I like to claim that I have no secrets.
About a month ago, I was talking to my mother on the phone about how open I am about certain things. In fact we were probably talking about this blog.
“Mom,” I said, proudly. “I have no secrets.”
Maybe it’s my background in journalism that makes me not want to have secrets. I’ve seen secretive people suffer for hiding parts of their lives. As a sort of defense, I’ve tried to be open about just about everything. But of course, that’s impossible, even for a big-mouth with Internet access. Everyone keeps some secrets. I knew I must have some.
I just couldn’t think what they could be.
Until this past weekend, when I had to travel for business, and I found myself reluctant to explain to those who asked where I was going and what I was doing for all of Saturday and Sunday. I never really thought of this sideline as a secret, because plenty of people – especially people I’ve known for a long time – know that I do this.
I started doing this thing as a teenager. In fact, when I was younger, I was very proud of this job and talked about it often. I advertised it, actually, because it brings with it a certain kind of attention. But as I’ve gotten older and taken more responsible jobs in different fields, I’ve stopped doing this. I’ve also stopped telling people about it because I’m worried that this job will affect the way they will view me in other areas of my life. More unfortunately, this job also causes people to want or expect certain things from me, and the things that those people want and expect can be draining.
But shame and fear are never a good thing. So last week, when someone asked me if I was going to be around on Saturday, and I began a complicated throat-clearing campaign in an attempt to stall until someone else changed the subject, I knew I was going to have to start being open about my sorta-secret side job once again.
Where better to do this than on the world wide web, where everyone can see? So what is this thing that I do that causes me so much angst?
I am a professional Tarot card reader.
Not nearly as salacious as it could be.
In fact, it’s downright boring when you think about it. Especially since everyone I met from college until I was about 27 knows all about my job as a Tarot reader.
I’ve been doing this my whole adult life.
My family has read cards on my father’s side for a few generations. My great grandmother was the other professional reader in the family – she read playing cards for people who came to her – but my father and aunt dabbled. I was given my father’s cards when I was 16, but I did nothing with them until I went to college and met friends who also read the Tarot. In college, I read cards obsessively. After college, I read cards for money for the first time, setting up shop in the back of a local bar on open mic nights. I charged a few dollars a reading, but a lot of the time I read for free. Later, I joined forces with some other fortune tellers and we read for clients online. This went on for a while. By the time I closed shop online, I was reading for regular clients.
Why did I stop? Because reading people’s cards can be draining. I love the Tarot, but as I get older, it’s stopped being a hobby and I’ve started to see how seriously some clients take the readings they’re given. I care very much about the people who come to me, but sometimes I cannot help them. I either can’t give them the readings they want, or by giving some people readings, I am acting as an enabler. Also, the cards take a toll on me. I don’t know how to explain that, except to say that I get sensitive to things that I don’t normally notice.
I do take some gigs. This weekend I worked a two-day festival in another part of the state. It was hard work – seven hours of reading each day – but it was worth it. It made me consider setting up another web site for Tarot reads. But then I think about the dreams I’ll have after I finish reading people’s fortunes. And then I worry how that will affect my reputation as a professor and a journalist, and I don’t.
If I do it, it will probably be under an alias, but in the interest of having fewer secrets, I may post the link here.