I like to consider myself a person with strong convictions and a middling-to-average grasp on logic, the type of person who is not seduced into bad purchases by charming salespeople or waylaid by a passing conspiracy theorist. In truth — though I am a born-and-bred cynic, taught from a young age that all strangers are probably trying to kill me and the United States government would do me one worse — I am deeply suggestible. I agree with Beyoncé about the corniness of the Illuminati mess, but I also believe she is part of the Illuminati. I am certain one of my relatives' houses is haunted, but I have enough sense not to disclose which, as I don't want it to affect the sale value. Also, over the past 24 hours, I have hit my head twice on the same towel rack in my bathroom. It is with these disclaimers that I proceed with the following story.
It's Friday morning, and I am sitting in my apartment across from Explorer of the Soul Angie Banicki. Angie is a tarot card reader to the rich and famous, regularly "hired by CEOs, entrepreneurs, and celebrities" like Usher, Emma Roberts, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Sophia Bush, Nikki Reed, Alex Pettyfer, a very famous man and his wife whom she once made cry with her accuracy, and many others who do not want to be associated with tarot card readings. She has also been hired by the likes of Nintendo and InStyle, guided CEOs of major corporations to "close multimillion-dollar deals" by "naming exact dates," and "uses tarot cards for creative team-building skills awareness." I don't know what this last thing means, but I will say that Angie did a very good job building awareness (of me) on my team (me).
Angie was pitched to me earlier this month by a publicist I've worked with previously, a woman who should get a raise immediately, as this pitch appealed to at least four separate sides of my personality: the perversely curious cynic, the suggestible bag of mush, the narcissist, and the celebrity obsessive. Angie's introductory sessions go for $300 a pop. I am enjoying this session for free. Later, I learn that this is probably because I am a transcendent spiritual leader of the masses in the making, a sort of Oprah-meets-Gandhi type who will be asked to host a megachurch-esque show on OWN sometime in the next year. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Before meeting Angie, I assumed she would be a lovable but slightly dangerous kook — the kind of art-teacher aunt who retires to Sedona to drape herself in velvet and crystals and her own masses of hair, carrying a giant cauldron full of hacked-up animals on her rickshaw. In actuality, Angie is very normal and sweet and intelligent, a pretty young woman with a messy bun, a stack of bracelets, a leather jacket, and, appropriately, a floor-length velvet skirt (I appreciated this small nod to my imaginary Angie). I immediately understand why she appeals to her celebrity contingent: Hearing her casually divine the future is like getting advice from a cute, hip friend who also happens to have mystical powers. She also has an uncanny knack for "becoming friends with people right before they become famous" — Chace Crawford, for example, whom she recommended Nintendo snap up for a campaign right before he blew up.
Angie begins our hour-long session by informing me that she has just "literally blacked out in the middle of your street." I express alarm at this, but she assures me that it is merely an unfortunate side effect of her, for lack of a better phrase on my end, supernatural powers. "When I read, I'm expanding," she explains. "The more that I do this, the blackouts happen more." "Like, you pass out?" I clarify. "No. It's not really a seizure," she says, frightening me further. "You know if you stand up really fast? It's like that." I ask her if she has asked a doctor about it, or if she wants any water. She says that she has, and nobody really knows what it is. She doesn't want water.
Angie and I move on, though I carefully monitor her pupils for signs that she is about to enter a fugue state. I start my reading by peppering Angie with questions, which is exactly not the point of this reading. She kindly obliges me until she doesn't. Why is she playing very soft music on her iPhone right now? "It plays while we go. Usually if I'm reading someone and we start talking about love, it goes to love. Or if we're talking about work, it's money-related songs." In other words, the songs complement the reading and provide additional insight into my futuresexlovesoul. (My first song is "Hotel California." I do love hotels.)
How did she start reading celebrities' futures in cards? "It was a party trick at first, something that I did in bars. Then I started having dreams, and lots of weird things happening, even though I didn't really believe in this stuff. Like, my lights started flickering, and I'd be, like, ‘Bye, house!’"
Wait, does she think her house is haunted? "No. It's almost like them saying, ‘She's not getting it! We've gotta keep giving her signs!’ They kept pushing me."
Who is They? "The cards. I always say it's sort of my higher self talking to your higher self. But it's not me. I give the cards the power."
And who's instructing the cards? "Your higher self. And my higher self," she reiterates. I am slow. "They're saying, ‘This is the message she needs to know.’"
We get to it. I don't tell Angie anything about my life — in fact, she asks that I stay quiet for a while and not interrupt her, which is a directive I am intimately familiar with from my childhood — but she does know that I'm a writer for MTV News, and she knows I love Mandy Patinkin, who appears directly across from her in a delicate oil painting in my home. She begins by asking Them about my work life. Angie asks me to pick several cards from several decks, all of which she lays out, face-down, in a very specific formation on my kitchen counter. It looks sort of like a human pyramid, which is to say, a pyramid. "Oh, wow. This is huge luck," she exclaims. "Three threes, which rarely happens. Unexpected good luck is coming for you." This will be important later; also, I think I love Angie.
First, Angie explains to me that I am "healing." (The song that plays as she says this is "Hang On, Little Tomato." I do love tomatoes.) There is a death card in my past, she says, that indicates transformation or transition. "It feels like you've just gone through a big change. But what's funny is it also tells me you're ready for something new, or more." Reader, this past month, I moved from Chicago to New York for the opportunity to work at MTV News with hundreds of full-on geniuses. I have changed states and apartments and jobs and my dresser is literally cracked in half because my movers treated my belongings with the sort of disdain usually reserved for pedophiles in prison. I am absolutely in transition, but if anything "more" happens, I will no longer be a little tomato, I will be tomato sauce. Fortunately, Angie confirms that I need to chill for a minute. "You need to wait before making any more changes." This is welcome news, considering I have just taken the major step of decorating my work desk with a signed photo of Mandy Patinkin and a scented candle.
The cards then reveal to Angie that I am "juggling a lot, working two jobs." I suppose if you consider being alive a job, I am working two jobs. "You're attracting a lot of work, but it doesn't feel like it's the right work," she adds. "You're not in your soul purpose yet." Again, I just moved for this job, so it is exhausting to hear that it is already the wrong job for me. "You're good at this job," Angie clarifies, "but you'll be there for no longer than a year. You're ready for the next step." I am not. I begin to feel stressed by the fact that the Universe is going to force me out of a job I just got and that I genuinely enjoy. The song "Breathe" comes on. "Just breathe," Angie says. I do. After another pause, Angie tells me that there is a "large contract" coming at my current, patently unfit job that'll be "unexpected." The contract will involve a lot of travel and a lot of money. This, finally, excites me. Am I going to go to Barbados to profile Rihanna indefinitely? For $1 million a day? Dan?
At the behest of Them, Angie moves on to my love life. "Here's what's throwing me," she says. "The cards are saying it's all about you right now. But this one card is saying you're in a long-term relationship." Both of these things are highly accurate. I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 10 years. He would confirm that it is all about me. "The cards are telling me you need all your energy on your career right now," Angie continues. "The relationship is already developed." I am thrilled to hear that I am done putting any effort into my romantic life; I can immediately stop showering, put on a caftan, and eat spaghetti for the rest of my life while becoming stupid rich in Barbados.
A card that depicts an upside-down heart being stabbed by a bunch of knives appears multiple times throughout the reading. On its third cameo, Angie tells me that the cards are implying I am going to get engaged soon. I agree that getting married, at least for me, would be akin to being violently stabbed in my upside-down heart, but as such disagree that I will get engaged soon. Angie quickly moves on, and we spend at least 20 more minutes talking about my career, during which she reiterates that "a seed is planted that will make sense in March of next year" and that I am going to travel so much that it will be "crazy."
The cards, according to Angie, are obsessed with my career and do not care to discuss other aspects of my life. Same. The cards are starting to get a little bit repetitive, though. After nearly an hour of unfiltered careerist chatter, I am tired, and I can tell Angie is, too. We begin to wrap up. I share with Angie that she and the cards have nailed my love life but were a bit wobbly on the career front. Though how am I truly to know until a year from now, when I am eating caviar with Rihanna out of our shared caviar fountain?
Before Angie leaves, I realize how much I've enjoyed talking to her, and I offhandedly mention, in hopes of bonding, that I have, at certain times throughout my life (all the time), considered myself something of a psychic. My dreams sometimes come true, I explain, and once my friend walked into a birthday party with a broken leg and said, "Guess how I did this?" and I said, "Doing ‘Gangnam Style’ at a wedding." And I was right. Angie looks appropriately impressed. She asks me when my birthday is. I tell her. She does a bit of mental math, then gasps loudly. "You're a 33!" she yelps. "Holy shit. I've only met, like, five or six of those in my life."
For the uninformed (me, until eight minutes ago), a 33 is the "Master Teacher," according to numerology. Angie has to run to another reading before she can explain it all to me, but she briefly and excitedly tells me that I "have the capacity to do amazing things." (Angie is also a 33.) Later, she sends me an email that declares that I am, essentially, going to rule the entire universe very shortly. This is good news, especially considering I am going to be unemployed in one year. "Life path 33's are extremely rare and should you be graced with the presence of one, you are in the company of someone who shares a life path with Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Abbott Handerson Thayer to name a few," reads the email, which quotes from this wonky WordPress page. Another piece she links to tells me that I "may be ... a great and significant spiritual leader along the lines of the Dalai Lama (Life Path 22) or Gandhi (Life Path 9)."
Finally, I understand why I am going to leave my current job and life behind, why the cards insist that I am facing immeasurable wealth and success. Forget becoming Rihanna's affluent biographer. I am everyone's king. Oceans will rise at my command. Cities will fall. The streets will run white with goat milk, because I just think that seems like a cool visual we should all experience. Barack Obama will be my best friend. Mandy Patinkin will be my side piece. I have seen the future and it is mine. MINE!!!!
I read a little further down the page. "This [33's] focus is on reaching the world and uplifting the loving energy of mankind. They are not concerned with personal ambition, and have great devotion to cause." Oh. Further down still: "Very often, 33’s are acutely unaware of the powers they truly possess and never fulfill their life’s potential." Oh.
I decide instantly that I will forsake my powerful destiny for the good of humanity and also because it seems like it would be hard/a huge failure. Plus, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and as is exemplified two paragraphs up, I am already corrupt. By pursuing my Life Path, I wouldn't become Gandhi. I would become L. Ron Hubbard, but with a fetish for bearded Jewish TV stars instead of nautical regalia. Really, I am doing everyone a favor by staying at MTV News and denying myself my soul purpose. Mandy Patinkin and I lock eyes across my empty apartment, where I have not changed out of my pajamas in 24 hours. I know he understands.