Stories from skeptic, believer after visit to local psychic

In the spirit of Halloween, five Targum editors paid a visit to the local psychic to find out what the deal is with those mysterious side-of-the-road fortunetellers. With some approaching the endeavor with nervous superstition and others with a roll of the eyes, each editor walked away invigorated and reassured regardless of those initial sentiments. Editor-in-Chief Alexandra R. Meier and Features Editor Brenda Stolyar share their contradicting experiences after visiting Miss Sally on Easton Avenue. 

Alexandra R. Meier

The Skeptic

‘Tis the season for freight and fear. This Halloween season, I was forced to confront a fear rooted in a condition suffered by millions around the world: Catholic guilt. To those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of consuming the body and blood of Christ (which, I promise, isn’t as morbid as it sounds), Catholic guilt is a feeling of shame that permanently lurks behind your consciousness.

This guilt is seeded into Catholics at a young age — teachers and priests teach us stories of men turning away from God, and God, in turn, punishes them with floods and plagues and all sorts of creative methods for actualizing eternal damnation.

Growing up, the fear that God will strike us from heaven with a lightning bolt arises for a variety of reasons, such as spending Sunday mornings in hangover agony rather than holy exultation. It’s conjured by things as trivial as eating meat on Fridays, for Christ’s sake. And for ironically using the Lord’s name in vain to give our personal essays some flavor.

So when I made the decision to pay for a psychic reading, the fear roused by Catholic guilt hit me like a ton of bricks. See, this violates the first of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

You don’t necessarily need to pledge your allegiance to Beelzebub or burn crucifixes to break this rule. The Catholic Church considers psychic readings to be blasphemous because patrons are seeking truth from a source other than God himself (sic). 

Despite the crippling guilt, I rationalized that I am rational person, and rational people do not believe in the words of psychics. My preconceived notion of psychics was twofold: an old lady with a tie-dye do-rag looking into a crystal ball and a spikey-haired Long Islander spewing out generalized assumptions to vulnerable people mourning the death of a loved one. Yet part of me wanted to think otherwise: We all want answers to the big questions, right? 

My coworkers and I chose to visit Miss Sally, who lives on Easton Avenue in Somerset and charges $25 for readings (not to be confused with the tarot card reader across the street from Cookie Rush, who charges $40 for readings). As we entered, all five of us were nervous and visibly tense. 

Our environment didn’t help our cause: The room was frigidly pristine, decorated with ‘80s-era couches, nude paintings and shelves stacked with bottle-sized statues. When Miss Sally and her granddaughter, who is also a reader, greeted us, they attempted to soothe us with flattery while we stood still, smiling and nodding.

I volunteered to go first, and followed Miss Sally’s lead. Instead of leading me into a dark room filled with celestial drapery, Victorian candleholders and Chakra diagrams, Miss Sally motioned me toward her very standard and unassuming kitchen (cue Side Eyeing Chloe expression on my face). She sat me down at the kitchen table. I tried to rid images of my grandmother’s disapproving stare. “Thou shalt have no—”

“Relax,” Miss Sally commanded. I took a deep breath. “Relax,” she repeated more assumingly, “and look into my eyes.” I looked. Her eyeballs seemed to bulge out of her head, ready to plunge into my soul. 

All of the sudden, I felt the temperature drop sharply. The table started to tremble, slowly at first, then violently, and plates fell from the countertop. Trying to scream, my head shot back, and I began speaking in tongues and —

OK, no. I can’t honestly report such an appropriate occurrence for a Halloween issue. I’m not going to delve into all the personal details Miss Sally addressed, but I will touch upon a few of her predications.

For starters, she could instantly tell that I’m a worrywart who thinks too much about her future. And although my dad later rebutted this with “So what? All women worry,” the stress of confronting the imminent “Real World” has seemed to take over my life, and how could she know this?

Miss Sally continued with predicting that I will live a long, happy life, starting with travel and ending “close to my roots.” She incorrectly sensed an illness in my immediate family, which of course my hypochondriac mother interpreted as “Oh God, I have cancer.” But weirdly, she predicted that November 19th would be my lucky day, and said that this day will follow a vacation — in fact, I’m going to Las Vegas on November 6th.  

If God decides not to unleash his wrath upon me, visiting Miss Sally was an overall positive experience. Whether you believe in psychics or not, they serve a special purpose. They have the ability to honestly analyze you, to objectively read your mannerisms and tendencies. Few people can provide us with such unadulterated insight: not our closest friends, family members, significant others and especially not ourselves. And although the experience may initially be fearful, going to a psychic helps us confront a fear we all have: fear of the unknown. 

So does this mean that I’m a believer now? Ask me again on Nov. 19. 

Brenda Stolyar

The Believer 

If buying my own set of tarot cards and wearing a Kabbalah bracelet that I make sure to tie around my wrist seven times isn’t an indication that my biggest anxiety revolves around a failed future, than I’m not sure what is. I consider my daily horoscope as informal reading and believe that if you put positive thoughts into the universe, it will supply you with positive occurrences in return. 

Walking into Miss Sally’s house, I expected it to be filled with lit candles and for beaded curtains to hang from every doorway. I expected her to be dressed in some elaborate maxi skirt, flowing peasant top, bangles chiming on both wrists, with her hair wavy and long. 

Instead, her home was fairly normal, with hardwood floors, two couches in the center of the living room, family photographs and statues along the fireplace and end tables. She and her granddaughter, whose similarities I wouldn’t second-guess if I walked past them on the streets, greeted us.

When it was my turn, I followed Miss Sally into the kitchen, where she closed the door and had me sit down at the table. I could feel my body shaking with nervousness as I questioned whether this was a good idea. 

“I need you to just relax and to look at me. I’m going to tell you everything that comes to me, whether it’s good or bad,” she said.

I stared at her for as long as possible, before every negative thought began rapidly crawling around my brain. 

“You have a big heart, a good soul. You like to help others and don’t like when others do favors for you. But you’ve suffered a big disappointment recently,” she said, staring deeply into my eyes, pulling out parts of me I thought I had buried months ago. “Something you thought was going to work out, but didn’t,” she continued. 

I nodded, because if I spoke, my voice would tremble. I kept a face of composure, regardless of the fact that I could feel my eyes stinging.

She pinpointed the one aspect of my life that I have allowed to define me for far too long, a person who, for a while, made me doubt there was any point in trusting that people genuinely wanted to see those they held close be happy. 

Attempting not to be the only one out of my group of friends to cry during a reading that day, I allowed her to continue. She told me I did not need to worry about such a situation happening again, that I have people around me who are “good medicine.”

As skeptical as some may be, it felt like the negativity I had been carrying for so long vanished. She had this confidence in her voice and a nurturing presence that made me believe it really was going to be fine. 

She then described my personality: always mingling, loves to be around people, but independent. So far, she nailed it. 

“You’re conflicted between wanting to travel and focusing on your career, but you also want to start a family and settle down,” she explained. 

In an attempt to keep my jaw from hitting the floor, I responded with a simple “yes.” I know that this is a common struggle between most people, but for me, it’s a thought that runs through my mind constantly. I want to have it all, but will I be able to balance it?

In the field of journalism, traveling is inevitable, and with my anxiety of building a successful future, I always figured settling down was never an option. As cliché as it is, I’ll admit that I did already choose my career over love before even graduating college, but deep down, I want both. 

It was then that she went on to tell me that my soul mate, contrary to my belief, was actually out there. He wasn’t in my past or present, but existed in my future. He was older than me, but it would be a good marriage. 

Having an older brother, I grew up quickly. Those who were above my intelligence level constantly surrounded me, and I always noticed that I could never easily relate to those my age to begin with. It was always a thought in the back of my mind that I would definitely marry someone older. You win again, Miss Sally. 

When she mentioned my interest in working with children, I knew that this woman definitely couldn’t be a fraud. I’ve worked at a day camp for five summers now and have never had a job that was more rewarding.

She then dropped information that she saw me in some type of social work field, and to be honest, it’s something I’ve always contemplated but never really followed through with.

Overall, Miss Sally was able to touch upon topics that I naturally don’t discuss with others. Fears that if I really lay out on the table would make people think I spent 100 percent of the time over-analyzing ways my life could end up in shambles.

But she made me feel as if I’ve known her for years, someone that truly did have my best intentions in mind. 

In a way, she forced me to begin valuing qualities I have, such as my helpful nature, my friendliness and my determination, and to view them as strengths instead of weaknesses. 

As I was leaving, she commented on my aura. “Do you know what an aura is?” she asked me quizzically. “You have such a bright aura. Everything will be fine, you have a bright future ahead of you.” 

With a few bumps in the road these past few years, it felt as though my aura was partially dimmed for a while, non-existent even. You can say that the universe brought me Miss Sally because she actually had all the answers, or because I needed that extra boost of confidence. Either way, since Friday, my aura has definitely been shining that much brighter.

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