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Saturday August 03, 2002, 12:01

I suppose technically they were cold feet. It's understandable I suppose, considering the circumstances. I don't think that I'm any worse off now than I was before, but it has taught me a couple of things. I was in a particular predicament, and, again, given the circumstances, I suppose I'll just have to deal with things as they come. The problem is, when I open the freezer door, the cold air drops right down on to my bare feet, bare because I do not like wearing shoes indoors, but the carpet and kitchen floor in this flat are so filthy that socks will simply pick up the crumbs and other remaining floor coverings, so I simply go without any foot-coverings at all.

The rest of Edinburgh is cold as well, not just my feet. Last night found me returning from a theatre performance cold and wet and wandering through the streets in search of a pub, any pub, that would offer some amount of shelter from the unfortunate mess that was falling from the sky. What we found was a skinny little thing with a closed upstairs lounge. Filled with locals, this pub was far enough from central Edinburgh to avoid the Fringe crowds (performers and audience both), though I was witness to a dance piece performed to "That's Amore" by one of the couples at the pub. I also had a half pint of the locally brewed McEwans, a tasty ale if ever I had one1.

The pub itself was nice and friendly, complete with an assortment of flavo(u)red crisps and bright overhead lighting. Last call came around half-past midnight, which is far more reasonable than what happens in London, where you generally can't find drunks on the street at half past midnight; they've been kicked out long prior to then and are either all home or passed out in a puddle of their own piss2. There was something unsettling at first about walking into the pub, and though I never was able to pick it out, the feeling I got when we walked in was not so much one of disapproval or even disgust, but merely amusement at a pile of five foreigners staggering in from the rain. I suppose I'm just not used to establishments like these. Walking into a pub that is not your local is like walking into your neighbor's living room during a neighborhood barbecue. They've left the door open for you, and expect you to come in, but they're going to want to know who it is that is walking around their house.

By the time we'd left the pub, it had stopped raining for the most part and the air was thick with the perpetual mist that blankets this town. Since arriving it has either been so misty you can not see, or raining. We had one nice day on which everyone broke out their summer clothing; tank tops and shorts were in abundance, construction workers reflective vests over no shirts. People knew that it was going to be their one chance at a summer for quite some time. It suits me just fine. Though I like to complain about it, the weather is simply a constant reminder that I am actually here, in Scotland, doing theatre, and if that's not something to write home about3, I don't know what is.

Examining the grand scheme of my life (which is arguably not so grand at this stage), I find that there are an incredible number of points that I can actually identify as places where, had I made a decision other than the one that I ended up making, I would have ended up on a path that would not include my being in Edinburgh right now. Had I not left my job in New York to go join a startup in Boston, I would not have disliked that startup so much that I would have quit and have turned down for a lighting design job that I applied for to fill my time before returning to New York. Being turned down for the job meant that I was offered another opportunity with the same people to design lights for the first production of this show which then brought me to the second production at which point I thought we were through. I did, however, keep in not-so-constant contact with one of the performers in the show who mentioned to me in one of our sporadic email exchanges that the show was being revived for a trip to the Fringe festival. Had I not been living in London at the time (having fallen in love with and moved to a foreign country to be with a girl whom I had met through a mutual friend whom I had met at a bar after posting to an online message board and having decided to go out and meet up with a group of strangers in New York one night after spending the day at a load-in at a convention center), the travel would have prevented me from coming here and I would most likely had not even inquired as to the necessity of the production needing a lighting designer. But I was and I did and here I am and it is damp and cold outside.

And I love it.

1. The truth of the matter is that I can't recall if I ever actually have had one. Used to be that I would take pride in being the "one who doesn't drink" and I would play up the fact that my normal evolution along the alcohol arc involves, in order, dizziness and sleep, with no middle "drunk" stage that seems to be the enjoyable part. No matter, really. It's just that in recent months I've been trying to find some sort of middle between "totally clean" and "falling down drunk" (which does actually happen here; it is not common, but also not entirely rare to see an individual so drunk that he simply does not have the capacity to realize that the ground is maintaining an ever closer proximity to his head) which would involve a measured amount of alcohol being consumed with an appropriate level of mockery from my peers ("Man, a half pint will just put you out for the night, won't it? Want me to help you finish it?"). The experiment seems to be going quite well at this stage and I have learned to enjoy one and only one drink in a given evening. Well, maybe two.

2. Weekends are rowdier than weekdays, as they are in most drinking towns, and Saturday morning will often find me walking about dodging any spot on the sidewalk that might be some sort of human excretion. It is actually as vile as I make it out to sound, and I am certainly afraid to walk into my flat wearing the shoes that I've worn out into the street. My friends have talked about "New York piss shoes," which are the Big Apple's equivalent footwear, but I've found that London can dish out public urination and vomit far better than any other city I've seen thus far.

3. I've not actually written home about it.

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