Monday, June 30, 2008

Christmas in June.

June 30, Townsend.

The horses are free and so are we. This morning Ben came to check an enclosed sports field in the back of the trailers and then set the ponies free. Each and every day, all through the eight months of the circus season they are tethered, working or not. Christmas in June. Thanks Ben.
We have the day off today, the town the circus was going to play (Malborough) got canceled. We drove straight to the next one, crossing Massachusetts from south to north. The arrangement was announced only two days ago; up until then it was an open question where we would park. Saved by the last minute bell, circus-style.
On the mechanical side: a couple of days ago the engine, brakes and airbag lights have started going on and off in our truck, all the gages shutting off in concert, and I can only wonder if the engine is about to shut off too and leave me without any kind of control over the truck in the middle of the interstate, for example.

A trailer with a view.

June 30, Townsend, Massachusetts (82 miles, middle school.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 29, East Providence, Rhode Island (18 miles, Pierce field.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 28, Plainville, Massachusetts (16 miles, town park.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 27, Rehoboth, Massachusetts (20 miles, Redway Plain.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Little big man.

June 26, Middleboro.

Nicolas is almost 15 months old, and I now have to decide which way to run when I'm with the both of them outside and he is walking straight on oblivious to my calls, hands up, bobbling along at unsuspected speed. He is slighter than Dylan at his age. Dylan at his age witnessed Nicolas' birth at the birthing center in Dallas, my mother playing with him, holding him while his little brother struggled his way into the world. I cannot fathom that Dylan now, cannot relate Nicolas to that Dylan at all. Nicolas seems so much smaller, or was I painting Dylan into a bigger little man than he was, unknowingly, in anticipation of the infant that was about to take over the baby role?

A trailer with a view.

June 26, Middleboro, Massachusetts (17 miles, high school grounds.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 25, Berkley, Massachusetts (69 miles, Commons grounds.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 24, Littleton, Massachusetts (35 miles, baseball field.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 23, Mendon, Massachusetts (40 miles, Mendon Gift Barn.)

This I believe (sometimes.)

June 22, Spencer.

An irate woman who didn't want to back up her compact car to let Fridman's circus truck go by showered him with insults and then stopped me to call him more names, on the narrow road leading to the lot this morning.
I had been reflecting on what my philosophy of life is, on the long way here, listening to ordinary folks tell theirs in NPR's This I believe series.
I would call my essay "I believe it's really, really hard to be filled with love for one's sister sometimes."
Other non-news: delayed departure this morning, one semi's gear box had to be fixed - Castro's magic hand at work (his feet in the picture.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 22, Spencer, Massachusetts (75 miles, O'Gara park.)

Off limits.

June 21, Cummington.

On to Massachusetts, and it's a tiny village, we're off limits, there is no phone signal at all. Somehow it feels good.

A trailer with a view. Not.

June 21, Cummington, Massachusetts (87 miles, fairgrounds.)

Circus view.

June 20, Cairo.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 20, Cairo, New York (75 miles, Cairo Town park.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


June 19, Washingtonville.

The parking left us puzzled this morning. We're stuck in between Ariel's motor home and Julio's trailer; the truck door opened but for a half and inch.

A trailer with a view.

June 19, Washingtonville, New York (20 miles, Taft elementary school.)

In her arms.

June 18, Greenwood Lake.

Drenched in rain most of the afternoon but it was a beautiful day thanks to a handful of women at the Greenwood Lake public library. I'll probably never see them again but will remember them; how grateful I was for their kindness and help in this day of havoc, with no internet signal at home when I needed it most (all is well in the world of Murphy's Law.)
One of them gave me a resounding lesson when she picked up a fretful Nicolas and spoke to him so softly I wanted her to take me in her arms too. She made me see another world, one I always yearned for, a world of softness against my outbursts, a world of quiet against my frantic pace, she made me touch it. Nicolas was quiet in her arms.

A trailer with a view.

June 18, Greenwood Lake, New York (28 miles, DePaulis field.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 17, Pequannock, New Jersey (40 miles, Greenview park.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ben is on.

June 16, Basking Ridge/Stirling.

We've had a new driver since last Thursday; Fridman had to switch vehicles again. Mike-the-mechanic disappeared two weeks ago in Maryland so he had been driving the mechanics truck again, like at the beginning of the season; Castro rode with him. Now he's back driving another bleachers' truck. Driving the mechanics' truck means leaving last and driving at the end of the procession to be available to help other vehicles; we're back leaving a little sooner, although we always end up traveling right next to the mechanics truck anyway - force of habit.
The new driver is called Ben, and he happens to be the husband of Patrizia Di Lucchio, with whom I worked on publicity at Circus Chimera two years ago, my first full-time circus year - more it's-a-small-world on a circus mode. I owe Patrizia the name of this blog, and I wish I had had the opportunity to get to know her.

Chris is mad.

June 15, Basking Ridge.

I'm not coming back next year, said Chris, el flechero, as the crew calls him, literally the arrows guy. I'd rather go to Iraq and get shot.
Chris was mad this morning because the lot is small and private trailer and the cook house had to be parked on a field next to it, resulting in the tigers getting two days off (they need to be parked right next to the backstage entrance as their cage is pushed in by the prop crew.) Chris served in the U.S. Army, and told me when I first met him that he had tried to go to Iraq but "they wouldn't let me, I'm too old." He has the swinging, round-shoulders walk of a military guy and always wears black army boots, no matter the weather. On most mornings he sports a neon yellow tee-shirt with "Logistics" written on it. He says that with the old owners things were better; he says that he wishes he could fire a weapon.
His is a lonely job. He parks us in the early morning then takes off to mark the route for the next day and stays on that lot by himself until the next morning. No doubt he misses the camaraderie of the army, if not its brutality, as he proclaims a little too loudly.
This is the guy who goes out of his way to save a sparrow's nest.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Muggy weather.

June 15, Basking Ridge/Stirling.

Two days again here, after the two days in Plumsteadville, but it's so muggy after the storm last night that it doesn't feel like a fiesta anymore.

A trailer with a view.

June 15, Basking Ridge/Stirling, New Jersey (55 miles, Elks Lodge grounds.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Backstage view.

June 13, Plumsteadville.

A trailer with a view.

June 13, Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania (65 miles, fire dept. grounds.)

Grand opening.

June 12, Pemberton.

We inaugurated a new feature in our luxury cruise-trailer line: a traveling pool.
It turned out to be the ultimate weapon in the daily domestic drama: the kids just fall like timber afterwards.
I'll be dancing the summer nights away (oh I wish.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 12, Pemberton, New Jersey (30 miles, municipal building grounds.)

The Jersey Shore.

June 11, Beachwood.

Asbury Park's North Beach.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Sopranos pilgrimage.

June 11, Beachwood.

We're just like everybody else.
We're devoted fans of The Sopranos, the HBO television drama. So instead of going just two miles to the beach here in Toms River next door, we drove all the way up to Asbury Park, eight exits on the Parkway, to go to the place where a Sopranos scene was shot, on the boardwalk next to the Asbury Park Convention Hall, a grandiose Art Deco building, designed by the same architects behind Grand Central Station in New York City, jutting out into the ocean. I had gone there with Kris in February and it was just like in the series, deserted. Today there was a lot of construction activity, the renovation of the center and boardwalk retail shops, and people on the beach, albeit not that many.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Jersey Shore.

June 10, Beachwood.

It is positively searing, and it's not fun at all. This is the fourth day but should be the last, alleluia. As the heat settled and grew, the show went shrinking. Sara didn't perform her trapeze act, as the heat in the upper parts of the tent became unbearable and the air too thin; the Kenyans didn't work today's last show either.
We're on the Jersey Shore (and here for two days again, oh the luxuries,) and I just love the way they say it here. The Jersey Shore. And I love the diners, their gaudiness, the waitresses, the outrageous pies on display when you come in, and the miles of Danish, the smell of coffee, diner food.
A French woman's paradise, positively.

A trailer with a view.

June 10, Beachwood, New Jersey (60 miles, Beachwood shopping center.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 9, Belcoville, New Jersey (31 miles, Marsh center.)


June 8, Bridgeton.

It felt good here in Bridgeton these two days, it felt like a fiesta. Fridman prepared a ceviche and a barbeque last night after the show to celebrate his birthday. Jorge, Julio, John and Reina, Castro came and Dylan and Nicolas and all the other kids running around and having a party of their own when I came back from getting more beer, it felt so festive. Our trailer was parked last, facing an open field, they had all the space in the world to run free.
This morning while Fridman was still asleep I took the kids and went shopping: a tiny birthday cake and fish for another ceviche, for a surprise birthday brunch. Three days of celebration for the big three Os.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy birthday Fridman (just don't fall off the trapeze, please.)

June 7, Bridgeton.

The handsome man in the show is messing with my bed. If I only were forty years younger.
So said seventy-two-year-old Myrna, our circus cook, as Fridman was working on her water heater, located under her bed.
About a month after the season started he began fixing her broken-down trailer and a quirky little saga began. Leaky roofs got patched, valves repaired, doors refurbished, and every time he would finish something she would find a detail she didn't like and complain about it. She yelled at him, told him to mind his own business, called him a chauvinist, and all the while made little flirty comments which became our daily funnies. We came to care for her the way you take to an old great-aunt who's a little odd but also the sweetest in the family.
Yesterday was Fridman's birthday. He worked all day long to make her a new door and when it was done she complained. We laughed it off as the way Myrna is. But when he pulled himself up the rope for his trapeze act there was a little old lady down in the alley looking up at him with a big hand-written sign that read "Happy Birthday Fridman," and he almost fell off the trapeze for laughing so hard.
At the cook house to get dinner earlier I had told Myrna it was his birthday.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


June 7, Bridgeton.

This is my paradise, my little piece of heaven found.
Within reach of Philadelphia and my old home of Wilmington, a couple of hours from New York City, close to the ocean, green rolling hills and farmland all around, I'm salivating all the way down here and again on our drive to breakfast this morning, trying to figure out a way to find work here. We went for garage sales and I asked people about the area, and found out that there is a good elementary school north of town. It's working class, there are a lot of immigrants, a sizable African-American population, it's real, alive, I love it.
It is good to have dreams, especially impossible ones.

Heat wave.

June 7, Bridgeton.

We're in the middle of the first heat wave of the summer, and we are searing, artists having to perform under a dark-colored tent, and for those, like Fridman and Sara, who work high under the big top, it is simply unbearable.

A trailer with a view.

June 7, Bridgeton, New Jersey (20 miles, high school.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Homeland/half orange's birthday.

June 6, Mullica Hill.

We're in Jersey! The Homeland! (private joke, hi Kris.)
And... happy birthday my Fridman, and a momentous one: he turns 30 today.
So it's official, we're both old - only he's a little younger, that's all.

A trailer with a view.

June 6, Mullica Hill, New Jersey (65 miles, fairgrounds.)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

New order.

June 5, Amityville.

Things forgotten: last Saturday the show changed to a new order, with the first half much longer now than the second, and people complaining, as people will do, since nobody likes change. Fridman now does the upside-down walk in the first half and the rola bola in the second, and the cats open the show, something Casey had wanted from the start.
On an unrelated tangent, it has gotten quite warm, as they used to say on the radio in Riverside when the thermometer got anchored at 105 degrees for weeks.

A trailer with a view.

June 5, Amityville, Pennsylvania (85 miles, firemen's grounds.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 4, Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania (26 miles, Amish Markets at Shrewsbury.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 3, Westminster, Maryland (32 miles, farigrounds.)


June 2, Olney.

The last time Nileeni and I saw each other was 13 years ago, when we were both in graduate school in MIssouri. She has been living and working in the D.C. area since she left Missouri in 1996 but I'd never seen her again. We called, emailed, years passed.
And there she was, and all those years vanished. Seeing her again, and meeting her husband, Shaym, for the first time, only underscored what I already knew: how lonely I sometimes get for my friends. My long-time friends are in France, in Brazil, in Morocco, Florence, Fred and Virginia, and Marie, and here, Kris and Greg and the photo girls in Riverside, California, and friends from the Missouri photo mafia are all over the world, in Singapore, in Malaysia, in the Middle East and all over this country too.
I miss those friendships, the actual physical contact and interaction involved, even if everybody's life has changed. Nileeni gave me a hug and we were twenty-something grad students struggling with work and study overload.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A trailer with a view.

June 1, Olney, Maryland (17 miles, hospital grounds.)


May 31, West Friendship.

Fans of the circus brought us lunch today, we ate under the big top, there were local strawberries, Dylan would go and fill his plate, signaling for us to wait, finger and eyebrows raised, he would climb up the bench, slide past the sugar-drenched cakes and pick the strawberries carefully, and come back holding the plate with both hands, then eat them all (after we sucked them clean, I'm always leery of pesticides) and repeat the operation.
It made up for the not-so-nice lot.