Mr. Kesuke Miyagi: First, wash all car. Then wax. Wax on…
Daniel LaRusso: Hey, why do I have to…?
Mr. Kesuke Miyagi: Ah ah! Remember deal! No questions!
Daniel LaRusso: Yeah, but… — The Karate Kid
I try to live each day like it’s my second to last. That way I can always say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
I broke up with my therapist last year, because he accused me of faking it.
One night, I called him from the road, mid emotional-breakdown.
He said, “I’m going to say something that might make you never speak to me again…I feel like you’re faking it.”
There are many things I’m perfectly capable of faking, but crying (real tears) is not one of them. I learned this, to my detriment, in acting school.
I calmly said, “I am going to hang up now.” And he was right, I never spoke to him again.
Luckily, I was already working with my accountability coach, Harry Petsanis.
He doesn’t like calling himself a life coach, and accountability coach is too many syllables for me, so I just call him my coach.
Either way, it doesn’t matter what we call him, because I speak to him almost every day, and he has helped me immeasurably, and never once has he accused me of faking it.
He’s definitely accused me of other things. He says things like, “You’re a lovely lady, but Gandhi would strangle you.” Or, “You need to get over being a diva and just get things done!”
But he knows how to get through to me in a way no therapist has. He doesn’t condescend to me, or make me feel dumb. Quite the opposite, actually. He always says, “You’re very smart. You’re very sharp. You just need to work on your confidence.”
He’s also helped me through some very difficult times including a break-up and my father’s death. So, to me, he’s better than any therapist. And we get along great.
Well, until he tells me to clean my car, which apparently is a nearly impossible feat for me.
When people say, “How do you get on stage and try to make people laugh?” I say, “How do you got to the bank? Or the grocery store? Or iron a shirt?”
I’m almost incapable of any normal daily task. This is why Harry thinks those are the main things I need to focus on.
When we first started working together, he said, “I want you to clean your entire apartment.”
“Well, I’m going out of town tomorrow, so I’ll have to do it when I get back.”
When I got back, he said, “I want you to clean your apartment now.”
“Well, I just got back, so I need to rest.”
After I rested a few days, he said, “OK I want you to clean your apartment now.”
“Well, I’m going out of town tomorrow.”
Finally, he asked, “What needs to happen for you to clean your apartment?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, it seems there’s always an excuse no matter when I tell you to clean.”
“Oh, well, honestly, I don’t know how really.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know how?”
“I just don’t know where to begin.”
“Oh. Well start by taking everything that needs to be put into the trash into the trash can, then start sweeping…then…”
He basically told me step by step what to do, because as a woman in her 30s I clearly never learned basic life skills.
Now I am much better. And I do clean pretty regularly.
But today, I only had a few things to do:
I told Harry, “I need to speak to my niece and nephew, write a blog, read all of the newspapers from the entire week I’ve put off reading, clean my car, and my apartment.”
He said, “OK. Right away call your niece and nephew. Then I want you to clean your car, then do everything else on the list, OK? NO exceptions.”
I got off to a great start. I called my niece right away.
She showed me the sticker project she was working on, and got me to buy a set for her, and a Lego set for my nephew (I don’t know how she does it, but she’s very smart).
Then my nephew got on the phone. He took me up to his room and hid under his covers and acted out an entire campsite scene. We were staying in tents, and a DJ was playing music too loudly, but luckily Johnny had his special headphones for us that canceled out the sound of the DJ. He talked about how “great it was to be away from the kids,” then we had lunch, then…it kept going and going. And I didn’t know how to call, “Cut! I need to clean my car!”
I was excited he was really into this imaginary scenario, because sometimes he’s not in the mood to talk, so I just let him continue on and on. We roasted marshmallows, took a nap, talked again about how “annoying the kids are,” and finally his mom (my sister) called him down to dinner, so he quickly said goodbye and left the campsite.
With all of the imaginary eating, I was now actually hungry, so I quickly made some eggs, but now it was 4pm (I did have a few meetings earlier in the day), but still, where did the day go?
I drove to the car wash. Closed. I drove to another. Closed too. Another. Closed (for good).
I texted Harry: “I tried 3 car washes, all closed.”
“I’ll go for a hike though.”
“Okay.” He texted back.
I could sense his disappointment.
I quickly did the hike while calling a friend.
Now I was hungry again!
I called another friend. We discussed why it’s so difficult to get things done.
I hopped in the shower.
Then finally, I went to the grocery store. It was already 10pm!
Seriously, where does the time go? (Oh, probably to checking social media 500 times a day, but besides that, where does the time go?)
I went to the grocery store. Got some food. Bought an overpriced smoothie. Threw my clothes in the wash.
Made a salad.
Suddenly it was 12:30am!
I texted Harry, “I know. Must do better!”
He sent me 3 bullseye emojis, which he’s never sent before. He usually sends heart emojis, or laughing emojis. Never a bullseye. Then he repeated, “Yes. Must do better!”
Ugh how do people do it?! These normal life things that seem so easy, yet nearly impossible.
I still have to clean my apartment, read the paper. Do the laundry.
I have so many unfinished things, it’s embarrassing.
I’ve been trying to finish the book, ‘Untamed’ for about a month. I liked some of it, but just can’t manage to finish it. (I think I only have one more chapter).
The last book my Dad recommended right before he died was, ‘Billy Budd,’ and I can’t for the life of my get into it. (How did he finish it)?!
I think ‘Untamed’ is too easy and ‘Billy Budd’ is too hard. And the newspaper is too… real.
I know how to create. How to write. How to make something out of nothing.
And yet somehow, I can’t finish something that already exists. Or put away the dishes. Or make a salad in a way that makes sense. (I usually add one ingredient at a time, totally improvising as I go).
I still need to clean up the orange peel I left on the stove.
Or maybe we’re all swimming a bit upstream right now. Maybe everything is challenging for everyone. Getting up, doing the usual daily tasks. After all, we have been in a global pandemic for almost a year.
Still, as Harry would say, there will always be an excuse NOT to do things.
He said that at the very beginning of the pandemic when I thought I had lost all of my work, had no clue when I’d get on stage again, and hid under my covers, thinking, “I’ll just stay here for a year.”
But then he said, “Isn’t it always hard? Isn’t there always a reason not to do things?”
And since then, I’ve done about fifty zoom shows, I shot a special, I did a dozen road gigs, I was with my Dad for his last days, and with my Mom for a month after, I moved apartments, I started writing, I even started cleaning, and hiking.
Because he was right. It’s always hard. And we are always swimming upstream. No matter what you do for a living, or how many kids you have, or what’s happening in your life, there’s always something you really just don’t want to do.
At least now, I can say I did three things on my list today: I called my niece and nephew, I went for a hike, and I wrote a…hang on I just got a craving for an orange, since I mentioned the orange peel. Let me just eat that and then I’ll finish this.
Oh wow, such a good orange! Juicy. Fresh. Perfect. The Farmer’s Market really does have the best oranges.
How am I back on Twitter? My friend, Eva and the Vagabond Tales just posted a cover of, ‘This is dedicated to the one I love.’
Love her voice. Gonna listen to a few more of her songs.
I should finish the dishes, at least. The orange might attract bugs. And put my laundry in the dryer.
OMG. It’s 2am!
I’ll just finish…
While I’m far away from you my baby
Whisper a little prayer for me my baby
Because it’s hard for me my baby
And the darkest hour is just before dawn