Volume 1 Book 1 Part 1 of

an online diary by Steve Schalchlin
a Geocities Landmark site

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March 1996. Los Angeles USA.
The beginning of the diary.

A note before you begin reading:
I began writing this internet diary so that my brothers in Texas,
who had just connected to the net, could check in on me.
My health was beginning to seriously decline
although I didn't know how bad it would eventually get.

Plus I wanted to talk about The Last Session.
Jim Brochu and I had just debuted it in a staged reading
at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on March 3rd.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

March 1996

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3   4   5   6   7   8   9  
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17   18   19   20   21   22   23  
24   25   26   27   28   29   30    
Day One The River Wild & A Fresh Start Boring day. Not much to read. Choir recorded. Still worried about cough. A few meetings. Maggie Cavender dies.  

Sunday, March 24, 1996
Day One

Hello, dear reader. I've never seen another person's diary on the internet before, so I'm flying blind on this one. Diaries of others are never interesting for me, but I know that some people love peering into the lives of others. Plus, I'm dealing with a lot and I need to say it all "out loud." This is day one.

I've been living with a constant cough for about three months. It's going on four. At first it wasn't so bad and I thought maybe it was just allergies. We tested (last month) for infections, but nothing turned up. Then I noticed that it always got worse when I talked, so I've decided I have nodes or something on my vocal chords and I have stopped speaking. It's the only cure besides surgery and I don't want anyone near my vocal chords with knife. Sorry.

I recently started with a new Chinese Doctor and I go to him on a weekly basis for herbs which I then boil into tea. He was very upset that he hadn't solved my cough and diarrhea problems. Our first visit was three weeks ago and he said (in his broken, excited English), "I stop cough three day! I stop diarrhea three day!" Well, it's been three weeks and I'm hacking and -- well, having diarrhea still. Of course, I've had diarrhea for three years. I think if he "cures" this, I'm going to put his name on a Goodyear Blimp.

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Tuesday, March 26, 1996
The River Wild & A Fresh Start

I'm so sorry I didn't update you yesterday because, frankly, yesterday was one sorry day and I didn't feel like complaining and whining. It's just that the diarrhea I am constantly on guard against was like the river wild yesterday despite Dr. Xi's best efforts and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about. I got up feeling kinda bad, looked around for something to eat -- but it didn't seem like there was anything I could really stomach -- so I had a protein drink and went down to where I "work."

(This isn't a "real" job because I can't really work. This disease has me too physically disabled to hold a job, but I have a title and desk at a music publishing company and I help them with ''little work'' when I can. It's part of my own physical therapy.) I wasn't there an hour before I was too sick to do anything, so I came home and fell into bed and slept most of the day.

I feel a bit better this morning, though my cough is raging and my stomach is upset. Last night, as part of the Academy Awards show, they showed a little bit of ''Philadelphia'' and the scene had Tom Hanks coughing slightly while in a library. That's what I'm doing. I don't know what the cough is all about. It could be allergies. It could be my voicebox and nodes. It could be cancer. That's what I hate about AIDS. It could be anything.

My mind has mainly been on getting The Last Session produced. It's a musical I have written with my partner of 11 years and the songs come from my own experience living with AIDS. Everything seems to move so slowly. I keep getting nice phone calls from people who are listening to, and deeply moved by, the tape I handed out at a showcase reading we did at the Hollywood Roosevelt's Cinegrill earlier this month, so I know people are reacting to it, but it's so expensive to do theatre and we don't have an "angel" yet. You know, someone with money.

Angel, are you there?

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Wednesday, March 27, 1996
Boring Day. Not much to Read.

Feeling a lot better today than I did day before yesterday. I managed to make it through the entire day without diarrhea. Also, Jim and I got out of the house -- we were in the middle of a massive case of cabin fever -- and I had some chicken curry which Dr. Xi said was good for my stomach, and we went to see "The Birdcage." Funny movie. And oddly touching, too.

Today I see Dr. Frank for my acupuncture and maybe call the voice specialist Alan O'Day recommended to me. He said not to guess about what's happening with my cough or my voice. Go check it out. He's right, of course. It's just that every doctor costs money and everything is expensive. Especially specialists.

Might go see another movie today. Good for my brain.

OH! And tonight we're recording the choir parts for When You Care. I wish my voice weren't so screwed up right now. It's maddening.

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Thursday, March 28, 1996
Choir Recorded. Still Worried About Cough

Last night I went over to Sherman Oaks Presbyterian Church and recorded all the choir parts for When You Care. It was just glorious. Alan Satchwell, the conductor who arranged the parts, is a great disciplinarian and the choir sounded like angels. Jim Latham engineered and said if I wanted to, he could squeeze the song onto the end of a string session he would doing next week. This "demo" is going to sound like a million bucks!

Cough is getting a bit better. I'm thinking it might be something other than nodes. Looks like I'm going to break down and see a specialist or something if it does not improve. Dr. Xi thinks he can fix it though, so I'm going to give it until my next appt. with my regular doctor in a couple of weeks.

All my friends are impressed with my home page and now they want one of their own! Except poor Harriet who doesn't have enough RAM. Oh, for the lack of RAM in our lives...

I also talked to songwriter Harold Payne about redesigning the National Academy of Songwriter pages. We'll see. I'm really enjoying all this html (computer code) stuff. Everyone wants to know what editor I'm using. None! I'm doing it all by codes. I'm fabulous.

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Friday, March 29, 1996 
A Few Meetings. Maggie Cavender Dies.

I love the early morning hours. These were the hours I used to write The Last Session. It's the only time the whole world stops and the phone doesn't ring and I can have some uninterrupted "thinking" time. As if I could think, of course.

I spent the day yesterday having meetings. Met with Max, a writer who wants to give "The Last Session" to an agent at William Morris; met with a songwriter who wanted to play me her song about watching a sick friend die; and then I went over to MCC (the gay church--Metropolitian Community Church) to meet with Rev. Steve Pieters who ministers to PWAs (People With AIDS). He is a longtime survivor who took some experimental drug 10 years ago that killed everyone else, but sent his HIV into remission. Imagine that.

It reminds me of all the "cures" people keep telling me about. The "doctors" with these cures all have as an example at least one person who's been "cured." Then claim they can cure everyone else. Of course, almost no one else gets cured, but by then they've made so much money off dying people it doesn't matter anymore.

For me, I just take it one day at a time. I've had a rough week, but the last two days have been a bit better. My brother in Texas (Corky) told me that he had a lingering dry cough these days too, so I'm really thinking my cough is not something lethal. It's just so hard to know. We haven't turned up any infections, so the only tests left are invasive and require hospitalization, etc. I'm just not convinced it's necessary. With AIDS you can hospital yourself to death over every little thing if you want to.

Today, though, I take it easy again. My friend Ronda had some surgery yesterday. They said she came through it all right, but we worry about her. She spends all her time taking care of us, so we need her! She is not non-essential personnel.

Also, saw yesterday that Maggie Cavender, the founder of the Nashville Songwriters Association International died. She was a cornerstone for songwriters in Nashville -- and everywhere else, for that matter. Good-bye, Maggie, songwriters everywhere loved you.


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© 1996 - 2001 by Steve Schalchlin