Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tarot of Da Feet

I love getting together with folks who love tarot or with people who have similar interest of any kind. It’s probably the extravert thing about me but how fun when we already have a topic of conversation, especially one as varied, controversial and dynamic as tarot. It gets even the introverts talking and you should know nothing pleases me more than to know what’s on an introvert’s mind. For instance, that’s why there’s a comment section at the bottom of each blog; you email people will just have to click on the link to the blog to see what I mean.

When I was in my 20’s it became apparent that the art of conversation was not something one learned in high school or at the parents’ knee. I realized that reading up to 4 books a day during my summers and watching entirely too many black and white movies gave me a skewed perspective of human interaction. They call those old movies “talkies” because they figured out how to add the sound of human speech to otherwise “silent films.” But I think today the common view is that those movies were “hyper-talkies” and our current films are something more like either “moodies” or “special-FX-ies.”

“Nobody talks like that!” people complain about those old talkies. Ha-rumph, she thinks, well, I do! So while all the girls were falling for the strong silent types in the more modern movies made while I was growing up, I had crushes on James Stewart and Humphrey Bogart. My father was particularly horrified to find this out.

“They’re MY age!” he sputtered. Well, that’s something that can’t really be helped. Love transcends time, especially movie-star love. It’s not to say that I didn’t swoon over Clint Eastwood chomping on a cigar in the sweaty west or rolling his eyes at administrivia in police work. I did. But my true loves were the guys who talked to me.

Now I’d love to give advice to the love-bound male to assure them that girls like it when they talk to them about anything, but, alas, it’s not true. Those same dull thuds who tried to convince me that no one talks “like that” were the ones who could drool on endlessly for hours with pithy statements like, “Oh, wow, stereos, man.”

Yes, these timeless words were often enhanced by natural chemical substances which are only recently available to those with a prescription in some states. Weed tended to slow down any conversation and limited the topics to the aforementioned stereos, whether Layla was the greatest song ever but still heard too often on the radio, the quality and availability of rolling papers and other paraphernalia and who had been busted recently doing something really stupid (as opposed to sitting for hours in a filthy living room talking about these timeless things).

Inevitably the conversation got around to food, usually brownies with herbal additives. Apparently the goal among those eligible males I knew at the time was to “astro-plane.” I think that meant losing some control over much if not most of your sensory capabilities, something ultimately all my friends would turn to me while discussing and say, “Yeah, but we don’t recommend it for you, Marcia.” I had to agree.

Seriously, purposefully lowering my IQ and that of my compadres does not seem like fun to me. I like to remember the concerts I attend. I like sparkling conversation. I liked dates who did not fall asleep midway during a romantic moment. And then, plush as I am, I’m also curious as to why people think the reasons for obesity in the US are such a mystery. “Man, I have got, like [giggle, snort, cough and spit all at once], the munchies, man.” The Big Lebowski is delicious fun as movie; in real life, I think I’d rather count paperclips than live that.

Rather than hurt any of my stoned friends’ feelings, I tended to wander off and do things like teach adult education courses in antiques at the local junior college, learn Gregg shorthand for fun and profit, dabble in geology to explore caves in Southern Illinois despite my claustrophobia. Oh, wow, man, like, salamanders!

Only much later did it occur to me that while I was at the same time trying to stifle my negativity about the Doper lifestyle and amuse myself with something I was truly interested in, I and my smokeless life were being “dissed” as “narc” behavior. Well, the stuff does make people paranoid too, I guess. The upshot was that while I liked most of those folks aside from their hazy moments, they for the most part did not like me. What’s not to like? Well, everything, I suppose.

Most folks just know to hang around people who have things in common with them. My own skin-crawling craving for novelty, diversity, change, new ideas, new experiences, the restaurant I’ve never been to before, the next moment because it’s never been here, etc., also leads me to think that because I like all kinds of different people, they will also like me. Well, how rude to assume! Nothing like a rejected thrill-seeker who is easily thrilled, I say. In a way, my acceptance, nay, embrace of whatever is different from me is also a bit of my blind spot.

This week I’ve had the chance to get together with a few different bunches of people and worked on applying one of my old saws about how to tell if some human interaction (it’s hard to call all human encounters relationships) is working: Do you like yourself when you are with them?

I dated a guy for a really long time, years, in Illinois. He was cute.  He was smart. He would talk about ideas. He was collaborative. He could laugh at his dyslexia and work through it. There were a lot of pluses. There were significant detriments too. And the worst of these was that I did not like who I was when I was with him. So I broke it off. In the lonely days after the break up, I realized time and again that I had made the right decision. I needed to be a more positive person than I ever could be when I was around him. It was necessary for my survival. It took me a while to put it together, but finally I realized that I needed to surround myself with positive people and step away from negative ones. I tended to take on the characteristics of my surroundings.

So, Tuesday, I dragged my friends Becca and Andrew to a San Francisco Meetup called Tarot Café. You’ve heard about Andrew a bit before. He’s 24 and a tarot reader and enthusiast. Enthusiast doesn’t quite cover it. He will tell just about anyone his favorite deck is the Robin Wood although he does have a dragon thing going too. Becca is a professional illustrator who has worked for some Big Names and on some Famous Projects that you’ve probably heard of but to keep her out of trouble we will leave it at that and say she is some kind of artist. She’s been coming to my Backyard Tarot classes and is the first to tell anyone that she is not a tarot reader. I’m hoping we can do a deck together, but don’t get too excited, kiddies. It’s going to take a while.

There we were with our café drinks at Borderlands Café, sitting around the tables with our decks, talking with Anastasia Haysler of Tarot Media Company about balance and the equinox. In the midst of Becca’s dawning horror about the possibility of reading tarot for the fun exercise and another meetup member’s eagerness to get on with the reading part, the balance of opposites there across the table from each other, I realized I was happy there. I liked being with people who like what I like, even if they like it for vastly different reasons, lengths of time, images and symbols or uses for tarot.

Art Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

Yes, it’s different. Tarot is different. When people find out I read, write, talk, joke and create tarot, sometimes they have to step away because, well, because that’s just too different for them. But like Becca’s draft drawing of the Hanged Man (no previews yet), I’m happy in my difference even though I know it isn’t for everyone and that I might get shunned, “dissed,” made fun of, looked at with disbelief or actively disliked. The Hanged Man and I are like this, after all.

So at the Tarot Café when the regular part of the meeting was over, I was sitting next to RoseRed Robinson also of Tarot Media Company, who we have both determined is one of my cousins and not all that distant. She had an assortment of Tarot Bath Salt Sachets to choose from for the door prize people of which I happened to be one.

I asked, "Oh, do you have a Hanged Man?"

"I don't think so," she said, looking at the bunch. "What would Hanged Man sachet smell like?"

I thought for a minute.


I settled for the Empress, roses and jasmine. Love that Tarot Cafe!

Best wishes!


  1. Marcia:
    I grew up swooning over old black and white movies too! Or with my nose in a book, both of which probably led me to a skewed idea of how many exciting adventures I should have in life. Anyway, really fun post to read. And you're right about the "how do I like myself when I'm with this person" test.

  2. Thanks, Kirsten!

    Week 3 Picks are posted on Mr. Goon's Sports Page.