Running on Fumes, Running on Empty: Hitting the AntiClimatic Wall

HEART RACING. Fingers gnawed away. TWITCHING, blurry eyes. Hunger pangs. RACING MIND.  Full bladder. SLURRED SPEECH.  Dry, burning skin.  Extreme FATIGUE. Cramped hands. BENT fingers. Hunched back.

Bouts of mania. Bouts of anger. Bouts of disappointment. Bouts of disbelief. Sleepy. Dopey. Grumpy.

No, those are not the symptoms of the latest odd medication being advertised directly to the consumer on television that promises to save you from some horrible disease to only bring on near-death experiences.  Tell me, what’s the point again of taking those medications?  What’s the point of even advertising those off pills on television? You really think I am going to go to my doctor and ask for the pill that will cure my restless leg but give me eternal anal leakage, at best? Hmm. Ok. Back to my other diatribe.

In the movie Running on Empty, there is the line “why do you have to carry the burden of someone else’s life?” That is the sentiment I have been living with for the last few months. I have basically been living several work lives. My life as a senior executive. My life as an on-the-road community builder.  My life as a workplace cheerleader and counselor. My life as a fundraiser. That last one being the new role I had to take on, when someone else decided to walk away midway through a project. At times it felt somewhat invigorating to know that I could do it.  Learning a new skill set in such a short period of time made everything feel significant.  So, I ran ran, ran, ran with it.  But I had to ask myself repeatedly “why did I have to carry the burden of someone else’s life?”  It’s rather exhausting, I tell ya.

Add it up! Or Kiss off into the air! The Violent Femmes had it right!

So, I embarked on my journey of taking on someone else’s responsibilities. Meeting upon meeting.  Google search after Google search. I found myself muttering along, reassuring myself repeatedly as to what was the allowable page count.  I became obsessed with numbers and size. I even noticed when people, in everyday conversations, just took too long to get to the point. I kind of wanted a magic wand that could just erase their words and make them make every point in ten words or less. Can someone invent that instead of the odd side-effect pill? Or better yet how about using the flowbee to help people zip it?

Anyway, editing down.  Editing down.  Editing down. I would look down at the sheet in front of me and I would think “Oh, that paragraph has a dangling word, I can cut a sentence down if I get rid of all adjectives.”  At the end of the day, writing in response to government grants seems to be an exercise in telling the world how awesome something is without using any real form of human speech.  But of course, the government surely wants the best and the brightest.

I have been toiling away for several months on end, going on business trips while trying to get several grants in so that we can sustain the organization going forward. No pressure whatsoever! I have been running on adrenalin for a while.

For the past two weeks, I have been waking up each day with a slight hangover feeling. You know that hangover feeling you get when your mind has been racing all night long?  That hangover feeling gets further intensified when immediately upon waking up you feel the need to create a to-do list that is 20 items long.  A sense of sheer will power, stubbornness and mania end up taking over. Although, I must admit I have been needing more and more coffee each day. Luckily, I have discovered the “Dirty Chai”-a double shot of espresso with chai tea.  That is as caffeinated as they come; and quite tasty as well.

Bouts of MANIA. Bouts of anger. Bouts of DISAPPOINTMENT. Bouts of disbelief. Sleepy. DOPEY. Grumpy.

Cramped up legs. Stuffy nose. Dehydrated. Hungry. Seemingly permanently hunched back.

Then this past week I was running on fumes.  My energy reserve was near empty. Running, running, running. That word just keeps spinning about in my head.  Have you ever heard of the song, “Running on Fumes” by the Gabe Dixon Band ? Some of the lyrics resonated with my state of being as of late:

That sun sinking sets me thinking about direction, connections they come and go
Bleary eyed I come to realize the road keeps heading home
Looking up from the inside
Life can be a lonesome dream
plug it in, crank it up, i’m alone like a motor in a mad machine

And I’m running on fumes, trying to make it through

Then yesterday came along.  We got to hit the submit button and the month-long torture was over (more or less-for when is work torture ever really over).  SUBMIT! The document that took a month to produce, knocking a few brain cells about along the way, was finally done, uploaded and transferred.

Elation! Yah! Not so much.  I didn’t feel anything other than maybe a bit of relief. And, not even that much. It was done. And that was it. I felt numb. I looked around. We knew we were supposed to feel elation. But no one could bring the feeling about. There was no high-fiving. There was no dancing. There was no yelling with joy.  As a matter of fact, I went and sat down. Finally sat down.

Now what?

I think I will go watch the movie The Shining.  I hear the protagonist has a couple of catchy lines in the novel he is writing 😉


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