Sunday August 12th:
The fact that I am still vertical is due to a highly complex interaction of one can of red bull, one very strong b complex, a ginseng tablet and about four cups of very lethal espresso, but as I sit here waiting for the last and final show of my night to begin - a vaudeville cabaret act that lasts until bar close at 5am, I feel myself fading fast. Me awake on three hours of sleep is precarious at best, me still awake at this point is nothing short of an herbolgy-induced miracle.
The festival is brilliant, by the way. Mental, insane, overwhelming and overloading, but absolutely brilliant. It's been a good day, but an odd one. The day began with my almost missing my flight despite leaving two hours early (and, sadly, I am betting few among you will be surprised by this), a flight that concluded with a pasty-faced not-quite-teenager being rather vocally sick in the front of the plane just before doors opened - apparently the quick drop into Edinburgh was a bit too much for what looked at best a fragile constitution. And since then it's all been a bit of a blur.
Street musicians, performances, people shoving flyers in your face, stiltwalkers, fire jugglers, comedians, actors and bagpipes, bagpipes, bagpipes all the livelong day.
No idea what date this was, was all a blur at this point:
I am staring down at a rather large plate that is, by my rough estimate, 80% full of mounded meat products. However, viewed in purely nutritional terms, the breakfast in front of me weighs in at 95% protein, the only non-protein sources being a tiny corner of hash brown (deep fried) and a tiny bit of pita (also deep fried). Looking at this plate, it's easy to understand why the Scottish are the girthy Europeans, no boney bobble-headed men here. You can also see why, with this much protein raging through their systems, they felt the need to invent games that involve tossing a 50 lb stone as far as you can, or seeing who can chuck a tree trunk the farthest. Not to mention the other common passtimes of drinking until someone pukes or at least falls off their chairs. If it were not for these diversions, I am convinced the Scottish would have lain waste to the rest of the world long ago, leaving only piles of cigarette ash, crumpled lager cans and plates of untouched vegetables in their protein-fueled testosterone-overloaded wake.
Yesterday was a blur of conversations with dead 20th century writers, brilliant music, more brilliant music, even more brilliant music and a late night pub crawl with some heretical Christians (don't even ask). If you haven't heard the Luminescent Orchestrii, Orchestra del Sol or Mikelangelo and the black sea gentlemen, you should correct this shocking cultural oversight immediately. Today was a brilliantly odd play by a small Australian theater company, involving mole people, machines fueled by cow blood that drill to the center of the earth and a homicidal butcher with a spelling problem. I'm swearing off the booze today in the hopes that I can get myself together enough to get out to the countryside for a bit tomorrow. Tonight's Amanda Palmer's solo show though, so no promises.
Sunday, August 19
My room stares accusingly at me in a state of obvious neglect. A half-open suitcase lies in a state of complete dishevelment in the middle of the floor. I’ve had three hours sleep in the past thirty-six, most of which occurred on the flight home or upon arrival at maison, douce maison. (Apparently, this is the magic number that allows rooms to stare sullenly at you. I hate it when inanimate objects give you guilt trips.)
Yesterday evening started off innocently enough. I trudged through the ever-present Scottish rain to a performance of Sweeney Todd then met up with Mikel from Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen for alcoholic libations. Mikel is a truly lovely human being, deserving of fame, fortune and whatever else his Baltic heart desires. He possesses a laugh that carries clear across a room, and quite possibly through five-foot-thick stone walls. He is, besides the count from Sesame Street, the only person I can think of who laughs with an accent. The type of person who always draws an audience, the table became a revolving cast of characters, which segued into a pub crawl which segued into my realizing I was not going to get any sleep before my 6am flight home. By one in the morning, I was in a performer’s bar talking to some guy who was in some show performed entirely in old Scottish and another who was in something Norwegian. It’s an odd thing being a in a bar entirely made up of actors and musicians and musical actors. Everyone talks, but no one listens. When they lose the floor to one of their companions, they just stand sullenly about, rehearsing for the chance to speak their next line. This is why I never date actors. They are certainly fun to drink with however.
Dawn found me trudging through the rain listening to my suitcase bouncing along the broken cobblestones, dreaming of curling up with a good book and finally getting some rest.
Things I have learned while in Scotland:
If you can forget that it’s made from sheep entrails, haggis is actually quite good.
There are more types of animal-based fats and cholesterol than one would ever have believed possible. Scottish cuisine uses all of them, often all in the same dish.
Surprisingly enough considering this, the Scottish are considered the least healthy Europeans.
It is impossible to walk around Edinburgh without feeling at least once like an extra in a Harry Potter movie.
It is impossible to walk in the hills around Edinburgh without feeling like an extra in Braveheart.
If you give in to this and yell, “they may take our lives, but they will never take our freeeeeeeeedom” at the top of your lungs, you will get a 20 minute lecture on the similarity of Mel Gibson’s Scottish accent to various bits of animal excrement. Or you may just get pelted with a 50lb stone.