Volume 3 Book 9 Part 1a of
Living in the Bonus Round
There is a park that runs along the waterfront.
April 2-3, 2004.
[ Book 3-8 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 1a ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ]
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ]
WARNING: The following diary entry is a wandering, blabbering, stream of concious think piece spiked with photos from Lake Michigan which I took while pondering these very thoughts.
CONTINUING FROM THE PREVIOUS ENTRY WHEREIN I WAS ANNOUNCING PROUDLY THAT I WAS GOING TO MAKE A HUGE DECISION ABOUT MY LIFE.
... so when I say I have to make a decision about a career choice, I'm not saying that I'm going to stop doing all the other things. It just means I need to focus on the thing I love the most. It's funny, but in "The Big Voice," the "character" of Steve says, "Did I want to be a musician or a minister? If I became a Baptist minister, I'd be living in the biggest closet of them all."
That comes from back when I was in my teens. I was going to Jacksonville College, I was majoring in music, singing in all the choirs and mixed ensembles, arranging music -- all that stuff, when suddenly one day I "felt called to the ministry." I actually went to the altar and "surrendered to the ministry," as they call it in the Baptistspeak.
It happened, as I can best recall after sermon. A sermon delivered at a church where we were doing a choir concert.
When we got back to the school, I was told that Professor Orr was kind of freaking out. Was he going to lose another one to the ministerial wing of JBC?
It was my impression at the time that at this school (of more or less 2 or 300 students) you had these two competing groups: the ministers and the musicians. Bro. Orr's job (music) was to find, cultivate and nurture new music directors for the tiny little Missionary Baptist Churches sprinkled around the south (mostly in Arkanas, Texas and Louisiana).
The ministerial side of the school presumably had their own agenda, too. Apparently, in the past, a bright music student would "cross over" from music to ministry and soon he (always a he, of course) would lose interest in really learning music.
(I have to say here that that school was very lucky to get this man, Dr. Gerald Orr. He was a brilliant pianist who would take a hymn and make it sound like Liberace was playing it. Later on, when I actually listened to Liberace I heard all the little "tricks" and could identify them. Dr. Orr tried to push me in school but I was a lazy student. Looking back, I think I just knew I was going to fit into that world. But I knew no other world. So I think my "laziness" was more a kind of passive aggressive shield I was building around myself. Armor.)
When I heard that everyone was freaking out or wondering what it meant, I was surprised. The idea of dropping music wasn't even on my radar. The idea of taking a bunch of theology courses was even lower. I wasn't really a "theology" kind of guy. Also, I didn't look like the other ministerial students.
The time period here is the very early 70s. The Viet Nam draft was still going on. In a world full of hardcore Republican conservatives, I was a wanna be hippie (but I was not the only one). While the other Baptists in the dorms were playing the Oak Ridge Boys, I was playing Pink Floyd, Creedence and Bread. (I'm nothing if not eclectic).
I was growing long hair, I dressed as counter-culture as possible. And "the preachers" on campus were, to me, complete nerds. (Nebbishes, not that I knew that term at the time.) Not cool. No way in the world would I ever fit into that mold. So why did I "surrender to the ministry?"
Looking south toward the city.
The shoreline has a built-up rock wall.
I don't know. I just did. Maybe it was an emotional reaction to some sermon. Maybe it was because my hero, my daddy, was a minister. All I know is it felt right. I had surrendered to the ministry. It was what I was called to do.
People at the school, I don't know what they thought. I didn't suddenly turn all serious and thoughtful, I don't think. I didn't become a bible idolator and I absolutely did NOT cut my hair. I joined a Jesus rock band. I also, however, fell in love with my roommate. It was unrequited, of course, and I didn't really ever say anything to him, but how do you hide love? Luckily, at this school and in our group, love was freely expressed between human beings, so we all got healing hugs. But I did know that I did not belong.
Immediately after college, I took a job as a minister of music at a big church in Dallas. I was 19. I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing. I panicked totally, unprepared for the adult world so I left Dallas and went back to my $50/month roach-infested garage apartment.
I ran because I got scared. It was too much. I freaked. I think I've hinted at this story, but I don't think I've ever really told this story before. Looking back, I see myself just floating in life.
In many ways, rejoining the guys was me running away from life. I literally couldn't handle rent? furniture? car? a job? school? Plus, I didn't get along with this pastor. He and I had these fights. There was a church secretary who was "on my side." It all got very ugly.
But, that was another choice I made in my life. Overnight, I went from church leader/academic to road rat in a small town band. Five years I spent in that band, traveling mostly around Texas and then came the day I had to make another decision. Fact is, I couldn't be gay and play in that Baptist band. It just wasn't in the cards. Rejecting fundamentalist religion, I fled to the big city again. Back to Dallas.
An old pier stands in the water.
It was in Dallas that I disovered the world of musical theatre. It was a total fluke that I was hired in the first place. They needed a tenor THAT day and I was the only one who could hit the notes they were looking for, so I got a job. Next thing you know, I'm writing songs for theatre.
So that brings me up to now.
What was I talking about?
Oh, yeah. I was making some kind of decision or other.
© 1996-2004 by Steve Schalchlin.You have permission to print from this diary and distribute for use in support groups, schools, or to just give to a friend. You do not have permission to sell it.