Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Sour Beers and Tarot Cards

One week into 2019, I had a tarot card reading at a brewery. This was a first for me. As a Hufflepuff, I tend to avoid The Dark Arts. And as an anxiety-ridden soul, I tend to avoid things I can latch onto as proof of my imminent death. (Web MD is among The Forbidden, as are thrillers about germ warfare and, for whatever reason, Gone Girl.)

However, while at the bar, a friend approached me with an interesting proposal: a tarot card reading for the mere price of a sour beer. Her friend needed practice—and a drink—and was willing to do some readings. I was nervous, but intrigued.

“Have you ever had a reading before?” she asked.

I hadn’t. But as a child, I’d been scarred by Muppet Treasure Island and the possibility of picking up something with The Black Spot.

muppet treasure island

Muppet Treasure Island’s “Black Spot.” The stuff of nightmares.

“It won’t be like that,” she said.

So I agreed.

I sat down, still unnerved. I waited for her to ask me about my life, to dish details that she would later reposition as revelations. But she did not. Instead, she asked me to shuffle the deck and think. Think about a problem I was having, something I was wondering or trying to work through. Several thoughts crossed my mind. “Am I on the right track here in Chicago? Which theater should I try next? What’s up with me and dudes?”

I cut the deck and placed it in three piles representing the past, present and future. The stacks were by no means neat; my dry little witch hands had failed to tuck them into three tidy piles. This, she explained, meant something.

She suggested I pull the cards that jutted out the most. These were the cards with something to reveal.

The first card I pulled was The Kindred, a card that represents home and welcome, but it was upside down. This, she said, could mean I haven’t yet completed the step before The Kindred. That I haven’t allowed my roots to sprout because I’m still waiting for some feeling of assurance.

This resonated with me. I don’t feel like I’ve really “dug in” to the whole comedy scene because I’m not sure where I fit in. Do I want to do improv? Or write? Or both? And where? And what if I fail? I haven’t allowed myself to fully commit to anything because I’m afraid I won’t belong.

The second card, representing the present, was Two of Knives, also upside down. Knives are useful tools, she said. But when the card is reversed, it means I’m harming myself in some way. That I might be beating myself up over a decision, or an indecision.

“Girl, you think too much,” she said. “Get out of your head.”


She also asked me to think about what I might be aggressively avoiding (the flu), if I’m in a rut (perhaps) and how I can fix it.

My future card was The World, which I immediately took to mean I was a warlock.


Actual image of me after drawing The World. Where my horcruxes at?

But it wasn’t what I thought.

It did not, in fact, point to my future world domination. Rather, it could mean that I feel like I’m back where I started. (Which is true, since I just finished iO classes.)

The fact that it appeared upside means that I haven’t yet completed the previous phase, The Awakening. That I need to look at myself and my gifts, learn to appreciate them, and learn to let go of past lives, relationships, insecurities, etc.

The last card we drew was my favorite. It was The Traveler of Knives, and it was the only card right-side up.

This, she said, was basically telling me to say, “Fuck it.” To get out of my head and follow what I feel is right—not to the detriment of others—but in a way that will allow me to carve my own unique path. It reminded me of some advice one of my favorite improv teachers gave me: “If you feel it, do it.”

In the end, I left this reading feeling really good. It reminded me of a therapy session: the practice of picking a specific thought, and dedicating some time to work through it, to consider it from all angles. (Side note: tarot readings would be a great way to sneak in some therapy for someone who “doesn’t believe in therapy.”)

Would I do it again? Yes.

Would I pay more than a sour beer? Probably not.

Will I, from this day forward, refer to myself as The Warlock Who Drew The World? Absolutely.


For the Game of Throners

Spoiler alert! This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones and, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, Harry Potter.

I have a bone to pick with Game of Thrones readers. Or, as I’m sure they’ve already jumped to correct me, with “A Song of Ice and Fire readers.”

Sunday night, after witnessing what can only have been the most traumatic, gruesome and aesthetically elaborate death scene in the history of time, I made the mistake of checking Twitter to see how my fellow Game of Throners were reacting. But instead of finding comfort and solace in the mutual grieving of my peers, I found a steady stream of horrid remarks from diehard Game of Throne readers (fine, f*@cking Song of Ice and Fire readers!)

As it turns out, those who read the books many years ago were rejoicing in the fact that we simple-minded HBO folk had stumbled upon a horrifying truth they’d known to be true for many years — that Prince Oberyn Martell, the arguably best (looking) person in Kings Landing, was doomed. With tears streaming down my face and into my goblet of Malbec, I read tweet after tweet from these people who were mocking – and even reveling in – my shock and despair. Really? Is it not enough that my heart has been shattered into a million pieces? And that, should my depression progress, I now know what it would sound like to explode? Is it not completely and utterly gut-wrenching that I’ll never again peacefully enjoy a Bells Oberon* Ale? Or chin straps? Or grapes?

To these people, I say shame on you. With such a feeble upper body and inherent asthmatic disadvantage, I am not one who would normally pick a fight. But (from behind the comfort of my computer), I am compelled to put my foot down this once.

I am allowed to enjoy the HBO series, Game of Thrones. I am allowed to cry, to mourn, to scream and sometimes, to exhibit mentally unstable behavior when one of my favorite characters is killed off. 

Visibly shaken from Game of Thrones and FaceTiming with my boyfriend who, bless his heart, does his best to sooth me.

Visibly shaken from Game of Thrones and FaceTiming with my boyfriend who, bless his heart, does his best to soothe me.

It’s true. I did not swing from the womb reciting Dothrakian poetry, nor am I able to screenprint a map Westeros with my left buttocks. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy and appreciate one of the greatest (albeit craziest) TV productions of our generation. Seriously, what’s the harm?

Don’t get me wrong, I am an avid reader. In fact, I am currently reading the Song of Ice and Fire series (aha! I am your equal!) Yes, you got to it before me, but can I not still enjoy it? Can I not discover the books on my own even though (GASP!) they’re suddenly trendy?

I’ll compare it to this: When I run into someone who hasn’t read the Harry Potter series, I am certainly taken aback by their poor judgment and complete disregard for fine literature (really, who doesn’t like Harry Potter?). But I am nonetheless encouraging. “You have to read the books!” I tell them. “They’re so much better than the movies!” I gush. I want them to experience Harry Potter and love it as much as I do (which I’ll admit sounds super creepy as I’m re-reading this). And yet in all my years of diehard Harry Potter fandom, never once did I find joy in watching movie-goers who hadn’t read the books realize a character’s unlucky fate. Sure, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t point and laugh at them when Dumbledore died. Or worse, when Hedwig died. I didn’t scoff at their tears when they realized that Snape, who they’d come to hate for years, turned out to be Harry’s greasy guardian angel. If anything, I comforted them. I cried with them, mourned with them. I welcomed them into my wizarding world with open arms and a slightly uncomfortable attempt at a smile. It is my way.

So while I realize this is a bit of an angry post (I’ll blame the Malbec), and that this insensitive behavior doesn’t come from all longtime “Song of Ice and Fire” readers, I needed to get it off my chest. George R.R. Martin is an incredibly creative, twisted and talented author with one of the most impossibly imaginative minds of our time. And his work is for all of us to enjoy.

*Yes, I realize the actual spelling of his name is Prince Oberyn.

Spider Attack Follow Up Report

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who expressed their genuine concern for me when they heard the tale of my gruesome attack. Physically, I’m doing ok. My symptoms subsided shortly after the incident, and I’m confident that I am no longer on the verge of death. Mentally, I’m still a bit shaken up. I’ve yet to take a sip from a cup that I’ve neglected for more than three seconds, and I’m still only able to eat dry, solid foods, as these items seem less likely to house living creatures.

While it pains me to say so, my family has been less than compassionate in consoling me. After the attack, my mother helped me to convince myself that I’d been bitten by a rabid species of spider, and my father tricked me into believing I’d been attacked by a baby Brown Recluse. Below is an account of what happened when I called my mom to explain my misfortune:

“Oh my god, Jo. Oh my god. I’m going to need a minute.”


“You should take it to pest control. Seriously.”

“Pest control?? Why, do you think it’s a Brown Recluse or something?”

“I don’t know, Jo. I just don’t know.”

“It was acting strange. Don’t animals exhibit strange behavior when they’re rabid? Oh my god, do I have rabies??”

I’ve always had a slightly skewed understanding of rabies. When I was in elementary school, my mother was dropping me off one morning when a raccoon stumbled out of a nearby bush. My mom was immediately nervous, as she knew how hard it was for me to resist interacting with wild critters. (Every morning before school, I’d run around the neighborhood with brown paper bags in hopes of capturing slow-moving squirrels.) She saw the manic gleam in my eyes as I reached for the car door and yelled, “Don’t touch it, Joanna! Stay away from the raccoon, it has rabies!” She proceeded to explain to me that any animal wandering around in the daytime and/or exhibiting “strange” behavior is rabid, and thus, deadly. While I’m sure she had good intentions, my understanding of rabies was forever tainted. For years I was convinced that Buster, a daytime creature exhibiting incredibly strange (if not violent) behavior, was rabid. But I’ve since come to realize his crotchety behavior is the result of low blood sugar, easily rectified by a steady stream of delicious treats and snacks.

Buster with low blood sugar.

Buster after a snack.

“Only mammals can carry rabies, Joanna. Not spiders. But tell your father to call an exterminator before I come home.”

We bickered for a few minutes, but by the end of our conversation I was fully convinced that I’d been infected with a rare strand of insect rabies.

My father, sensing an opportunity, told me to go online and Google pictures of Brown Recluses. As he’d anticipated, the first few pictures that popped up were of flesh-eating wounds. When I broke out into a cold-sweated hysteria, my dad sensed that his joke had perhaps gone a little too far.

My sister dragged me away from the computer and immediately began scolding my father for his tactless approach.

“It’s not a Brown Recluse, Jo,” my dad said. “If it was, it says here that you’d already be having ‘nausea, itching, vomiting, severe pain…’ Oh. Hmm. Maybe keep it in a jar for a while, you know?”

“Why? So we can see if it grows into a Brown Recluse?”

“No, no. Just to….see…..”

My mother’s distress and my father’s cryptic advice were not doing much to quell my concerns. I did not want to keep this deranged spider as a pet, especially since it was so obviously keen on my own blood. What was I supposed to feed it? Espresso beans and bits of my own flesh?

My new life.

Still coming down from a recent ABC Family “Harry Potter Weekend”, my mind immediately went to Aragog, Hagrid’s enormous, carnivorous pet spider. My god, I could all but see my fate unfolding before me: If I continued on this path of spider husbandry, I’d soon turn into a bewhiskered gamekeeper living in the tool shed of my parents’ backyard. My father would command me to hunt the squirrels attacking our bird feeder, and subsequently, I’d clothe myself in a cloak of squirrel pelts and scraps from the compost pile. Buster would become my only companion, though I sensed his loyalty would stray once my mom called him in for lunch.

For these reasons alone, keeping the spider was simply out of the question. So, being the decent, animal-loving vegetarian that I am, I decided to set him free.

As I carried him to the front door, I felt good about my decision. My forgiving, altruistic behavior would be rewarded. What goes around, comes around, etc. But before I could give myself a solid pat on the back for a job well done, the bastard escaped.

In the days since, I’ve tried not to think about it. But I know he’s still out there. Recruiting his friends, waiting for the next opportunity to leap into one of my dishes. Perhaps I will ask my father to call the exterminator after all.