Life During Wartime
Volume 2 Book 9 Part 8 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 ]

January-February 2002.
Rochester, NY.

This is my new girlfriend, Ginger.
(Tell me that's not a sweet face).
We hang out together during the daytime.

January 26-29, 2002.
Relieving the Pain.
Chris Kawolsky is a kind of genius at getting things donated to the theatre. Things like buildings, cars, furniture, etc. They also tell me he's a nut about finding auctions and buying up stuff for cheap. I guess when you run a non-profit theatre in a smallish city you have to do everything you can to keep it alive.

One of the first things the people in the office managed to do was to find a chiropractor who would treat my back for free. And better yet, this chiropractor is cute (not that I made that a requirement). (But when he put his arms around me, laid on top of me and cracked me like an egg, it was deliriously helpful.)

Turns out I have something that he said is very common with people who've been coughing. My month-long bout of brochitis brought it on. What's happened is one of my ribs is displaced at the "eye" -- that is, where it joins the backbone. So when I cough it shoots a horrible stabbing pain into my back and all the way around my side.

He gave me a little exercise and said I need to come back for three or four more adjustments. I've already had two and they REALLY help. I am not in the kind of serious pain I was in last week. However, I've tried to "remember" it so when I'm on stage, Amy can be satisfied. *groan*

I've also been getting a lot of rest. They brought an reclining chair up to my little room and this is where I have been resting and working on Jimmy's and my next show. As you can see from the picture, I don't work alone. As soon as I let Ginger out of her room, she races up the stairs to my chair and then I have to figure out how to wedge myself in next to her. I think we make a very cute couple.

Not as cute, maybe, as these two actors:

Jay and Guy are very
gentle, extremely witty and wildly intelligent and talented.
That's also what I hate about them.

... but then no one is. I went to see Guy in "I Love You You're Perfect Now Change" the other afternoon and he is sensationally talented, as are all the performers here at Downstairs Cabaret. Chris has about four shows running at the same time. I don't know how they do it.

After each show I've started doing a "curtain speech." I tell everyone about the free hugs in the lobby, but then I also tell them to PLEASE tell others about the show but NOT to say, "It's about a guy with AIDS who wants to kill himself." That always gets a huge laugh. I hope they know I'm serious.

OH! OH! Saturday night there were three people who came from Third Presbyterian Church (celebrating its 150th anniversary) here in town. So I told them I would attend the next morning and I did. What's so amazing about Rochester (as opposed to El Lay) is the architecture here. It's stunning. Old, historic buildings are everywhere. Look at this shot I took of Third Presbyterian:

Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester New York

Inside the main sanctuary are huge vaulted ceilings and beautiful carved wood -- oh, and dozens of gorgeous stained glass windows.

Inside Third Presbyterian Church.
The choir was angelic and the pastor was both intelligent and had a great sense of humor. I'm not usually one for church services based on liturgy (being a Baptist) but this one was very special. Even with all the robes and formality, you could feel a genuine warmth throughout the congregation.
They also have worked through the whole GLBT issue and become a "More Light" congregation, which I find every exciting. And more! For the sermon, the pastor invited a rabbi from a reform Jewish congregation to engage him in a pulpit dialogue. Together they spoke about the differences and commonalities in their respective faith and services. It was brilliantly smart and beautifully done.

I have said it before and I'll say it again. I find it amazing that so few Christian churches understand Judaism -- the religion of Jesus Himself. I think they would discover the true roots of their own faith -- and in concepts like tikkun olan, rediscover the basis of the kind of morality that truly can make a better world.

I managed to meet up with the folks who attended TLS and together we button-holed the ministers to get them to come see it and to tell others. I don't know if it's tacky of me to go to church to "sell" our show, but I just think churches need to be made aware that they can use our show as way to discuss issues that cause so much pain and suffering. And we're only here for three more weeks so either I do it or I lose the opportunity.

Speaking of Jay, he and Amy went out and came back with a Jesus Action Figure. I sat it down next to the little opening night gift Chris and Ann Marie gave me -- a framed picture of me at the piano with the TLS logo over it. (Everyone got one with his or her picture on opening night).

And the next morning, Jesus had crawled out of his package and placed himself right next to the picture -- and his hands were up in the air just like mine! It was a miracle!!

The miracle of the Jesus Action Figure
Rochester NY

*officially santioned as "miracle" by the
bonus round historical society committee association

working for a fuller experience in the bonus round

The preceeding claim of a miracle, by the way, is a complete lie.

That's right folks. There is no miracle happening in Rochester at all. Not one.


No miracle. Move along now.

Steve driving in the snow..
January 30 - February 5, 2002.
Spry Snow.
Those of you who have been following this diary knows that I have been battling SKY high cholesterol, triglycerides and high blood sugar. Today there was a report in the LA Times that AIDS doctors are reporting these effects all across the country. They are a side effect of the meds -- or a side effect of the HIV disease AND the meds; not enough is known. What is known is that this condition is dangerous. That's why I'm on such a restricted diet. Here's an excerpt from the article:
AIDS Drugs May Cause Other Illnesses
Research* Strokes and coronary disease are linked to powerful protease inhibitors, some doctors suspect.


The powerful drug cocktails that have enabled AIDS patients to live longer, healthier lives are now suspected of causing heart disease in some of the very people they've saved.

Cardiologists and AIDS specialists across the country say they are seeing an increasing number of patients on the drugs who have suddenly suffered chest pain, heart attacks, strokes or who have been found to need artery-clearing angioplasties. The problems are occurring in men in their late 30s and 40s, decades earlier than typically would be expected.

Researchers are struggling to determine whether the cardiac complications are a consequence of the medications, the inflammation caused by chronic HIV infection or some combination of factors...

"Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony and ultimate shame to save these guys from AIDS and let them die from cardiovascular disease because we didn't pay attention?" Cohan asked.

Yes, that would just be hilarious and ironical all at the same time.

Last week, we had three or four days of perfect weather. The sun shone, the temperature rose into the 60s. Gorgeous. And then, on Thursday, a winter storm blew through and we had to cancel a performance. When I did finally go out on Friday, downtown looked like this -- which is what they say Rochester weather is SUPPOSED to look like:

Downtown Rochester on Wednesday.
I can walk to downtown from where we're staying.
The most common reaction to this weather, though, has been, "You ain't seen nothin' yet."

On Saturday, the sun came out again but it was still icy and cold. Amy and I decided to brave the elements and go to the Farmer's Market they have here on Saturdays and Tuesdays. We heard people drive in from all over for this and the bargains are amazing.

Street signs led us to "Rochester Public Market."

First we entered the outdoor area and cruised the booths.
These two shots are both the back and the front of Amy's head.

The egg lady. The cabbage guys. We loved the colors in these baskets of fruit.

Then there was an indoor shed with meats, breads, seafood and pastry..

Huge piles of fish.
The sign on the right says, "CROAKER."
All or most of the purveyors of fish were Asian.

We bought bagels from this lady.
We weren't actually going to guy bagels but she spied me
taking her picture and kinda forced the issue.
I didn't buy fish.

Then we went to the flea market next door. I found a snazzy guitar
but my favorite item was "TV Soap Opera Prop"
"Worn by actresses on "ALL MY CHILDREN" and
"ONE LIFE TO LIVE." Only $29.95!
(Regular $59.95)

Saturday night we had a full house down at the theatre. (We've also had standing ovations every single night.) I can tell what kind of crowd we're gonna have during "Save Me A Seat." There are two typical reactions:

1. If they start chuckling on the "Danny Boy" line in the intro and then laugh again at the nachos line in the lyric, they'll usually howl through the comedy bits that come later. Sometimes they'll start getting more serious in the second act.

2. Other audiences, they're listening so intently (for whatever reason) they don't start to loosen up unil the top of act two. (As one man said, he hasn't really thought about death very much and he spent 3/4 of act one saying to himself, "Why would someone write about this?"). But then, once they've gotten used to it, after having gone to the lobby during intermission, talked amongst themselves, taken a breath to relax, and decide they're indeed having fun and that we're not going to "trick" them, they EXPLODE during act two, especially at Vicki and Buddy during the "I walked into the bedroom..." scene.

(Amy and I keep talking about how Jay Falzone does these faces as Buddy. He can go from absolute silliness to profound horror in the blink of an eye. And he has this horse laugh...)

I think it was Saturday night, also, that once again, "Singer and the Song" was met with absolute silence. We've been teasing Danette about the river of tears she cries every night the same way we used to tease Joey Traywick when he played Buddy in Laguna. (If she and Joey ever did a production together, I think we'd just have to go the whole way and cast Gallagher as Gideon).

(So, audience 2 on Saturday night, a full house. Standing ovation. We had audience 1 on Friday (with the Red Cross peer educators -- story below) and Sunday (the "don't care about the Super Bowl" crowd).

On Sunday morning we woke to new snow and it was still coming down. Everything is buried in the snow but by now, the people are used to it and we had the aforementioned "Don't care about the Super Bowl" crowd who lingered out in the lobby hug line with us, telling stories. (And I saw an old friend -- story also below).

Monday, more snow and I had to drive to the chiropractor. Me driving in the snow. I borrowed daddy's (the theatre's) car and drove down Monroe Street, out into the "suburbs".

It wasn't so bad driving into see him. There was snow on the banks but the wet streets were relatively clear.

His name is Dr. Colm T. Murphy and he's so gentle. And because he loves the theatre, he treated me without charging me, something I really appreciate. My back, by the way, is almost pain-free now, thanks to him.

Dr. Colm T. Murphy, the chiropractor who fixed my back pain.

But as I left his office to get back in my car, the real snow began to fall.

Here I'm stopped at a light.
That's through the driver's side door window.

The streets are still relatively safe but the snow is quickly building.
I followed this guy in the Ram
cuz he seemed to know what he was doing.

Then I took a right on East Ave. to try to make it to Wegman's
for groceries before it got worse. But the snow is coming harder
and this is a slightly more rural area.

East Ave. is lined with beautiful antique mansions.

I made it to the grocery store and stocked up. Then I drove back home (while losing a glove somewhere in the snow) and cozied into my room for a nice day off.

Attendance seems to be growing for the show. Even on Super Bowl night we had an excellent crowd. And each night I'm hearing from someone who heard about us at Third Presbyterian Church or on one of the other church lists. The folks there are really talking us up.

I also got to see my one of my oldest netfriends, Jerry Alan Smith who used to be the pastor of a UCC church here. (In true Baptist tradition I started calling him "Bro. Jerry"). He was the first minister to invite me to do a church presentation -- first time I "darkened the door" of a church -- in 25 years. My whole association with Rochester began with him. But now he's in Boston so he drove 400 miles just to see this production.

Steve with Bro. Jerry

At dinner we reminisced about that first invitation. I remember saying to him, "But Bro. Jerry, I don't even know if I believe in God." His response back then was a total dismissal, "Yes, you do. Now when can you show up?" I like being given permission to just be myself.

This past Friday was hosted a group of high school health peer educators brought in by the local Red Cross led by my friend, Renee. She brought me to the Waterloo High School back in 1998. These kids were so gorgeous and so smart. We held a talkback after the show for them and they asked meaningful and insightful questions. One boy expressed admiration for the fact that Jimmy's book for TLS manages to hit on a lot of relevant issues, not just one or two.

He also asked us our ages (which everyone but Amy revealed -- "Never ask a lady her age"). Afterwards, in the "hug line" he said to me, "You know, for a guy who's almost 50, you're really spry!"

[ 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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© 2002 by Steve Schalchlin.
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