My life is a solitary one. I spend a lot of time walking the streets of New York City alone. I interact with strangers more than I talk to my friends some days. I have some very good friends in New York. Three to be exact. I had four, but one decided to stop taking my calls. Just stopped. And now when I call, I get sent right to voicemail. I have known her for 15 years— and unsolicited, she’s gone. I know she’s alive and I know she gets my voicemails. She just doesn’t care. So, that makes for a riveting and disconcerting unsolved mystery. When I am moved to think how isolating this city can be, I remind myself that I never thought it would be easy— and I never imagined I would have a fabulous life from the moment I stepped off the one-way ticket to my dreams. In many ways, I do lead a charmed life— I have my dreams to keep me alive. There was a time when that wasn’t the case.
Last night, while walking around Midtown Manhattan by myself, I window-shopped, popped into café after café, taking hours to write my academic papers, and then would continue strolling when I finished that coffee or tea. My aimless journey led me to a street corner, where a neon sign beckoned me: “Consultation.” It was halfway behind a billboard, so I wasn’t sure what kind of consultation it was— Health? Organization? Regardless, I was drawn to the “consultation,” and thought, I could use one of those!
I approached the neon glow, and as I neared, it was exactly what I needed— “Psychic Consultation.” I absolutely was in need of a stranger to tell me what was wrong with me— and with the recent news of my nodule, it was even more timely. I followed the fluorescent-lit stairwell up to a 2nd floor landing. The stairwell walls and adjoining hallway were purple and there were pixelated color printouts of spiritual symbols, framed, that lined the walls of the staircase, and at the top, like a sign from beyond, was a platter of amethysts with a sign next to it that read, KEEP CALM AND TURN TO JESUS. The crystals were affixed by hot-glue to the plate assuring that no one could walk away with any of them— or they would have to take the entire display. Take one, take it all! A good philosophy. This was not just any psychic, this was a classy one. Anyone who uses hot glue to affix crystals to a plate knows what they are doing. But I wasn’t there for the amethysts or for Jesus, I was there for the truth; the truth about my life. It was time to get down and dirty. I rounded the corner, and there right before me, was the door: Red letters on glass,
I rang the doorbell and waited. Then waited some more— I heard something from behind the door. It was a crying baby. The child was wailing as if I had awoken it with the doorbell. I decided to push on the door. It was locked. I was almost ready to leave, and then I thought, No! That’s what the spirits want you to do. This is a test! So I sat in the single chair in the hallway. It was located right outside the door. I sat there for ten minutes or so. Taking in my surroundings, I noted a camera in the corner, not only could they see if I took the amethysts, they knew I was there, so I should just wait it out. What did I have to lose? (Apparently my sanity! But I would not know that until I met with the psychic.) There was another staircase that went to the third floor. Leaving my post on the second floor landing, I proceeded up to the third floor, the terminal floor in this staircase. And there, behind another door, was a man sitting cross-legged on the floor atop a pillow. Here was my guide! My guru! I passed the test and proceeded beyond the first door! I peeked my head in, he looked at me, welcoming me. In his hands, he had a… X—Box controller? And was wearing an X-box Live headset. “Hi. What’s up?” he said to me.
Um. I am here for the psychic reading. Is this where it happens?
He pointed towards the second floor, “Downstairs. My wife will meet you down there.” I thanked him and went BACK downstairs and took my post on the chair. I hadn’t passed any test; I simply committed breaking and entering, but thankfully they didn’t press charges. Soon after taking my seat, the same man from upstairs opened the 2nd floor door and told me it would be just a few more minutes. Eventually, a petite young woman opened the door and said, ”So what do you want? Palm, Tarot, Crystal Ball?” I said I didn’t know, so she laid out the pricing the depths each would go— I wanted the cheapest, but that didn’t tell me about future and past, and I knew I didn’t want crystal ball, because that just seemed ridiculous! I opted from the middle of the road, $20 tarot card reading.
She introduced herself and asked how often I get my readings done— I answered that I never had and missed her name in the process. She was surprised and told me what a good person I was. I was flattered— I mean, it was like she already knew me. She took out her tarot cards from an Ikea computer desk where there were three candles, never lit, in a bed of crushed amethysts, and behind me— another collection of larger amethysts. The unnamed reader handed me the tarot cards and asked me to shuffle them until I was satisfied, and then before handing them over to make three wishes, only sharing one of those wishes with her. I cooperated and she asked me what my wish was—
I wish that I am healthy and don’t have cancer.
She scrunched her eyebrow and asked, ”Why would you say that?” I told her about my recent visit to the doctor and she sighed, and then started dealing the cards. She called me sweetie every time she told me something about the cards and they way they were playing out.
Ok sweetie— I am seeing that you are a good, compassionate, and loving person. Sweetie, in your cards I see that you have blockages that have prevented you from happiness— Sweetie, I am going to be honest with you, this doesn’t look good. You have demons that are following you— they are haunting you— in your cards, sweetie, I am seeing that 2013 and the beginning of 2014 were hard years for you. You loved someone very deeply and someone came between you. Also, you were supposed to meet someone last year, the love of your life, but because of your blockages, you were unable to accept this person, and this person never showed up. Also I am seeing, in your cards, sweetie, that when you were 15 and 16 years old, you started diverging from your life path— sweetie, in your cards, I see that someone is harming you— someone who knows you spiritually better than you know yourself— this person you met when you were 15 or 16 years old and it doing you harm. This illness is because of your blockages— you need cleansing, starting now, sweetie. The doctor sees something, but I can get that cleared up. You know how? God. God can clear you.
I skeptically looked at her, and said, “That doesn’t even make sense. God can’t do miracles. Those are parables and I believe in science.” She raised eyebrows and looked at me knowingly. “Ok. Go on,” I said.
Your chakras are out of line— and your aura is no longer light, it is dark with evil. You haven’t been feeling like yourself lately— you see love in people, and you get none in return— this is because of your aura, sweetie.
She asked me if I could think of anyone who I met when I was 15 or 16 that knows me better than I know myself— she mentioned that this person was not from god and that they were evil, jealous of me. I attempted to recall anyone who was or would be jealous of me, and I could think of no one. She then proceeded to tell me that this person is not only focused on me, but also on other individuals. I paused and said, ”This person is still in my life? I don’t know of anyone who could possibly be jealous of me…” She clarified,
This person knows you on the spiritual plane, sweetie. They don’t have to be present in your life… but I’m going to be honest with you, sweetie, I see that this person is lighting candles, wishing you ill and wishing that you get this sickness because they are jealous of you.
Just then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Recalling the tale of Frank that I shared with all of you last spring, I told her about the piece I wrote and the experience—
See sweetie— now you’re coming to your senses. This person is out to get you— they are not from god. They are from the devil and they are coming for you. I tell you what I can do. I can go to my church and I can spiritually cleanse you. You will start to see results in 24 hours, sweetie. You need help.
This was my Ghost moment. I thought, WOW. This is happeneing.
I gulped and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help myself?”
It’s too late. You’re too far gone. You can’t do this alone and you need me. We are going to be good friends, sweetie. I can tell this already. My inner spirit is telling me this.
So I inquired, “Ok. What is this going to cost?”
You can’t afford me. I can tell you that much, sweetie. But my inner spirit likes you. You exude goodness. And we are going to help you. Because, honestly sweetie, I feel bad fro you. You’ve been dealt this awful hand, and you need someone. RIGHT. NOW. You can’t afford the $1700 that I would charge everyone else— I have never done this, sweetie, you can ask my husband. I am going to lower my price to— I have never gone below $700. But for you, because my inner-spirit is telling me to do this, for you, sweetie. $300. Starting right now. You can come back tomorrow. I will prove it to you. For free. You will see changes, sweetie. I have clients all over the world. I am cleansing them all the time. You’re lost. You need me.
She went on and on— and told me time and again how lost my soul was, how much I needed this cleansing, and it needs to happen over and over and over. ”So, I suppose I have to pay you right now?”
Yes. I need the money and we NEED to start right now, before it’s too late. I am going to send you home with cystals, oils, salts— you need to soak in these oils, tonight, if you have any chance of coming back from this.
I was a lost cause, and yet this inner-voice— perhaps my inner-spirit— was telling me no. ”I just don’t know… $300 is still a lot of money. I’m a student.”
This is the lowest I can go for you— I care about you and you need the help. But I cannot go lower, sweetie.
It was a very hard decision— I believed that my soul was lost, and yet I had to say no. I told her I could not afford her right now and handed her $20. She reminded me that this work needs to be started right now if there was any hope for me… and I walked away, knowing that I was a lost cause. I left, wheels spinning, feeling like an empty vessel. Why was this happening to me? I called my friend in San Francisco… I told him everything she told me. He laughed and said, ”Fuck her! Are you kidding me!? I will spiritually cleanse you for $300.” I reminded him of all the things she knew about me and my past. He cackled again, as only he can, and reassured me that it was all a hoax. We hung up and I realized I hadn’t had dinner.
I walked into a pizza joint to get a slice, and after they served me, I started shaking the red pepper flakes onto my pizza… and the top came off. The entire container emptied onto my pizza. My eyes widened in fear. IT WAS THE DEMONS! THEY DID THIS! I shook what I could off the slice, asked for a new plate… they offered me a new slice, but I declined, accepting my fate. I ate the pizza, and was surprised at how evenly distributed the red pepper flakes were— it was rather enjoyable.
Coincidentally, my friend was in town and at a hotel not far away— we texted and I met him in his hotel lobby where we shared laughs, teeth-clenching tales of life, and peppermint tea. I broke the flow of conversation, “Ok. I need to tell you about this psychic I just saw,” and explained the whole thing. He smiled and told me that I am not possessed by demons and that I need to speak with his friend who spent thousands of dollars on New York psychics for cleansings and then went on to write a play and movie about her experiences. My friend immediately put me on the phone with her, and she told me exactly what happened and that what she did to me was illegal, and that I am going to be fine— but it was amazing the amount of con-artistry that went into the elaborate manipulation of my mind and past. That fortune teller used my sexual abuse history as leverage! And THAT is unacceptable. The lengths that she went to in order to try and make a dollar! (or $300… or $1700!) My new playwright/screenwriter friend reminded me that while the psychic manipulated me, she did help me realize that I am in charge of my destiny.
And she was right. I left there feeling more empowered about the ways in which I can make my life better and I was reminded that I have made choices that have not necessarily been in line with my values and personal code of ethics. And for those reasons, that $20 was an investment that will have limitless pay-off.