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watch whatever dumb garbage you want

Watch Whatever Dumb Garbage You Want

Far be it from me to argue with well meaning humans encouraging us to use this time to improve our minds by learning a new language or writing a book. That being said, I think you should watch whatever dumb garbage you want. No need for self-improvement, you’re fine just as you are. I mean, if you want to learn a language or write a book, do that. We’re all here just trying to get through. No judgment. Read more

SpongeBob Tarot Reading

SpongeBob Tarot Reading

After reading my post about how any attempt I make to communicate with the universe comes back with a clear, “You heard me the first time, stop screwing around and do your work” a friend of mine sent me this link from Goop. If you don’t know what Goop is here is my feeble effort to describe it. It’s a website where you can buy super expensive things I’m pretty sure you either don’t need (jade eggs that for some reason people pop up their privates) or could get a cheaper version of somewhere else (like tea or socks). The website is not for me.

So when one of my friends sent me an article about how a deck of tarot cards could help “Guide Daily Decision Making” I had to try it. Except I don’t have a tarot deck. Is tarot capitalized? Let me check. No. And I am not going to buy a deck because I think tarot cards are very important to many people and shouldn’t be bought on a dumb lark and then left in a drawer somewhere. So I broke out the SpongeBob Uno game I’ve been playing with for the past fifteen years. I love SpongeBob, I love Uno, I have played these cards with both of my kids and have had hours of fun with them. They are important to me so it seemed to me they were a good fit.

The universe is nothing if not both understanding and flexible.

Can you use a tin of SpongeBob SquarePants Uno cards in place of a tarot deck to “Guide Your Daily Decision Making” as instructed by the Goop website?

The short answer: No, of course not, that’s stupid.

The long answer: Sort of, and here’s what happened.

First off, the person giving the advice in the article is “an intuitive and shamanic healer” named Colleen McCann. I looked her up, she seems nice. And she gave really good advice about how to use your cards. Here’s the quote that helped me feel like it was okay to use the SpongeBob Uno.

Every tarot deck comes with a guidebook to aid in interpretation. However this practice isn’t about learning a correct meaning to the card or a single way to interpret the message. I ask that you use this moment to flex your own “intuitive muscle” and tap in to how a particular card is applicable to different areas of your life.

Every uno deck comes with a guide to aid in interpreting the cards you are dealt. The kids and I generally ignore the guide and play in whatever fashion feels right at the time. I have a very well developed intuitive muscle when it comes to applying meaning to this particular set of cards.

From there the article gives a thorough and thoughtful primer on what to do with the cards in your hands. She talks about what she does for clients and she also talks about what to do if the deck is new or new to you. But as in all things, she said ultimately I had to decide how to proceed. She said you can choose as many cards as feel right to you so I did that. I was going to choose seven because that is how many cards you deal out in Uno but two cards were stuck together (probably with peanut butter) and I ended up with eight. This made me oddly edgy and I almost put the eighth one back but Colleen McCann’s urging to accept the process as it is rather than trying to impose a lot of hard and fast rules had me keeping all eight cards.

So, I couldn’t figure out how to do this in a way that made sense until it occurred to me I could just flip a card over, see what it looked like and see what came to mind. Here they are, all eight cards and my interpretation of them. At the end I’ll tell you how this changed my life for the better.

Yellow 3

SpongeBob in a suit of plate armor wielding a spatula and riding a jellyfish. Armor: rich in Western symbolism of male energy and strength and privilege and bloody combat. Fear and triumph. Spatula: cooking but also a versatile tool (bug squashing, scraping yuck up off the floor, threatening siblings with while doing dishes). Jellyfish: squidgy ocean creature, can be dangerous, soft yet powerful. Beautiful, great to watch at the aquarium and bonus they probably don’t mind living in captivity. Also, SpongeBob loves them very much.

Yellow 5

Pirate SpongeBob with an eyepatch studying a treasure map. Pirate: Fun in this context but pirates actually dangerous, vicious. Self-starters, entrepreneurs of the sea! Treasure Map: Can be helpful if you understand the mindset of the person who drew it. If they drew it for themselves, it could be like trying to decipher modern poetry where you have to read a 90 page bio of the author to understand seven lines of poetry. Treasure map not a slam-dunk sign of prosperity.

Red Reverse

Pilot SpongeBob on an airplane ride that looks like the coin-op ones that used to litter the front of supermarkets. SpongeBob looks stressed out, this flight might be going down. Does this card reverse the two that came before it? I don’t think so, that might only be true if the last two cards were red. So it’s just a general reversal. What is the nature of reversal? Not all are bad. A reversal of fortune could be a good thing if you are having a terrible time of it. Like the treasure map, think through the broader implications of the object.

Green Draw 2

Pirate SpongeBob with Gary the snail on his shoulder. I was going to say the draw 2 card is never good but it can be if you’re stuck with only a couple cards that you can’t seem to get rid of, having a few new cards sometimes feels like it opens up play and gives me a sense of momentum rather than being stuck staring at the same cards turn after turn. Also, SpongeBob has his pet snail and that makes him happy which makes me happy.

Green 6

Squidward in a goofy hat. He’s sad. Although dressed joyfully, he’s unhappy. Even though he’s a sea creature, he can never get into the swim of things  and he misses out on the love and friendship SpongeBob and Patrick offer. Grumpy masculine energy.

Red 4

Yeah, here’s Sandy the Squirrel! My heart lept when I saw her. Regular sea-space outfit with pirate additions. Sandy is all adventure and love and friendly, open and brave.

Green 2

Sad Squidward jester. He’s a drag. But what is he teaching us? To join in with life’s joy even when it isn’t exactly what you’d like it to be? Or, maybe it’s time to move on? The ocean is vast, Squidward, why are you making yourself and everyone else miserable?

Blue 4

It’s Sandy again. Good ending.

Okay, so my notes then say, “Let’s use these today to guide decisions.”

And so I stacked them up, tucked them in my pocket and went to run my errands.

I have to say that the SpongeBob cards were easy to use. Anytime I was faced with a decision and SpongeBob was the card, I did what I thought was the nice and generous thing. SpongeBob comes off as this total idiot but he is really everything I want to be. He’s hardworking, loves his job and his friends and his life in general. He’s loyal to a fault. He’s a bad driver and sadly so am I.

The Sandy cards urged me to do things in a way I normally wouldn’t and that turned out okay since all I did was park in a different spot when I turned in the library books and I mixed my vodka with cranberry juice rather than fizzy water. Delicious!

The reversal card I used to decide that I wouldn’t call someone back who I really didn’t want to talk to and that eased a good amount of stress. The draw two card I was far too literal with and ate two brownies.

The cards that changed my life were the Squidward cards. Both times I used them I decided to leave people to do things the way they wanted to do them rather than impose my ideas. And it occurred to me after the second time that I, like many white women my age, are in constant danger of becoming Squidwards. I know that I have a strong sense of exactly how I want the world to work and when it doesn’t I get very upset and sometimes very, very angry.

But I don’t want to be a Squidward. Look at how much he misses out on. There’s so much love and friendship and general zaniness on offer and he rejects it.

I put the rest of the cards back in the tin but I kept the Squidward cards in my car as a reminder: Don’t Be A Squidward.

The Cards Have Nothing to Say to You

The Cards Have Nothing to Say to You

If I hear about a trend, it is either dead or made it into the mainstream. I thought tarot readings were mainstream mainly because in the town where I was raised, there was a small white house with a picket fence and a big “Tarot Read Here” sign in the front yard.

But I think each new generation discovers tarot readings in their own way and that speaks to the fluidity of the practice. I had my cards read or done or put on a table in front of me (I’m still not sure what the correct verb is) and after all the shuffling and tapping and arranging the lady leaned over the array then leaned way back, frowned, then laughed.

I had kind of thought the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense but now I was curious.

“What does it say?”

“Nothing.”

“Does that mean I’m going to die?”

“No, it means the cards have nothing to say to you.”

“Well, that’s rude.”

She only shrugged, gathered up her cards and then we played gin rummy (not with her tarot). She later told me she had never seen anything like it. I asked how long she’d been reading tarot, thinking it hadn’t been that long if she’d never seen anything like what had happened with me. She said she’d been reading for about 15 years.

Well.

So I don’t have much to do with tarot or for that matter, horoscope. Since the day I was old enough to read my horoscope, it has said some version of, “Most of your problems are in your head, now go clean something.” For fun I will read other horoscopes but then it stops being fun when theirs say things like, “Love is coming, be ready!” or “Take that leap you’ve been thinking of!”

And then a few months ago Felicia got me the cutest set of affirmation cards, called Affirmators. You’re supposed to mix them all up and as you do the mixing you are supposed to close your eyes, take a deep breath and silently ask the cards to give you a message that will benefit you in that moment. Six thinks this is the best thing ever. He announces what he wants, which is usually ice cream or a car (he’s 8) and then plunges in and comes up with the cutest cards that tell him he needs to do less work or be more inspired. He takes these to mean he doesn’t need to do homework or that he should be allowed to watch all the Harry Potter movies.

Over the past few months I have gotten different cards, all of them cheerful urgings to believe in myself and be playful, crap like that. And then, a few weeks ago, I got one of the bonus cards. Bonus cards don’t have a cute picture and a pithy message of the of be-nice-to-yourself variety on it. Bonus cards are more serious. It’s a paragraph about doing something you probably don’t want to do. The one I got was Perseverance. It was about how climbing mountains is hard and I should just keep climbing and that people who climb Everest aren’t fueled by inspirational quotes but rather live on lots of “grunting, and crying, and cursing like freakin’ pirates.”

A useful reminder. I kept my card out on my desk all day and then put it back in the deck the next day. Six and I remember to grab a card about once a week. For three weeks in a row, I got the Perseverance card over and over again. This is what happens when I deal with anything having to do with tapping into the universe. The universe turns implacable. What does implacable mean? It means relentless. Unforgiving. Incapable of being talked out of whatever it has talked itself into.

I hung the perseverance card on the fridge and now only Everett talks with the cards. Sometimes we get a signal. Mine isn’t cute or particularly uplifting but at least it’s clear.

Persevere. It’s about as exciting as the kitten hanging off the branch against an endless blue sky with the words, “Hang in there” written below. Some people are having a deep, rich and ongoing conversation with the universe.

Not me. And that’s okay.

Hang in there.

funner

Funner

Are you cringing? The word funner tends to send people off the deep end. But the word runner is fine. And yet beautifuller is a big no.

Why? Something about the way two syllable adjectives pattern. I’m not completely sure.

Welcome to English grammar. It’s really confusing here and lots of super smart people disagree about ideas I don’t understand. Noun phrases still make me cry. So why am I talking about grammar? Read more

Taking Control of Her Mental Health in a Pandemic

Taking Control of Her Mental Health in a Pandemic

Something about the quarantine life unleashed a darkness in Helene Skantzikas. It insidiously snatched joy and plunged her into the depths of hopelessness. Nothing and everything has changed in her life in the last three months: she lives at home with her mother and her son. Same as before, but everything is different.  Read more

motherhood

This Dance is Hard: Motherhood at the Quarter Century

With Older Son’s 25th birthday quickly approaching, it’s time for me to write up a few things I think I know about motherhood.

I have been a mom for a while, longer than some, not as long as others. 25 years so far. I have two children, one is 24 years old and one is 8 years old. There are no two people I love more in this world or beyond. They have been my great adventure and terror and joy and…well, all the things. They have given me dimensions I would not have developed if it were not for them. I think I am a better person because of them. Read more

Our Lives Will Never Be the Same Without Them

Our Lives Will Never be the Same Without Them

Someone somewhere once said that the death of an old man is not a tragedy. I think what they meant was that even though there is sorrow in the loss, there is no sense of a life unlived or potential unrealized. We mourn but we don’t wonder what could have been. That being said, our lives will never be the same without them. Read more

To Parent or not to Parent

For possibly the first time in human history, people are able to ask themselves if they want to be a parent. Think about that. For thousands of years you had children for reasons out of your control. Your culture, your parents, your place within society dictated whether or not you became a parent. For millions of people, that is still true . But for millions of others, there is a clear choice to be made. Read more

During the COVID-19 Outbreak Don’t Tell Me to Count My Blessings

During the COVID 19 Outbreak Do Not Tell Me to Count My Blessings

If you ask me how I am feeling, I will tell you I am marginally okay.

In the age of a modern day outbreak, I can’t tell you I am well or fine — those platitudes seem to describe a different, more carefree time before Coronavirus insidiously crept into all our heads.

Slowly, freedom has been peeled away. The virus called COVID-19 has become larger, more pervasive and insidious. What was first a series of heartbreaking headlines from distant lands is now lingering right outside my door, so I go inside and hope.

Being safer at home makes it feel dangerous everywhere else. From behind my mask, I can’t smell the sweetness of blooming Wisteria anymore.

Like I said, marginally okay over here. Read more

Romantic Movies Where No One Ends Up Dead

Romantic Movies Where No One Ends Up Dead

There are two types of people in this world. People who are fine with and sometimes even welcome movies where a great romance ends in the death of one or both partners. And then there are people who really hate that.

I am in the second group. And that is okay. Neither group is right or wrong. We are just different. Sometimes we have trouble agreeing on what movie to watch. I say if you are in that situation, watch The Great Race or Auntie Mame. Or just go bowling.

In this time of political upheaval, worldwide pandemics and possible toilet paper shortages, here is a list of Romantic Movies Where No One Ends Up Dead.

You’re welcome. Read more