Healthy Food Can Suck my Butt

Peanut butter and jelly on brown bread. Carrots. An apple. A diet Dr Pepper. I swear to god–some big fat god of decadence, maybe Dionysus–I swear to Dionysus, if this crap is supposed to make me feel better about myself, it’s not working.

I need a carefully balanced diet of junk food to keep from being given a nickname like “The Office Bitch.”

As soon as I get a chance, I’m sneaking over to the old office and raiding the candy machine.

Tarot Cards

I taught myself how to read tarot cards in college. I went out to Barnes & Noble and got myself the Ryder-Waite deck and earnestly consulted the little book and read for my friends.

I’m the type of girl who never met a dead person she didn’t talk to and I spent much of my teenage years holding seances, (not) moving planchettes towards various letters and numbers, and carting my friends off to all kinds of supposedly haunted spots.

The trips to haunted places have already been well-documented here, so I’ll just say that the seances and other dead-harassing projects went just about as well, which is to say, they went very poorly indeed. Which is no proof one way or another that we survive death, but more a testament to my piss-poor necromancy skills.

The tarot card reading, on the other hand, went surprisingly well. I think I’m about as good as a non-con-artist can get at it and I find that, overall, I’m pretty accurate.

Still, I’d rather know for sure that my grandpa is still around than to be tarot-ly gifted, because, the thing is, the better I get at card-reading, the less I think there’s anything “occult” to it. It doesn’t answer any supernatural mysteries and it doesn’t soothe my anxiety about only having fifty or sixty good years left.

What makes me so good?

Sure, there’s the cold-reading aspect. I’m not intentionally cold-reading the folks I do readings for, but I’m completely sure that I’m doing it subconsciously. I think any member of a group that is in constant regular danger of being victimized can learn how to read even very subtle signals from others in order to anticipate whether or not the conversation is going in a proper direction. Without being aware of it, I can tell when I’m hitting the right marks and modify my reading based on that.

But here’s the other reason: there are only so many things that people care about. As much as we all are lead to believe that we are unique individuals, the truth is that we are not so different. I want to be treated with respect, to be taken seriously, to be paid what I’m worth, to be loved, and to have my loved one’s well-being assured. I bet you do, too.

Seventy-eight cards, all rich in meaning and culturally resonate, are enough to tell the story of anyone’s present circumstances.

Italo Calvino has this book, The Castle of Crossed Destinies, in which the protagonist ends up at a castle that used to be an inn or an inn that used to be a castle, and finds himself at dinner with a table full of fellow travelers, none of whom speak. The host gives them a deck of tarot cards, and, in turn, they lay out the cards in a way that tells a story about themselves.

Calvino is, of course, right. We’re narrative-driven animals and the bits and pieces of things that have meaning to me in particular probably have meaning to the rest of us. Those sacred chunks of story have been honed and tested over thousands of years. We know they resonate. How they’ll resonate to each person is ultimately surprising, but that they’ll resonate is not.

So, I don’t read very often any more, because I find it depressing. My things, whatever they may be–insecurities, deep dark secrets, quiet joys–are important to me and I want to believe unique to me.

I don’t like the idea that I could, say, draw three cards. Let’s say, one for past, one for present, and one for future: the three of swords, the hanged man, and the hermit. I look up at you and say only this much, “The three of swords has to do with heartache and betrayal–this is your past. The hanged man symbolizes great sacrifice and change in perspective–this is your present. The hermit means a withdrawal from the world in order to regroup–this is your future.” It’s bad enough that this could generically apply to all of us. We’ve all had our hearts broken. We all feel that a change in perspective could be interesting. And we’ll all throw up our hands and say, fuck it, in the near future.

No, what I don’t like is that it’s not like I went and actually pulled those cards. I just made it up. And yet, even as I was typing it, I remembered a specific instance of heartache. I knew just what I needed to get perspective on but was avoiding. And, well, I am a hermit. Do you see what I’m saying?

It’s not just that any cards apply to anyone, it’s that every card applies in very specific ways to you.

There’s nothing occult about it. We’re just so damn ordinary.

For the Ladies


Is it getting harder and harder in today’s America to figure out when you can make your own decisions about yourself? Do you long for a way to know easily when you have to consult with others and who those others are?

Lucky for you, I’ve now created this handy-dandy guide to the people and institutions you must defer to before you can make a decision. Print out and pass around as many copies as you need. I’m sure you’ll find it useful in many circumstances.

The Guide

1. Your god–Does your god have a discernible opinion on the activity in which you are about to partake?

2. Other people’s god(s)–Is there a large segment of the voting public recognizable by its religion that gets regularly kowtowed to by elected officials? Would their god(s) approve of your activity?

3. The government–Does the government have an opinion about your activity? If you’re really lucky, they’ve just passed a law that pertains only to you. That’ll make it much easier for you.

4. Your doctor–Does your doctor have a moral position on the activity your want to partake in? This is especially important if you are poor or live in rural areas where you are limited in your choice of medical professionals.

5. Other medical professionals–Even if your doctor condones your activity, if something goes wrong, can you count on the other medical professionals–other doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacists–to go along with your doctor? It’s important to know ahead of time if some of them might disapprove of your activity.

6. Your family–For your convenience, I’ve divided your family up into two parts. In most circumstances, you should defer to your husband (You do have a husband, don’t you? If not, get on that right away.), but, if your parents and your husband disagree about what you should do, and your parents agree with people higher up on the list than your husband, you must defer to them.

7. Your neighbors–What will the neighbors think?

8. The American public–If the news networks held polls on your activity, would a bunch of people you don’t know and never will know, indicate that they thought your behavior was okay?

9. You–Happily, if you follow this guide, most decisions have already been made for you, so you’ll only rarely get trapped having to figure out for yourself what the right thing to do is. That means plenty of time for being pretty, shoe shopping, and doing dishes!