Saturday, January 29, 2011


We all have secrets in our past. Some of them are very interesting or would be if the story was told properly. Some are just things we don’t talk about much or don’t talk about until much later.

My brother and I happened to be visiting my Dad and step-mom Noni at the same time at their house in the Missouri woods. We were sitting around the table after dinner telling funny stories. Suddenly, a little bit of magic happened. I caught a glint in my brother’s eye and we dipped into once-dangerous territory. We began telling on ourselves, not on each other, stories from our wild high-school days, the things we were pretty sure Dad didn’t know about. And we were right!

No, that scar on my brother’s chin hadn’t been from slipping on the ice and prat-falling into his car door handle. It was an old car and door handles weren’t sleek and streamlined like they are now; they were sharp sometimes and stuck out away from the car doors. But that wasn’t what cut his chin. No, he was on a friend’s forbidden motorcycle that bucked under my brother’s inexpertise, rearing up to create that humdinger of a cut that required more than a couple of stitches. He later mastered control of motorcycles, but the scar was a permanent reminder of how quickly things could go wrong.

And Dad really hadn’t known it wasn’t the door handle. He laughed, bugged his eyes out at my brother, shook his finger at him and laughed some more.

“Fool me once,” Dad said, “and that’s your fault. Fool me twice, and that’s my fault.”

Dad was fooled twice, of course. My brother has a couple of scars. There were lots of stories that night.

Since we were confessing, I admitted that I actually had crawled out my bedroom window for late night excursions. Just riding in cars with kids my own age in broad daylight was verboten.

When I was in high school I figured there was truly little trouble I could get into, even at midnight in a car. That’s stupid, of course, but like most kids that age, I was pretty sure I knew just about everything. We lived in a small town in New Mexico that for many years had only one stoplight in town. My youthful indiscretions were few and I generally shared my parents’ hesitance to ride with other teenage drivers. I volunteered for three years at the hospital across the street from our house and saw enough of drunk-driving accidents to last maybe forever.

But, I was a teenager and occasionally the call of the wild was hard to resist. My best friend Cindy and I sometimes hung out with our older brothers’ friends who called themselves the “Squirrel Squad.” I’m not sure the word “nerd” had been invented yet but basically that was the idea. These guys were linked in friendship to the semi-scientific experiments they perpetrated, usually on rural mailboxes late at night. They loved cars and owned perhaps the worst ones in town. One was an old Ford Falcon which had a maximum speed of perhaps 35 miles per hour. They tried to fly radio-controlled airplanes, build and launch rockets and were on the fringes of the chess club. Some of them formed a band and played at our local high school dances. There was a lot of focus on electronic equipment. I think if there had been all the equipment for ghost hunting available, they might have done that too.

This became just a little too nerdy for my brother, who wanted to play varsity sports but ended up with a broken foot or wrist at the beginning of every season and was relegated to the bench. He also liked cars and drag racing. One of the things I learned around the dinner table that night was that he had been part of a group of guys who were drag racing outside of town. I remember he had a very cool looking car, a “442” that was a turquoise color with two big white “surfer stripes” painted down the middle. But I had no idea that he had been part of the drag racing scene that had been raided by the police and that our Dad had to pick my brother up at the police station one night.

My late night excursions were much tamer although not without the possibility of danger. One of the geological features of our part of eastern New Mexico was the dry lake. Weather patterns have changed a bit, but when I lived there, dry was the main weather feature. Underneath the sand and scrub and cactus was caliche, a super-hard limestone. The dry lakes around town were a mix of this hardpan and sand dunes with scrub and sagebrush. Teenagers would go out to the dry lakes, make a fire if they could find anything like wood to burn, dance, ride dirt-bikes and drink soda, Annie Greensprings and Ripple wine. There romances bloomed and faded, we discussed the Viet Nam war and wondered about our futures. And then, my friends dropped me off near my house and I crawled back through my bedroom window. As it turns out, my parents never guessed. And lucky for me, nothing bad happened from it.

We laughed about other stories, like my brother teaching me how to arm wrestle and my challenging all the boys in junior high to duels. I was the arm wrestling champion of the junior high two years in a row. That and playing football in earnest with the neighborhood boys required that I remake myself almost entirely in high school to get back in touch with my feminine side. After all, the reason I liked hanging out with the boys was, well, I liked boys. They were cute. They were goofy. They were kind of simple, single-minded dopey clowns if they weren’t completely bumfuzzled by sexual tension. But they were hilarious when they were. And launching model rockets was a lot more interesting than mastering fashion nuances to me.

The stories I didn’t tell around the dinner table that night were those too precious, embarrassing or titillating to reveal.

I had been asked out on a date by one of the high school football heroes. I was flabbergasted. I was elated. When he picked me up, my heart nearly stopped when he reached down, lifted the lever under my seat and pulled it back for leg room. Little did I know that he was not the least bit interested in me until we got to the drive-in movie and it became clear that first base was this sports king’s only goal. I was crushed. Having been “blessed” with an ample “first base” I realized it was going to be difficult to be liked for my personality. Well, crud. The attempted one-night stand turned into a one-night slap and I was home before the movie ended.

A couple of years earlier one of my junior high friends had gotten hold of a book called Eustace Chisholm and the Works, the most explicit and hedonistic novel ever and may still be at the top of that list. It was, in spite of all these possibilities, also of dubious literary merit (no offense to the author). It was what I sometimes call the 2 of Cups, a phrase from Dharma and Greg, “Hot Monkey Love.”
2 of Cups
Art Postcard Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

My friend wanted me to hide it for her until the coast was clear with her folks. I read it of course. My. Goodness. It made everything quite clear just exactly why I liked boys. Yup, that did it. I had the good sense to be a bit shy about trying the things I read which, I suspect, would have shocked my mother. Oh, she would have been certifiably catatonic about the book and its contents, beyond depravity in her view, I’m pretty sure. What would have merely shocked her, though, was that I actually resisted the urge to experiment freely with the suggestions from that novel. She lived in constant fear that I didn’t share her horror of the opposite sex. Nope. I liked ‘em. Lucky me again: My parents never found the book. I think I finally passed it back to my friend with the newly-enriched understanding of the weight of its danger.

Now that both Mom and Dad are gone, I am sure they are over the shock of my high school indiscretions. Yes, I did crazier things than crawling out my window. I actually thought a high school boy could like me for my personality! But something about that time is sweet with memory of the simplicity of teenage hopes and of the now-admitted innocence of the realities of responsibilities of real life. Some little secrets are meant to be savored, like those first moments sitting in a friend’s car in the night sky on the way to the rest of my life.

Best wishes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

But You Said

“It happened just like you said!”

I get that a lot. That kind of feedback gives me a lot of satisfaction, I must admit. After all, the future isn’t a fixed thing, nailed down to the floor like a carpet of yellow brick roses or whatever mixed metaphor seems right. I’m a big fan of free will. Your choices do make all the difference.

People in the position of expecting the future, especially out loud, are always subject to criticism. No matter how scientific the process is or isn’t, the guys on Wall Street basically didn’t tell everyone in time to run for their financial lives, not early enough, not well enough, not clearly enough, not loudly enough. Will those of you who feel you are currently prosperous enough and have plenty of disposable income please step over here to the right? You can go. And those of you in the line to the left, please wait patiently to explain to the financial guys how your life is now much more difficult. One at a time, please. Weapons in the basket, please. Yes, all of them. This is a non-violent feedback session.

I’d hate to be in the business of forecasting weather. When I lived in the Midwest, the only thing that was listened to more closely than commodities pricing was the weather forecast. And, poor saps, they could be so wrong. Here in Northern California, I often giggle at the struggling weather folk who, in a moderate Mediterranean climate, are likely to be bored senseless at the lack of excitement. So they start to report “bitter” cold temperatures of the low 40’s and “searing” heat in the lower 80’s.

Sometimes forecasters can get so embedded in their own worlds that they become delighted when any extreme occurs. So financial crashes and hurricanes or earthquakes tend to bring out a sparkle to their eyes and a trace of foam around their lips. Hey, they’ve been waiting all year for something cool to happen. But they’ve been in their bubble of forecasting for so long that they’ve forgotten that hurricanes destroy property and kill people who happen to be in their way. Naturally, point of view is important. Insurance adjusters, bless their hearts, are delighted (if they are polite, they are at least quietly delighted) when a big fire occurs or a big storm hits. It means work for them. People like work. They like to earn a living. But the people who are charged with forecasting sometimes should keep their delight in anything happening, good or bad, to themselves because they forget, on occasion, that their customers are the people affected by the event. It’s not really about the event itself.

This kind of work, whether it’s my tarot cards or something considered more traditionally scientific, has to be centered around the client, including the way the information is delivered.

Page of Cups
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

I had the delight to run into one of my clients this recently. She was radiant and introduced me to her friend, a nice-looking young man with a gentle handshake.

“It all happened just like you said!” she was breathless. “This is the guy you said I would meet.” He blushed and offered his hand. I smiled, pleased to meet him.

Indeed, he certainly fit the description and impression I had gotten when I read for her months before. Just from a handshake and introduction, I wouldn’t presume to predict whether they are a “happily ever after” couple. But it gave me joy to see my client transformed from someone haunted by unhappiness to this. She positively twinkled. It was little that I did. She chose to be happy, to break an unhappy pattern in her life. I know it wasn’t easy. Seeing her like this was better for me than any verbal or written feedback.

Of course, not all my feedback is positive. Just recently I had someone call what I do nonsense. This person had theoretically been my good friend for 20 years. But tarot, writing about tarot and apparently the one posting she responded to tipped it over the edge. I quickly complied with her request to be removed from my list of friends. Quickly, but not happily.

She and I had been through a lot together. She had been my boss and sometimes the only sane person, perhaps merely my kind of insane, I had to talk to in a very stressful job. I worked for her for five years. She gave me good and timely advice out of the kindness of her heart, and from someone so strong, outspoken and ferocious, I felt that was a huge gift. I provided her with two job opportunities which she was successful in obtaining and I was pleased to have someone so strong as a co-worker. We went separate ways to different companies, yet kept in touch on a regular basis to discuss the fun and crazy life in corporate technology. But on this topic, we differed, enough so that she expressed her disgust and need to end our friendship.

Usually, people drop people who read tarot cards for religious reasons, mistaking the work we do with tarot to be our religion or adhering to their own beliefs which do not leave room for this alternative as being something that can be good. That’s happened too. But it wasn’t the case with my friend; it was closer to political and ideological without being a religious objection. It’s true that I can’t agree with her political conclusions, but I also chose not to engage her in an intense political discussion ever. I always wanted to enjoy what I like about her and let the rest of her be. That doesn’t work for everyone, though, and in a way I understand her decision.

Sad as I am to lose her wonderfully unique point of view, her feedback as well as that from my client above is, at least, clear. It’s a BIG NO from my former friend and a BIG YES from my client. More difficult, of course, is that curiously ambiguous feedback.

In a recent exchange where a tarot enthusiast was looking for clarification of a reading he or she did for themselves, I provided a clear but I was sure a bit difficult message. This person had asked for advice and guidance from cards, had difficulty interpreting them, put the question out to the community of readers. It was a difficult personal situation for the person and someone they cared about deeply. My message, after reading the cards they drew, was one of tough love.

I got a response that is all too common. The sitter/client/recipient of the reading thanked me cheerfully and stated in the clearest terms possible their intent to do exactly the opposite of the advice given. In this situation, some readers become angry. To me, that anger is just as misdirected as the excitement of the weather forecaster at the thought of a hurricane hitting the coast. The reader was paid or else freely offered their time.

But nothing at all negates the client’s free will to do whatever they want with the advice. It is theirs to embrace or discard. Once my reading leaves my lips, or in the case of email readings, my send key, it is no longer mine. I’m a translator. I’m not in charge. I was just listening to the fish and giving the message that was asked for. That, and trying to help. The client must exercise their own choices, whether they have a forecast or not. He or she, like anyone else, must select the next steps, make choices, and own the outcome. Neither the cards nor I have told them what to do. And clients who are looking for me to tell them what to do, how to live their lives, or what decision to make might be disappointed. I want to give them help so that they can make their own decisions.

Still, all in all, if I had my druthers, I’d rather have, “But you said…” followed by, “and that’s just what happened!” And, if the outcome is happy, then I get to smile too.

Best wishes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love in the Time of Influenza

I had the flu. Then the hubs had the flu. This wasn’t the “search the cabinets for anything to help you breathe again” flu. This was that other flu. The flu we don’t talk about. You know what I mean. I don’t mean to paint too graphic a picture here but there are some tarot cards that can tell the story.

It seems like it should have been a short story. Its suddenness was like a lightning strike, a Tower fallen, the rug ripped out from under me. Luckily, I was within range of familiar conveniences. In times of stress, they were never more convenient. Dark moments like these are times when we examine our souls. I really hadn’t wanted to examine my soul from the inside out, though.

But after the initial assault, the siege went on. And on. It was 8 of Wands, the rain of fire, the sudden swiftness of burning, even the up-in-the-air feeling of having been launched, wanting to land but afraid to do so from such a height. The fever raged. The battle continued. The topsy-turvy world of war was upon me. Even water would not put out this flame, would not seek its own level but beat its retreat.

I sought comfort in the dark and quiet, hoping the sweet little songbirds would cease their concerts, the dog would not snore, the cats would not breathe so loudly. Light and air and logic and imagination were enemies. I waved a sheet in surrender and prayed for an end, however it may come. As a soldier crawling from the blast, the 4 of Swords, I sought oblivion even if from cold stone or smooth tiles.

I fought despair of the 5 of Cups. This was still Day 1. And yet I continued to work, to answer emails and telephone calls, to offer guidance on complex computer projects. And sprint. And despair some more. No, I said. This was not flu. This was food poisoning, a poorly prepared potato past its prime in search of revenge for its neglect. It would not be flu.

After the long siege of day and night, I rallied at dawn, sure the worst was over. After all, my husband’s birthday weekend was almost upon us and I would not, would not give in and cancel it. I tenderly tried to regain the balance of my strength, to sip both eagerly and cautiously to win back some of what I had lost. Sweet Temperance led me to sip and sip and sip again.
Ah, but cruel warning came! Peace is not merely the lack of open warfare. Dissembling stillness led me astray and I called out for sustenance. My husband responded in his usual generosity and brought me what would ordinarily be healing itself, Sizzling Rice Soup, and perhaps, if I were daring, a little vegetable fried rice. What harm could a little soothing soup do? Yet, like a thief, like the 7 of Swords, in a flash from full bowl to empty was all the time it took for me to find that the battle was not yet won. Even the sight of the veggie rice was too much to be gazed upon. I lost ground and I retreated once more.

Flu, like Death, be not proud. It takes us all, the willing and the unwilling, from time to time. Flu rode in with my husband on a portion of spicy eggplant from that same nearby Chinese restaurant. He felt fine while I turned green over my bland soup. Yet scant hours later, he was struck, with all the force of all the same symptoms, all the same remorse. And we fought fire with water once again, rallied and sank, retreated and wandered restlessly. All the while our dog and cats watched over us in dismay, concern and perhaps portion calculation should the worst occur.
And in our lowest moment, we knew we were defeated. The birthday weekend was off. The trip to the redwoods was postponed. The prime rib and chocolate cake were not to be. We were betrayed by a microbe, stabbed in the back like the 10 of Swords for providing too friendly an environment for its welfare. We made phone calls. We choked out our apologies and gave our best intentions to our comrades to save themselves, to run.

I determined the only cure for the worst of it was never to eat again. Like the 2 of Swords, I drew a thin treaty with the beastly bug, denying defeat as well as victory. My resolve lasted only into the evening of Day 3 and I rummaged for something, anything like real food. I found a bagel and toasted it, throwing caution to the wind. I returned to fuss and coo over my ailing sweetie whose head was bursting in between other bursts. We slept again.

Day 4. The fire retreats and leaves the charred remains, soothed, finally, by the cooling waters. We rise, having let go of earthly cares and woes, mostly woes. My husband has ventured as far as the kitchen and made chicken noodle soup. While this balm may not last for long, it is a breakthrough. Even the thought of food was torture a couple of days ago. We’ve dared to watch a little television, its trumpet blare and fireworks now not too painful to take. There are so many food commercials on television and not a lot of them are appetizing.

I even watched Julie & Julia, a movie about the love of food. It reminded me of the joy our cousin Patti has in her cooking, her love of France, her annual Thanksgiving “Babette’s” Feast where all is made from loving scratch. It also reminded me that love goes through things together, weathers indignities, unpleasantness, inconveniences, disappointments, defeats as well as joys and celebrations. We drink from the same cup and get the same reward, whether it’s the sweetness of the wine or the wretched influenza, in sickness and in health. We share the same cup.

But it will still be a while before that boned duck thing from J&J starts to look tasty. And I’d better go wash that cup again.

All images in this posting are from my Art Postcard Tarot, still available.  See my page called Tarot Decks on this blog for more information. 

Best wishes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Emperor’s Year

2011 is the Year of the Emperor in Tarot. It’s not that hard to figure. 2 + 0 + 1 + 1 = 4 and 4 is the Emperor’s number in the major arcana.

The Emperor is Big Daddy. He’s the Executive. He’s the guy who makes decisions, not just for himself, but for the good of the Empire. He outranks the Kings of Cups (Mr. Sweetie-Pie), Wands (Mr. Energy), Swords (Mr. Logic-even-if-it-hurts) and Pentacles (Mr. Practical, including Mr. Business). Those designations for each suit are a little too high-level but they’ll do for now. The basic thought about the Emperor is that he is the Grand Administrator for the Realm. It’s his job to take theory and turn it into workable practice. He makes it happen.

He’s usually portrayed seated on his throne with his symbols of power. Being seated, it’s clear he isn’t building the bridge or hospital or road himself; he delegates to the specialists. He has the whole Empire to draw his resources from and issues orders to execute his plans. If he didn’t accomplish anything, he might just be The Fool without focus. If he did it all himself, he might just be the Magician and his personal will with limited impact. If all he did was stay in the realm of ideas and mysteries, he would find himself to be the High Priestess. And if he were the creative force itself, he would be the Empress. But he isn’t one of those; he is the next step beyond those. He is the Implementer. He makes it real.

For all the ladies who have tuned out while I used the masculine pronouns up to now, this is to notify you that you are not off the hook. The Emperor, while portrayed as a masculine archetype, is not just for guys. We all have a little bit of Emperor in us, as we do the entire tarot. You might not like the implementer, the decider, the-buck-stops-here personae. But that person is a part of all of us to some degree.

A lot of tarot decks portray the Emperor with a bit of a grumpy expression. That’s because it is lonely at the top. I don’t mean the Emperor lacks for company. Oh, no, he’s often surrounded by company, usually people who want something from him because their view of him is the guy who has the Power to implement. What he lacks is the certainty that any of the advice he gets is unbiased or complete. And yet he is still saddled with making the best decision overall for the Empire. And if something goes wrong? Everyone else steps away and says, The Boss made the decision. And suddenly the weight of less-than-ideal results is on his shoulders.

Sure, some Emperors use the “sh** rolls downhill” concept and share the responsibility for bad results with their subjects. Maybe that’s “overshare.” Some bear the responsibility themselves. Similarly, when things go right, some Emperors share the glory and some hog it, which was one of the ideas when I picked out my Emperor in the Victorian Trade Card Tarot.
The Emperor
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright Marcia McCord 2010

The Emperor doesn’t have to be President of the United States or CEO of a major corporation. He can be you or me. He’s an archetype, not a person, so he represents aspects of each of us. He can be just Dad.

About ten years ago I was working for a major financial firm who shall remain nameless, not my current job. I really liked the work we were doing. It was fun for me and involved creating reusable parts of code that different systems could use to basically get the same answer every time any system within the company needed information about a customer. Instead of having to keep a zillion copies of a customer’s address, for instance, we could keep just one and have everyone look there. It had a couple of advantages, like if the address changed, we had to change it in just one place. This made for better customer service.

One of the funniest conversations about this initiative, in retrospect, was talking to one of the architects. The architect expressed what I could only guess to be sincere annoyance that we had actually implemented the cool ideas about this. The idea was that, once implemented and made real, these “tinker toy” parts were no longer in the realm of perfect ideas but manifested in the flawed real world where any shortcomings in the supposedly-perfect ideas would eventually be found out. And, because they were in use and people now had expectations about them, they would be harder to fix and perhaps worst yet, visible revisions to the once-perfect idea.

But isn’t that the problem with implementing any idea? Once you’ve made a decision, you’ve chosen not to do the other thing. Once you’ve selected your partner, you’ve said no to whomever else. If you wear red, you aren’t wearing blue. Deciding is committing, if only for a little while. Nothing says you can’t wear blue tomorrow. Ah, the limitations of choice! And oh, the woes of responsibility!

A long time ago in a far-away state when I was in my 20’s (yes, there was electricity), I had a fun and goofy boss I’ll call John G. I worked for a major utility and had an odd data entry job where I typed a bunch of numbers, plus the letter F. It wasn’t exactly a rewarding job, but I didn’t think of it as the pinnacle of my career either. I wanted to do well and then see what was next. John G had a great attitude about it too, realizing it was a strange job tied to an experiment in computing people’s time cards. Accuracy and speed were important; actual understanding was not particularly. With those limitations, the job could hardly be called interesting, especially since it was my job to type those numbers and his job to supervise me.

John G was a pleasant, kind-hearted fellow, happily married with two lively little kids. He didn’t have big worries and he wasn’t on a power trip. He was basically a nice guy. He told goofy, not offensive, jokes. He would walk in on a slow afternoon about 3 pm, sit down to rest and drawl, “Shooooore don’t seem like 5 o’clock!” We’d laugh.

John G decided to take the family in the Jeep Wagoneer on a road trip to Canada to enjoy the beautiful scenery and go camping. We were all anxious to hear how his vacation had treated him since he almost always had a funny story to tell. But when he walked into the office his first day back, I knew the news wasn’t good.

“What happened?” I demanded, wanting to know the whole story. As it turns out, their vacation was wonderful until the drive home. They had just crossed back over into the USA when a doe and twin fawns dashed across the road in front of them. The Wagoneer lived, as did all the people, but sadly at least one of the deer was dead.

“Oh, no!” I said. “Will it cost a lot to repair the damage?”

“Not that much,” John G admitted. “It’s my family.”

“Were they hurt?” I was confused. I figured he would have said something about his family immediately.

“No,” John G sighed. “They were a little shaken up of course but we all had our seatbelts on. When I got through talking to the highway patrolman and we were on our way again, no one said anything for miles. Finally, after about 100 miles of silence, my daughter burst into tears and said, ‘Daddy killed Bambi!’”

John G sat before me, the sad Emperor, responsible for the safety of his realm, successful in avoiding harm to his loved ones, even lucky in the cost of the damages to his vehicle. But, in his family he was forever branded the one responsible for the death of a beloved childhood icon. Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

In your Emperor year, remember that no action is without its consequences, both good and bad, and yet nothing ever gets done unless ideas are actually implemented.

Best wishes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tony Tony Turn Around

“Where is it? I saw it and I know it’s here somewhere!”

It’s 2011 and I wanted my pocket calendar. Now.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m a technology professional along with everything else and I have a million ways to keep my calendar through my cell phone, computer, Blackberry, etc. I happen to like calendars that are little books that I can stuff in my purse. Little books only get misplaced. Their batteries don’t die; they don’t fizzle in Merlot accidents or untimely dives into vessels of water in the bathroom or anywhere else. They might be damaged or unsavory after such events but paper still talks even after torture. There’s something intimate about paper and pen that is lost in the electronic medium. Low-tech has its pluses too.

Take my haircut appointments, for instance. It’s really important for me to note in my appointment book whether the time I listed is the time I need to leave the house to get to the appointment on time or the actual appointment time. Sometimes that kind of notation is more easily made on paper. At least it feels that way to me. Debbie really appreciates it when I show up on time. Or at all.

And I really like my calendars to be different colors in different years, at a glance, in my purse. 2009 was bright tomato red Moroccan leather. 2010 was a sedate oxblood red, only because it didn’t come in any more startling colors. 2011, wherever it went, is an eye-popping chartreuse, basically “bug-squash” green, almost fluorescent. You’d think something that bright would be hard to lose. Never underestimate the power of an untidy packrat!

I used to use those cute little cheap plastic coated calendars with kittens or seashells on the front and the month at a glance with each day as its own square. Over time, those squares have gotten smaller and smaller (it just can’t be my eyes going bad) and I need just a little more room. I liked the compact and lightweight aspect of those little calendars and so transitioned to the slim notebook style bound in some delicious and smooth leather, hopefully in bright colors. I had black before, but it gets awfully dark in that purse. My purse isn’t that deep until you’re looking for a key or your casino card or something else that has sifted through the big stuff to nearly but not quite the bottom. Then I need one of those deep water submarines they use in the Monterey trench to find sea critters never before seen by humans, one with really bright lights. Something dark down in the bottom, like a calendar with a black cover, could hide for weeks without being found. Even those deep-sea critters use their own home made glow in the dark stuff to get around down there.

I really loved the calendars I’ve had in the past. They have had almost everything in it. There were color maps of the world in last year’s. One year there was a very cool map of the London Underground, not that I live in London or anything. But it was like memory lane or maybe memory tube stop to look at it. Remember that terrific pizza we had at the Embankment? It was heaven after one too many mushy peas experiences in the pubs that trip. But there is always seriously useful stuff in them too along with the requisite calendar days to write in the appointments, birthdays and reminders for the year. I pasted little souvenirs of the year in last year’s, like my dentist’s phone number stickers. And my favorite little memento last year was the autograph of a young man who had been the voice of the baby in the movie The Incredibles, one Eli Fucile. Incredibly, we were having a hamburger in Sonoma and happened to strike up conversation with the gentleman’s father. By then, The Voice was a strapping young man who was pleased to write his name in the back of my calendar. My husband and I of course admired his work and hoped to hear more of him in the future.

So where on earth was it? Lightning-lime green should stand out like…like…well, heck, I like lime green a lot but still it’s a peculiar size lime-green thing and I remember having it in my hands. I remember putting it in a tote or purse or something. I took apart the purse I recently transferred from, realizing that recent was a few months ago now. It was a useful exercise at least. I found a lot of other stuff I was looking for including that spare house key I had been looking for. I found a key ring I got at a technical conference that is solar powered and blinks when it’s charged up, good for those deep dives into the purse for something that was recently exposed to sunlight at least. I spent time taking it apart to see if I could put my own name in it instead of the company being advertised. I can’t. Bother. But the solar cell is still very cool.

Calendar, calendar, calendar. I went through all kinds of totes and bags from various events with no luck. No luck, except to find other useful items which had not been put in their proper places like a zillion ball-point pens and a nice little flashlight.
The Hermit from the
Victorian Trade Card Tarot
(c) Copyright 2010 Marcia McCord

The light flashing thing was starting to gel with me. In the tarot, the Hermit is the seeker who lights his way with a lamp. If he didn’t have the lamp, he’d be stumbling around in the darkness. My husband called in, “Do you need any help.” “No,” I puffed forlornly, wishing the calendar really was fluorescent and I could turn off the lights and see the glow. Like most Hermit moments, looking for something only you can find is something that feels best done alone. You turn over the rocks in your soul and poke at the crawly things a bit. You don’t really welcome visitors because, well, they might touch something and you’d have to start over. I had put it somewhere. I had to find it.

“Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and can’t be found.” An old Catholic tradition says that St. Anthony of Padua is helpful in retrieving lost articles, provided a small charity donation is made to the first worthy cause you see. At least that’s how my husband tells it. I like St. Anthony. He was Franciscan. He practiced preaching to fish. Besides the saint thing, he also seems to have been a nice guy.

Along the way, I did find a half-full container of catnip my House Elf had helpfully squirreled away into a box with a painful journal written by my father, a couple of copies of the magazine my mother had been an associate editor for and some sheet music. And my ardent admirer, Tony the cat, was trying to assist without getting in the way and would benefit from this scavenger hunt from this find. He’s a dark (some would say dim also) mackerel tabby with a purr like an outboard motor and a devotion to me that in cat culture would be considered no less than a religious calling. He sniffed every bag, stuck his head in every box, and earnestly listened to my sputterings about my purchasing a 2011 calendar in the summer of 2010 with all likelihood of never seeing it in 2011.

And then I experienced a moment of calm. Tony beat me to the bedroom door where he knows another stash of fresher and more aromatic catnip is hidden. He ran straight for the bedside table drawer but I muttered, “Suitcase.”

Hmm. Wonder if I put that silly calendar in my suitcase when we went on vacation in September? One unzip and there it was, green, near-fluorescent, pristine and ready for 2011. So Tony got his catnip reward for “finding” my lost calendar, grateful for any charity, and I now have the beginnings of organization for the year. Now I have to put away all these pens and stuff. Nice kitty.

Best wishes!