Thursday, April 7, 2016

Memory Boxes

One thing I love about New York City is the sense of possibility - you can find something amazing any day of the week.  Of course the other reality is that you rush from A to B and don't go anywhere amazing for months.  A friend of mine invited me to an art gallery and I agreed,  because she had done the hard work - selecting somewhere to go,  and it wasn't too far away.   We went to Chelsea to the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, to see the work of an artist called Mark Dion.  I knew nothing of his work and had no expectations,  which can be a lovely way to arrive.

First we saw the magnificent and slightly haunting bird cage he has created  “The Library for the Birds of New York,”  which is cage large enough for 4 or so adults to stand in (it's limited to 4 at a time) and commune with the birds,  who are in a real but recreated tree surrounded by books,  chattering on about their own lives,  completely indifferent to us.  It's charming and strange and the books are all about birds and control and now covered in bird mess.  They are tearing things apart to build their nests,  the birds are tiny finches.  We were hopeful of eggs.   It just works.

Then we went upstairs to what looked like a garden shed,  transposed to a museum.  Inside were shelves of boxes.  You could open the boxes and inside were memories - sea shells, and toy soldiers,  some had photographs curved by time,  and letters.  There were obscure children's collections - a box of plastic hippos,  box of beans and some with animal teeth.  There was the box of cigars my grandfather had in his apartment,  and inside were letters.  It was just fabulous,  kind and sweetly nostalgic.  The sea shells smelled of the ocean,  the small ornaments sealed against dust and time. They were all the odd bits of something that were important to someone once and now we don't know what to do with them,  but we keep them in their treasure boxes.   

This is my idea of perfect art - tactile,  experiential,  creating emotions and moods.  And not cruel or macabre.  I was afraid the boxes would be more American Horror Story at first,  but they are far more innocent than that. They really are memories in a box,  at once eccentrically personal,  but also part of all of us.

If you have time,  I strongly recommend a visit.   I may go back myself.  (and it was deliciously uncrowded on the ridiculously cold April day we went)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Lately I've been having quite a few readings where people come to talk to me about their adult children.  

One sweet regular client was quarreling with her 24 year old son,  who had somehow not moved out of home.   I said to her the line that I often say to my own son - I'm here to raise an adult,  not to grow a child.  So if you don't make it to adulthood something is wrong. 

I don't want them to fight and her to throw him out,  he couch surf for a few weeks or months and then return home, for the cycle to repeat (as has happened.)  I want them to sit calmly and for her to say with love in her heart,  I'm not throwing you out,  but I'm worried that you continuing to live here and for us to become resentful of each other is a bad cycle,  and with only love in my heart,  I'm letting you loose,  so you can find your feet in the world. 

She said that they really need to have that discussion (she had drawn lots of swords around their situation,  it was really affecting her emotionally) and hopefully with this reading she has a way to start it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Slowing down to the speed of life

It's a New York way of humble bragging,  to say how busy you are,  or to say how many things you have to do.  In a city of so many options,  it really is easy to fill every available moment with work or activity.  Sometimes it can be hard to find time to just sit and be.

One thing I love about tarot readings is that it is a dedicated hour - no other phone calls or texts intrude.  In fact,  I encourage people to record the readings and ask if they get lots of texts and if they do I tell them to put the phone on air plane mode,  as texts and calls,  even unanswered ones,  can disrupt the recording. 

So it's an hour without distractions,  where we just focus on you and your questions.   A lot of people tell me afterwards how nice it is to just give yourself the time to sit and think about things like if you are on the right path,  and if your actions are getting you the results you want.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Better than human?

I had time to spare (better than time to kill) and randomly watched a TV show that I had no knowledge of - Dark Net,  episode one,  Crush.  It was about the influence of the internet on relationships, something that interests me greatly.

I was so struck by the one about Rinko,  the Japanese girl on Love Plus,  a dating game. It's a really basic AI, no where nearly as good as the one depicted on the movie Her.  But what happens is the same - the lonely man forms a relationship with the game that is far more important to him than any relationship he has IRL (in real life)  and starts to prevent him forming any potential relationship with a real life woman.  Why? Well, because humans are complex and difficult and require compromise. They aren't always available or receptive or interested.  Rinko is always there,  you have complete control in the relationship - switch it on, there she is, interested and pleased to see you,  switch it off and there she goes,  no complaints or needs of her own.  

It saddened me to see this boy chide his mother for delicately saying she hopes he meets a real girl sometime.  "Don't talk like that,  Rinko doesn't like it."  Of course games are easier than humans,  but these men are finding games more rewarding than humans - better to be in the fantasy world of Rinko's love than in the frustrating world of dating. 

I think humans are tricky - with opinions and actions that you don't always expect or like. The other story in the episode had a terrible tale of revenge porn that was genuinely frightening.  But still,  this stepping back into a fantasy world with a programmed AI did not feel like a solution,  but like another kind of problem. Intimacy takes work and risk,  but connection is part of our humanity and needs to be fostered.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

two readings, worlds apart and she draws the same card...

I did a reading for a girl the other day, and she drew the Tower  at her core. That's a hard card to hold at your center,  it means that you feel things are falling apart,  that your center doesn't hold. She told me that she had had a tarot reading in Cambodia four months ago and drew the Tower there too.  I love how she can draw cards from two different decks across the planet and pick the same ones. 
She was 26. I wish someone had told me when I was in my mid twenties that those years are often sticky - we leave the familiarity of school life and for many people the first few jobs out of college are experimental and not necessarily fabulous.  She is a recent arrival in NYC,  which is also often confronting and can feel lonely.  
But I am not worried for her. She drew two aces - the Ace of Pentacles and the Ace of Wands.  Her energy is going to pick up again, and soon work and money will sort themselves out.  Sometimes we have to fall out of the crumbling tower,  but even though that's difficult,  it's much better than being stuck in the tower!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Often you know the answers, but still you need to hear it

Saw a girl the other day,  well not a girl,  she came to me on her 35th birthday, bringing two best friends to listen on the reading.

She asked about a man she had been dating for two years and drew
2 cups R,  5 of swords,  7 of swords

And I looked at her sorrowfully and said,  oh honey,  he's not good for you.   He is not returning your affections,  your love card is reversed and then you have both the betrayal cards,  he is stealing your swords and making you feel bad about yourself,  and misbehaving towards you.

Her friends looked at her triumphantly,  apparently I had passed the test.   Then she told me she had just broken up with him but she should have done it two years ago.  When they first started dating she had hoped he would be 'the one'.  But when the conversation moved to exclusivity he refused and she let him.   No wonder there were all those swords.   He was never 'unfaithful' because he never promised fidelity but that is such a slippery argument.  She agreed that she should have broken up with him there and then,  but somehow stayed in the relationship for another two years before realizing it was going no where.   We discussed setting better boundaries and listening to people's words, especially if their actions follow suite! If they tell you they are not ready or willing to have an exclusive relationship,  and you want one,  you have to realize that you are not going to get one with them.

She said she knew everything I had just told her,  and I said 'yes,  and then a stranger with 78 pieces of cardboard could tell you it,  without knowing a thing about you!  Next time listen to yourself better.'  She sighed ruefully and promised she would try.  She said she felt affirmed in her decision to stop seeing him. Sometimes we want something so badly,  we lose sight of what we are compromising in order to hold on to it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The time is always ripe to do right

“Time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to work to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Dr. Martin Luther King

We must use time creatively - indeed we must.  What a great light that man shone and how we still need it in the world.