Saturday, October 11, 2014

Of Crystal Skulls and Ouija Boards Part III

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” 
~William Shakespeare

When you are in the psychic business, weird shit happens all the time. I am regularly spooked by myself and others, although I have trained my facial expressions to be calm and neutral. Clients often ask with a wink if I play poker, assuming that the supernatural combination of clairvoyant knowing and inscrutability would provide me with everything I need to win million-dollar tournaments. I suppose I could give it a try, but my aversion to card games has deep roots in early childhood when my insane grandmother, Alice would pull me to her side during Canasta marathons and attempt to teach me the rules from a cloud of cigarette smoke. My nervous attention was drawn more to the ash of her cigarette which would grow to incredible lengths before falling into her lap where it would burn little circles of melted polyester or onto the carpet where the dog would come to lick it up and then sneeze spasmodically. When it became clear that I had no aptitude for cards, she put me to work fetching cocktails and chocolate covered peanuts for everyone at the table.

Since that time, well-intentioned folks have tried without success to teach me various card games which hold no appeal for me. I have been to Las Vegas a few times and tried my luck at the slot machines, but to no avail. Except for dining at some questionable Mexican restaurants, I'm simply not a gambler.

Back to the weird shit.

Tales from the crypt

I'm rather neutral about the undead. The stories told by Stephen King, Anne Rice and Dean Koontz entertained me in my youth, I was undaunted by the zombie apocalypse craze and never pledged allegiance to either Team Edward or Team Jacob.

Perhaps it was my nonjudgmental attitude that made my service attractive to fringe dwellers and alternative lifestyle advocates; I truly do not harbor animosity about any group or belief system (of course I laugh at the outrageous antics I hear about in sessions the same way that I laugh at myself when I drop an open carton of eggs in the grocery store or choke on my own spit during a wedding ceremony). Maybe it was just a cosmic joke test to see how compassionate and accepting I am, but a few years ago, several new clients called for sessions and through the course of our discussions, revealed themselves to be practicing vampires, werewolves and witches.

Case #1
Client named Disturbia* begins our telephone session by informing me that she is a vampire/werewolf hybrid and that if I am afraid of those kinds of things, we should not work together. Boom. There it is. Out of the coffin in the first thirty seconds of our call. I assure Disturbia that I can handle whatever it is she wants to talk about and her defensive energy calms immediately. I learn that Disturbia is an assistant manager at an Applebee's restaurant in the Midwest and for the most part, leads a fairly ordinary life during daylight hours. We talk about her challenges with certain employees at work, an upcoming vacation to Disney World and the breast augmentation surgery she is considering. It's all very mundane, but forty minutes into our session, the conversation takes a weird turn when Disturbia tells me that she has been feeling uncontrollable urges during the full moon to prowl around the woods at night hunting and eating small animals. She feels as though she is "becoming" more of a werewolf and is wondering what the future looks like should she pursue this path. I ask about her childhood and she tells me that she was adopted from an orphanage by an older couple who are now both dead ("of natural causes", she is quick to add). The upshot of our session is that Disturbia is considering leaving her human life behind to join a community of hybrids who roam the backwoods, sleep in caves during the day and hunt forest animals at night. She is attracted to one fellow in particular who is more of a vampire, but she's certain that they can work out their cultural differences in time, and she can sway him towards the way of the werewolf. At this point, though, Disturbia is not quite ready to abandon her familiar routines, so we explore some less-exotic potentials and she seems confident about going ahead with the double D implants. 

Case #2
New client by the name of Leandro* arrives for his appointment dressed completely in black, sporting the arrogant goatee and fedora costume that is unfortunately popular these days. When combined with painfully snug jeggings and opaque gothic sunglasses, I realize that I am in for an...interesting...hour.  (Larry David once commented that blind people and assholes wear sunglasses inside. Leandro is definitely not blind, so that's a pretty good indicator of what awaits.) When he pulls a comically long black vapor cigarette out of his vest pocket, I draw the line on the pretentious affectations and ask him to refrain during our session. He says nothing, but slowly puts the cigarette back in his pocket and crosses his legs. I can't see his eyes because the stupid glasses are still on, but I get the distinct feeling that Leandro is already unhappy with me and my "rules".

With an exhausted sigh, the Grim Reaper begins talking about himself and how much he hates this world we live in. It's so fake. It's full of morons and liars. People are afraid of their dark side. The government is a joke and Obama is an animatronic replicant sent from the future to kill us all. When I attempt to speed up his peevish monologue by asking how I can be of help, Leandro discloses that he is the leader of a local vampire community and that he wishes to write a book about the "real vampires" in the world as opposed to "that Twilight shit" that most people believe. Warming to his subject, Leandro begins to share details of the rituals he and his cohorts enjoy, including the consumption of human blood (cutting, not biting, I learn) as part of the nightly group sexual frenzy over which he presides (I imagine sweaty, bloody bodies thrashing around on a black shag rug while Haunted Mansion organ music plays from someone's iPod).

As he drones on about the cutting and blood-letting protocols (I gather that a feeble human like me can only consume one ounce of pure blood before vomiting, but a Real Vampire such as Leandro has a much higher tolerance and is therefore a Superior Being), I am more than ready to ask him to leave. How the Prince of Darkness found me and why he would seek my counsel is a mystery, but here we are. Sensing the shift in my energy, he stops himself mid-sentence and a silence fills the room. As if on cue, Leandro begins crying and produces a black silk handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his tears and blow his nose.

What sort of fuckery is this?

Through his tears, Leandro confides that the responsibilities of community leadership are weighing heavily on him and that he simply cannot keep up with the demands (no elaboration, thank God) that are being placed on him by the clan. I attempt to shift the energy of the conversation by asking if he is writing about his experiences as a precursor to the book he has envisioned and the tears abruptly stop. And then this:

Leandro: "Do you think I'm fucking stupid?"
Me: "No...just wondering if you had an outlet for the emotions you're feeling."
Leandro (with withering contempt): "My 'outlet' is perfecting the art of black magic and genuine vampirism."

I now have a mental image of Leandro busying himself during daylight hours rigging up and refining an elaborate torture camp in a dank basement where hapless delivery people, innocent children walking home from school and Jehovah's Witness peddlers are lured to their doom. My next thoughts go something like this:

1. Get this miscreant out of my living room.
2. Fumigate house.
3. Establish a more rigid screening process.
3. Change my name and move out of state.

I have had root canals that were more pleasant than this half hour. I give Leandro my standard speech letting him know that I cannot be of help to him at this time and the upstairs smoke alarm starts screeching. Leandro touches his index finger to his cheek displaying a huge ruby-eyed devil ring while arching an eyebrow as if to say that I should proceed with caution or worse things will happen.

Oh, it's like that, motherfucker?

I can clearly see the outline of his cramped gonads through the skin tight jeggings and imagine myself delivering a well-placed kick to the nut sack if it comes down to it. Even a vampire can be temporarily disabled by excruciating pain, and seeing as how I probably outweigh the delicately-framed Leandro by seventy five pounds, I might have an opportunity to actually do some damage and prevent him from polluting the world with his future offspring.

But before I have a chance to cripple this jackass, there is a loud knock on the front door. It's the brawny neighbor from the adjoining townhouse checking in to see if everything's okay since he can distinctly hear my smoke alarm and is concerned that the entire complex is about to burst into flames.

Leandro chooses to exit the house after the neighbor, not bothering to say goodbye or wish me a good day. As he speeds away on his flashy black Ninja motorcycle I wonder who's been running Hell while he was here contaminating my couch.

Case #3
I can trace most of my decisions to participate in group events back to a toxic combination of being a compulsive people-pleaser and not having the mature self-confidence to just say no. It's certainly an indicator of mushy boundaries established in childhood when my mother would deliver passive-aggressive emotional punishment if I dared to challenge her or refuse to participate in the things she thought I should be doing. It was not unusual to find her weeping in her room after a disagreement, and when asked what was wrong, to hear that I had "disappointed" her and/or "broken her heart" which was dramatically out of proportion to the situation (not wanting to attend a birthday party for a snotty girl I hated or refusing to join a church group for teens who needed to know more about the sacrifices Our Lord made for the sins we may be thinking of committing in the back seat of someone's car). Then there were her epic silent treatments that would last for days, punctuated only by tears and murmuring to no one in particular, "to whom much is given, much will be expected" while trying to establish eye contact with the framed portrait of Jesus hanging in the dining room.

What horrific karmic injustice must I have committed to be doing hard time with Carrie's mother as a cellmate?

Here we go again. I have been invited to a gathering of women for a "Drawing Down the Moon" ceremony which is not fully explained to me initially, nor do I have the presence of mind to ask for details before agreeing to attend. I imagine that it must have something to do with menstrual cycles, and as I am driving to the event, I'm already cooking up an exit strategy and kicking myself for saying yes in the first place.

I arrive at the house where the moon magic is set to occur and calm my nerves by noticing the attractive landscaping and fountain in the front yard. Nothing bad could happen here! She even has a pretty heart wreath on the door! This is going to be just fine! (Note to self: invest in anxiety meds if group meetings are going to continue.)

The woman who invited me answers the door dressed in a black gown under a purple velvet hooded robe which I pretend to admire. "I got it on Etsy," she chirps as I am ushered into her home lit only by clusters of candles and resembling a Moroccan Pottery Barn. Other women are already here, and right away I see that I am woefully under dressed for this hoodoo extravaganza. Capes and robes in somber colors are worn by all but a few of us, and I observe pentagrams everywhere in the form of tattoos, jewelry and hair ornaments.

It turns out that these are serious Wicca practitioners and this is a solemn ritual in which the Goddess energy will be invoked through a High Priestess named Fortuna*. Gone are my notions about this being a silly slumber party with everyone telling period jokes and giggling at the penis-shaped ice cubes in our drinks. Nope. There is some legitimate sorcery happening here, and I begin to worry that Fortuna plans to summon a demon with essential oils and candle wax.

We are asked to remove our shoes and step outside onto the patio where we gather in a circle under the full moon. Most of the women are really into it, and I see that some are already crying, others are holding hands, swaying and om-ing various tones. Fortuna stands in the middle of the circle, raises her arms above her head (I note that she is not wasting any of her hard-earned cash on razors and shaving cream) and begins to invoke mystical entities I've never heard of, but everyone else is nodding and smiling about.

Some other weird shit gets chanted and repeated, but I'm not paying much attention because of three intense distractions:

1. The urgent need to pee
2. Next door neighbor looking over the fence and making the devil horn sign with his hands. Moments later, Black Sabbath is blasting from his stereo and a dog begins barking frantically
3. One of the women has taken off her robe and is standing naked in the moonlight while her friend (?) whirls around her waving a huge feather.

When the ceremony shifts gears into free-form dancing, stripping and singing, I seize the opportunity to slip back into the house to find the bathroom. While sitting on the toilet wondering how long I can hide, I glance around the room and notice a collection of sinister-looking gynecological instruments from the Victorian era displayed on a dusty glass shelf and surmise that no men will ever live here. With death metal blasting, dogs barking and twelve women singing in unison, I understand that I have blundered yet again into a place I don't belong.

Someone knocks on the bathroom door and I realize I must give up my hiding spot to mingle with the moonlight merrymakers who are now back in the house excitedly babbling about the powerful spirits who were part of tonight's ceremony. One of the women swears she saw an elf by the palm tree and another says that the neighbor's music actually gave her the courage to be naked in front of other women for the first time ever.

I casually saunter over to the refreshment table and begin chatting with a young woman who shares that this is her first Wiccan moon ceremony after being shunned by her vampire community three weeks ago. As she picks the nuts off of a vegan brownie, she tells me that her name is Thana* which means "death" in vampire clan-speak, but that she is waiting for Fortuna to bless her with her new Wicca name as soon as it comes to her in a dream. I nod and act as though this is all very ordinary while trying not to stare at the nipples of one of the naked women who went a little crazy with the piercing gun.

The woman who invited me comes over to ask what I thought about the ceremony. I tell her that it seemed to be a powerful experience for most of the women, but that I didn't think it was my cup of tea. She gives me a dreamy smile as I continue stuffing my face with bean dip and shooing the standard-issue black cat off the snack table.

When Fortuna strikes a large metal gong and announces that we will now be making magical dolls to ward off hexes and curses, I decide to thank the hostess for a lovely evening and take my leave. Nobody seems to care that I am bowing out of the second half of the full moon festivities, and I feel extreme relief as I walk to my car knowing that I escaped being jumped into a witch gang tonight. I am positive that the Daughters of the Night will get along just fine without me.

Session Smidgens

~Client believes that all ancient artifacts in Egypt are part of a movie set the aliens left behind after filming a documentary.

~Client's grandfather eats at Chinese buffet and dies of food poisoning, later communicates with her through the Ouija board about her boyfriends.

~Client believes Al Roker is the incarnation of Satan and is actually controlling the weather in the United States so he will have something dramatic to report.

~Client asks if I would babysit her enormous crystal collection at my house while she goes out of town. She instructs that I must talk and sing to the crystals every day, and if at all possible, refrain from scheduling sessions with unhappy people.

~Client brings new Ouija board to our session for me to "bless", asks that I receive messages and spell out names of spirit guides through the board only to "get it working".

*Not their real fake names

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stupid Cupid Part II

“Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” 
~Margaret Atwood

I never fail to be astounded when intelligent people make tragic decisions with their eyes wide open (and plenty of warning against it). "Lisa" is a psych tech at a state mental hospital on the east coast and begins our first telephone session by telling me that she has fallen deeply in love with one of the patients whom, she is convinced, has been misdiagnosed by the system and misunderstood by nearly everyone in his life. Yes, it's true that he is a gang kingpin, responsible for murders, rapes and drug trafficking, but he had such a terrible childhood, it really isn't his fault (and those teardrop tats on his face are a huge turn-on!). She assures me that "George" is different from the other inmates and her heart melts when he brushes against her in the hallway.

According to Lisa, George is a kind, soft-spoken gentleman who has promised to treat her like his queen once he is released from the psychiatric hospital. They plan their beautiful, carefree life together in bursts of whispered conversation as she takes his vital signs and mentors him in the Basic Living Skills class. He draws flattering pictures of her and woos her with cryptic poetry that she doesn't understand, but feels is a sign of their many lifetimes together as star-crossed lovers.

Sowing the seeds of her own destruction, Lisa masterminds an elaborate plan for his early release. She is flying high on her adrenalized dreams of idyllic togetherness: cooking wholesome, organic meals for George, reading Shakespearean love sonnets to each other by a roaring fire and riding horses through green meadows.

Fast-forward to our next session one year later. George is granted early release, Lisa quits her job at the hospital and walks out on her disabled husband and their three teenage kids. They move in to a ramshackle Airstream trailer on a rural property where pit bulls are trained to fight to the death in a dilapidated barn. George resumes his meth habit and thoughtfully delivers a raging case of herpes and a few black eyes to Lisa as thanks for her kindness and loyalty. Since she is now fully aware of the severity of the situation and is living in constant fear, she asks for guidance on how to escape the life she has devised for herself.

About a week later, I receive an email from Lisa telling me that George was snuffed out by one of the pit bull fight club goons in a drug deal squabble. Relieved to be free of the nightmare she created, Lisa informs me that she has sent her resume out to other psychiatric hospitals and is eager to work with patients again.

Burning Man: one woman’s search for the perfect sperm donor

The nature of my business attracts many clients from the fringes of society who tend to not only think outside the box, they are not even remotely aware that there is a box anywhere in the universe. While I am all for creative, intuitive problem solving, the harebrained schemes I often hear about in sessions seem to come from either bad acid trips or extraterrestrial abduction and brainwashing.

"Sally" is a returning client who has made some big changes in her life. When I first met her, she was a 35 year old psychologist from Newport Beach who seemed to have her shit together despite a stormy, competitive relationship with her mother (just fourteen years older than Sally).

It has been two years since our last session, and I barely recognize the woman standing at my door. Gone are the J. Crew loafers, pink Izod polo shirt and precise blonde salon cut; Sally now resembles a Godspell cast member/Woodstock survivor with long, ropy dreadlocks, mismatched gypsy fortuneteller clothing and shaggy armpit hair peeking out from her embroidered tank top. Also, she looks to be about twelve months pregnant and I nervously envision this bohemian poser birthing a purple unicorn in a patchouli-scented explosion right here on my couch.

(Semi-related side note: over the years, people have brought some curious items to sessions including used sex toys, a box of newborn kittens, a stack of legal contracts, cremated remains in a Mason jar, shockingly awful sugarless chocolate "candy", extensive collections of supplements, creams and suppositories, photo albums, artwork, suicide notes, a gallstone the size and color of an avocado pit in a zip-lock bag and a metal crucifix pendant which had mysteriously twisted itself into something resembling a Bavarian pretzel stick.)

Sally has prepared a PowerPoint presentation about her trip to Burning Man nine months ago, explaining that she would prefer that I see actual images of her adventure so that my intuitive guidance will be crystal clear. Since I was not prepared with a projection screen and laser pointer, we hunch over her tablet to view the spectacle she has cobbled together from hundreds of photos and hours of video footage set to a soundtrack of Weezer and the Dave Matthews Band.

I will say right up front that I'll never, under any circumstances or coercion, attend Burning Man. As delightful as it all looks in Sally's production, I know that I wilt into a grouchy mess when temperatures climb above seventy degrees. At one hundred and twenty degrees (average daily temperature on "the playa"), my brain stops functioning and I would no doubt expire in the orgy tent under a pile of writhing, Kombucha-swilling strangers. I do not relish the thought of daily sandstorms that will blast the paint off a Winnebago. I appreciate certain types of art, but mimes in wedding dresses and motorized Barcaloungers tooling across the furiously over-baked landscape of the Nevada desert do not enchant or inspire me.

Sally has not revealed the purpose of our session, so I watch the show and try to imagine the questions that are sure to follow.

The first images are of Sally arriving at Burning Man, clutching a pink parasol and modeling her suede bikini and some kind of furry caveman boots. She speaks directly to the camera and announces that she has come to this event to find the sperm donor for her as-yet-to-be-conceived child (a young man wearing a top hat, goggles and a g-string steps into the shot and announces that his baby batter is free to anyone who wants it. What a surprise.) and holds up her ovulation chart with the optimal days circled in red and smiley face stickers in the margins.

The video continues with snippets from the event:

~Sally opening the door to a porta-potty to reveal a dude in a dress blowing another dude in a horse head mask
~Naked people covered in glitter dancing to trance music on deep-pile shag carpet in a geodesic dome
~Re-birthing tent in which one can experience a kinder, gentler entrance into the world by pushing through a maze of heavily-oiled Slip 'N Slides and being doused with a bucket of flower petals and Tootsie Rolls by a naked woman wearing angel wings at the end of the ordeal.

At this point in the presentation, Sally explains that her offering to Burning Man is a "Divine Conception Tent" in which specific men (supposedly there was a qualification process) will be allowed to have a shot at impregnating her. What follows is a tag-team progression of guys in absurd costumes who are interviewed briefly on camera before they get down to business discharging their glurky man-sauce into Sally's wanton womb (copulation not shown on camera, thank you Jesus).

The thirty minute show concludes with Sally straddling a bicycle, wearing what was once a frilly red tutu but is now a grubby, tattered suggestion of a kicky fashion statement. In the background, the burning man is blazing away against the night sky and drunken people are cavorting in a ritual frenzy as she announces with a serene smile that she knows in her heart she is pregnant.

All of this leads (at last) to the point of our session. Sally wants me to intuit which of the seven dudes she had sex with that week is the father of her baby. I tell her which man I feel it is, and she begins to weep and nod her's the same one she had a dream about after she came home from Burning Man.

Three weeks later, I receive an email from Sally telling me that she gave birth to a ten pound baby girl. She contacted the fellow who spermatized her and he dropped everything to hitchhike from Idaho and move in with his new little family. She's not sure she can live with his habitual pot smoking, three a.m. Gregorian chanting or spastic colon issues, but the baby seems to like him.

In other session news:

~High School teacher marries freshman student with her parents' full consent. inadvertently unites long-lost brother and sister (not realized until they compare family photos after a month of round-the-clock screwing).

~Thirtyish woman marries rich old man on his deathbed. He rallies and goes on to live another five horrific years. When the will is read after he finally croaks, she learns that he's left all of his money to the Catholic church.

~Eighty year old female client gets scammed out of $500,000 by the "Prince of Ghana" whom she meets and falls in love with on Plenty of Fish.

Choices are the hinges of destiny. 
~Edwin Markham

Friday, October 3, 2014

De-mystifying the Mystic

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise, they'll kill you." 
~Oscar Wilde

It’s been said that if you do something fairly well, you will be expected to do that thing 10,000 times. At the beginning of the process, it doesn’t mean very much since the theory hasn’t actually gelled into a sobering reality. But imagine the astonishment 71-year-old Mick Jagger must feel as he conjures up the illusion of sexual urgency singing "Let's Spend the Night Together" for the zillionth time since 1967. If any of us knew how long something would last, would we still choose to do that thing?

The life of a psychic/spiritual guide


6:00 a.m. Awaken joyfully to the sound of chirping birds in trees. Begin morning meditation while watching a family of deer graze on organic alfalfa sprouts in back yard. Notice rainbow on horizon.

7:00 a.m. Brisk two-mile walk in ergonomic shoes to stimulate senses, clear mind and prepare for another glorious day of guiding receptive people through challenging-but-manageable emotional situations.

8:00 a.m. Prepare zen-like breakfast of organic green tea and raw buckwheat porridge. Bask in the glow of good choices and vibrant health.

9:00 a.m. Welcome first client of the day with warm smile and infinite compassion and patience. Resolve all past, present and future issues in exactly sixty minutes.

10:00 a.m. Peaceful meditation with saints, angels and ascended masters.

11:00 a.m. Light lunch of detoxifying smoothie made from local farmer's market ingredients while listening to classical music and envisioning my smiling liver.

12:00 p.m. Enthusiastically greet second client with open arms and astounding ability to see into her very soul. Bring comfort and light in appropriate amounts for exactly sixty minutes.

1:00 p.m. Water award-winning succulents in perfectly-landscaped garden. Smile as butterflies come to rest on my shoulders.

2:00 p.m. Delight in the presence of third and final client of the day. Rejoice together as we enlist the aid of Spirit Guides to locate grandmother's missing silver, long-lost birth parents and soul of departed cat communicating amusing messages.

3:00-5:00 p.m. Read from ancient biblical scrolls, intuitively connect with helpful Beings from other galaxies, calmly gaze out window while doing sweat-free yoga and ponder the perfection of life.

6:00 p.m. Welcome husband home from his hard day at work with tasty, nutritious meal prepared with utmost care and finest ingredients. Offer to massage his neck and feet with essential oils as a precursor to an evening of tantric lovemaking and luminous intertwining of our souls.

10:00 p.m. Catch glimpse of halo in mirror while spritzing face with Pope-blessed distilled rosewater.

10:30 p.m. Gently enter blissful slumber anticipating dreams of winning Lotto numbers and the perfect gluten-free brownie recipe to share with neighborhood.


4:00 a.m. Awaken to recurring annoyance of sweating through nightgown, urgent need to pee and barking neighborhood dogs. Briefly ponder staying awake to get a jump on daunting mountain of unanswered emails. Decide instead to go back to sleep, but toss and turn as mind churns on how to deal with another bounced check from long-time client who always "forgets" to bring cash to session.

5:00 a.m. Enough already. Give self a leisurely hour to cruise Internet, snicker at funny cat pictures on Pinterest and become embroiled in ironic Facebook skirmish about positive thinking. Jump over to Amazon to order more books that will languish unread on nightstand for years. Continue ongoing search for plus-sized clothing that doesn't resemble a floral bedspread from the Sears 1986 home collection. Wind up morning shopping spree by purchasing two pairs of shoes and an overpriced purse, all of which will likely need to be returned. Adrenaline now flowing sufficiently to begin work day.

6:00 a.m. Grudgingly click over to emails to assess damage. Seven messages from website requesting sessions. Twenty three urgent messages from people (clients as well as strangers) in various levels of physical, emotional and imaginary crisis.

6:05 a.m. Click back to Facebook to see if anyone has joined in on positive thinking scuffle. Remember that last bit of deodorant was used yesterday and click over to Vitacost to stock up on personal care items.

6:30-7:00 a.m. Force self to reply to emails.

7:00 a.m. Consider preparing healthy, low-fat breakfast. Decide instead to finish other half of massive chorizo burrito from last night's dinner. Watch part of Lifetime movie about a mother who is struggling with her son's addictions to Internet porn and energy drinks. Check weather channel and feel despondent about rising temperatures.

8:00 a.m. First telephone session of the day. Try to offer helpful guidance to hysterically-weeping woman as stomach revolts against breakfast burrito. Multiple texts coming through from someone who is wondering why I have not replied to her email from yesterday. Husband yelling at next door dog to "shut the fuck up!" Client asks if she is hearing the ghost of her abusive father. Am tempted to say yes for impressive shock value, but decide to chalk it up to rough neighborhood activities and move on with session.

9:15 a.m. Rushed shower including inevitable leg-shaving fiasco. Wrestle with uncooperative hair in growing-out phase from 40 years of bangs while sweating in hot bathroom. Compulsively check clock.

9:50 a.m. Early arrival of morning client. Ignore doorbell while mopping sweat from cleavage. Complain bitterly to self about heat and vow to find housing in a state where temperatures never get above sixty degrees.

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Juggle sessions, phone calls, washing machine repairman, FedEx delivery requiring signature for out-of-town neighbor and addressing bounced check with client and bank.

12:30- 1:00 p.m. Hurried "lunch" of half a bag of potato chips and two pounds of watermelon. Imagine fat calories being cancelled out by tsunami of melon juice. Just enough time to floss chip debris out of teeth before next client arrives.

1:00 p.m. Dismal session with inconsolable client who refuses to listen to anything positive and explodes at the suggestion that we continue our discussion on a day that she is feeling more receptive. Session lasts two and a half hours as I explore creative ways of squelching her urge to drive her car into the ocean.

3:30 p.m. Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's peanut butter fudge ice cream while watching new episode of Dr. Phil. Convince self that this is an "early dinner." Change into yoga pants that have never seen the inside of a yoga studio and begin dreading the all-too-frequent trip to the grocery store.

4:30 p.m. Wander through store with absolutely no clue about what to make for husband's dinner. Unsuccessfully avoid running into client in the meat aisle and notice curious look on her face as she assesses the contents of my shopping cart. Apparently someone in my line of work should not be purchasing tampons, frozen pizza or ant spray.

6:00 p.m. Not thrilled to see husband arrive home in foul mood. Husband not thrilled to see frozen pizza for dinner. With exhaustion levels at an all-time high, we argue about mysterious charges on the phone bill before falling into a heavy silence that lasts for hours.

9:00 p.m. Retreat to office to futz with scheduling and amuse self with Pinterest photos and articles about weight loss and brain tumors. Ponder possibility that family history of mental illness will take hold of my brain and force me to commit myself to a mental institution.

10:00 p.m. Lie awake imagining pithy retorts to the ongoing Facebook fracas. Finally fall into a headachy sleep wondering why I enjoy the movie Indecent Proposal so much (just up to the point when Demi Moore is about to ditch Robert Redford and go back to doofus Woody Harrelson. It is impossible to suspend disbelief in the face of such lunacy).

Stuff I've learned (about myself and others) plus bonus quotes:

1. People only hear what they want to hear and when they're hungry, they barely hear anything at all.

2. People don’t really want advice; they want to know that everything is going to be okay.
"Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it."
~Kahlil Gibran

3. People tend to identify with their unhappy stories and forget that they can make new choices to get different results in life (called the "precious golden wound").
“Like all angry men, he loved his grievance” ~Anthony Trollope

4. The known hell is better than the unknown heaven. 

5. People often fall in love with the potential of what could be rather than seeing situations and people as they truly are.
"Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke." ~Lynda Barry

6. Down deep, people already know the truth.
"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." ~James A. Garfield

7. If you fall in love with a bra, it will be discontinued. Guaranteed.