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Arts | Culture

Coping with the pandemic with the help of a psychic

Crystal ball
(iStockphoto)

Our future is written in the stars. Or, so I’m told. Personally, I’ve never put a lot of weight into astrology, crystals, palm reading, or fortune telling. I want to believe in mysticism — like I want to believe in ghosts and aliens — but when it comes down to it, I’m more of a Scully than a Mulder.

Just because I don’t believe in powers beyond our control, however, doesn’t mean we can’t find any value in them. My personality is lot more complex than the general character traits prescribed by armchair astrologists, but I do think reading horoscopes promotes healthy introspection and self-awareness. And I’ll admit that there’s some comfort in the concept of fate, that not everything is within our control. I imagine fate as a big hand-shaped mattress, carrying me through difficult or even slightly upsetting times.

And, boy oh boy, are we going through some difficult times right now. I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has forced me to confront a lot of qualities about myself that I didn’t know existed. Namely: that I’m really bad at accepting things that I cannot control (is this a total Libra thing?)

The seedlings of this revelation began to sprout right at the start of the pandemic, when I decided to see a psychic.

Never in my life have I ever had the desire to see a psychic or palm reader, but I had been swimming around in the murky waters of a career crisis — I was between jobs and I didn’t know whether writing was a path on which I wanted to continue.

I found a Groupon for Mima’s Books for a “spiritual life coaching.” Mima’s is located right in the heart of University Heights on the corner of Park and Adams. Although health professionals were advocating social distancing, no businesses had closed down yet, so I bought the Groupon.

On the day of my appointment, I walked up to the strange little house with a neon sign reading “PSYCHIC.” I took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.

A young woman answered and introduced herself as Theresa. She was much different than the dead-eyed, cowl-wearing specter hovering over a glass ball that I had imagined. There was a lovely scent inside the house, something homey and citrus-y that I couldn’t place. White carpet and precious decor gave me strong grandma-house-vibes.

“Take a seat,” Theresa said. “Tell me why you’re here.”

I told her about leaving my job, and how it was such a big change in my life, and she affirmed that, yes, she did sense there had been a big change in my life. She asked what I did in my occupation, and I told her I used to be a staff writer at a magazine, which she somehow mistook that as a marketing job. So for the rest of our session, her predictions were based on the idea that I had been a fancy ad man and I didn’t have the heart to correct her.

But it didn’t take long for her to lay down some hard truths. “I can tell that you’re stubborn,” she said. “You feel that you may have left your job a little prematurely, but now you’re having doubts. You’re a free spirit, but you want control. You like to make everyone around you happy, but you want control.”

I wasn’t paying attention to the general universalities of these statements, but focusing on how this woman seemed to know me to a T. Is that why people love this stuff so much? Are we so invalidated in our lives that we crave even the most remote attempt at understanding?

Theresa then presented a career path. “I can see a job in your future. It’s at a big ad company.” Just going to let that slide, I thought.

“You’re going to wear a shiny suit,” she continued. “It’s not the kind of work you’ll want to do, but — I’m going to be real with you — you can’t be stubborn on this. You’ve put up a wall and you shouldn’t do that because this job will lead to what you really want to do. Which is ... write books?”

“Um, yes!” I said.

“That’s right,” Theresa said. The fact that she knew my desire to write books felt like proof of her powers, even though who writes and doesn’t have dreams of writing a book? Even fancy ad men (like myself) want to write a book. Still, I sat forward, and that’s when I noticed another woman making a sandwich in the kitchen behind Theresa.

“Yes, I see you writing a book on a boat. In Greece. You love traveling, you love the ocean. I can tell by the color of your shirt.”

My shirt was teal. She was right! But it was hard to concentrate while watching the woman in the background spread something on two slices of bread. I suddenly became very hungry.

“What kind of stories do you like to write?” she asked.

“Uh, horror,” I said.

“I could tell.”

She can tell? I thought. Do I look like a ghoul? Again, my eyes wander to the kitchen. Perhaps my lust for the sandwich was making me look ghoulish.

Near the end of our session, Theresa asked if she could help with anything else. I asked her what she thought of everything going on in the world. “It’s going to be hard,” she said. “Just like your career journey. But things will get better.”

I left and walked down the street to get a burrito at El Zarape. As much as I wanted to refute Theresa’s predictions, I kept thinking about what she said. No, I was not an ad man, but she was right in that I had to broaden my horizons and relinquish a little more control. I took a bite of my chicken mole burrito, and it tasted better than any chicken mole burrito I’d ever eaten.

Since the spiritual reading, the world has effectively shut down, but I still think about Theresa’s predictions: “It’s going to be hard. But things will get better.” I hold onto those words. They’re saccharine and general, but I’ve been drawing a lot of strength from them. I doubt I’ll find myself writing a book on a boat in Greece anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean my future — and our future — doesn’t look bright.


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