Hey, are you gonna eat that pickle??

The cast of characters at Artie’s Delicatessen was the clear winner for best ensemble. For everything.

Today, lemme introduce you to Sandy. 

Jaded from repeated late night Bronx journeys on the 2 Train, her face always said “Now whaddaya want?”

But somehow Sandy slung pastrami and sauerkraut faster than you could say “The swiss on my reuben is perfectly broiled.”

I was a terrible waiter. And I didn’t know a Matzah ball from a wiffle ball. “What is that large round dumplin’-like object?” I asked myself on day one.

The manager regretted his hiring decision immediately.

I forgot orders when I was in the weeds (which for me meant more than six tables).  

When asked where my pin was, I would hold aloft my writing implement. (Pen and pin are homonyms in North Carolina, y’all).

And I regularly threw a wrench in the black and white cookie inventory. 

What I lacked in table waiting skill I made up for in toothy smiles and hillbilly naiveté. 

Sandy was the opposite of naive.

One quiet evening shift she returned from a bathroom break and soapboxed on the plight of the early 21st Century American woman and shared toilet facilities.

“It’s like they can’t contaminate their pristine asses,” she lamented. 

“You go in, and it’s like somebody delicately squatted with a fire hose. And then what am I supposed to do? I been on my feet all day.

“Now I’m supposed to perch like a goddam flamingo so I don’t get their Upper West Side stroller pushing piss on my own tush. I’m not cleaning that up. They don’t pay me for that.”

I nodded my wide-eyed noggin in agreement because Sandy knew things. And I never used the word “pristine” the same again.

I hated going to work at Artie’s, but I loved my corned beef on rye and coleslaw lunches. Those and the missing black and white cookies. 

This is where I hand the contraband baked good to you and elucidate the philosophical significance of the Artie’s ladies’ loo.

People have peed on the seat.

Toilet seat cleaning is not in your official job description–except for that “additional duties” BS they always put in the bottom to cover their A.

We all use this.

What? This bathroom.

Especially now that we’re sharesies.

Yep, we own this. 

I’m gonna share a phrase with you that I use when I encounter seat pee not of my spraying. 

My life coach-spiritual director-Lambrusco drinking buddy Kaye Kennedy taught it to me:

“It’s not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”

Damn it, Kaye. 

Back in college I read Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water. The Wrinkle in Time author had a big impact on me. I wrote a sonnet about her and everything. 

In the book, she wrote that she saw writing as a lake. 

(***Wait, I looked it up, and she was actually quoting Jean Rhys who saw writing as a lake, but I’ll digress before I start MLA citations)–

L’Engle agreed that writing was a lake, and she was a small tributary to the lake–that she didn’t matter, that the lake did, and that a writer has to keep feeding the lake.

When I read that as a 21-year-old, I was pissed. 

I wanted to be Niagara freaking Falls pounding significant amounts of H20 into that reservoir and upstaging the whole scene with my magnificence.

Yeah, of course I’d feed the lake, but um, look at me!

My ego aimed to be a wonder-of-the-world natural marvel and failed to see it was really just pissing on the seat and leaving it for Sandy.

Sorry, Sandy. 

A list of my own dysfunctional actions/inactions spring to mind. I’ll assign them to fictional characters in a novel one day.

You got one of those coulda-done-better lists like me?  

Good. That list has a lot to teach us about today and tomorrow.

I’ve logged scads of time with my head so far up my own pristine ass that not even the Bronx-est of Sandys could pry it loose. 

So what does all this water lake toilet imagery mean for you? Relief.

And not just the I-made-it-to-the-bathroom-just-in-time kinda succor.

I’m talking existential floatiness–when you take the five seconds to see your colleague-fellow-artist-friend and honor all the fresh water they contribute–

–the warm and honest sound of their voice, their penchant for filthy limericks, and being the first person at your door with Matzah ball soup when you’re down with the flu.

I recommend 2nd Avenue Deli. Artie’s is closed now. 

When you look out and decide to celebrate the things your friends are doing, it lifts you, frees you, and your heart opens to surprises. 

Here’s how to do it–

Scroll your chosen social. Go ‘head.

Pause when you encounter a post from a fellow artist that makes you feel a lil tight. 

Number one, say “great for them.” It can be sarcastic. That’s fine.

Number two, if you’re feeling jeal-y, what part of that experience are you wishing you could have? That’s a map.

What’s a tiny action today that’ll get you closer to the version of that experience that’s right for you? (Mine is sending you this email.)

And number three, if you have the relationship with that person, send a lil message or comment and tell them how pumped jazz-hands happy proud impressed woot woot you are.

See if that does anything. 

We’re looking straight ahead at a changing industry where old stories and systems are having an overdue reckoning.

I want to be an artist who helps to build a new beautiful, and if you’re reading this I got a feeling we’re on a similar page. And that beauty-build has to be together, all of us looking at that life-giving lake.

I’m going to end with this–Jonathan Larson said it. “The opposite of war is not peace. It’s creation.”

Let’s get our creation tributaries contributing.

And be a sweetie. Wipe the seatie. Or else–Sandy.

Love much–dan

ps You know I’m up on the Zoom helping you make free, impressive, sustainable noises. Do yourself a solid and book a time with me so you’ll know how to make the sounds on your own 🎵, feel confident and consistent in all the rooms💪, and sing with love for yourself, the song, and your voice 💙Just click here to email me, and we’ll make a date.

pps Have I told you about this episode of Unlocking Us? Brené Brown interviews Dr. Angus Fletcher on the 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature.

When he talked about how Greek Tragedy helped veterans suffering with PTSD I was mind-blown. It confirms our instincts about the power of story–and that’s what we’re carrying forward, the power to change our sphere with that world-sculpting tool. Here it is again if you wanna listen.

ppps Need a lil more intel before you go swiping right on a lesson time? You can just beebop on over to my about page to see if you think this relationship could be legit. 

pppps JK