Reconciliation Express
Volume 4 Book 4 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 9)
Gordon Joseph-Levitt from Third Rock at OutFest in L.A.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "Third Rock" and "Mysterious Skin."


[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt6A-6B ] [ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]


July 5-10, 2005.
VideoBlog & OutFest.
I created my first videoblog. It's linked here on this page and it consists of me pulling off my eye bandage and the follow-up doctor visit. This posting is a test posting. If it locks up your computer, let me know and next time I'll only post a link that you can click on.
My first videoblog. It will begin automatically.
Or you can click this media file's URL: Link
Or you can right click on the link and save it to your hard drive.
For those who can't see the video or don't wish to watch it, the good news is that my eye is healing very well. Each day, more and more redness goes away. The whites of my eyes are beginning to show (thus prompting Jim to say we can start shooting again) and I finally made my first public appearance this past Tuesday to see a play.

AND IT WAS AMAZING!! (Not the play -- didn't like it at ALL). But I could SEE it. For the first time in years, I could see in wide vision! In the past, with my right eye jammed so far up, I would depend on a prism to help me see, but they wear out, the vision is fuzzy, and because no prism was as strong as the extreme way my eye was jammed, after just a few minutes, my vision would go wonky, I'd have to blink, close my eyes, shake my head and try to get the eyes back together.

This would happen CONTINUOUSLY through everything I needed to concentrate on looking at.

But Tuesday night, WIDE SCREEN VISION!! No blinking, no watering, no readjusting. It was like having eyes for the first time.

All the news is not good. My blood sugars are still running too high, between 150 and 220. This isn't life-threatening, but it means we have to find a way to get them down to below 140 maximum. I also found out from recent tests that I have gone from hyPERthyroid to hyPOthryoid. So this means new pills and a new regimen. I guess my thyroid, over the years the Graves' Disease was active, finally succeeded in weakening or killing off my thyroid gland.

I feel like a human Whack-A-Mole. I fix one thing and something else pops up.

On Thursday, I was invited by my friend David Ehrenstein, a film critic and movie historian here in Los Angeles, to the opening night of OutFest, the GLBT movie festival. Naturally, I brought my video cam.

Downtown L.A.

The newly restored Eastern Building.

OutFest Orpheum Theatre marquee
Orpheum Theatre marquee.

The lobby of the Orpheum Theatre.

David Ehrenstein
David Ehrenstein, critic, bon vivant.

Our first great surprise was learning that director Greg Araki would be receiving a special award. We were ESPECIALLY happy when we saw actor Gordon Joseph-Levitt pull up. He's mainly known for being on the shitcom "Third Rock From The Sun," but this year he stunned everyone with his brave and heartbreaking portrayal of a gay hustler who had been molested as a child in Araki's brilliant "Mysterious Skin." Brady Corbet, also in the film, and equally brilliant as the boy who thinks he was captured by space aliens as a child, was with him.

Gordon Joseph-Levitt from Third Rock at OutFest in L.A.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Gordon Joseph-Levitt from Third Rock at OutFest in L.A.
Mugging for my camera.

Brady Corbet & Gordon Joseph-Levitt of Mysterious Skin.
Brady Corbet & Gordon Joseph-Levitt of "Mysterious Skin."

David Ehrenstein with Christian Taylor of the movie Showboy.
David Ehrenstein with Christian Taylor of the movie "Showboy."

Christian Taylor of the movie Showboy.
Christian Taylor of the movie "Showboy."

Craig Gilmore from The Living End, a Greg Araki film.
Craig Gilmore from "The Living End," a Greg Araki film.

Older downtown building.

A Director of Outfest 2005.

Movie Critic and TV personality Frank DeCaro with David Ehrenstein
Movie Critic and TV personality Frank DeCaro.

Kevin Thomas, film critic for Los Angeles Times.
Kevin Thomas, film critic for Los Angeles Times.

Antonio Villagairosa, mayor of Los Angeles.Antonio Villagairosa, mayor of Los Angeles.
Antonio Villagairosa, mayor of Los Angeles.

Gordon Joseph-Levitt and Brady Corbet read dialogue from Araki movies.

Greg Araki tearfully and joyfully receives a big award from the OutFest.
It was thrilling to have the mayor there. He's the first mayor in the long history of OutFest to show up.

I made a videoblog of the evening.

July 11-16, 2005.
Dry Land.
I'm writing a quick diary note because I don't want to lose the memory of what happened last night, July 15th. There's no way, in advance, that I could have been prepared for this. I know it's been at least six years since my right eye started going bad. I had learned to live with it, to adjust as well as I possibly could. What helped, however flawed, was the prism I continually had to replace. It wasn't perfect, but at least the images would even up and during a normal day's activity.

But during a SHOW, particularly Big Voice, I never wore the prism or my glasses because the prism is striated and when the harsh lights hit it from above, it was blind me completely. Also, we just didn't want my eyes covered up while on stage.

So, from the very beginning of Big Voice, I have basically walked onstage with severely crossed eyes. Do an experiment. Cross your eyes as much as you can and walk across a room. Now do that for two hours.

I guess I was so used to dealing with my eyes that I hadn't realized how dizzy -- and I mean DIZZY -- I was performing this show onstage. I had so totally incorporated the dizziness that I had begun to think that it was just natural to feel that way on stage. When I was make a cross from one side to the other, it was like walking on a balance beam. Because two images were coming at me, I had to make sure I didn't either hit a table, hit the wall or fall into a pit. And in walking, I would get slightly dizzy every single time.

I thought that it was just me, that I was a naturally dizzy person. (No jokes please).

So, last night, I took off my glasses as usual, took my place in the dark, waited for my opening cue, spun around to say my line, and -- how do I explain this? -- it was like being sober after six years of being drunk.

The solidity hit me like a brick. It was so jarring that I literally was lost for a few minutes. When we made our first cross together and I got over to the piano, I almost forgot what to do. My body had memorized how to get there in a dizzy state. But suddenly I was totally free to just... well, WALK.

The other analogy is of being on the sea in choppy water where the boat is tilting under your feet -- and then suddenly you're on dry land. If you've ever done this, you know that you can actually get a little disoriented once you're on dry land because you're so used to having to sway in order to walk a straight line.

The stage, for me, had been exactly that. I had developed my sea legs and knew how to compensate in order to negotiate the stage. Also, my head was always swimming just a little bit and I had been in a perpetual state of dizziness as I walked around, sat at the piano -- even looking around from a seated position was a unbalancing experience.

Suddenly, without warning, I was on dry land.

The head-swimming was instantly gone.

Several things happened. First, I almost forgot my lines. Secondly, I found myself totally relaxing on stage and speaking in completely normal conversational tone, something that... well, how do I put it?

You see, what I hadn't realized was that in all the previous performances, along with remembering lines, I was mentally doing about a dozen calculations at the same time. Trying not to fall, avoiding the hot spots that were beaming directly into the bad eye, compensating for the constant state of light-headedness. It was like my central processor was working overtime just to keep me functional.

For all of that messiness to suddenly be gone... To have my head totally clear of all these distractions... To just be there totally in the moment without a single distracting thought or feeling...

I was on the verge of absolutely REJOICING all through the act. While the audience was watching Big Voice, I was playing an entirely different show in my head. I was popping champagne. I was sending up balloons. I was setting off fireworks. I was literally EXPLODING from within.

When we got into the dressing room, I just started jumping up and down and trying to explain all this to Jim who looked at me like I was an idiot. He just kept cracking jokes, but I wanted him to shut up and just experience it with me. He couldn't, of course. No one could. It was a private party for one. A solo experience that was impossible to share or describe in any adequate terms.

What he did say was that he was startled on stage to look at me and actually see me looking back at him right into his eyes. He said, "I guess I never really noticed it before. I was so used to you. But to see you actually looking right into my eyes as we speak..."

Again, cross your eyes as hard as you can and walk across the room. That has been life on stage. Two solid hours every single night. Like walking a tightrope. Like being drunk while walking a tightrope. Like being drunk while walking a tightrope with blinding lights in your eyes.

And now, suddenly, stone cold sober, on dry land.

Okay, I've said enough. But I'm literally bursting. Can you tell?

[ Book 4-3 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6A-6B ][ Pt 7 ]
[ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] -- [ Book 4-5 ]

© 1996-2005 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.