There was one more time slot open for me at the spa for which I’d not yet chosen a service. I was pretty much massaged out and still not particularly interested in past lives; I was still trying to get past far too much stuff in this one, why bring up dead and buried crap?
Just for fun, I decided I’d go for a Reading of the Moment; what could be more antithetical to past lives than that? It was supposed to help me figure out my life path. Since old lady Tsin hadn’t had anything to say about it, I thought perhaps the Tarot reader could fill me in. As if.
Natalia was about my age, and looked tired. Her accent was middle European, her look Post Modern New Age, an unresolved incompleteness some place between hippie and haggard housewife. She worked up a half-hearted smile. It was late in the day and both of us were tired, so I could only return three quarters myself.
“Vhat do you seek from the cards?” she asked, in the best channeling of Ouspenskaya she could manage.
“Um, a reading of the moment? A map of my destiny? A date with fate? You’re the reader, you tell me!” I really wasn’t trying to be a smartass, I was tired, and at $160 an hour, I wanted her to do most of the talking.
She shrugged and pulled a deck from the drawer beneath her table. She spread them on the table.
“Oh, Osho cards, far out. I’ve got a set of those”. I’d had them for years, in fact, consulted them often.
She shrugged again and put the cards away.
“So, what brings you here?” the Russian accent was gone. “You wouldn’t be in this room if there wasn’t something you wanted to know. We’ve got an hour, we might as well talk about it.”
Ah, I’d always suspected that soothsayers were mostly psychologists. What the heck, that did tend to make the hourly rate a bit less unreasonable to a reasonable woman like myself.
“Well, I’ve got this really shitty job that I just moved cross country for and I’m pretty sure I’m going to quit it. My best girlfriend there is in menopausal meltdown, my boss is a douchenozzle, and I’m half in love with a beautiful young lamb of an old soul man child. And the students that I teach, bless their hearts, half of them are medicated into dumb indifference and the other half are still clinging to some bizarre myth of the promised land of a debt laden college degree and life at the mall ever there after."
Natalia burst into tears that quickly amped up into wretched sobs. I pulled some tissues from the box on her table and handed them to her as she composed herself.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that all day long these women come in here with their five hundred dollar nails with little pictures of sunshine on them and their Botoxed veneers and a thousand metabolites of pharmaceutical poison wafting out of their pores post massage and they bitch about their kids who they’ve shipped off to one surrogate parent or another for their entire lives and which medication to try next on the poor little lost souls and how much stress it causes them and I just want to throttle the silly twits.” She blew her nose with gusto. “What ever happened to just being a Mom? It’s not like anybody here can’t afford to actually be a parent.”
I just sat back and let her vent that way until my hour was up. I left her a nice tip.
Sedona always managed to do something for me, and I returned to New England refreshed. Rennie and I had a nice breakfast together in the dining hall Monday morning prior to the 9 am departmental meeting we’d both attend. We shared stories of our spring break adventures. By 9:10, refreshment had staled and I was feeling rather crusty again.
“Sister says we have to increase retention and grade point average.”
Both my boss and the philodendron I shared my nearby cubicle with had spoken.
“And Sister also says that we have to improve the success rate of our nursing students on their state exams. She can’t have it both ways.”
Phil also had some pretty firm opinions about the douchenozzle's sidekick.
“These students have to learn! They don’t know how to learn! They don’t do any work! They have to read the textbook! They don’t know how to read the textbook!” Susan had worked herself into hysterical tears and had to excuse herself to recover.
Rennie and I just looked at each other. I made the hand signal for self pithing, fist pumped against forehead. He smiled at me.
At lunch, he told me a little secret.
“I’ve got an interview for another job next week, a good one.”
Noooooooooo! Every bacterium in the dining hall responded in unison with my heart. Ren had been dropping epidermal cells there for years, he was a part of them. The one little ray of sunshine in my academic dungeon was about to rise up to bigger and better things.
“Far out Ren! What is it?”
“City health inspector.”
Yesssssssss! My prokaryotic compadres were happy with that one, he'd be gentle with their kind everywhere. I wish I could say I shared their newfound joy.
“That’s so cool. Heck, you can be mayor some day!”
“Yes, well, I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I figure my two options are either to go for the leadership role and take charge, or to subtly crumble the system from within. There’s a certain appeal to that approach.” He smiled at me.
My friend, the mastermind. Ah well, on the bright side of things, Ren’s good fortune solved my own dilemma. I was going to jump this ship of fools. I’d either sink or swim.
Or fly. Maybe you’ll fly.
If only I had as much faith as the mushroom I was about to pop into my mouth. As it was, I was terrified.
Linda Brooke Stabler, Ph.D.