I love it when seemingly random elements in my life dovetail into a perfect moment of synchronicity. One of those happened this week.
Part A: I have a beginner’s fascination with tarot. I really know nothing about it, but I keep having chance tarot encounters. I’ve had friends draw tarot cards for me at times that were spot on, which has whetted my interest. Last spring, my group of writing friends, the Flamingos, met for a long weekend at Sea Ranch for a mini-retreat. Tania Pryputniewicz, a fabulous poet and ace blogger, also is a tarot expert. For one of our morning writing exercises, she brought out several tarot decks, and we used them as a jumping-off point. Once again, I was hooked. After the retreat, I ended up in a bookstore looking for tarot cards. I found the Osho Zen Tarot deck, and brought it home to join my Inner Child Cards. Still need some help, though, in getting started.
Then, just as I have tarot on the brain, Tania sends out an email following her sojourn to the AWP Convention in Seattle. (I was supposed to be there, but due to a last-minute crisis at home, had to cancel.) The message was a link to a blog post, and the word “tarot” was in the title. Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned crisis, I was absolutely out of commission for a number of days, and my inbox had over 100 unread messages. I planned to get back to the blog post, but for the time being, it remained a mystery.
Part B: My wife Sabrina and I were making one of our (far too) regular trips to our veterinarian, Wikiup Vet Hospital in Santa Rosa. When you have a menagerie (three dogs and seven cats), somebody always has something going on, whether it’s routine maintenance like a need for flea meds or vaccines, or some kind of crisis, which we seem to have more than our share of. Erich Williams, the main vet, is not only a great doctor, he has become a good friend over the years. That day, we were in for something simple, but he stepped out from the back just to say hi. He struck up a conversation with me about my poetry, having just read my latest offering in the local newspaper, where I write a monthly literary column. That month, I had happened to share about my own experiences finding opportunities for writers in Sonoma County.
He said, “Actually, my mother-in-law is a poet.” Now, I must admit, my initial thought was rather luke warm. It’s kind of like when straight people find out I’m a lesbian, and then they say, “I have a cousin/uncle/friend who is gay…do you know him/her?” At least now I’m married, and they no longer try to set me up on a date. With the poetry thing, it’s like being in Hollywood and saying you’re a screenwriter. So is everybody else. So when I heard his mother-in-law was a poet, I wasn’t completely jumping up and down. Then Erich said, “She’s even written a book.” Still no fireworks. Anybody can write a book these days, right? Self-publishing and all. So he says her name is Esther something or other, and the book is called Dear Alzheimer’s and it’s sort of psychoanalytic poetry, dealing with her parents’ Alzheimer’s disease. And I listened politely, and he said he could loan me a copy, and I said, “Sure, maybe.” And then I forgot about it.
Part C: Finally, I have time to read Tania’s blog post about tarot! You can read it yourself by following the link (it’s worth the time, believe me!), but basically, she saw a beautiful tarot card with a poet on it, asked where someone got it, and discovered that Two Sylvias Press was selling a Poet Tarot deck. Tania was able to buy one of the last decks (they only had 100 prototypes on hand), and then she conducted an interview with the creators of the deck. I eagerly read the interview, and once again, found myself drawn in and fascinated by tarot. I wanted that deck! Lucky for me, I learned Two Sylvias Press had launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce another run. I clicked on the link to take me to Two Sylvias Press.
There it was – the Kickstarter info, on the Two Sylvias Press website. I signed up, and felt very pleased with myself. I knew they were just a small press, so I scanned down to see what other publications they had. Turns out there were only six other books currently being offered. And — you guessed it — there it was, Dear Alzheimer’s, by Esther Altshul Helfgott, in an ebook format.
What are the chances? But life surprises us like that. I guess I am supposed to read this book.