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JUNE 25, 2012

“Clairvoyant … intuitive … accurate” reads the ellipsis laden epithet on tarot card reader Jackie Turner’s no-frills website.

I’ve come here to meet her at the LA bakery in which she works (more on that later) on a mild November day at the behest of my editor, Keith. “It’ll be good for you …” he trails off, glancing down, but I know what he means: “You need serious help, lady.”

And I do. The hamster wheel in my head has been running overtime, jangling, clanging, fears and brooding and obsessive rumination disguised as “To Do” lists and “constructive self-criticism.”  There’s nothing constructive about it, of course, but that’s not what the hamster wheel tells me.

Jackie – being an intuitive (the slightly less loaded term for “psychic”) – acknowledges my aforementioned hamster wheel within minutes of me skittishly sitting down at the little table in Susina’s Bakery & Cafe, on Beverly and La Brea. “You’ve got a lot of static,” she frowns at me, like a stern principal in the school of life. “A lot going on in your mind.”

I immediately feel guilty, as if I’d sneezed on her with a particularly malevolent strain of bird flu.  How did she know? Were hamster wheels contagious?  Years amongst equally neurotic girl friends led me to think they were.  I tried to clamp down on mine, the screechy metal reverberating in my head with cap-locked complaints like, “WHAT THE F–K IS WRONG WITH YOU?? YOU’RE SCREWING EVERYTHING UP! STOP ALL THIS HEAD NOISE! JACKIE’S ONTO YOU, HAMSTER WHEEL! OMMMM!”  (BTW, an “OM” screamed does not a relaxed mind achieve.)

Of course, finding myself seated in the middle of a bakery – sans the coconut macaroon I eyed when I walked in – secretly hoping that a stranger with a deck of cards will somehow solve years of romantic travails doesn’t do much to negate neurosis.  That said, her website was clear: “The cards reveal the answers and Jackie’s positive technique confirms your directional path.”

Awesome! I’m in the mode for a positive technique and I wouldn’t mind my directional path being confirmed, because up until now it could be best described as “not toward marriage with a suitable partner.”

My last relationship ended in May, and I’ve spent the past five months working myself into a frenzy over my lack of purported success in the realm of relationships.  “Why am I such a failure?” my hamster wheel spins and spins.  Keith, who radiates an unflappable charm borne of “having one’s shit together,” sees the tarot card reader as a therapist of sorts, able to inject my life with an instant measure of calm like a vitamin B shot to the ass (those totally work, by the way).

The “future telling as therapy” works like this: if I knew, for example, I would meet some ridiculously amazing guy in exactly four months, then wouldn’t I be able to chill out until then?  And wouldn’t that chilled out version of me be eminently more attractive to said ridiculously amazing guy?  So it’s a little like a positive feedback loop that ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I almost don’t even care if she’s right.  I just want to believe her so I can relax already!

But how does it work, exactly?  Originating in the 15th century Europe as a parlor game, tarot cards were adopted by mystics in the late 18th century, who felt they could gain insight into one’s life with the help of spiritual guidance.  Jackie explains that she can’t see the indefinite future, per se; instead she sees 3-12 months out, and “messages come through” the cards.  To infuse the deck with my intentions and energy, she asks me to hold them, then shuffle them, then cut them into three stacks and select ten cards with my left hand (left being connected to your right brain, which is more open and creative).

As I’m shuffling the cards, we begin a discussion about free will versus destiny.  I’m curious as to what Jackie thinks: which determines our fate? “Both,” Jackie says solemnly.  I’m not in the mood to be in charge of my life right now, but as Jackie lays down the cards my left hand has selected, the gist is clear: I better get in the mood real fast.

“Interesting,” Jackie makes a face as she looks at my cards, one of those faces you don’t really want anyone to make when they’re about to tell you your future, even if it is only 3 to 12 months of it.

I explain a bit about my history – how I’ve dated a lot, but am genuinely tired of being alone, how I’d really like to find my life partner, and how if I could find him in the next two or three days, that would be ideal.  Did she by chance have his number?  Did he want to meet us here at the bakery tonight? Did he like coconut macaroons?

Jackie gives me a look, and I shut up.  She points to the cards that indicate what I’m going through now, and I see “The Devil” staring at me.  Awesome.  She explains that “The Devil” card indicates that I have had some difficulties overcoming obstacles – but that the real obstacle was my own mind (hamster wheel!)

“You’re too hard on yourself, you obsess, you try to control,” clucked Jackie, undoing years of Protestant work ethic my parents and summer school math teachers drummed into me. “It feels like there’s a lot of chaos. When you’re not in the drama mode, you have such a good intuition. If you could let that behavior go, the intuition would shine through.  With the goal you’re after – being in a relationship – the real obstacle for you is to overcome that inner turmoil.”

What!?! My hamster wheel was PISSED. What drama!?!?

Oh. Okay.  Yeah. Pretty much every relationship and dating situation I’ve been in, ever.  Dramaville, population 1: me. I’ll deny it, but the cards don’t buy it.  The realization slowly sinks in: I do have a propensity toward drama. And it now occurs to me (duh), that it’s within my control to stop it.

So what happens then, Jackie? I ask, hoping that the future section of cards will show I’ve kicked my inner drama queen to the curb.  “There are new beginnings,” Jackie says. “Around the corner is so much better.”  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Not so fast, Jackie warns me. “The message for the future is that in order for you to get what you want, you have to overcome this inner chaos.  Let’s say everything stays the same, there would be more upheaval.”

In other words, the white knight card?  Nowhere to be found.

And yet, Jackie looks interested in one card in particular.  A “King of Cups” card, to be exact.  I don’t know what the cups mean, but I get the whole King symbolism.  A King! My MAN!  “I see someone loving you in 5-9 months,” Jackie nods.  Score!! I can wait that long! I need to get in shape, anyway.

In that vein, I ask Jackie about the date I’m having next week, with a fellow named Justin.  We cut a new deck of cards just for him, and she says what I already thought. “He’s not the one, but could be good for you. Better than you think.”  I doubt it. “Focus on what’s good about him,” chides Jackie, while Keith adds, “the opposite of sick is sick.”

“You’ll only get your King of Cups if you change your focus, calm the mind,” Jackie says. “The more still you can be, the better.”

Okay, fine.  “How do you recommend I do that? I’m not usually a negative person!” I grumble.

“Are you sure?” Jackie gives me a look.

That takes me aback.  Geez.  Maybe I am negative!  This has got to change.  I’m not going to let my King of Cups go without a fight!!

Jackie rattles off a list of homework for me to complete:

  1. Gratitude Journal – I must write at least 7 items a day that I’m thankful for.  Like Thanksgiving with your family, except in a notebook, without any turkey.
  2. List of What You’ve Accomplished - Jackie tells me to be shameless with this, as no one will see it. I wonder if I can include things like “wearing clean underwear” or “showering daily.” Small victories.
  3. Vision Board – Keith is a huge proponent of the vision board, and he sells me on it when he describes making one – and then promptly getting exactly what he asked for (in his case, a French hunk, with whom he’s been in a relationship ever since. I’m liking his style.)

“Own your magic,” Jackie concludes finally, pointing to a card that she said indicated renewal and rebirth.  I think about what that means.  Own my magic.  Okay. I’ve only rented it on occasion before, but I’m 30.  Perhaps it’s time to buy.  Can I get a mortgage, though?

90 minutes of tarot card reading later, Keith and I get up to leave.  My mind feels calm, the hamster wheel, if not dismantled, at least closed for the evening.  If therapy’s goal is to lead you out of fear, to give you the impetus and guidance to improve your life in a constructive manner and to provide you with solid actionable steps, then Jackie is as good as any therapist.

I make a beeline for the coconut macaroon and think about my King of Cups.  Should I grab one for him too, just in case?

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