One Sunday after church it started, and we kept at it for a few months. The game started with everyone dividing the resources equally. We gathered all the fort-building supplies we could find, every spare blanket, every spare board, and placed them in the center of the basement. We doled out monopoly money in even stacks. We parceled out the square footage of the basements concrete floor, bickering over the demarcations. Each prospector dreamed in those moments. The building of your store was the focus of the game’s level of achievement. In the end, you were trying to have the baddest spread.
I took the nook under the stairs, and set up my home underneath, using the convenient stair steps as the shelves of my stuffed animal store. I wasn’t in business long. I felt like a fool. I mostly distracted myself from the lack of customers by decorating my home. Soon, I complained aloud to my customers, demanding they shop for their stuffed animals locally, but the overwhelming response was that they didn’t feel they needed stuffed animals, and asked me to carry something useful. Disappointed, I pulled each little guy off the shelves finding them each a place of honor in my little hideaway. I racked my brain for the solution, finally, I found it. People needed tools, they needed tools to fix their forts. So, I pulled together all my Dad’s tools, not many incidentally, not many, and set up a very meager store.
In the meantime, I’d had to sell my apartment under the stairs. My brother had opened a bar, and the bar was very successful selling fruit juices. I, myself spent a lot of time there. Anyway, he’d offered me a pretty sizeable amount of money for my place, which he then spruced up beyond recognition as a side wing to his own gargantuan quarters. I set my hardware store up in a small shack of the basement which I’d had to buy from my next door neighbor Josh, and there, after creating a small, but ambient fort, waited for some sales. There were very few. I think, mostly made out of pity, looking back. I was desperate for cash, my ever saavy brother, had begun dealing cards at the cash only bar, and it was Blackjack that I thought could save me. Blackjack, and blackjack alone. When I was up, I was way way up, but, the house always wins, as my brother would say before I scrambled nine feet home to my dump of a stupid hardware store.
It was around this time that my brother, Jeb Adams, had announced his intentions to marry my best friend, Whitney Boyd, and consolidate their adjacent fortresses and fortunes. I seethed with jealousy. I knew it would be socially corrupt to marry that old bartender, seeing as he was my brother, and people would scoff. But, I reasoned, given that this was a game, and given my situation; I found it hurt, like a knife in my back, that he had overlooked our possible partnership. And her! Married right into the lap of luxury! He spent days tricking out her fortress into a convenience store that sold little sandwiches made of ritz crackers and peanut butter, on which I would spend my very last dime. As I did so, I was invited into the fort to see what they had done to the place. I sat down in the luxurious low-lit room on a divan-type blanket assemblage, very comfortable. I almost screamed in envy, but I did not. I politely ate my sandwich, and allowed myself to be inspired by what was their truly outrageously awesome home. Okay, I get it. I cannot sell goods, I must sell services. That is what these people wanted. Something for their money! Something, something, something. I held a brief meeting with my fellow bankruptees. We were all in hoc to that saloon, what could we do to wrangle some of that economy our way? We adjourned to our favorite barstools and after a couple of fruit juices and several hands of blackjack, and mostly by virtue of the barkeep’s power of suggestion, we came up with a few ideas. Josh and I would get married. This would be a marriage of convenience and necessity in order to throw what little we had left together and open up a massage parlor. Customers would purchase expensive and very real massages from our greedy little hands. Drew would open up a portrait studio. There, a person of our village could have their face rendered by a very childlike hand.
We garnered all of our strength, and set to work. The massage business was indeed lucrative, and not without its titillating moments, but it seemed that no matter how hard I tried, all my profits were eaten up, in the form of peanut butter ritz cracker sandwiches. Oh, not just the sandwiches! I’ll admit it, I was a slave to that bar stool! I couldn’t keep away from that damned game! I’d lose everything I had then solicit some chap to have themselves a massage, and the vicious cycle would begin all over again. I was stumped. I sat to have my portrait done. As I hung this wizened version of myself on the wall of our home, I slumped onto the cardboard box chair. My life was a shambles. Trapped in this loveless marriage, in this ramshackle pit of wreckage. The construction of our home had been held up considerably by my mother’s only request that we leave her a path to the washer and dryer, thus making my property the least desirable in the basement. In addition, we’d sold every excellent blanket and board we’d ever owned, in debt to the mansion and millionaires across the street. I felt true despair. I continued to feel despair all that week, the game rattled around in my mind. I lost sleep over it.
One day, sent downstairs to retrieve some frozen corn from the freezer in the basement, I found myself in Jeb and Whitney’s place, searching maniacally for their monopoly money cache. I just wanted to see how much they had. I just wanted to look. I finally found it in their living room, in an old crayon box, hidden under their coffee table. Cash abounded in all the colors of the rainbow. We’d been playing the game for months now, and as it happens, new currency had slowly trickled into our economy. When we’d drained all the Monopoly’s we could find, we started on the Life’s, then we found some stacks of cash for sale at a variety store somewhere, and there it all was, the precious horde. I grabbed a fat stack, enough to pay rent and buy groceries and have a little something left over for the kids. They’d never know it was missing. I returned calmly to help my mom prepare dinner.
The following days were peppered with guilt, but also excitement, at the prospect of gaining new ground in the game. When we returned the following Sunday, it wasn’t long before Whitney shrieked about missing money, and there was great consternation. I played my hand as well as I could, but I was fingered. I alleged my innocence defensively, and they shouted back with their charge. Enough, yelled my brother, we take it to The People’s Court! We hurriedly assembled The People’s Court upstairs with my brother presiding as the honorable Judge Wapturd. My parents were seated in the back of the room as the jury, undertaking their responsibility gravely. Court was quickly underway, and allegations flew. Soon, the prosecution realized they needed evidence and called a brief recess. In these moments, I confessed to my lawyer that I had in fact committed the crime. Court resumed and to my great surprise, the prosecution entered photographic evidence of me stealing the money! In the form of a drawing. I took one look at that crudely rendered bilk, and demanded my lawyer intervene. The objection was overruled, the evidence held up. Outraged, we asked for a short recess. My lawyer and I huddled together, they had photographic evidence of me committing the crime, we reasoned, but what if we submitted a drawing of them drawing the drawing, thus invalidating their evidence. We quickly drew it up and when the court was back in session, we entered our plea. With no hesitation, that compromised low down dirty dealing judge sustained the prosecution’s objection to the drawing of the drawers drawing. I was furious and began to argue my own defense, but with two beats of the gavel and a truly corrupted grin, Judge Wapturd held me in contempt of court. Silenced, I sat down while the prosecution and defense laid out their final arguments. The jury briefly deliberated and the sentence was read aloud. What came next was the horriblest of horrible feelings. Guilty on all counts. In this life, I had lost.
On January, Friday the 13th, I wake up feeling anxious. I have two appointments scheduled. The first with the owner of the Walker Building to discuss the terms of leasing my dream space for Psychic Sister. The second is in Seattle with an estate sale collector who was sloughing off the contents of her warehouses.
The Friday before I had looked at the space in the Walker Building. The storefront was so perfect, and the price was so entirely out of my start-up range. I felt sad. Later that evening, I gave up the idea of owning a store and decided I would continue with on-line sales and host weekly events out of my apartment. I stepped backwards into the safety of what I’d been doing for years. On Saturday night, I went out to dinner with my friend and explained the situation to her. ‘Why don’t you just ask?’ she said. So I mailed the owner of the space my business plan and set up a meeting.
Here I am. In Batdorf and Bronson. It’s Friday the 13th. I’m waiting for my prospective landlord to show. This is more nerve wracking than any first date.
Friday is named for the goddesses Frigga and Freya daughters of Venus and harbingers of love, marriage, and prophecy. Fridays were celebrated with weddings and lovemaking and the celebration of the goddess and the crone. Christianity came crashing down and banished the goddesses to the mountaintops declaring them witches. Fridays became days for executions. The bible was writ with tragic events that happened upon a Friday. And a thousand superstitions are born. Don’t cut your nails on a Friday. Don’t get married on a Friday. Don’t visit your doctor on a Friday. Clothing made on a Friday will never fit.
I ask. She says ‘Yes’!
There are thirteen moon cycles within one cycle of the sun, which is why ancient cultures associated the number 13 with femininity. There are 13 witches in a coven. And yet, there is no 13th floor, there is no 13th street. The number 13 is almost universally feared in culturally Christian countries.
I drive up to Seattle to this woman’s warehouse. It is as if she had been shopping for my store for all these years, procuring the most magical dust! She gives me the greatest deal and I stuff my van full of wonders and treasures untold. She has spent her life collecting stuff and now she wants to be free to travel the world with her new sweetheart.
Friday the 13th was therefore especially sacred. People would stay home and make love all day to honor the goddess of desire. Thus fear and superstition were drawn around that day to keep joy, pleasure, and goddess worship constrained.
Driving home with the world’s biggest smile on my face, I realize; Psychic Sister is born! Friday the 13th. Make love, make magic, be sisters.
(I celebrated by stopping at the women’s spa
Nothing escapes the dust. People build their linoleum lives hoping to stay clean, but sooner or later…dust settles. That’s just as well, I don’t like new things. I feel sorry for them, so empty and cheap in their spotless newness. Stiff and uncaring. Fresh off the fingertips of factory workers who loathed them. I wonder if they will ever be happy, if they will ever be loved. I want my Corduroy Bear with his missing button. I’ll rescue him from the thrift store jungle and sew a new button on. I’ll frame it and put it on the wall. I’ll wear it. I’ll carry it on. I cherish the dust.
I’m surrounded by relics that have traveled through time and space to find me. Some stroke of luck has saved them from ruin and they’ve washed up on shore like a message in a bottle. Some story has come through and I don’t know the story, but I wear it. I eat off of it. I drink it in. And I sprinkle my own dust upon it. This is magic, this clinging karma, but how does it work? A house will carry the footsteps of its past tenants. Even a skeptic will feel the chill run up their spine. After years of life, the stories get trapped in the walls. They play out again and again. The old silver spoon, how many times has it been licked? The worn shoe, whose imprints are these? Our elders disappear, but the stories remain impressed upon these artifacts of human life. So, I talk to my world. To the walls, to the furniture, to the clothes on my back. I ask them their story while I polish their dust. They become my sacred objects, my special tools. I feel responsible for them. I name them, I share them, I save them, and when it is time I let them go.
I believe in a world where there is enough for everyone, and that world begins when we learn to live in relationship with the resources that exist and take responsibility for them. To treasure. To have enough. To waste not, and want not. We must fuel a preservation economy and stop this mindless obsession with everything that is new, new, new and cultivate a very fine appreciation for what is dust.
This is a very easy spell. Everyone can use it. And I mean EVERYONE can use it. I am shocked at how few people know the magic words. The first part of the spell seems to have been utterly forgotten. Like any spell, if you don’t say the first part correctly, the last part doesn’t work. I face this daily at my retail job. I appreciate the intention behind a robust “thank you”, but when it follows an insolent demand it feels ingratiating. It doesn’t feel right to either of us. I long to chide the good people that come into the shop and remind them of the goodness of the magic words because this spell has the ability to transform our very lives! It has transformed mine.
Years ago, I would go into any shop, coffee house, or restaurant and say “I want this…” I wanted to minimize my annoyingness and maximize my likeability. I worked hard to state my needs clearly, to be straightforward, and to give a very hearty thank you. I come from a long line of over-thankers. “Thank ’til it hurts,” that’s the Adams’ family motto. So, I would thank at least twice. Or, in some cases, keep a steady line of thanking going. I would thank the waitress for bringing the napkin, the glass of water, the extra plate, the meal, the check, etc… until I thanked myself out the door. Still something wasn’t right! What was it? My intention was good, my manner was direct and courteous. I WAS thanking! I WAS tipping! What wasn’t working? It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t saying, “Please.” May I please? Please may I? Would you please?
If ever there was a magic word, this is it. Please. Start using the word Please and watch the world soften around you. Please shows humility. You stop being the demanding monster who needs, wants, and gimmes. Please asks nicely. Please restores the balance of power. Please makes Thank you feel sincere, rather than empty and overcompensating for the Please that was never offered. Please bring back the magic words and say the spell rightly. Please try it for 24 hours and your life will be utterly transformed.
The moon is in Taurus trining Pluto and the Sun. Whatever I create today is a shining act of revolution. Starting this blog. Dedicating myself to Psychic Sisterhood. When I understand more, I’ll write about it. Right now, all I know is that I’m resonating with these words Psychic Sister. The feminist sisterhood, consciousness raising, and esoteric wonderment are all inherent. Everything I’ve been working on in one big puddle. I feel like splashing around.