunken fun, roadside attractions, going to the Shore, adventures in the woods and all of the other weird things that make me love this place so much.  There is a lot I have to learn from this experience though, and know it is exactly what I need to evolve both as a performer and as a person.

Between now and the time I have to leave, I have to figure out what to take since I need to pack enough and fit it all into thee piece of luggage.  Tomorrow night Electric Sideshow is appearing at the Rail, and then on Friday we are heading up to Otto’s Shrunken Head in NYC, which may be the last performances in the area.

While refreshing my inbox hoping that Jon would reply to my letter, there’s a knock at the door.  It’s Shane; he wants to talk.

Sitting in his back yard smoking a joint and sharing a bottle of whiskey, I wait nervously for whatever he is about to say.  My mind is occupied with the upcoming shows and the fact that in a few weeks I am going to be touring the carnival circuit.  He casually holds my hand but won’t look at me, and my gut tells me what I have been trying to ignore for the past few days.  When he turns to kiss me, I hesitate and there is no reason for either of us to pretend nothing is wrong.

“There something you want to tell me?” he asks, a slight bit of nervousness in his voice.

“Listen, I should have been straight with you from the beginning,” I say, courage swelling up from nowhere.  “Well, I did tell you that I am involved with someone, though just as guilty as you are of letting things get out of hand.”

He cannot hide being taken back by my bluntness, but he puts on the macho act anyway.  “Yea, I had a feeling this was all for kicks.”

“Not entirely, but I am in love with Jon and when he returns we will be together.”  Seeing the truth sink in hurt as much as I figured it would, but there was no reason to prolong it.  “Oh, I also got a job with a touring sideshow and I am leaving in July.”

“Ain’t that kick in the ass,” he chuckled.  “Guess a Carny’s gotta do what they do best, and I have my own plans, so I can’t be mad I suppose.”

“Shane, I had a blast with you and I want you to know that it did mean something, otherwise I would like to believe neither of us would have wasted our energy.”  This was for the best since pursuing a relationship would have been rather difficult due to a few reasons, and in my mind putting an end to things seemed like the most rational decision to make, lest either of us wind up being hurt.

“Tell me something though,” he said, turning to me with a serious expression as his hand settled on my cheek.  “What is it that keeps you waiting for him?”

“Trust, loyalty, devotion and knowing that he would do the same in my situation.”

“How can you be so sure of that?”

Frowning slightly, I was not about to justify my long-term relationship to someone I was simply hooking up with.  As much as I cared about Shane and enjoyed our physical encounters, I went to bed every night thinking of Jon and endlessly wishing on stars that he would come sweep me off on an adventure somewhere.  “Since when do I owe you an explanation of something that doesn’t concern you?”

Ignoring the question he pulled me in for a kiss and this time I resisted as much as I could, though our lips made contact anyway.  What had once been fiery and irresistible was now very wrong and not something I should be doing if I wanted people to know that I was committed to Jon.  For whatever reason, that did not occur to me during the past few weeks I have been hanging out with Shane, snogging and shagging when the mood struck and chalking it up to a Summer romance that wasn’t meant to last.

“Alright, I was hoping for one last…nevermind it doesn’t matter.”

He walked me up the street in silence, casually holding my hand while doing his best not to look sad and telling me we might see each other once more before I left.  Not really counting on that, and though I cherish him so much as a friend, my impending job has me missing Jon more than ever.

“Nothing is ever really guaranteed,” I said as he stood there and finally released my hand.  “However, Jon is my brother and our bond as family is for life not matter what.  You can think I am a fool or whatever you want, but don’t act like you weren’t going to tell me some story to cover your ass before moving on yourself.”

He had that same look on his face as he did before when I spoke what was on my mind, though he just turned and walked away.  It’s better like this, or at least that is what I tell myself while still waiting for a notification of new mail to appear.