And here you thought Tarot was just an innocent pastime for old ladies and late-night TV dupes.
The Ones I Refused To Leave by Janet Boyer
Looking down at the three Rush CDs in my hands, the January wind spitting nails at my cheeks, I decided to leave only one on her grave.
Should it be symbolic? The corners of my mouth crept upward. Duh. As if any Rush CD, pressed into a newly pregnant mound of dirt like a miniature pop-art tombstone, a makeshift display of my soundtrack - not hers - would be anything but.
Counterparts. Signals. Moving Pictures.
Suzie Succulent Shardonnay- -she always had to be the ass-kisser, the one who ingratiated herself to the perceived powers-that-be. No, she wasn’t content to pursue excellence on its own merits. She had to go through the backdoor of unspoken agreements, implied contracts and understood protocols. Set herself up as some Tarot “expert” and “darling of the cards,” without any innovation of her own.
No negativity online, she said. No bad press, no criticism of Tarot authors, bloggers or deck artists. Not even if one of her former co-hosts - Lightning Lance LaForge - misrepresented himself to her white trash co-hosts or their too-much-time-on-their-hands listeners.
Only her critics. Yes, an exception could be made. She could dis them.
“Triple S with Ssssizzle" - the pretentious, fluffy pseudonym of internet radio personality Hazel Myre.
While she wouldn’t slam those she hated on-air, she had no qualms about harassing them elsewhere. On my blogs, on Twitter, in my inbox…her petty insults, no doubt borne of jealousy, flung at me - a childish reaction to my honest reviews.
No one ever called her on her public hypocritical behavior towards me because I was as hated as she was loved. Didn’t matter that I was a straight shooter, someone who refused to use others.
The fucking masses - they’d rather have someone coat the mic with syrup, pretend to be all love-and-light - than someone who pointed out the incorrect, the ill-suited, the shoddy, the unworkable … the just plain wrong.
See, I was the type who always refused to take the blue pill. At all costs, I wanted the red.
The cowards that crave and cling to the blue pill - they don’t like the red-pill swallowers. The blue pill husks are hooked up to the first chakra shit hose. Everything the tribe wants you to see, celebrate, defend and preserve - all funneled into your energy system.
It’s tempting to place Counterparts on the grave, especially with “Nobody’s Hero” arguably the best track.
A blue jay screams from a naked maple. Another joins in.
I’ve always loved blue jays. They warn of predators. They’re beautiful. They’re not afraid to be loud, to be seen and heard.
“Animate,” another great track on Counterparts, would be pretty damn ironic. I mean, she’s dead!
Triple S was going blind (yes!), and while a part of me wanted to hear her whiny, grating New England accent relate her brave endurance of this misfortune on-air - woven together with saccharine quotes, ethereal songs and anecdotes about her graceful acceptance of this life challenge - what I really wanted was for her to shut up. Permanently.
Forgoing the tempting schadenfreude of listening to her describe her failing eyesight, peppered with the New Age pat-me-on-the-back, aren’t I spiritual? bullshit, I knew I had enough.
It was eye drops, for the end.
After forswearing all conferences, I emerged from hermit-mode.
I decided to show up at the annual event where she was a shiny fixture, the one who gushed and fawned and hugged to make authors, artists and readers feel like each was the only star in the Tarot firmament.
I was feared by them because I was respected by the red pill consumers.
Wanting to save people time and money, I began reviewing over a decade ago because I had been shafted by what amounted to shill online praise from friends, fans and family of various Tarot authors or deck artists.
Of course, I didn’t know that at first.
All I knew, as a rural dweller with nary a metaphysical bookstore in sight, was that the online “reviews” didn’t match the product that arrived at my house via Amazon.com.
So I became the Body/Mind/Spirit version of Ralph Nader. And a good dose of Kathy Griffin, for extra sssspice.
Being an outsider, with no obligations and no loyalties, I began online reviewing. I told it like it was. If a Tarot deck sucked, I said so. If an author was derivative, I said so. If a publisher failed to properly edit a book, I shouted it from the rooftops.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I violated all the unspoken agreement of the insular, incestuous Tarot community: Don’t criticize or point out flaws.
I reviewed for my fellow red pill consumers, the Tarot deck collectors or avid enthusiasts with limited income for their passion. On my website, I displayed at least eighteen card images with each review - including, and especially, the ugly ones - more than any other online “reviewer” did.
I pulled no punches, spared no feelings - the eventual fallout, be damned.
Moving Pictures? The track “Witch Hunt” was so apropos, with its “quick to judge, quick to anger” and “ignorance and prejudice” and “confident their ways are best.” Ssssuzie was never content to lob a sole potshot. No, like a lurid Pied Piper, she seduced her sycophantic audience into mimicking her accusations of “bully!” or “mean!” or “vengeful!” in the wake of my reviews.
An ’81 Buick LeSabre pulled into the Heaven’s Gate Cemetery.
Slowly crunching stones as it wound its way up the hill, I admired the hulking car. Sorta sea foam, the paint job - not quite blue, a little more green. Pearlescent.
The car inched past, a wide-eyed elderly couple staring straight ahead from inside the Buick. The car veered onto another gravel path to the right, away from me.
Acrid exhaust burned my throat. I pulled my scarf around my nose and mouth to block out the fumes.
I knew Suzie Stupid used special eye drops because she shared her “self care” process on her show. All I needed was to be near her so I could put some drops of my own in her “natural healing” tincture.
In the hotel conference room, I sat down at an empty table.
Men and women clustering around a few dozen round tables scrutinized Tarot cards laid out before them, peered at laptops or scribbled in notebooks.
When I first entered the sweeping room, decorated with door-sized replicas of Rider-Waite Tarot images, a butt-ugly fifty-something fatty with green hair and glasses gave me a Hello, My Name Is badge.
As I surveyed the scene of misfits, I wondered why seventy-five percent of female Tarot readers could be described as “butt-ugly fatties”. Even the online profile photos uploaded to various online Tarot forums and groups bore out this statistic.
Jesus, no wonder people shun the Tarot…look at the pathetic losers that play with the cards!
Signals. “Everybody’s got to deviate from the norm - man, I loved the song “Vital Signs!” Rush was definitely a red pill band. Well, Peart was, at least.
I burped up the General Tso’s I had for lunch. I left my purse in the car, so I couldn’t pop an antacid.
Ah, well…I wouldn’t be here too much longer.
The blue jays squawked again, piercing the biting air with their shrill songs.
I took off my name tag.
Online, I was smart enough to never, ever post my actual picture. Instead, I opted for a dazzling violet icon of my astrological sun sign - Scorpio. I had the balls to sign my actual name to my reviews, but no one knew what I looked like.
I made my way to the women’s room. The welcome session wasn’t set to begin for another fifteen minutes, and I really had to pee thanks to the can of Pepsi I drank during my flight here.
Swinging open the door, I smelled peaches.
Thank God, bathrooms everywhere were starting to use those automatic scent misters!
I stopped in front of the first sink by the door.
Midway along the bank of sinks, Triple S skank was putting in her eye drops.
No. Fucking. Way. It couldn’t be this easy!
Facing the recessed ceiling lights, she blinked several times. The bottle, a set of keys, her purse and her lanyard lay on the brown marble sink.
“Hi!” she chirped in my direction. “I’m Suzie Succulent Shardonnay, the Voice of Tarot! Welcome to the conference!” She smiled, her unfocused eyes searching towards me.
“I’m Lacey LaBeau. Thanks for the welcome”.
She smiled wider, her fake veneered teeth glistening like snow white Chiclets. But, uh, it was obvious her online pictures were photoshopped.
“Nice to meet you, Lacey! Many Tarot blessings to you!” Suzie reached towards the stall doors, entering into the one closest to her.
Of course, my name wasn’t lame-ass Lacey LaBeau.
But if I had gave her my real name, I sure as hell wouldn’t have gotten a “Tarot blessing”.
And, she probably wouldn’t have been stupid enough to leave her stuff on the counter, either.
I walked over towards her belongings. Her key chain charm was fashioned like the Wheel of Fortune. The force of giddiness was so strong in my belly, I had to clamp my lips together to suppress a laugh.
I turned on the tap, the droning swoosh of water masking any sounds I made. Opening my purse, I fished out my own bottle.
It took only seconds to open her bottle, plop in a few drops from mine, and reseal it.
Grinning like the cat that ate a canary, I shut off the water, ran my fingers through my blonde bob and walked out of the bathroom.
I didn’t even have to stay at the conference to listen to the insufferable, old-school crones wax boring about the cards. I was spared sitting through a lecture from the revered female Tarot scholar who was born a man.
I left the hotel, buoyed that I could go shopping instead of sitting chained to a chair with some of the densest, grossest people on the planet.
My cell phone rang to the tune of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”.
“Hi honey! Yes, Mommy will be home soon…
A book? Sure, sweetie, I’ll get you a book…
OK, a Nancy Drew it is!...
Tell Daddy I’ll be home soon …
Love you too! Bye!”
Counterparts. Moving Pictures. Signals.
As poetic as it may be to leave a CD, there was a slight chance someone would connect my love for Rush with Suzie’s death. Slim to none, but a chance nevertheless. Especially since I’m sure I referenced the Canadian band more than once.
The frozen fabric beneath my feet stretched several acres. Weathered gray stones, polished black monuments, rose granite double hearts (a couple buried together?) dotted the landscape like haphazard buttons sown by a blind tailor. Rattling from the biting gusts, bony limbs from bare oaks, maples, locusts and birches stretched towards the clouds, scratching at the chrome sky.
I’ll just keep it natural, fresh, authentic. Like me.
So I pulled down my pants and shit on Triple S’s grave.
Taking Kleenex out of my coat pocket, I wiped my ass then headed for my red Prius.