Life During Wartime
Volume 2 Book 9 Part 4 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

[ Diary Index ]
[ Book 8 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ]

December 2001.
El Lay, Virginia, Florida.

Steve at Randolph Macon College in Virginia.

December 1-19, 2001.
Fall Tour Part 2.
By the time I got back to El Lay for a few days rest, my cough was starting to be more active. I didn't have a fever nor did I have a sore throat so Dr. Peter thought it might be post nasal drip. He gave me some antihistamines and some antibiotics (he said to take them if I start feeling worse).

I took a few days rest and then Jimmy and I drove over to Riverside to sing for World AIDS Day at University of California Riverside because I would get to see Shawn and Gwenn who were also appearing! Jimmy and I had lunch with these cute girls from the school.

Josh D'Lea, Gwenn Barringer, me and Shawn Decker
hanging out at UC Riverside for World AIDS Day

Next thing you know I was back in the air flying right back to Randolph Macon College in Virginia. The Jasons were there with Jake (who I talked about in my last email) and we had a wonderful little reunion. There were other friends who showed up as well, including Peg who drove for about three hours with her friend Rhaps, only making it in time to hear "Connected" and "When You Care." (Peg also gave me a beautiful homemade dreamcatcher -- thanks, babe).

Still, the little room was PACKED with students who were lined up against the walls, sitting on every piece of furniture, etc.

The audience crammed into the commons room at Randolph Macon College.
Notice the AIDS quilt sections hanging around the room.
Jason took pictures. There wasn't a lot of light so the pics are a bit dark but I think they look kinda cool.

My mom will like this smiley photo.

The piano was wedged into the corner of their commons room and surrounding me were sections of the AIDS Quilt. It was quite stirring and poignant to sing my songs and be surrounded by those names and faces. I told the students that for every name, there were whole families, groups of friends and others who suffered along with that sick person.

More singing.
l was happy that my voice was in good shape. The cough was now starting to sound like it was coming from some deep phlegmy well in Afghanistan, but I didn't have a sore throat and I didn't feel sick. However, I was tired and I had no time to rest. In every hotel room, the only constant was the TV blaring the AMERICA'S NEW WAR mini-series.

On Faux Network, it was called AMERICA STRIKES BACK. The new war song kept going in my head. I sang it at least 10,000 times to myself while sitting for hours at airports or in planes.

"But my enemies aren't demons
They're human just like me
I will not delight in the slaughter
Or rejoice in the victory..." *

I'm not really against the war against terrorism. It's weird to me that congress hasn't officially declared war. There's nothing official about it all. And how long does this last? Forever? Like the drug war? (One does a lot of thinking when one is stuck sitting for hours and hours at a time.)

Preaching. Preaching. Preaching.
By the time I made it to Miami, I was in good spirits because I knew it was just one more concert and then home to Jimmy and the cats. I don't have pictures from Barry University because I had forgotten my camera, but it was a an intense concert. The room was small and there were chairs set up around the piano so we were very close to each other. We could see into each other's eyes.

I received this from a student.


My name is Anthony, I attended your seminar at Barry University a couple of weeks ago.  I was accompanied by brothers of my fraternity Alpha Delta Gamma.  We wanted you to know that we felt your visit inspired us in many ways.  You are a true inspiration and my brothers and I want you to know that.  You made us realize how crucial it is to live everyday to the fullest extent, accomplishing as much as possible, although as a fraternity we vow to do that, your visit impacted myself and my brothers in an indescribable way, you made us value life just a little bit more!  Thank you for your visit to our university, it was a true blessing and eye-opening experience.  You are strong in living such a difficult life of illness, my brothers and I would like to congratulate you on all of your success, we shall never forget your story!

Ad de gloriam,

Anthony L.
Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity

I've included that email as self defense because in my haste to catch up on the diary a couple of days ago, I left one of the best moments out. I had dinner with Amy and my old internet pal and mentor, Maggie Heineman. Maggie looked happier and healthier than I have ever seen her. Her bright, white hair was cut short, there was a mischievous twinkle in her eye and I felt completely recharged by our conversation.

I'm now comfortably lying on my couch, a place I've been for about two weeks. The worst of the bronchitis is over but it's still lingering and I have to take it easy. Also today, I got a call from my doc informing me that my cholersterol is way up and also my triglycerides. I know what it's from. It's from eating fast food on the road. It's like eating poison but that's all there was at the airports near my gates.

Jimmy has been cooking for me and waiting on me hand and foot. I've most definitely milked THAT to death, thankyewverymuch. But the point is that my main focus for the next month (aside from doing some work on the new CD) is an intense health build-up. (I've been invited to play Gideon in Rochester NY next month for a three week run at the Downstairs Cabaret Theatre -- opening night, January 17. At least I'll be in one place and not living in airports -- and they promised to take good care of me).

I also have another person taking care of me. He's an ex-professional wrestler named Ron Studd. Shawn Decker detailed our exciting adventure in "a very special" episode in his cartoon strip, Hero & Friends -- about three creatures in a space ship: Birdman, the Invisible Picklehead and Ron Studd. My life's dream has now been fulfilled. I'm a character in a comic strip. I wonder who'll play me in the movie?

First frame: Ron Studd, a rotund wrestler stands in the doorway and points to a character lying in a bed. Said character wears an eyepatch. Ron: OH NO! STEVE DEAD! Frame two: Steve says I'm not dead. I'm sleeping and what are you doing here? Frame three: We see a birdhead that looks like a circle, eyes and a beak. Steve! This is Birdman. Next we see that his face is on the TV. He says, You should be able to see me on your TV right now. The Invisible Picklehead has tediously constructed this elaborate system... ignore the scrambled porn in the living room, that was just a glittch we encountered along the way... anyway, we've sent Ron there to take care of you until you are better. He makes a mean grilled-cheese. The final panel has Ron sitting up in bed with me. He says, Ron knows! What make Steve feel better than Xmas music? Singing: Grandma got run over by a reindeer...walking home from

*from "Reluctant Soldier" c 2001 by Steve Schalchlin. See No Evil/Lil Shack o Tunes/ASCAP
December 20-January 1, 2002.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.. IT'S TUESDAY!
I end the year 2001 with some thoughts that were generated by this chat with Bev. We join the conversation in progress.
Steve: If someone is too sick, too fat, too shy, too gay, too weird, too weak, too old, too sad, too depressed, too unhappy, what do they have in common?

Bev: Anonymity

Steve: more.

*Bev thinking*

Steve: they have a whole nother "real" person inside them busting to get out.

Bev: You can be who you are in your head, not who you appear to be in person. You are your essence on the net, not your physical person.

Steve: the net lets loose the real person.

Bev: That's what attracted me to the net, I realized in retrospect.

Steve: it's like going slightly insane!

Bev: Oh I don't know--it's more like finding sanity.

Steve: but think.

Steve: without the net you would create this inner life alone. WITH the net, you're no longer alone!

Bev: I DID create an inner life alone.

Steve: and if truth be told, we ALL have inner lives.

Bev: The question is why do some of us glom onto the internet to live them, while others keep them intensely private. I have a friend who'd never put his life out on the internet the way we do.  He'll use it for communication--but it took him awhile before he was comfortable with it.

Steve: it's the same thing but on a smaller scale. if he opens up to just one person, he's having that shared experience.

Steve: some of us are entertainers. you,shawn, myself. others do not wish to entertain. they're called: THE AUDIENCE. LOL

The morning shows, trying to get a retrospective of the year, are assessing online journals. How quaint of them. They'll never get the real story of the power of the internet because everyone on TV is pretty and can sit up straight. To see the true miracles of the internet you have to actually spend time AS a cybercitizen. You have to see the wings on these broken people unwrap themselves; see the colors come in like stained glass windows, see them fly, glistening in the morning sun.

This is the true story of the internet. And the other reason TV will miss this story is because none of the above net persons (except for Shawn and myself, of course) will ever have sufficient prettiness to be considered by a segment producer looking for more pretty faces until the next commercial break.

When I began this diary six years ago, I could barely function in the "real" world. But in cyberspace, I was a superhero. I could talk to friends in Paris, have cyberlunch in Rome, contact my distant relatives in Australia, and solve the world's problems (and then have tea).

I got the greatest phone call yesterday. Out of the blue, George Merrill called me. I haven't heard from him since before we went to New York. It's gotta be five years or more. George is a hit songwriter (Whitny Houston's "How Will I Know" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" -- they also had a VH1 hit called "Waiting For A Star To Fall" where he and his partner Shannon formed the group "Boy Meets Girl"). George helped me out in the very, very beginning -- helped me record a few of the first demos for TLS. He just called out of the blue because he'd been thinking of me.

He and his wife Shannon Rubicam divorced last year but like true songwriters, they wrote an entire album together about going through a divorce. Don't you love it? I have no idea if he has a record deal or not, but I cannot wait to hear what they've done. George is one of the good guys. At one point I even tried to get him to play Gideon.

The news for the past week has been how Buffalo New York (where I fly to on Jan. 10th) has had seven feet of snow. Why does that sound so delicious to me? I'm really looking forward to the Rochester production. Just to do it for four weeks with Amy Coleman is going to be amazing. We're gonna set that damned stage on fire.

(My friend and computer guru Ernie says he thinks New Years is stupid so all night long he said was saying to everyone, "Happy Tuesday Eve!").

Last night Jimmy made a delicious meal. Then we put on the DVD of Moulin Rouge and I feel asleep in the exact same spot that I did when I saw it the first time.

When I woke up this morning, Jimmy was in bed next to me, the cats were asleep on my legs and I suddenly realized it was a perfect Tuesday. I think I'll have one next week.

[ Diary Index ]

[ Book 8 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ]

[ Hannah, Hospice Social Worker ] [ Shawn Decker's ]
[ Jimmy's Sunday Sermons ] [ My Lynchburg Diary: Meeting Jerry Falwell ]

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© 2001 by Steve Schalchlin.
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