Friday, March 14, 2008

Chicago, Briefly.

I'm back from Chicago. I sang my AIDS songs for a group of about 70 students, most of whom came into the lecture hall with food to eat. By about the third song, all forks were down and it looked like they were thunderstruck as I sang about the disease, living, dying, healthcare, anger, frustration, compassion and all the other emotions that come with surviving a disease for which there is no cure.

It was really something to see those young faces just wide-eyed, staring at me and sometimes laughing out loud at my insanity. Been a long time since I performed my "Living In The Bonus Round" concert and it felt so good. I was weeping at one point and had to go find tissues in order to continue.

Weird. During rehearsal, I was thinking, "God, these songs are so old and tired. I'm going to sound like a robot." But halfway through the first song -- "Save Me A Seat," about my own memorial service -- all the old emotions kicked in and I was lost in the moment completely. I forgot how powerful these subjects can be, having written them when I thought I was dying.

I'll have some photos later, but want to thank Alyssa for making it possible for me to be there.

And it was COLD! Didn't the eastern half of the country get the memo that winter is so totally over? I did, however, get a cute Chicago wool cap out of it.

I also meant to set up my video camera but was so busy trying to rehearse and remember these songs, it slipped my mind. In fact, at one point before everyone came in, I got to a point in one of the songs where the lyrics were totally gone. So, I had to go online and find the lyrics just to remind myself of them. Then, during the concert, I forgot the ending to "Somebody's Friend."

Oy, it's hard to be me.

Still, this particular group were from the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, and I always love singing for medical students to remind them that patients are real people. We are vulnerable and we are scared and we usually feel helpless when caught up in the system. It's hard enough to survive when you're healthy in this world.

Hopefully, they'll take my stories and remember them when they finally enter into practice.

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