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The making of a Fringe Zombie

I feel like a shell of a human being. My mind is fuzzy, I've grown potato sacs under my eyes and it may be a sunny afternoon, but it feels like 4 a.m.

I feel like a shell of a human being. My mind is fuzzy, I've grown potato sacs under my eyes and it may be a sunny afternoon, but it feels like 4 a.m. When people engage me in conversation I smile weakly and hope they think I'm listening attentively, but really I want to eat their flesh I MEAN... take a nap. Sleep, that would be nice.

Blame the Victoria Fringe Festival.

I always knew it was coming. When I interviewed for this summer position way back in December, then-city editor Stephanie Coombs warned me. "Covering Fringe is insane," she said... or something like that.

Weeks before it happened, entertainment reporter Adrian Chamberlain sent an email to our features editor, clarifying that our schedules should be more or less cleared for the week or so of coverage.

We made a plan of action. There would be reviews. Lots of them. There would be an online hub with maps and other information. Lots of it. There would be tweeting. Lots of tweeting! Adrian and I would see two- to five shows each night and have our reviews done the next morning, before heading out again for more.

It started out well enough. I was ready — eager, even. Sure, I'd just had a full day of work, but I was totally up for seeing three shows! And yes, of course I could file my first review in half an hour on an iPhone. Screen scrambles in the middle of the writing? No problem, I'll still figure out how to send it on the keyboard-less technology. Fifteen minutes between shows at different venues? I could use the exercise. I'll just bike faster! I chat with people in line, ask them what shows they're seeing. I'm thrilled to take fliers from performers outside every show. Boy, they all look interesting, I wonder if I can cover more. I even went out of my way to stop by Centennial Square between work and the shows to tweet about the free events happening there.

Was that a dream?

I covered my final shows last night and exhaustion has made me a zombie. Today is my tenth straight day of work, including two 12hr+ days. Clearing my non-Fringe work schedule didn’t happen — if there’s something that needs doing, I’m going to do it. I don't make eye contact with theatre-goers in line anymore. No, I don't want your flier, I already have three of them. Actually, I already reviewed your show, but I don't want to reveal myself, for fear of your wrath. I felt immense guilt, giving my first bad review — I really tried to soften the blow and emphasize the performance’s handful of positive qualities. I fear I’m losing my diplomacy. Between shows, I cook ramen noodles for dinner using the hot water from an instant hot chocolate machine in the corner of a convenience store. Wait, I’m already in another show. What's happening in the plot? Maybe this supposed to be an abstract, plot-less postmodern performance. No, that's not right. What’s this character’s name again? Is this supposed to be a comedy or a heartfelt drama? I can't read human emotion anymore. Thank god for my notebook and the over-night grace period to file a review, because I won't remember any of this soon. But clarity comes every morning.

I've filed my final reviews and am looking forward to a return to normalcy. This blog post — this is my final piece of Fringe writing. I'm looking forward to some rest, relaxation and a routine schedule. But you know, now that it's all over, there are still a few shows I'd like to see. I think I have some time to squeeze in another one. Just imagine how enjoyable they’ll be when I can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.