The King of Swords

She lit the five votive candles in front of her and positioned them around the edge of a black place-mat sized piece of velvet.  A large deck of cards sat to her left, an intricate design of twisting ivy and pentacles winking with the flicker of candle light, and Alana inhaled deeply, then closed her eyes to center.  The cards were her last chance, her only hope.  She cupped the deck between her hands and held them in a silent prayer.

“Goddess show me the path that I need to walk,” and she began to shuffle.  Once, Twice, a third time, Alana fanned the deck after each round until she did not feel the need to continue.  They had their answer and she took another deep breath before dealing.

As always, the first card representing her was the Queen of Pentacles, which told her that she had at least connected with the deck, she then proceeded to deal out the remaining 9 cards.  Number two, number three, the air grew heavy as though a rain storm were approaching on a very hot day and she felt the hairs on her neck stand up.  Cards four and five went down and she could feel the electric charge building- this was definitely NOT how her Tarot readings normally went.  As she set card number six into place, that card which represented the near future, Alana felt herself jump with the movement of a shadow in the corner of her eye.  Turning quickly to see what was there, she sat facing an empty and darkening room as the sun was nearly fully set.  Her hands firmly planted on the table in front of her to stop them from trembling, she took another deep breath, centered, and continued her reading.

Cards seven, eight and nine went down with nothing more than a slight flicker of flame from the tea lights, but she paused as she reached for the tenth.  The moment that her fingers had connected with the card, she’d felt a burst as though a damn had broken and energy was rushing inside her toward the finger tips touching the final outcome of her reading.  Slowly, Alana brought the card over to its position on the right side of the table and flipped it over.  She was staring at the King of Swords, the card of a powerful man with great determination.  The rush of energy finally overtook her and the room went dark as she lost consciousness, falling forward on the table still clutching the King.

All that she could hear was the soft sound of running water and a breeze rustling through the trees.  The air felt soft and she vaguely asked herself if air could in fact feel soft before dismissing the question.  Through her closed eyes the sun fell upon her face, warming it deliciously while she lay upon the softest grass she’d ever felt.  A slow realization was coming to her that this was not a safe place to lay around, but she had never been so contented and was loath to move.  The rustle of leaves and footsteps shook her out of her reverie and she sat up too quickly, her head pounding with blood flowing out.

A shimmering figure appeared on the pathway and grew more solid with every step toward the clearing and an immense white granite throne.  It was a man, he was wearing a black suit with a black knit shirt, and she could tell that the hair was dark, but his face was still a blur.  The image slowly went from analogue to high-definition as he continued on his way toward the throne and as he strode, she saw the light glint off of the steel of a sword.  She gasped loudly and he turned to look at her, his expression stony and uninterested.  Could he truly be the King of Swords?

“Your Majesty,” Alana says with a hesitant curtsy, “May I have an audience?”

“I will grant your request, but know that everything comes with a price,” he replied imperiously.

“What kind of price?”  The pressure on the back of her neck flared up again and she began to doubt that this place had anything to do with the Goddess.

“The ring, young Alana, where is the ring?” The stony face was now animated with a dark glare directly at her.  She stumbled back and fell to the ground.  Of course this was about the ring!

“I don’t know who sent you, but this is kidnapping, technically,…” she trailed off and he rose, sword drawn and picking up speed as he charged toward where she lay on the grass.  Alana did the only thing that she could think of as she pulled her Athame out of her pocket and drove the blade directly into the palm of her hand.  The pain shot up her arm and as she rolled to her side.  The clearing and the trees and the entire fantasy world melted around her until all that was left was the darkened dining room and her hand bleeding all over her favorite deck of Tarot cards.

“Shit!” she hissed, looking at the wounded hand, “I hate damned hospitals.”

After thoroughly wrapping her hand in paper towels and plastic wrap she went to her bedroom and retrieved a fire safe from underneath the bed.  There was a solid inch of important papers in it, but after a minutes rifling she found it- the ring.  Her grandmothers ring, the last piece of an extremely powerful Crone and Alana was not going to let it out of her sight.  If her mother or whomever wanted this signet, then they would have to pry it out of her cold dead hand.  She took a long silver necklace and slid the ring onto it before picking up her car keys to drive to the emergency room.

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On Being Famous

Let me preface anything said here with the acknowledgement that I myself am in no way, shape, or form famous.  I am but a blip on the radar (if I even show up) of the fame monster.  That being said, I have a LOT of famous friends, in my own head that is.  Some of you may be able to identify with having an incredibly active inner dialogue that is both irritating and enriching in its own rights and I, like many, have a constant stream of conversation going on inside of my own mind.

Maybe due to the fact that I have a pretty active imagination or maybe due to some form of isolation (still not sure which) I find myself having conversations with the people in my life that take place solely in my mind.  The fact that I may be admitting to some form of weird mental illness is not lost on me, but I don’t think that this is the case.  Have you ever re-played a moment in your mind to try and figure out how you could have acted differently or said something else to make it better, or less embarrassing, or even to simply have changed the outcome to what you’d intended to have happen from the get-go?  It’s like a scene in a movie where the main character is the socially awkward geek who takes the bully out in their own fantasy world.  So, in that context, I guess so long as I don’t act on the majority of it, my sanity is still in tact!

More recently, I’ve found this happening with famous figures.  Let me clarify that I find fame to be oddly detestable.  The fact that fame and infamy are notches on a belt that tell us we’ve succeeded is clear, but the invasion of ones personal space is a ghastly proposition in my book.  The fact that millions of people feel that they have the right to any and all details of your private life that they can find or that because you’re famous, it becomes acceptable to insult and make fun of a person is just absurd.

So, I find myself imagining what a conversation with famous people would be like, outside of the context of their fame.  Sitting around the dinner table and asking them how their day was and hearing the laundry list of mundane responses about trips to the bank, the grocery store, etc…. Ok- so maybe my imagination is just as boring as I am, but I have to contemplate whether fame is in itself actually mundane.

Follow me on this- if your entire life is being watched as it is with the people that we see in the tabloids every day, then how do you do any of these simple tasks without provoking a litany of stories about how you’ve begun a secret affair with the bank teller?  I realize that there are many celebrities who welcome the attention, but I can’t believe that this applies to more than a small percentage of them.

And this is my rational for why I don’t think that I want to meet any of the people that I do follow in the media.  Yes, there is hypocrisy in what I’m saying.  How can I contribute to the media onslaught by reading the crap that they publish and my only answer is, how can you not?  Coverage of celebrities is a ridiculously large portion of what we see on TV and in magazines.  My personal tastes lean toward CNN and the Economist, but each of these media outlets still have profiles of entrepreneurs and actors and singers, which are tasteful, but still qualify as invasive.

If I had the chance to meet any of the people whose careers interest me, will it be a disappointment?  Remember that we are all human and we all have to do our laundry.  By that rational, would I respect them as much if I found out that they hire a maid to do their laundry for them?  Ok, so I’m delving into class-ism, but I hope that you get my point.  There are so many contests running on the radio station this month that involve getting to spend time with a band or an actor and I cannot bring myself to enter them because I know that someone else would get much more out of it than I would.

Maybe my issue is that I know I would want more than I have any right to ask someone who is doing a meet and greet for fans because I have very little interest in their public persona that isn’t academic (i.e.- how does that contribute to the marketing plan) and isn’t that kind of request MUCH more invasive?

So, I limit myself to the imaginary conversations that take place as I’m brushing my teeth or ironing my shirts.  I will let all of the celebrities know that you are very intelligent and wise in my own head- you always provide awesome advise and chastise me when I’m just being a hater 🙂

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