BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
I'm a man on a mission. A mission to convince you that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- which is my way of describing how I feel having cheated death. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

Last year, I turned 60 and I had a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City and playing the lead role in a staged reading of a play not written by myself. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Getting Reconnected.

Yesterday, I talked Cindy Marchionda into coming to church choir. For her, it's a very long train ride. She is a singer and actress from Miami with a great voice, dark auburn black hair and gorgeous huge eyes and smile.

After church, we got on the train and just talked all the way to Andy Gale's class. Or, rather, I should say, I talked. But she kept encouraging me, so I went on and on. Mostly philosophical stuff related to songwriting and how a person earns a living, not just in the arts, but anywhere.

I had told Andy that I want some help putting together a solid 15 minutes of pow. It seems I've been invited to perform at this international convention called the World Domination Summit. We haven't put together all the details yet, so I don't know if it's officially public, if it happens, I want to make sure I'm really firing on all cylinders.

When I perform, I'm usually 100% present, but I'm also very shy about looking people in the eye, from the stage. I can do it in person, but it takes me a moment. No one can tell, btw. I'm too happy to be performing to let it keep me from going full out.

But yesterday, I sang Connected for the class. The reader must remember that this song was written in 1995, and I've sung it tens of thousands of times. And yet, every time, it's like this little puzzle box and I don't know what I'm going to find when I open it up.

So, yesterday, when I sang, I don't even know if I was listening to the words coming out of my mouth. And Andy could tell. He said something about it feeling a bit -- not his words -- automatic, even though he and everyone in the class loved it. '

I said, "I know! I was halfway through the song when I realized I was in the middle of a song. And I thought, 'Oops. How do back up and get into this thing?'" And it was true. Words were coming out but my mind was elsewhere.

We had a discussion about that, and all the other actors in the room totally related to the feeling. Finally, he said for me to just breathe, imagine that no one has heard this story before, stop worrying about tempo, and just tell us the story.

Honestly, I have done this before. But it's usually after having not sung the song in the long time.

So, I took a breath and started singing. I could feel myself just counting as I screwed around with the intro, but then the words, "Cuz they'd never let Richie die."

And immediately I was transported back to the moment when that phrase hit me. I remember it hitting me in the chest like a sledgehammer. Happy Days. Fonz. Anson Williams. They never let Richie die.

Cut if Richie died, the show would be over. And yet, it was Fonz who was the star.

At that moment, I came out of the world of that image and noticed how every eye in the room was now red and pouring tears.

I don't remember much after that.

I had my Shakespeare monologue all memorized but we had such a full class, there was no time.

All in all, a very productive day.
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