Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Tarot Tales: Installment One: Let's Stalk

By day, I work in a small law office. By night and on the weekends, I read tarot cards. Some of you no doubt feel that these two occupations are diametric opposites from one another. In reality, however, my jobs are more similar than one might think. In one, I deal with people who are being stalked by their exes. In the other, I deal with people who are being stalked by boyfriends from a former life.

No, I am not making that up. I actually had a woman come to me, asking for help about a lover from a former life who was stalking her in this one. The scary thing about whackjobs is that they look just like everyone else: one often doesn't realize that they are looney until they open their mouths and the weirdness falls out. This woman was obviously from the middle class, presented well, had a couple of kids and husband, managed to hold down a job--yet she was absolutely convinced that a teacher at her kids' school was tracking her down across centuries and insinuating himself into her life. You know, by looking at her.She was able to recognize who he was immediately. Because he kept looking at her.

And it was upsetting her husband.

Go figure.

At this point, I set the cards aside and asked her if she had considered seeing a mental health professional. She frowned at me, puzzled, and said, "Why would I do that?"

Oh, I dunno, honey: cuz you're delusional and could probably use some medication and long-term counselling? Just sayin'.

It's not that I don't believe in reincarnation (I do) or that we tend to hang out with people who reincarnate in our lives over and over (again, I do). I do not see this resurrection of spirit any more or less hard to believe than the idea that one Jewish carpenter did it roughly two thousand years ago--he apparently just chose to take his mortal remains with him this time. And it's not that I lack compassion for those among us who could probably benefit from a stint in the puzzle factory. It's just that there's not very much I can do for them when they fail to see a problem with their version of reality.

One of the few downfalls to reading tarot is that when doing a cold reading (i.e. for someone I have never met before), one is something of a captive audience for those whose view of the world is, shall we say, colouful. As in "psychedelic". It is amazing to me that these people are able to function given the level of mental illness they exhibit in just the first few minutes of conversation. I am left with two impressions, following these interactions: 1) that mental illness is much more prevalent than we are willing to concede, and 2) that society in general is very co-operative. Too co-operative, I think. The same spirit of cooperation that makes driving in traffic possible also permits some very sick people to operate in society without getting the help they need, sometimes for years.

That's not to say that everyone with a mental illness is dangerous. Far from it. I have read for persons who had received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and never, ever once felt that I was in any danger whatsoever. My limited understanding of most mental illnesses is that the person with the illness is far more likely to harm themselves than the people around them.

So it's not about danger (to society in general), it's about getting people help and the lengths to which they will go before that help arrives. I've read for the elderly, the pregnant, the dying: all of them have their story. But sometimes the most interesting are the ones who are just a little off centre.

And to be perfectly honest, they are occasionally pretty funny, too.

I had this one woman come to me several years ago, and I will never forget her. She was probably in her mid-thirties, perhaps younger, heavy-set, and smelled unpleasantly of something I couldn't immediately identify. She also spoke with a lateral lisp, the kind that screws up one's "s" sounds and sprays saliva out the sides of one's mouth. (The Canadian comedienne, Nikki Paine, speaks with such a one. Look her up on YouTube, she's fucking hilarious.) It was also obvious to me when this client started talking that there was some cognitive impairment involved.

Still, I was pretty surprized, when I asked her if she was looking for a particular insight, she told me, "I jusht got diagnoshed with kidney disheash, and I wanna know if I'm gonna die!"

(Ah! Kidney disease, I thought to myself!) "I see," I said. "Would you mind if I lit some incense?"

Having done that, I suggested that we not concentrate on the dying part of her life, but look instead at what she could expect over the next few months in relation to her health. She was agreeable and I handed her the cards to shuffle.

"Can I make a wish on yer cardsh?"

"Sure!" I said and she put her hands on the deck, closed her eyes and concentrated so hard, I was afraid she'd give herself an aneurysm. When this was done, I threw some cards down and mentioned that there seemed to be a couple of men in her life.

"Yesh," she said. "One ish my boyfriend back home." Then she made eye contact and lowered her voice. "The other is Darren Theisshen."

It was obvious that this was a personality of some significance, but the name meant nothing to me.

"Darren Theissen?"

"Yesh, he readsh the shportsh on T-SH-N," she explained. "He shendsh me messhagesh over the t.v."

She lowered her voice again. "Lasht Chrishtmash, he shent me shome chocolate. I'm thinkin' maybe I should go shee him."

Oh, wow. Well, I really didn't know how to respond to this. And it was a long time ago, so I can't recall all the details, but I think I deflected attention away from the distant, yet alluring, Darren Theissen on TSN by asking her about her boyfriend back home. It was clear that she felt she would settle for him if Mr. Theissen could not be compelled to acknowledge his feelings in anything other than veiled messages over the airwaves.

And so, the reading ended when her half hour was up and she asked me, "Ish my wish gonna come true?"

"I don't know," I said. "What did you wish for?"

And I swear I'm not making this up: with no word of a lie, she actually said, "I wanna vishit my shishter in Shashkatoon."

Pure gold.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Mercury In Retrograde

Has the last week or so been directly from the wrong side of hell? Have you stood in the smouldering ruin of your day and thought, "What the FUCK?" Has it felt like Life, the Universe and Everything have gleefully taken turns kicking you as hard as cosmically possible in the jimmy bubbles?


Yanno why? Apparently, Mercury is in retrograde. Maybe you don't believe in all that hocus pocus, or maybe you're more inclined to believe that everyone around you is in full-on douchebag mode. It's all true. And yanno what else is true? Mercury doesn't fix itself until the 26th, so we have a whole other week to put up with this bullshit.


Because this past week has been a long, uninterupted litany of selfishness, passive aggression, and relentless stupidity. Attention clients: if I tell you over the phone that the lawyer is in court all day and cannot return your call, that information does not magically change if you email me fifteen minutes later. No, I will not give you the lawyer's cell phone number. Yes, your matter is important, but so is everyone else's.

Important things to remember, people:

1. Stay on your meds.
2. Everytime you call, it costs you money. Choose your issues wisely.
3. Details about your (anal) sex life are rarely pertinent or interesting to anyone except you. Unless details are solicited, keep them to yourself.

Other Things That Have Occurred To Me Over the Last While:

1. I am committed to being a vegetarian, I really am, but sometimes, I just want a big mother-fucking plate of beef ribs, goddamit. And don't spare the sauce. I don't give a damn about the subsequent diarrhea. Just get me an economy-sized box of Depends, some moist towelettes and get in the fucking car; we're going to Royal Buffet.

2. Most people require some kind of supervision. And by the time they need a lawyer, they also need a shrink. Criminals are typically more honest and straightforward compared to a divorcing couple. When a criminal shivs a guy, he gets convicted, does his time and gets on with it. Family Law has taught me that there is no level of degradation, no humiliation, no cruelty that people are not willing to inflict on one another in the name of revenge, and what's worse is they are more than willing to involve the children. Now I understand why lawyers drink.

3. If you insist upon driving your fucking Vespa in the winter, let alone on a day which sees freezing rain and the kind of weather that causes city buses to jack-knife on major thoroughfares, FUCK YOU, CLOWN.

4. Facebook just gets more and more pointless as time goes on. Is it just me? Or are people replacing actual relationships with these trivial electronic ones that require little or no maintenance? What the fuck is so horrifiying about being in the moment and actually having a conversation with whoever is in front of you? Unless his name is Bucky and he's trying to feed your head into a wood chipper, maybe find out what his story is--you might learn something. You people who feel the need to update your status everytime you change directions in traffic or report a shift in the ambient temperature of your office--you're addicted to your devices and you need an intervention. Jeez.

5. Pursuant to point 4, please shove your cellphone up your ass, specifically if you are driving. Studies show that texting or talking on the phone while driving is the equivalent to driving while under the influence of alcohol. And distracted driving is illegal. What, the law doesn't apply to you? You're some kind of speshul snoflake? The law is inconvenient? YOU CAN LICK MY ASSHOLE TIL IT BLEEDS.


1. I started a second job this week, reading tarot in a local shop where the owner is ethical, warm and supportive. And I had a really successful first day. And as a result of asking the Universe humbly for what I would like, I have a number of students interested in learning how to read Tarot, which will be an excellent opportunity to teach and learn and make a little extra cash right around Christmas time.

2. I am really getting into this whole soapstone carving thing. I received my first commission which is ready for delivery, and I am now planing my first series of sculptures centered on a theme. The series will be called "OMG", and will depict deities in various situations, delivering their messages to a contemporary audience. For example, Buddha in a typical meditative pose, but in his hands a cellphone, and he's texting, "Man, This Zen Shit's Hard."

3. We adopted a three-month-old schnauzer, named Dieter Schnitzel. He is adorable, but a bundle of energy. Our other two dogs, who are Jack Russell Terriers (dogs not noted for their serenity), occasionally look at us with haunted eyes and expressions that say, "WTF???" Dieter's quite bright (he already knows "sit", for exmple), but the other two obviously consider him spastic. Nipper is no slouch in the energy department herself, but you can see her thinking, "Does the new kid ever sleep? Jeez, I can't catch a break. I like rocks! Why is France so far away?" (Well, she *is* a JRT, after all.)

Anyway, good luck slogging through another week of this Universal Shit Show! I'm putting on my big girl panties and hoping the casualties are minimal.