Volume 1 Book 3 Part 1 of
Living In The Bonus Round
by Steve Schalchlin.

[ Book 2 ] - [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] - [ Book 4 ]
[ Diary Index ] [ WRITE ME! ]

December 1996. New York & Los Angeles.
STILL getting used to being alive.

Sunday, December 1, 1996
Beginning of Book Three: The Lazarus Effect.

This is World AIDS Day 1996.

In honor of this day, I have taken the graphic off my front page and I ask all my friends to think, not of me, but of the people -- the many people -- who are alone with AIDS this day.

"Friends would come around and bring me little things
And say how much they needed me to live
They told me I would make it 'cause they said we were,
Connected to each other.

We should all be Connected to each other."

On this day I publicly thank all my friends and all my family. You are why I live. Your love has been the key from the beginning. Thank you.
To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Monday, December 2, 1996
Day Two of Book Three: Carl Come Home plus Pics & Fan Club Stuff.

Carl the Producer came in late last night from California. After we sat for a few minutes, he said, sadly, "It's weird in the apartment without Indy [the dog]." I was noticing it too. The other night while eating pizza, I had a crust that dropped to the floor and I had to pick it up all by myself. I didn't mind but I got a splinter in my tongue from the wooden floor.

Carl said he flew home, fell on his mom's couch, and slept for four hours until they woke him up for dinner. Then he went right back to sleep. Poor boy's been working seven days a week. He asked me if I was tired after all the work we'd been doing. I said, "No. I'm always like this." (But, of course, I was tired and have been resting and sleeping a lot. I just didn't want him to know. Hehehe)

I got a letter that touched me deeply today. A parent, who is a reader of this site, had an unexpected surprise. His 19 year old son "came out" to him and the rest of the family. The son even offered to leave the house if being gay was too upsetting. The father immediately told him that they loved him and that he was to stay right at home where he belonged. Then the father wrote me and said that much of his being able to understand came from reading this diary. Folks, all the Grammy, Tonys and Oscars in the world do not mean as much to me as knowing that one kid somewhere in the world got a break because of my rambling idiocies.

Speaking of rambling idiocies:

...There's a bulletin. It's... yes... It's the first pictures of yours truly with his hair cut off. It's just a snapshot with friends and fans but it can be found at Linda George's page. She is going to kill me for providing this link, but that's what happens when you're a fan of Steve Schalchlin. He betrays your every confidence. (hehehe)

Can you believe it? After all the faxes and e-mails we sent to the press, we finally got a note from someone working at a very major online newspaper. He is working on a story about theatre on the web and -- you know, I forgot to ask him how he found us.

Anyway, when I get back to Los Angeles on Thursday, I'm going to begin updating The Last Session page with pictures, the new graphic and ... sound files, so you can hear some of this music now that we have some good recordings. And I promise I won't burden the site with a lot of slow-loading bells and whistles. I'm also not going to change this diary site. The comments I've gotten from readers is that you like the large type here in the diary page and simple format. Cool.

Okay. I give in. If you want to see what happens when a grown woman (Gabi) decides to give up all pretense of class and taste, please go here. It's the Steve Schalchlin Fan Club and there are over 15 MEMBERS!!! Yes, I know it's unbelievable. Some fan clubs rave about having thousands of members. Well ... well .. so what? My fans are better than their fans any day of the week.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Tuesday, December 3, 1996
Book Three: The Shadow Continues to Lurk.

I'm a little "not myself" today, I'm afraid. I've had news that has upset me a bit. A member of my extended family, a beautiful young girl, has tested HIV positive and a friend of a friend has died of AIDS after a long, painful ordeal. One goes out and one comes into the HIV fold. I've been feeling so healthy and "AIDS-free" that it just startled me to realize that friends and loved ones are still getting sick and they are still dying.

Jamie and I talked more about "hope" yesterday. I told him that my whole speech about me not needing hope, preferring to just bluster along was a lie. I do need hope and it didn't dawn on me why until my friend, Joe, called me and told me about his friend and how many times he had had to go to the hospital and get wired up to feedbags and meters.

"We should all be connected to a meter..."

I THOUGHT THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE END OF AIDS!!! I thought it was over. And then I remembered something, and it's a part of our play. AIDS doesn't kill. AIDS breaks you down and lets something else kill you. These "something else's" we try to chase away with extra pills and extra prophylaxis, but they stand hovering like the space ship in ID4.

Supposedly, the protease inhibitor should be helpful in restoring some of my immune system, but my immune system was nearly destroyed before they arrived. My t-cell percentage was down to 2% (34% is normal), my CD4 count was at 40, and I had already had two major opportunistic infections, which really throw your body out of whack.

Does this scare me? Yeah, actually, it does. I don't confess that too often, but on a day when friends die and young girls get infected, all the hope just seems to drain from me for the day. I begin to feel like a mine worker, chipping way at some shapeless endless wall, and all I get for my efforts are pieces of wall.

Yeah, I want some hope. I have hope. It's just that sometimes, it just ain't quite enough.

Today I was in a cab making an emergency trip back uptown to deal with a graphics snag. The cabbie and I got into a discussion which led to him asking me where I "worked." I told him I was in town with a musical and I said that some of the songs were story-songs like a Harry Chapin, etc. He said, "I was at Harry Chapin's last concert. Or what would have been his last concert. It was at Meadowlands and just as we pulled up, some guy said, "HEY! HARRY CHAPIN'S BEEN KILLED!!"

We didn't believe him until we turned on the radio and heard it ourselves. So I never actually got to hear him sing. Too bad. I thought he was pretty good." The cabbie then went on to suggest some marketing techniques and media outlets he thought might be available to us.

Had a wonderful meeting of all our production principles tonight. We finally organized our corporate structure, assigned duties, clarified our roles and set a plan into motion. Then we talked and talked. I liked tonight's meeting because at previous ones, it was me talking and explaining the diary and the website and who I am and what I'm hoping to achieve, philosophically, as a human being and as a songwriter.

But tonight, they did the talking. They explained who they were and why they are drawn to a show that breaks every rule and has no chance of making it. A show that started from a piano/vocal demo tape to a reading to a workshop to a NY reading -- all in less than a year.

You know what made them want to work on this show? Seeing it. Hearing it. The Last Session is driving us. Jamie described it as a cyclone that sucks up everyone who comes in contact with it.

But enough shoptalk. Wednesday, I'm going to get "walked into" Victor/Victoria, interviewed by Degen Pener are POZ, and then later on there'll be one more production meeting.

If you're the praying type, please pray for my friend who lost his friend and about the newly diagnosed member of my extended family. Their pain is unimaginable. All I can do is make sure they know I'm available if they need me. As the old preacher said, "It's not your ability, it's your availability."

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Thursday, December 5, 1996
Flying Home to Los Angeles.

I did something today I don't ever remember doing in my entire life. It happened after I put on a tape of songs from You know what and listened to them as I got dressed and packed up. Then I stood in Carl the Producer's little apartment near 181st street with my bags packed and the car waiting for me. Carl was standing there half awake.

Suddenly, I just began to cry.

Not big ol' tears, mind you. And they weren't really sad tears. It's just that it suddenly dawned on me that we have been here for five weeks, I am still alive, and I was able to actually do our four readings with the kind of cast most writers would die for, and now this trip was coming to a close. I didn't want this phase to end. But like Jimmy says, this is only the beginning.

Getting out of town and going back to California was confusing for a man who has to take pills five times a day. The most crucial factor was figuring out the timing so that I wouldn't, at any point, be off by more than an hour. I had been taking my Crix at 8, 4 and midnight. That's 5, 1 and 9 on the West Coast, which is way too early. So, I took it at 8 this morning hoping to take the next one at 4 EST. But when I got on the place, I lost track of what time it was and didn't take my second pill until 5:20 EST, which is 20 minutes later than I wanted (but a full hour and 20 minutes later than recommended).

When I got home, we ate and I took my pill at 11 PCT which is -- do you see how confusing this all is? The plane ride was nice and uneventful. In fact, the seat next to me was empty, so I sat catty-corner and stretched my long legs out. And slept a lot.

Jimmy picked me up in the rain and we took a long ride home as I buzzed and buzzed telling him all about the last meetings of our production team. Thurber the Cat greeted me with a string of cat curse words (which I shall not repeat here). Also, I bought "The Diary of Anne Frank" and read it on the plane. What a great writer she was. Makes me realize that I am no Hemmingway.

I didn't even turn my computer on. I fell asleep in my usual place on the couch until Jimmy woke me up for my Crix. Then it was off to my own bed. How nice to be home and dry (as the English say). Home and dry.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Friday, December 6, 1996
A Nice Party For A Singular Man.

I just kinda was lazy today, being my first day back from New York. I went to Ronda's and scanned in some photos. You'll see them here soon. In case you haven't noticed, Geocities has been doing some renovating on their servers, so the service is spotty. They're allowed.

I got an invitation to Nik Venet's 60th Birthday Party at the Farmer's Market on Fairfax & 3rd. Farmer's Market is this very cool place in West Hollywood/Fairfax area which looks like a bunch of wood-sided small town buildings all grouped together in a mall. It doesn't look like anything else in Los Angeles. I arrived there and was very happy that most of it was closed so that the parking was easy.

When I walked in, the first person I saw was Brian Wilson (yes, of the Beach Boys). Nik immediately insisted we be photographed together with Ronda and a bunch of us, including a legendary record producer whose name has just slipped my mind. It was great to see Nik looking so well. He's been having some big time health problems this year and we've been corresponding lately. He was kind enough to say that my own battle for life inspired him. He also loves and adores his son, which I suspect is the real inspiration in his life.

Nik had a major career in the 60s as a bigshot at Capitol Records having come to town with Bobby Darrin. Nik, like me, is a song purist. He has disdain for the flavor of the moment or musical styles. He loves artists and he loves musical and songwriting genius, whether it's the genius of a Brian Wilson or the foolish musings of yours truly. (He treats me as if I were the equal of the great songwriters I idolize. You think I don't lick all that up?)

Nik is also famous for shooting off his mouth caring not AT ALL who he is talking about or who he is saying it to. He particularly hates untalented people "taking up space where talented people should be." So, with his big fat, totally honest, unrepentant mouth, he has simultaneously pissed off the most sensitive no-talents in the music business (i.e. most of the desk jockeys he has met) and made me adore him as he lets me in on all his savory venom.

To make matters even more exasperating to those who do not like him, he is up for a ton of Grammys this year. HA!! Talk about sweet revenge. I already told him he should let me be his guest at the Grammys, but I know he wants his son there. And that's the way it should be. Nik, I know you read this and we both know you are much worse than I have the talent to describe. So, from one recalcitrant big mouth to another. MAZEL TOV!

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Saturday, December 7, 1996
Oh, No! It Can't Be Her!! Not...

"Christmas is like being on the 'It's A Small World' ride, except it lasts for 30 days. By the end of it, you want to grab and Uzi and go postal." That cheery little quote was made last night at another Christmas party we attended here in El Lay. I promised someone who reads this that I would never skimp on the celebrity sightings. But all it will do is show you the cheap crowd I hang out with. The first celebrity was Bill Whatchamacallit who does movie reviews on PBS or something. Big mustache. The other celeb at this party was Terry Sweeney. Remember he was the guy who used to do Nancy Reagan on Saturday Night Live? I didn't actually meet him, but I did see him there.

I have to admit I'm not in the Christmas mood yet, although when it comes to Christmas I'm usually at the front of the line to sit on Santa's lap. I think it's just because, after the excitement and thrill of New York and doing the readings there, I feel as if I've already had my Christmas. But last night put me into a great mood. The party house was filled to capacity with pretty women and gorgeous men. My favorite kind of party. Lot of singers, too.

And speaking of singers, you cannot and will not guess who was there last night. Only in Hollywood. Only at this point in time. I can barely contain my excitement. Yes, it was...

Vanna White's vocal coach.

This is why I love being in Hollywood. A place where Vanna White can get a record deal and get bookings on major talk shows. Just think! In any other town she would barely be able to get time on a drier down at the laundramat! But here, where dreams come true...

It just warms me up all toasty and fuzzy. Let the holidays begin.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Sunday, December 8, 1996
Book Three? Has It Begun Yet?

I know I started this big dramatic "Beginning of Book Three" thing. Are you still waiting for something to happen? Something dramatic? Well, diaries don't work that way. I could look for some foreshadowing or try to plant some seeds that will pay off later, but then, I don't exactly know what's coming...

Today, we watched the movie "Restoration" which was really good for about an hour. Then it seemed to keep ending and going and ending and going on and on. Lord, sometimes these producers should just get a big ol' pair of scissors and start cutting.

My biggest problem, these days, seems to be a pain in my shoulder. Some of the others on Crix have complained about joint pain, but this is getting really bad. If I move my arm just the wrong way or, like yesterday, just gently hit the wall with my shoulder, an unbelievable pain goes through me and just about cripples me. It's astonishing. Arthritis? Am I just getting old?

I see Dr. Ellie soon. Maybe he'll know. Probably just getting old. Be sure to check out the new NY pics with the new captions.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Monday, December 9, 1996
Book Three Prologue: Split Pea Soup and Sleep.

Today I had a very weird feeling wash over me as I pulled a bowl of split pea soup out of the microwave. I was suddenly transported back to the time when split pea soup was about the only thing I could eat that had any flavor. I would eat it constantly.

Jimmy saw something in my face and said, "You don't look like you want this. Do you?" I looked down at the thick green soup which used to be my greatest treat and replied, "No. It reminds me of when I was sick." And I felt something I hadn't felt for a very long time; a sick little knot digging into my stomach. I knew that knot. It was a knot of desperation, fear -- not fear -- feeling scared. Feeling the end press in was sad as it was oddly comforting, a blessedly weird, melancholy relief.

Today, I slept.

All afternoon.

I think I needed it. I'm wired and tired and got up way too early this morning. I'm jet lagged. My mind has been a mess. Some of you have noticed. But the fact is that I'm just flat tired.

I can't even empty the suitcase. Poor Jim. He had to go out in the pouring rain today to get food to cook. While I slept. Then he cooked a wonderful meal for me with lots of mashed potatoes and broccoli. And THEN he cleaned off the table and washed the dishes. Earlier today he cleaned up the house. While I slept.

Thanks, Jim. And thanks for not ragging on me about the suitcase. I'll get to it. I promise. I might even sleep tomorrow. The way I feel now is awake and tired.

So, except for putting out fires, I'm going to give myself a little more time off. Clearly, I need it. As I'm resting and just enjoying being alive for a few days, I'll also be dreaming. I'm going to make up a plan of action for this part of the bonus round. Speaking of which, I found something the other day on my hard drive in an old LAST SESSION folder. It was a list of goals I set for myself last March. I read this list out loud at the end of our first reading at the Cinegrill in Hollywood. I said to the full room of people still on their feet:

"Before you go I want to share with you a list of goals I have set for myself.

The other night I did a little gig at Genghis Cohen and mentioned that the medication bill for AIDS is about $2000 a month. I asked the audience, "How many of you are worth $2000 a month?"

So my first goal is to be worth $2000 a month.

Here are a few others:

...to give back to you as much love as you have lavished upon me. Times a billion.

...to outlive Jim -- and with his diet I got a pretty good chance.

...to write music so essential that everyone will feel a personal stake in finding a cure for AIDS.

...to have "The Last Session" at the Booth Theatre on Broadway by January 1st.

...to sing backup for Bette Midler while she does "Going It Alone" at the Grammys.

I want to thank Jim Brochu for taking care of me -- feeding me, cleaning me, loving me, without complaint for the two last years and the 9 years before that. I'm alive because of you, Jimmy.

And finally my last goal. It is to always remember -- and through my music and through my life, to help others remember -- that how well you live is so much more important than how long you live. "

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Tuesday, December 10, 1996
Confronting Evil.

This morning I was at the computer and reading about a situation regarding young kids getting gay bashed in school. It's one of those stories that never quite hits the paper because when participants are that young, they are usually raised by people who don't want "the neighbors" to know anything. And the schools cover it up, too.

In this case, it's about a kid who has been harassed and beaten or ridiculed and punched all because his classmates suspect he is gay. It's tragic because he's way too young to have ever even had sex! His story is bone-chilling. So, this morning I got on the IRC, went into a room labeled, "Christian," and mentioned this, knowing that people of compassion might have some input. Well, most were compassionate but someone named "beka" wasn't so helpful. I've included this transcript here (edited). I'm "SteveLA." There is also "eklectic" and "shiloh":

SteveLA: I'm writing about some bad stuff happening to gay kids in colleges and high schools. It's really awful how much they have to endure.

beka: What garbage.

SteveLA: There's a web site dedicated to getting their stories out. I'm writing about it. The problem is that they get beaten and ridiculed for someone even suspecting. Then they have parents who are ashamed, churches that try to "change" them, and schools that ignore them. So many end up committing suicide...or they drown themseves in sex and booze.

beka: We are instructed to flee from evil, not cover it with compassion.

SteveLA: Even if you think being gay is wrong, the point is that these kids are JUST KIDS.

eclectric: beka, what exactly is so evil about homosexuality?

beka: Read the Bible and it is pretty clear isn't it? It is also downright repugnant what one has to read in what is termed a tag with Christ's name attached.

SteveLA: Christian behavior is about caring for them as children first.

beka: Caring for someone is telling them of their sin...you never heard me say that I hated anyone...

SteveLA: beka, a kid of 13 who has never had sex is not a sinner.

beka: Steve a baby is a sinner!

SteveLA: beka, you know what I mean.

beka: No,steve, I do not...and I do take the Bible seriously...

SteveLA: beka, these kids aren't even sure of who they are. They've never had sex, never done anything and yet it's people like you they have to endure. You are providing a clear example of how their lives become ruined.

beka: I don't think so steve

SteveLA: beka, of course you don't. That's the problem.

shiloh: I'm just trying to say people need to have their physical needs cared for before we talk to them about emotional and spiritual things....can't preach to a bloody, beaten kid

eclectric: Steve... hell... it happened to me to a lesser extent in high school... I was never beaten, but called names and stuff... just because of the way I talked, or acted, or because I had lots of female friends... but I wasn't (and still am not) gay...

SteveLA: We're not even talking about whether it's [being gay] a sin. We're talking about ministering to young children who are in pain.

SteveLA: These kids are in a state of perpetual torture. How is preaching to them going to change this torture?

But here's the one that got me:
beka: Steve, do you recall OT teachings where God killed children and adults as well in order to keep sin from being rampant?
You see what she's said here, don't you? She's justifying these kids being beaten by saying God used to kill children to stop sin. I responded that that was an evil statement. I was also beginning to see red. I got very angry.
SteveLA: beka, it's that kind of cruel thinking that condones more evil than I can even describe. How I pity your cold, horrible heart.

beka: That is ok steve, at least you have been correctly informed once today. I trust you might consider

SteveLA: beka, then let's just all go out and beat up kids. That's what you're suggesting here.

beka: I do not have a cold heart, Steve, I have a mind to serve Christ and try to live a holy life that is acceptable to Christ... not one that wants to feel good and make others feel good, by destroying themselves in the process

SteveLA: beka, you are cold, heartless and cruel. Everything Jesus wasn't.

beka: Jesus hates sin....so should you

SteveLA: The only sin is the sin committed by people who think 13 year old kids should be murdered to stop sin.

At that point, she left the room. None of the other Christians in that room agreed with her, Thank God. Finally, I said, "I mean I read about people who think that way but I've never met anyone so cold, so cruel. I'm really just shaken."

What some people will say in the name of Christ. It's staggering.

I'm about to get back into the swing of things. Wednesday night is a Lifetime Achievement Award dinner for Leiber & Stoller, Smokey Robinson and Joni Mitchell. It will be quite an event. Jimmy is directing it.

And on it rains...

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Wednesday, December 11, 1996
"How Come Everytime I Say Your Name...?"

After all that mess yesterday with the hateful person, I really needed a break and something uplifting. If you read between the lines, as one must do when reading a diary, you've probably noticed that I've been a bit down lately. I would call it depressed except that I've seen "real" depression. Ronda said that after all the hubbub with New York and all, I've suddenly found myself without a clear set of goals or immediate "things to do." She gave me permission just lie low and relax. Ain't she sweet?

Still, it's weird to have been so busy with such a focused plan (the album and then the reading) for so long and then to suddenly hit this kind of vacuum. Unlike a novel, the writer of a diary doesn't always know what's happening in his head. The reader has to pick up clues and figure it out. The best example, for me, is in Book One of this diary where I was actually dying right before your eyes and yet never really knew it until the very (almost) end. It's like a real life serial being played out before your eyes with the author making it up as he goes along. Was this ever even possible before the internet? Are we talking about this being a new artform altogether?

Anyway, last night was an excellent night because my beloved National Academy of Songwriters held their Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Thank God I don't have to pay for these things or I wouldn't be going anywhere! Anway, the honorees were the great songwriting team of Leiber & Stoller (Stand By Me, On Broadway and about a hundred more), Smokey Robinson and Joni Mitchell. Jimmy was directing it so I got to meet Joni afterwards. She was very cool. Smoked A LOT!!

It was a great night. The Miracles came out and sang Smokey songs (Smokey was home with this flu that's been going around), Tom Petty introduced Leiber & Stoller, and Graham Nash gave Joni her award.

Now, here's the cool thing that happened. At the start of the show -- and remember, the audience is filled with big time songwriters and record execs and music publishers -- they begin to introduce the officers and Board of NAS. Everyone got polite applause. Then they introduced some of us who used to work there. When they said my name, the applause meter (if there had been one) rose significantly!

Randy Sharp, the incoming President, came up to me and said, "How come everytime I say your name, you get the loudest applause!?!" How nice of him to notice. (hehehe). So we hung out and talked and schmoozed and then came home about midnight. It -- and all the e-mail I got yesterday -- really did the trick for me. I really feel back to my old self.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Thursday, December 12, 1996
Guess What We Did Today...

I got up all full of energy and spent time working on my site here. Then about 1 PM Jimmy and I suddenly just felt like we were drowning in molasses. I laid down on the couch and just passed out.

And that's about all we did for the rest of the day.

And all my clothes are still in the suitcase on the floor.

(By the way, check out PFLAG Talk. It's an e-mail discussion group that is fighting discrimination and hate. Very good for parents of gay kids or for folks who just want others to talk to about it.)

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Saturday, December 14, 1996
A Cry In The Dark. Helping Hands.

I didn't update you for Friday because I did absolutely nothing interesting except work on stuff here on the site. Actually, I put in new pictures from New York.

I did a very good deed, though, I think. I got a letter from a young boy in Puerto Rico who found Bill Clayton's Story and through it, found me. He had considered suicide because of the frightful living conditions he is forced into and I think reading Bill's story made him realize there was another way. Here's his letter. The name has been changed. His English is broken but quite touching.

Hi! Merry Christmas! I was in the Bill's Story and I was so touch that I cried a lot. I'm from XXXXXXXXX and have 19 years Old. .

I am very sad, about Bill and I want to share with you, that I agree with you because the world each time is getting more hard to live in it.

I am gay, because I born with this feelings and this way of think, it is bieng myself, is being myself. I haven't tell anyone about this, except to my cousin who knows a little bit about me. Right now I live alone with my mom's uncle, but I'm so afraid that my mother and family know that I'm gay. If you know a little of Latin History, we live in a society very homophobic, very "machista" and very bad with gay people.

I'm not so happy in being me, because I am hiding on being me. Affortunately I am not very promiscuit (please, I don't know very much of english, cause I speak spanish, but hope you understand me). I am afraid of AIDS.

Well, I have my diary too, of the different ways I think when something happen to me, and those times I have try to commit suicide, but that doesn't carry you to nothing.

Hope you are glad for read this e-mail, you can answer me back if you can. I hope you are fine and I want to talk a little of gay feelings, Why do I feel sometimes so bad and to let away from everything.

I sent this letter to the PFLAG-Talk mailing list and immediately got an invitation from a girl in XXXXXXXXX and some in the U.S. who wanted to help him. Already they've been corresponding -- and a child, who in any other age (i.e. pre-computer) would be helpless with no friends, has people reaching out to him. This is the miracle of the net, as far as I'm concerned. And this is how precious lives are saved.

I also met a rabid Christian homophobe, 17 year old, who began to learn a bit after we had a long exchange. Once again, it was a case of someone flinging retribution and Bible verses before he even found out who he was talking to. All the while, he vehemently denied hating gays. And all the while, he was also using words like fag and homo, and getting very worked up about it.

Eventually, though, I and my friend Rob, calmed him down and got him realizing the hatred in his own heart. We showed him how his attitude was completely contrary to the love he claimed he representing. He was quite a piece of work. Very much like the character of Buddy in The Last Session. He didn't even know how much fear and hate was in his heart. He was hanging around too many "macho christians," who spend much of their time looking for evil and finding it wherever they look, trying to bash it back to god-knows-where.

On a different note, it's been really lovely here in L.A. After all that rain, the wind has been blowing and we can even see the mountains which surround us. Also...

Jimmy got a new car yesterday. The lease on the old one was up and according to the leasing agent, if he decided to keep his old car, the payments would have gone up by $150 a month, not to mention the fact that it would have begun falling apart just about now. We managed to get the new one at exactly the same payments. Didn't cost us a penny. Good ol' American free enterprise.

The CD's should be ready on Monday and I'll be autographing the ones who requested autographs and mailing them out on Tuesday, God willing and the creek don't rise. Now get in here and buy these things! (Just in time for Christmas!! hehehehe).

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Monday, December 16, 1996
Just Working on Stuff.

The past couple of days have just been routine taking care of business. The weather is gorgeous and clear so I've also been driving a bit. We still haven't really launched into a full scale story yet in our little online life, so is this still the prolog? Does someone have to be really active to have begun living? Or is this life? This part where you make plans and rest from a hard couple of months?

I'm going to be laying out my plan for this portion of my life very soon. Already, some great ideas are floating around in my head. Shawn Decker and I want to make some appearances together at colleges. We want to come to your hometown if you'll have us, for instance. Also, I'm working on preparing the promotion for my CD and the musical. By the way, it will be Wednesday morning before we ship the CDs. Sorry. Just waiting on the manufacturer.

My protege, David Robyn, just got a song into a major motion picture, he told me last night, so I'm really happy for him. The car is still running. And Jim and I are going to actually clean up around here -- i.e. unload my suitcase and stay for awhile.

I'm probably going to be going rather peacefully here through the holidays. I asked Jim what we were doing last year at this time and then I remembered. I was recording the first demos of songs from The Last Session. We also had a big Christmas Party (because it was supposed to be my last Christmas on earth). But I live, much to the chagrin of many. (just kidding)

And so much to do. Right now, I'm just going to lie back, bake cookies for all my friends (it's all we can afford right now for gifts), and enjoy these holidays. Maybe we can really start Book Three after the holidays. *grin* The possibilities are endless.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Wednesday, December 18, 1996
The Vortex of Intolerance.

I had a really bad day today despite lots of great news and there is a lot of vitriol in this diary today. I was gonna censor it and cool my language, but this is a diary, not an essay, so I left it all in. This is the unvarnished truth of how I feel today.

Today started off with me getting up way too early: 5:00 A.M. There was a lot of mail to catch up on. I've been invited to do a radio show interview in Stony Brook, NY. Also, a show here in L.A. on the 15th and a few other things. So, I'm working on getting all that together. I was also happy to find out that the CDs had arrived and so this morning drove down to High Time and signed all the ones with requested autographs. I got caught in traffic on the way home and wasn't able to mail them, but by the time you read this, they will be on their way to you, first class (if you ordered one, that is, of course. I apologize that these are late).

What set me off today was a conversation I had with a young kid on the IRC (internet chat). He had actually contacted me because he heard about my CD. When we began talking, I told him the songs came from my experience with AIDS and immediately he began to ask me questions.

Here's the deal: He is 19 years old. He is a fundamentalist Christian. He lives in a small town in Texas. He is gay. He hates that he is gay because he has been told that being gay is a sin. He wants to kill himself. Seriously.

(The careful reader will realize that this child did not "choose" to be gay as some "Christians" would insist. He would rather be ANYTHING but gay, but as most people in the educated universe know, one cannot "choose" a sexual orientation. Of course, this is not what the people he trusts most in the universe tell him -- his pastor and family.)

So, he is alone. He is scared with no one to turn to. He is also worried he might have HIV because he has surreptitiously had sex with another youth, but he is too scared to get tested. Plus he has no car so he cannot do it secretly as he wishes. And because he thinks being gay is evil, he leaps to the conclusion that God pretty much hates him and he has no reason to go on living. He is in hell. He even said he tried to kill himself recently with a razor -- his third attempt. His self-hatred, mostly coming from the bigoted way in which this theology has been thrust upon him, is palpable. I try to tell him I care and his only response is, "Why? It's not worth it. No one can love me."

I've never felt so helpless in all my life. I turned to a friend who I know has also struggled with suicide and asked him to intervene for me. He tells me of at least three others in the #gaychristian chat room who have been seriously suicidal. This hit me even harder, folks.

How is it that so many gay kids I meet who come from Christian families have tried to kill themselves? Why do you think that is? And why am I starting to get really, really pissed about this?

Several reasons. First of all, because so-called Christians who pretend to want to "minister" to kids are totally screwing up because their own bigotry, their total hatred of gays (which is couched in the phony "love the sinner, hate the sin" language), is killing the very people they think they are "saving." Christ, I just want to ring their necks sometimes, because they honestly believe they are doing God's will. How utterly pathetic.

"Father, they know not what they do..."

Secondly, the kids get caught in this vortex of intolerance. Another child I was talking to said that he MUST be evil since he cannot stop these "feelings" toward people of the same sex. The logic goes like this: If "gay" is sin and I cannot stop these feelings, then my heart must be filled with sin, therefore I am not saved, therefore Jesus WILL not save me, therefore I am doomed to hell.

Conclusion: No way out. No matter how I pray, I cannot be saved because I've already tried. Can't tell my family about it. Can't tell my church. Can't tell my friends. Jesus don't care. Might as well die.

And is there any compassion for these kids? No. The preacher is screaming that Christians need to fight the powers of Satan (as embodied in the "gay agenda" -- a great fundraising tactic, by the way, for TV evangelists). So, the child is sitting there listening to his pastor basically tell him that he is a soldier in the army of Satan.

Now, is there anything wrong with this picture??? And do any of you reading this think that this is an uncommon situation? And do any of you wonder why young gay kids trapped in small towns either kill themselves or run off to the big city and drown themselves in booze and sex -- an alternative way of committing suicide, I might add?

I'm trying desperately to calm down and not let this make me intolerant toward the so-called Christian community, but when I'm face to face with a precious soul -- an innocent child -- who wants to kill himself because of this evil interpretation of the Bible, I can't decide whether to just cry or take a bazooka and kill every fundie in sight. Remember "beka" from a few days ago who felt that dead kids was a good way to stop sin from spreading in this world.

It just gets to be too much sometimes. I'm only one voice screaming for justice. Begging for people to wake up and realize what they're doing. LIke the kid in Texas, I sometimes just feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. It's just too much. It makes me tired. It makes me angry. It suffocates me.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Wednesday, December 19, 1996
A Perfect L.A. Christmas.

A message for Christians (and anyone dealing with "Christian bigotry.")

Last night at precisely 5:15, we had a perfect L.A. Christmas. I was here at the computer, as usual, feeling a lot better than I did yesterday. [BTW, I was flooded yesterday with mail from so many people telling me more horror stories like the one I cited, but more from people who wanted to help. Thank you all for your love and concern.]

Anyway, Jim got up and went to the window and opened it. Outside was a beautiful red sunset. As I looked at the sunset, I could see the TV. On it was Orson Welles in MacBeth. An old black and white Republic Pictures feature. Thurber the Cat was on his barstook, sipping a cocktail and swatting at a card Jimmy had just hung. Jimmy sat down in his chair and I suddenly had one of those "all is right with the world" feelings. The same kind I had back in New York when we sat in the window of the Italian restaurant on Columbus Avenue.

And for the first time in this whole "season," it suddenly felt like Christmas. I've learned to never let these moments slip away unnoticed. I remember when I was sick in the hospital, it was these moments that came back to me.

We also had Chinese food last night and when Jim opened his fortune cookie, it said, "You have the admiration of your pears."

Jim has always been popular with fruits.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Saturday, December 21, 1996
Doing My Bad Richard Marx Thing.

I told you that my hunky little friend and songwriting protege, David Robyn, had gotten a song in a movie, thanks to a connection I made for him. The way something like this works is: Barbara (the connection who lives in Boston, I think) calls David on a Saturday morning, tells him she needs a song that sounds like "fill in the blank" by Monday for a big "fill in the actor's name" movie. In this case, the megapersonality who was starring in this movie was the lovely and irrepressible Tori Spelling. They needed a rock song that sounded like 1982.

Now, maybe it's just my age showing, but I couldn't write a song specific to 1982 if they threatened me with having to watch every episode of 90210 in a back to back marathon during ramadan, but David wrote the song, recorded the song playing all the instruments, sang the song, mixed the song and FedExed the song on Monday. On Tuesday, she declared him a genius and suddenly he was launched into the wonderful world of writing for television and cinema.

The trick in movie songwriting is to make it sound like a song on the radio but with as few lyrics as possible to allow for dialog and with generic enough lyrics so that they don't stick out too much. ("They sometimes make you cut up to 70% of the lyric," David told me.) Today, however, the order was for a song that sounded like Bread (the David Gates band that was popular when I was in college). Now, since I have this very mellow tenor voice and since I used to love Bread in my impressionable youth, I drove down to Redondo Beach to join him on this wondrous creative adventure.

He was, when I got there, involved in doing vocals for an upcoming album he is preparing and his Swedish guitarist, Per (pronounced pear, as in Jimmy's "You have the admiration of your pears") was at the controls producing a vocal on David who was singing in his home made vocal booth. Standing in the studio nearly at attention was Per's father, a tall man in a suit with white/blond hair who spoke not one word of English and who was visiting our fair country.

Eventually they stopped and David and I began our odyssey with my rewriting the hook of the song from "You're The One" -- too cliche -- to "Any Lover Knows" -- cliched but not "too..." Then he suggested I do the lead vocal.

First of all, I never turn down a chance to sing, but this kind of singing is me at my worst, where I am faced with a microphone and have to sing along to pre-recorded tracks. My method, as you might hear on my CD is to fly into the studio, sit at the piano, and play and sing at the same time. So, this was already making me laugh nervously.

David manned the controls and, one phrase at a time, practically, he had me pounding out this vocal. To my own credit, while I did manage to eek out some very impressive high to low riffs, and David said my middle range where my voice is most resonant gave him "chills," the fact is that I got steadly worse as the session dragged on. Richard Marx I am not, although David was beginning to tell me that I sounded much like him.

I took it as a compliment, anyway.

By the end, there were so many bad notes and lousy riffs, I was laughing out loud in the studio while David was doing a commendable job of convincing himself that I sounded good. Finally, his other friend Steve who is a great harmony singer came in and padded as much of my vocal as possible. Just before I left, I made David sweart he would also do a version of this song with HIM singing the lead vocal -- he has a spectacular rock voice. I assured him that, for all his love for me, my vocal wouldn't get him a gig in a student movie at a film correspondence school for the deaf.

I forgot to mention that I saw Dr. Ellie last Thursday and it's time for another round of blood tests. I also got the final results back from my liver sound scan from last month. All is well, I suppose. I was offended when the report said my kidneys were "unremarkable." Is that some kind of crack? The liver itself was normal size but they noted some "fat inflitration." I asked him what that meant and he said if I was a drinker, he'd caution me to stop drinking because it's the beginnings of what could develop into cirrhosis. I was a bit alarmed since I don't drink, but he said it would probably take about 20 to 30 years at this rate. We supposed it was the deluge of all these modern miracles that I ingest daily to keep me alive. In the office, I met a young resident who Dr. Ellie was allowing to follow him around and I also sold a CD in the waiting room to another patient! This next week, I'll visit the hospital, let them draw a gallon of blood and we'll check all my levels (and presumably, kick the tires).

ITEM: I was also glad to hear from my friend, David Rambo, that his play, "There's No Place Like House" is going to open in January at the Zephyr Theatre, where we did our workshop. David and Ted hosted the first private reading of The Last Session at their house. This is a very funny play about real estate. Mazel tov.!

Oh, my God, is it really almost Christmas? I guess I better go shopping or something...

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Monday, December 23, 1996
Puppies, Martians, Tom Cruise and REVIEWS!

Jimmy was looking out over Laurel Canyon Blvd. (which is a four lane thoroughfare with lots of traffic) enjoying a ciggy and watching a young Latino boy walk his new Christmas puppy. It was so sweet. A tall man came by and leaned down to pet the little dog. Jimmy said the man suddenly unhooked the dog and ran off with it. The little boy was just stunned. He walked back to his apartment in a kind of daze. Suddenly the whole family came running out. Jimmy went down to tell them what he saw and overheard them blaming the little kid. Jimmy assured them that he saw the whole thing and that the kid was telling the truth.

Now, I ask you. Stealing a five yr. old's pet boxer dog on Christmas?

Jimmy said it shattered him until he realized the man COULD have taken the kid! So, I suppose, yeah, it could have been worse, but really! How low can a human being sink? That was just reprehensible.

I decided to ditch the house today so Jimmy could write. So, I went to see MARS ATTACKS! (I like it even less than Independence Day and I HATED that.) And I slipped over into the new Tom Cruise movie, JERRY McGUIRE. My review? One of the best movies of the year. Heartfelt. Wonderful. A perfect romantic Christmas movie. Just great.

Tomorrow I bake cookies.

MY FIRST REVIEW OF THE GREAT CD MAILING (from a person I do not know and who has never heard me live):

Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1996 22:41:46 -0800
From: Alison Stine 
To: steve53@loop.com
Subject: Your beautiful music...

I just got your CD in the mail. What a wonderful Christmas present! Now I have documented proof you are a completely awesome musical theatre god. :)

Steve, I can't tell you how your music made me feel exactly. It's not something that can be described. Mere words don't do your music justice. It has to be felt--and believe me, I felt it.

At first I couldn't get over how beautiful your voice is. I had to listen to "Connected" three times before I started paying attention to the words (the first two times I was only listening to you)! "Save Me A Seat" made me want to cry, then laugh, then cry while "One New Hell" gave me chills. "Going It Alone" moved me to tears. Imagine me sitting in my little cramped college dorm room, clutching your CD and sobing. It's not the physical reaction to your music as much as the emotional one. Your songs make me feel something inside.

"Going It Alone" reminds me of my friend and his partner, and I think they would really appreciate hearing it. I know I do. I can't wait to share the your music with all my friends.

So thanks for sharing your gift and your life with all of us. I'm so proud of you! Happy holidays to you and Jim! I wish you two good luck next year and all the MANY years to come! Take care of yourselves.

Love always,

Date: Tue, 24 Dec 1996 08:51:33 -0800 From: Suzze Tiernan To: steve53@loop.com Subject: CD!

Your CD came in the mail yesterday, and I was blown away. It's one thing reading the lyrics on your page, but hearing you sing them makes them so much more powerful and makes me feel so connected to you. My 20-year-old son heard me playing it, and stayed to listen. He made me make a tape of it, and then played it for his friends last night. I gave him the address of your site, I'm sure he'll viist when he get back to U of M after the break. I am so happy, this is one CD I'm going to wear out! [Grin] HUGS!!!
Livonia, MI

Now, I cannot condone making copies of music since it's illegal (without permission), BUT in this case, I give my permission because it's more important for me that people hear this music than anything else. (It also means he'll have to buy a CD for himself at some point. Hehehe). Plus, I want very much to know how college kids will take this music. It is a departure from much of what is on the radio, that's for sure. But so far, every college age kid I've played it for LOVES it. Who knows? Maybe we'll start a whole new musical trend. Songs with meaning! (Imagine that...)

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Wednesday, December 25, 1996
A Quiet Christmas.

Christmas Day. We went to see the movie, Michael (not bad but nothing happens), and the we went to Kathleen Freemans' house for her annual Christmas Party and we met Lee Merriweather and her husband. Lee is currently playing Ruth Martin on All My Children. I once did a day -- two days, actually -- on All My Children. I made a total fool of myself.

Got another CD review:

Your CD arrived in the mail on Monday. My husband got home early that day and called me at work to tell me it was here, because he knew I was so excited about it! We didn't have a chance to play it until after dinner. My kids (Cami who's 4 and Alli who's nearly 2) were dancing all around the living room while we listened. I already knew all the lyrics from your site, but it was an amazing experience to hear your voice--MUCH deeper and fuller than I'd expected--phrasing the words to the BEAUTIFUL music. The arrangements were so lush--again, more rich and full than I'd imagined.

I'd warned Jon, "Okay, I'm going to get goosebumps and cry," which of course I did. We were both so impressed with your music, and now we long to see The Last Session even more.

The words to your songs were even more poignant as I sat in my comfortable suburban home with my darling husband and my adorable little blonde children, counting my blessings and vowing to be one of the "friends who take you out to dinner," even if that just means sending you e-mail.

Thanks for a wonderful experience.

My love to you and Jim--
Kelly in Texas

Thanks for feeding my [music] addiction . . . I read the review in your diary, and I totally agree with the person who identified with "Going It Alone". I've told you about my husband "John" being a manic-depressive, and I have had my nights of lying there, debating about heading to the emergency room cause he sounds more suicidal than usual, or just hurting for all the pain he's going through. When I (and apparently others as well) listen to Going It Alone, I feel like it's being sung to me. I think it's this sense of universality that gives THE LAST SESSION such depth. Yes, its a musical about a songwriter with AIDS, but it's also a musical about someone with a painful disease, who is surrounded by friends trying to help him live and be happy.
I always am so happy when something I've said or done gives comfort to another. That's what makes life worth living.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Thursday, December 26, 1996
Boxing Day Blahs -- But A Great Letter.

I was supposed to go to one of my favorite parties of the year this evening, but I didn't go. All afternoon, I was so tired, I could barely do anything. I slept a bit, but when 7pm rolled around, I felt like I had run a couple of miles. So, Jimmy went to the Boxing Day Party and I just read a little and then went to bed.

I got a wonderful letter in response to the diary page I did not long ago called The Vortex of Intolerance. The one about the suicidal boy trapped by religious bigotry, remember?

I am a little behind on my e-mail as I have been sick with the flu. Actually, I have meant to write you several times. I have enjoyed your diary entries that have been posted on PFLAG Talk. You write with a beautiful insight and your heart and love most certainly apparent in your words. I guess I never wrote because I didn't have anything pressing to say beyond "thank you" for letting us into your life.

However, your post of the 18th really stopped me in my tracks. Rading about the 19 y/o kid trapped between religion and the truth of who he is broke my heart. As many times as I have read stories of intolerance by the RR, it never ceases to amaze me. As a Christian, I will never understand how they can so twist the love of God into hatred.

But I guess you know all that already....

I really wanted to write to encourage you to keep screaming and to keep trying. I'm an EMT (jargon for Emegency Medical Technician) for the 9-1-1 rescue unit in my town. I know the frustration of losing. Many times I think we lose more than we save. After a while you realize that it just seems that way because anytime you lose one it hurts. Often the people that need our help the most are the people that have the odds stacked against them the most. You tend to forget the people that just needed a little help that your intervention -- a kind word, a little comfort -- made all the difference in the world to because you are struggling to save the big ones and fix a problem that took many years develop. That doesn't mean that you don't try or don't work hard to try to fix that big problem. It doesn't mean that you don't care or that it won't hurt if you can't help. It does mean that you have to recognize when you've done all there is to do.

I guess what I am trying to say in all that rambling is that even though the task seems enormous and overwhelming, don't forget that you help a lot of people and that every day you chip away at the hatred spread by others.

Keep up the good work....

Take care and keep safe, "Fred."

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Friday, December 27, 1996
The Mailbag -- More Reactions to La Vortex.

Date: Thu, 26 Dec 1996 17:04:56 -0600
From: scottmc@mindspring.com (M. Scott McLaughlin)
Subject: A Heartfelt Thanks!!


I have been reading your dairy on practically a daily basis for the past couple of months now. This is the first (and only) site I have ever checked on a regular and frequent basis. You may soon have the soap-opera writers looking for new careers. I guess truth is stranger!

First and foremost, congratulations on your wonderful and life-affirming means of self-expression! I truly admire the courage and commitment it must take to be so open on-line. Congrats too on your songs, play and CD (which I will be ordering after Christmas). Congrats to Jim and the both of you for sharing such a loving relationship.

I have been meaning to drop you a note for several weeks now. What finally motivated me to do so was your recent encounter (12/18/96) with the young Christian male who is seriously contemplating suicide. I admired your guts and resolve shown in your earlier encounter in the chat room with 'beka' a few weeks previous. Like you, reading about your most recent encounter with the young man driven to suicide by religion sent me very much over the edge. So much so that I had to write you (that's way over the edge for me)!

As I see it, there is little you can do physically for this brave soul. Mentally and emotionally, the young man needs in-depth counseling that you are not qualified to provide. Other than paying for that counseling or arranging it to be given to him (online perhaps?), assuming he will/can participate, you cannot help there either despite how much you, I, or anyone else may wish.

What you can do is pray for him. Sounds ironic I know, but pray that God delivers him from these 'Christians' that are trying to 'save' him to the point of suicide. Also pray for his advisors as well so that they may come to see the harm they are doing.

More importantly, be sure to not become discouraged by the actions of others to the point that your own emotional and physical health (and spiritual, too) is affected. Tough I know; but seeing what you've done to date, you can do this with ease. Despite such horrendous events, you can never give up on the Grand Plan.

Just so you know, I am a gay white male residing in Birmingham, Alabama. I was born and raised a Christian and still firmly hold to those beliefs. I do so even more strongly now since finding out myself two years ago that I have AIDS after being hospitalized two years ago for PCP, confirming a long-standing suspicion. I have lost several friends (mostly gay), some to AIDS, but most to their bigotry, gossip, and self-protecting emotional callousness (negatiods).

I also have gained many new, truly wonderful, life-filled people (such as yourself) that have been friends through the most difficult of times, before and after obtaining my own pet virus (positoids). I currently am seeking treatment with the clinic founded by Dr. Saag here in town. I serve on a patient advisory board, all positive clinic patients, who remind me very much of you; people who truly know the value of life and how to spend and invest in it. I serve on an AIDS Awareness task force at work (I even managed to have Mary Fisher speak -- a cousin of Dr. Saag's). I won't bore you with the wonderful list of things I have done since clawing may way out of the hospital, or since beginning the same treatment regimen you are on (D4T/3TC/Crix). Nor will I bore you with the truly blessed people I have come to know, such as the local clinic doctors, nurses, and pastor; family; friends; and my own version of Jim.

What I will bore you with is one more compliment to you for showing us, daily and on-line, how positive positive can be. Thank you so much for validating what each of us knows in our hearts but are often afraid to acknowledge -- that life is wonderful. I pray that together our prayers will convince that young man of this as well.

Happy Holidays!

Take Care,

Scott McLaughlin

P.S. Despite the intimidation I feel after reading the lyrics to your songs, I have attached a brief poem I wrote when I got my first test results from my current treatment regimen (D4T/3TC/Crix). It was published in the clinic's patient newsletter and by the clinic pastor in the care team newsletter. Feel free to use it any way you wish, including my name -- I want others to know that there is real hope out there.


Ode to a Sulfate

From a single phone call, at last I am free!
God and those before me deserve the praise
The first complete good news in over 500 days
Numbers rise while others thankfully fall
At last I am free and (maybe) free of it all.
No longer bound by polymerase chains;
No longer shackled in chemical bonds;
At last I am free.
I am free once again to live, love, explore
It finally lives in me (this moment), no longer, no more
And if my freedom becomes only a brief reprieve
at least I had this moment in which to believe.
Though someday I may be seized and chained anew
I will in my heart have that which I always knew --
No matter how bound, I will always be free
with the love my families and friends have given to me.

© 1996 by M. Scott McLaughlin

(Steve again): Scott, I love the last few lines of your poem because they remind me of the last few lines of Connected:
Someday if I lose this fight to carry on
Please send me someplace gently out to sea
Then, listen as I whisper softly in your ear
Connected to each other
We will always be Connected to each other*
Today I bought the Time Magazine with Dr. Ho on the cover. He's their Man of the Year and is one of the guiding lights in the war against the AIDS virus. One of the points of the article was that those of us whose immune systems have already been ravaged *probably* will not see this disease wiped from our bodies, so our "hope" is a "hope" with an asterisk. We will have to stay on this expensive medical regimen the rest of our lives (or until they fail, god forbid).

It sounds depressing until you put it in perspective: this is time I honestly did not think I would have, this extension of the Bonus Round. Look back at this past year sometime -- all these diary pages (and yes, I know it's a hell of a lot of reading) -- and just look at how much can be accomplished when you do not presume you have "time."

In the coming year, I hope, if you get nothing else from my rambling thoughts, that you will understand the magic that happens when you do everything NOW. I do not have "tomorrow" or "later" in my vocabulary because a certain virus has wiped that disease from my consciousness. Do me a favor this new year, promise me that you will live AS IF you had AIDS. Live AS IF today were the last chance to hug your kids, take that trip, write that poem, paint that painting, sing that song, join that choir, take that job, quit that job, make that call you've been putting off, take that test, enroll in that class, love that woman or man...whatever you are REALLY wanting to do. Don't live the fear of doing, live the fear of NOT doing.

If I could give you a present this holiday season, I would open your heads, as my old 3rd grade teacher used to say, and pour in the knowledge that I have gained as a result of coming so close to death's door. As much as I feel I've accomplished this year, I know there is so very much more. And I know that you, too, have this same unleashed power and energy.

This means the new year should not start next week. The New Year starts right now. So, Happy New Year!

Connected is © 1996 by See No Evil Music/Lil Shack o' Tunes

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Sunday, December 29, 1996

Here's a letter that came unexpectedly in the email. It was from my AIDS discussion group and from a person whose posts I always admired.
My name is "Jim Howe", this e-mail address/account belonged to my lover, "John Doe". I'm sorry to say that "John" passed away yesterday morning from heart failure due to complications of AIDS. I know he found a great deal of support from these lists, and I thank each and every one of you for your participation on the lists.

Following this message, I will be "unsubscribing" his e-mail account from these lists. If you wish to respond to this message please write directly to me at "sss@xxxx.com" and I will respond as appropriate.

Again, thank you for being on these lists and forming the type of support group that we all need in dealing with this fucking disease.

Sorry about the f-word, but I didn't feel like censoring that note. There was something about his lover "unsubscribing his e-mail account" that got to me. Isn't it funny...

In cyberspace, death means getting unsubscribed.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Monday, December 30, 1996
Thinking Ahead.

I had a very strange happen today. Jimmy and I were in the supermarket getting some groceries when I suddenly began crying. I was thinking about "unsubscribed" in yesterday's diary and right there in the Ralph's supermarket, I began weep. I just kept thinking how awful it must be for "unsubscribed's" lover to have typed that message yesterday and I was consumed with an overwhelming grief.

Earlier we had gone to see The Crucible (a great film, by the way). It illustrates what happens when people begin speaking for God. And then what happens when they start looking for evil where it doesn't exist. Suddenly people start dying. Sounds a lot like today's world, if you ask me.

But, in the midst of all this sadness, the great news is that this is a time of great hope. The net has allowed those of us who believe a better world is possible to find each other and to give each other encouragement and love. The year ahead presents us with unlimited opportunities. Myself, I'm going to be leaping onto those opportunities with full abandon and gusto.

I love your letters, by the way. I've rarely been showered with so much love and affection. May God bless you all in the New Year.

To Diary home page || To Steve's Front Page || To The Last Session

Tuesday, December 31, 1996
Modestly Making Plans.

Jimmy and I used his Writers Guild card and saw another movie today for free (how do you think we're affording all this? But we have to do it fast because they only let you do it for a little while). This time we saw what I think can only be described as the very, very best movie I've seen all year. It's called, The People Vs. Larry Flynt. I don't do full reviews here but this very nearly a perfect film. And it has a vital, incredible message. What got to me was that the film does not say Larry Flynt is a good man or that anyone should live as he did. It just tells the story with heart and humor and grace. I cannot imagine a better movie. And Courtney Love will absolutely break your heart.

Well, here are my plans for the coming year: I'm going to have a ball. I'm not going to try to save the world although it could use a little help. I'm going to sing my songs, answer my mail, keep the diary going and make sure everyone I know KNOWS how precious they (meaning YOU) are to me.

[Back to Diary Homepage] [Back to top to the calendar]

[ Book 2 ] - [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] - [ Book 4 ]
[ Diary Index ] [ WRITE ME! ]

© 1996 - 2001 by Steve Schalchlin