Card Games

April 6, 2012

This may come as a bit of a surprise, considering my profound faith in astrology, and even the I Ching, but I’ve never given much thought to the Tarot. I guess I always associated cards with games, like BlackJack and Poker, where it’s luck, not fate dictating which card you turn over. I just wrote it off as one of those Ren Faire novelties, and took a neither here-nor-there position on it. 

A few weeks ago, a couple friends and I did that thing where you pull one card out of the tarot deck and read it. It was fun, so we decided to do a simple 3-card reading for each of us. We went in a circle and picked another. Then another. In a 3-card reading, the first card represents your past, the second card is your present, and the third card is applicable to your future. I was honestly surprised by how relevant our readings turned out. As one example, a friend who recently gave birth to her second child selected the ten of cups as her “present” card. This card indicates familial bliss and domestic harmony.

My reading went like this:

10 of Wands
5 of Cups
5 of Swords

(From the Golden Tarot, the deck we used for our reading: )




Past, 10 of Wands: A downcast man struggles with a burden of ten wands. Nearby are three heavy sacks as though waiting to add to his burden. A high wall is behind him, but ahead is a beautiful city with a harbour surrounded by protective mountains.

Take care not to take on more than you can handle. Spreading yourself too thin could lead to an emotional and spiritual low. Hidden forces may be working against you. Take care that your trust is not misplaced




Present, 5 of Cups: A Pope sits on a chair despondently resting his chin on his hand. At his feet are five cups, two of which have fallen over. A priest tries to comfort the Pope, and a black angel floats mournfully in front of him. There is a column with a carving of God admonishing Eve as Adam sleeps after “eating the apple”.

To have tasted from many cups, and forgotten the sweet wine – recalling only a bitter aftertaste. Jaded cynicism and disillusionment. Regret, anger and bitterness. The ending of a relationship. Loss, sorrow and grief. Depression. This card warns of a tendency to focus on negative memories.




Future, 5 of Swords: A man stands holding three swords. Two more lie at his feet having been discarded by fleeing opponents. He looks saddened, as though it was a hollow victory. At his side stands a large white attack dog.

A failure or win against an unmatched opponent has left you demoralised. Trickery, manipulation and unfair tactics have been used against you, but you must accept the outcome and move on.



When you approach a tarot reading, you are supposed to have a clear inquiry. Because we were sort of just playing around at first, I didn’t come to the table with a definitive question; still these cards were speaking to the uncertainties deepest within my heart. My friends found their readings relevant and entertaining, then carried on with the evening. I, however, was captivated. I analyzed the cards and read their interpretations, and analyzed again.

By my interpretation, the cards said something like this:
You have carried a number of cumbersome emotional burdens through life, and it has been overwhelming at times, but the promise of something much better has always pushed you to persevere toward that golden city (pictured on card). Now, you feel jaded and unable to enjoy reward. Experience has left you focused on betrayals and consequence. You believe you, like Adam, were removed from the existential Garden of Eden by the actions of another. And, like the Pope in the image, it has become hard to appreciate the three full chalices, in light of the two which have spilt. If things continue as they are, you will likely experience a hollow emotional victory. You may have exposed those who hurt you as manipulative and wrong, but ultimately, it doesn’t change the past or make you feel any better.

Heavy, right?

There are people from my life who I am immediately able to associate this reading with. People who regularly occupy my thoughts. People I trusted wholeheartedly, who deceived me, then did it again. People for whom my heart struggles with magnanimity.

I suppose everyone has experienced this at one point or another, but there are people who I have removed from my life due to their repeated deceptions. And betrayals from others which I dwell incessantly upon, in spite of my best efforts for genuine forgiveness. These are people with whom I shared countless laughs, adventures, and experiences, yet the relationships have become colored by resentment. It becomes hard to keep a sense of cynicism at bay. My defenses are alerted, constantly second guessing whether I am being protective of myself, or simply sanctimonious.

As my mama bear says: Would you rather be right than happy?

If nothing else, this reading gave me a lot to think about. The predicted feeling of hollow victory really resonates.

Righteousness may feel empowering, but at what cost? What is the value of upholding consequence? When we feel an ethical contract has been breached, or as though we have been “disrespected,” when do we stand our ground, and at what point do we concede for the sake of amnesty?


Smells Like Teen Spirit

September 13, 2011

When I was a teenager, I was angry. Even though I felt very special and unique at the time, I realize now that I was a less-than-impressive example of every teenager ever. Nobody understood me. I didn’t understand the world. Everybody sucked. Everything was all fucked up.

In adulthood, most of those feelings still reside within me. But now, I can’t get angry. Not the way I used to. It doesn’t manifest. I can’t just fly into a blind rage, shouting and punching and breaking things. I don’t have it in me, and I don’t know where it went.

These days, I experience a wide range of emotions– anger representing only a tiny fraction. Instead of just green and red, I operate within a whole spectrum of chartreuse and maroon feelings. I wade through this rainbow cacophony of emotions, perspectives, and events, attempting to sort out where in the void I am even standing. It’s nearly a miracle if I can use “sad” “angry” or “happy” as adjectives. Usually it all mixes into this ubiquitous tear-stained brown.

How are you feeling Kat? Real fucking confused, thank you.

For Auld Lange Syne, My Dear

December 29, 2010

At the end of each December, we in the first world feel compelled to reflect, introspect, and project into the future. We think about the past 365 days, and all the nouns and verbs that have filled them.

Our linear human sensibilities provoke nostalgia over another measured segment of a relative concept. We think back on all the promises we made ourselves 52 weeks ago, and how successfully these goals were met. Realistically, we could pick any day to start over. To get a new job, a new lover, a new home. We could select any of the 364 “other” days to begin our diets, stop procrastinating, or spend more time with the kids.

But something about this singular date 1/1 incites within our ambitious little souls an urge for improvement. Something about this mid-winter’s day– after the excitement of the holidays has worn out it’s welcome, and the guests have all gone home– causes us to think about who we’ve been and, more importantly, who we want to be.

The word of the day is Resolution.

What can one do to be more, or different? What changes can be made, starting January first, to improve our lifestyles? To become better humans?

I spent the first 6 hours of 2010 inside my head. Sitting at the wheel of my car in a parking lot, with a friend I’ve had since highschool. We talked. And sat. We listened to one of my favorite Grateful Dead shows, loudly, and opened the moon roof in the snow. I thought about who I was sitting with. I thought about everyone I was not with. I thought about Phish launching their drummer from a cannon in Miami, my car, and the strides I made in 2009. I thought about work, about my family, and how long it had been since my last drink. And then I made some resolutions.

Stretch more, drink lots of water, and be nice to your car.

That was it. Those were the best, most reasonable resolutions I could envision for myself. Being more limber, hydrated, and ready for action. Baby steps.

Here, in the final stretch of 2010, there is no doubt in my mind that this was a personally successful year. I kept all my resolutions, and then some. Early last January, I began spending time with a man whom has, many times over the past 12 months, been the sunshine in my otherwise overcast Rochester sky. In the spring, I started this blog which has, to date, well over 5,000 hits. In the summer I saw a bunch of shows, and began a large-scale writing project– which is still very much underway. In August, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit some friends in Colorado, who are some of the most wonderful and inspiring people I know. I’ve lost ten pounds. I’ve only been sick once. I feel good about myself, inside and out.

And now, a year after sitting stagnant in my blue Subaru (which got 4 new tires and a new head-gasket in 2010) in a parking lot in my hometown, thinking about Phish and the world at large; I am getting in my car and driving to the biggest city on the east coast to see one of my favorite bands with friends from all over the country. For whatever negativity and complaining occurred (and I know I’m full of it), I feel overwhelming gratitude toward everyone and everything that has pushed this year toward it’s culmination.

For 2011, I am resolving to create more structure in my life outside of the 9-5. Join a yoga class, or a team (kickball in 2010 did happen), or volunteer some time. Getting in the habit of doing things I enjoy. I’m also promising myself I will write more and sleep better. That’s it.

Drink responsibly. Get home safely. Love and appreciate the life you’ve been given. Happy New Year, see you all in 2011.

“If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, acting lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that’s perfectly valid – but don’t go out trying to sell your beliefs to the system. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.” [[TomRobbins.StillLifeWithWoodpecker]]

That’s Just Lovely.

July 30, 2010

I am a child in wonder at the constant ebb and flow of our lives.

While the earth revolves in science, humanity revolves in love. It’s a cycle. A circle. A collective pool of all that is good.

Although sometimes it seems hard to tap into this well, if we open our hearts we find some of it always trying to seep in. The more we contribute to this positive energy, the more we get back.

Usually when we least expect it.

At a time in my life where I feel certain about very few things, I find solace in knowing that love is real, strangers are friends, and family is all around. I have seen it, time and again. I feel it. Every day.

All this — this stuff and money, the work and bills, the routines and lines– all of it is made bearable to me only by the smiling faces, the hugs, and the little niceties of others. The sweet gestures, the kind words, and the joy we are capable of bringing into one another’s lives are the spiritual equivalent of sunshine and water. Some days our being may feel wilted, but if we stretch toward the light, nourishment is never far.

A Naive Melody.

July 22, 2010

As a person, I like to fancy myself rather astute. I think most people do. We like to believe that our world is as we perceive it. That we know what is going on with those around us, and where we stand in the bigger scheme of things. We like to believe that we know the people who spend their days (and/or nights) with us. That we are being graciously presented a whole picture of the world by our friends, families, and lovers.

Some of the most powerful human emotions are stirred up when one is left feeling ignorant and foolish. When the rug of perception is pulled from right under our feet. Especially when it seems no accident.

Above and beyond the dramaturgical desire to “save face,” it is a severe ego blow to realize that you’ve been kept in the dark, given the run around, or just plain ruse’d by someone you trust. The closer this person is to us, the more complex the emotions which emerge from a major rift in communication.

There is the initial hurt of realizing your world is much different than you thought. The brain scrambles to catch up; make sense of the new information. There are feelings of inadequacy– wondering why the wool was pulled over your eyes in the first place; what you could have done to be more… more trustworthy, more anything to fit into the (apparent) bigger picture. The deeper the lapse in cohesive reality, the harder it becomes to backtrack, untangle, and make sense of it all. It is harsh, feeling like an oblivious dumbass. Plain and simple. There is no sugar coating the cold bite of reality. There are countless poems and songs about these emotions.

Our culture recognizes the revelation of one’s own foolishness as a very real phenomena.

Mama bear always told me that “A lie of omission is still a lie.” And I am the worst liar in the world. Brutally honest to a fault, even. My stories are told in their entirety and in great detail, regardless of who they are being told to. I am coming to realize that not everyone was raised with my mother’s perspective, but how can intentionally glazing over pertinent information (repeatedly) be seen as anything but purposeful deception?

I honestly just want to understand.


June 24, 2010

There is something to be said for compartmentalizing: the ability to separate emotions from logic and put things away for later. I, for one, almost completely lack this ability.

I think with my heart; I act on impulse; I demand instant answers and immediate resolutions. My emotional organization skills closely mirror those exhibited in the rest of my life– hardly short of a clusterfuck.

For the most part, bumbling through life with ones’ heart on ones’ sleeve (hat brim, front pocket, or wherever I put it) can be as much a saving grace as it is a downfall. Where it provides a welcome mat, it also provides a fault in the foundation.

It is as much an open door as it is an open wound.

Giving away the softest, most red raw part of ones’ self is risky business. Most people are careless with other’s belongings. This includes our naked thoughts, vulnerable ventricles, and uncensored souls.

Much of my brief stint on this planet has been played as a chess game. At this point, however, I can’t be sure if I am winning or losing. I’ve gotten so encumbered by my strategy, I’m not sure whether I should be making small sacrifices or bold moves. I don’t even know if it’s my turn.

In fact, for all I know, I may even be playing checkers these days.

I grew up in a home where anticipating the next move was a matter of survival. Familiar patterns dictated my bob and weave; averting one disaster and preempting the next. Fear is an incredible motivating factor, especially for a child. To keep the peace, it was a delicate balancing act for everyone.  Although the compromises were sometimes large, the fallout was infinitely greater.

I was raised to be an emotional thermometer, constantly gauging the temperatures of everyone around me. When interacting with others, I am diligently and neurotically analyzing choice of words, tone, and body language. I don’t believe what you say unless it all agrees satisfactorily.

I quite literally fear missing the cue. I am terrified of the slip fall. And I brace myself, always, for the atom bomb to drop.

In the world, however, these “survival skills” are largely misconstrued, and often way over-the-top. In short, I come off as dramatically paranoid. You know, I probably am.

But, it’s hard to remember that not everyone has lived in a matchstick castle. While most people can deal with a situation, I have sprinted 10 steps ahead in my brain, trying to prevent ones that haven’t arisen yet. Mapped out in this grey matter is a direct route to worst case scenario; and often times I think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So concerned with what others were, are, and will be thinking; that I don’t even think at all.

Ultimately, however, this sets the stage for a life where the actor will never be satisfied. After decades of placating, it’s hard for me to even recognize what it is that I want. And when I do recognize what I want, it’s indescribably difficult to justify pursuing it, and almost impossible to convince myself that I am worthy anyways.

This scenario plays out again and again in all aspects of my personal life, beyond interaction with other people. I fall into a pattern of working really hard, much harder than is actually necessary, to simply maintain. Feels like I’m swimming the English Channel, when I’m merely treading water. I forego a lot of personal pleasures to keep things at status-quo, and I think the fact of the matter is most people don’t notice or care about that. As God from the TV show Futurama said: “When you’ve done something right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

And I shouldn’t expect them to.

But somewhere deep inside, the little girl who has been bending and folding her whole life is getting bitter. And I can feel myself, as I get older, becoming jaded. Resentful. Expectant. Thinking that the world just owes me one, and trying to wait patiently for it. And what it all really boils down to is an intrinsic fear of being denied.

The chilling thought of spelling out, in no uncertain terms, what it is that I want or need. Saying it out loud. Taking steps toward getting that. Crossing a rickety wooden bridge toward satisfaction, all the while watching the lava river of disappointment gurgle below. Most of the time, the fear takes over. The cold sweat paralyzes me, I begin to bend and sway– make sure everyone on either side is ok– and the bridge breaks, and I hit that searing disappointment headfirst. And its my own damn fault. Every time.

The time has come for Kat to grow up, grow a set, and learn to make herself happy. For too long, I have undermined and sabotaged myself. Years of drinking away any dissatisfaction, or feeling in general. Years of self-abuse and masochistic intentions under the guise of love. Years of caring too damn much what the next 5 moves of everyone around me will be.

The time has come to take responsibility, speak my mind honestly, and recognize that there is some validity to my expectations. Time to set the stakes proper, and honestly assess my own worth.

Because, when it comes down to it, life is much more like solitaire than chess, anyways.

Are you gonnah be your own goddamn best friend?