Today is the day I roll up my sleeves, take a long, hard look in the mirror hidden inside my Metamorphosis Trunk, and transform myself for the better. No more excuses. It's time I get all my doves in a row, put my stacked decks in order again, pick a goal, any goal, and just follow through, whether I want to or not. For instance, there are piles and piles of torn newspapers in the garage that I've been meaning to magically put back together for months now.

I need to start taking some initiative for a change. After all, my set of Chinese Rings isn't going to link itself.

Why do I procrastinate whenever I'm supposed to vanish from inside a locked chest? It seems like no matter how much time I'm given, I always leave picking the locks on my handcuffs and escaping through the trap door in the stage to the last minute. I used to tell myself that I worked better under pressure, but I can see now that was just empty patter.

From this day forward, I will make a genuine effort to show up from behind a flash of smoke at the opposite end of the room when I'm supposed to. Trust me, nothing's more humiliating than having to apologize to an annoyed audience for reappearing 10 minutes too late.

I'm through with my old ways. Never again will you see me stop in the middle of a children's show to awkwardly explain, "Kids, at this point in the trick, the floating light bulb would amazingly light up, but the filament inside burnt out two weeks ago and the Amazing Paul hasn't found time to replace it yet."

Unfortunately, unlike the Jack of Hearts or the Three of Clubs, getting one's magic act together is not something that can be forced. In the past, I did everything to avoid putting in the work, from purchasing quick-fix trick decks that required no sleight of hand, to relying on audience plants to get me through a particular show, to even, ashamedly, taking up ventriloquism. I was under the illusion that all these gimmicks would miraculously solve my act's problems. Now, I realize I was only misdirecting myself.

I'm not proud of some of the things I've palmed over the years. For a while, I got stuck in a bad routine of making bottles disappear that I'd like to forget. When a trick would go wrong, I used to blame everyone and everything but myself. If it wasn't the rabbit, it was my audience volunteer, or the fact that I didn't have a strong male role model growing up.

I feel like I've hit false bottom.

I need to straighten out my act, and I need to do it now. Believe me, if I could just pull some kind of cure-all solution out of my hat, I would. Unfortunately, nothing in Mark Wilson's Complete Course In Magic covers that.

This time, I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to change. Maybe it would help if I purchased one of those trick day planners, so I can keep all my appointments and engagements in order as well as produce an impossibly large bouquet of flowers from within. Honestly, I'd even be willing to try a session with entertainment hypnotist Dr. Deception if it means finding an answer.

More than anything else, my biggest regret is the way all of this behavior has hurt my relationship with the only woman in my life, my lovely assistant Peggy. Between the Sword Basket, Zig Zag Cabinet, and Guillotine Illusion screw-ups, she's suffered more than anyone else. Incredibly, through it all, Peggy's stood by me in her skimpy, sequined outfit, always there when I've needed her, and not there when I've needed her gone. I don't know what I'd do without her.

 I couldn't afford to lose Peggy. I'll do anything to keep her. She's my best friend, my rock, and the person who carries my props on- and offstage.

I guess I've got some growing up to do.  I need to stop fooling myself and get back to fooling the audience. If I don't get it together, the magic will be gone.