As I write this, I am listening to a Fringe 2013 music playlist I made to correspond with a show--chosen from either a song played during pre-show, during the show, or something I chose that fit themetically. Why I started this, I'm not quite sure. This was the first Fringe I was taking notes at almost every show, and in doing so, I began to write down the songs I heard.

Because of the copious note-taking, several times people looked at me curiously as I got out my notebook before the show started, asking if I was a reviewer. I told them of my blog posts here, and my other projects, but mainly that I was trying to take notes to make my memory clearer, as memory is faulty at the best of times, and I often don't feel that I have the best recall--especially when I am seeing a marathon of shows.

And though I did review and recommend shows based on the notes I took, this Fringe was about the spaces in which we experience the art we care about. The Fringe, oddly enough, feels more real to me than previous years because I was experiencing the shows in an almost venue-down sort of way. It created a tent-pole my mind instead of this fluid space of show-show-show that I see over the course of 11 days in August, a sort of mental Fringe blob.

I made it to 15 of the 16 venues, with the Theatre Garage being the odd venue out. In previous years, Gremlin Theatre or Patrick's Cabaret have been the more isolated venues, but Theatre Garage doesn't have easy access to another venue--though considered part of the Uptown venues, it is physically closer to the Woman's Club. I formed a bit of a mental block, considering it almost a floating place outside the Fringe. I lived near the Theater Garage for around a year, and then I saw plenty there because it was within walking distance. Planning to get over there didn't work out, and I never personally got to try the Vision Loss Resource Center parking lot. I learned, however, that Huge Theater and Intermedia Arts had full-blown parking lots, something I never knew about until I started actively exploring around the venues for secrets.

Speaking of secrets: The Playwright's Center is, geographically, the furthest distance away from another venue--but did you know that there is a footbridge on 9th Street leading over 94 and onto the Augsburg campus, which makes the trip back toward Rarig a few blocks shorter and that much faster? I know, right? I wish I had a similar secret for going up to the 2nd and 8th floor of the Cowles Center to the Tek Box and the Illusion Theater--but you have to take the elevator. I'm a "take the stairs" type, but despite asking and poking around, the stairs are one way: down.

The location of the venues, along with how they were clustered together, made it easier to me for when those times I had to skip out of a venue to see a show, which I started to do toward the end of the festival. As a whole, this made the festival more bike-able, and Downtown and the West Bank are easily connected via a 10-min light rail trip.

Fringing by venue is viable--it's less stressful parking yourself in a place instead of running to venue to venue (especially if you're going to different areas of the city). It is true that I spent time at shows being an audience to material I didn't enjoy, and though I may have harped on this over the many beers I had over at the Crooked Pint, Dan Savage's relationship mantra began to sing in my brain as we continued into the festival:

Be good. Be giving. Be game.

Each show is a relationship that lasts an hour, and I want to give it the best part of myself to see if it can work. This is draining. Sometimes it means putting oneself out there just as much as the performers are doing. And sometimes I fell short. But I tried as hard as I could to be good. To be giving. To be game. And I think that's the best thing we can do during this crazy thing called the Minnesota Fringe.