I swear to you I shuffled this deck. I started to shuffle, then realized a few shuffles in that I was distracted thinking about birthday cake. I’ve always made chocolate cake for Declan’s birthday but last year he requested strawberry, so we made two cakes. He asked for strawberry again this year. There’s no point in two cakes this year, I’m not sure even how we’re going to eat one whole cake, but I like making the chocolate cake. (Maybe the chocolate cake is just for me? It’s still too much cake.) So I’m trying to remember where I put the cookbook with the strawberry cake recipe, and planning out maybe we do a strawberry cake with a chocolate frosting, and then I realize that I’m still shuffling and that technically what I’m supposed to be doing while shuffling tarot cards is calming down my mind and focusing on an intention for the day.
So I put the cards down and take a deep breath, pick them up and try again, calm mind and inner focus, but I can’t quite do it–instead of thinking about the cake I’m thinking about an important email I’m waiting for, and I start to feel this sort of adrenaline-tension thing that happens when I’m very stressed, like my whole body is about to float away, and that’s not the right state of mind for this either. Shuffle shuffle cut, and it’s the same card as yesterday. I don’t know.
I like shuffling cards, though. My grandma taught me when I was little. Grandma Blanche, the nice one, my dad’s mother. She made me a card holder out of tupperware lids so that I could play gin rummy without needing to spread my hand all over the floor, and she taught me to bridge the shuffle so that the cards don’t get bent, and she brought me along to poker night once where all the old ladies in the retirement village played these crazy poker variations–the one I remember most was called “midnight baseball” and I’m pretty sure it was seven-card stud but played entirely blind, every single card face-down, you just bet blind every card. When I was twenty-three and going to poker night with a bunch of software engineers in Mountain View (all of them stupid rich with google money now, I think) I told them this story and they said I had to be remembering wrong, no one would play that way. But theirs was the kind of poker night where everyone was very mathematical about things, and it was in the poker-tournaments-on-television era where it’s all Texas Hold’em or you aren’t serious.
The ladies at poker night with Grandma Blanche, they weren’t trying to be serious. I mean, they took it seriously, they bet with real money and they paid attention when they played. But they were there to have fun. (I’ve been staring at this paragraph for several minutes now, trying to figure out how to say a thing, and that’s not in the spirit of this newsletter experiment. This isn’t the first time I’ve told this same story about Grandma Blanche and her poker night, but just now while writing this it occurred to me, another difference between the poker ladies in Boynton Beach and the software engineers in Mountain View is that Grandma and her friends were all old enough to be past that event horizon where you stop caring whether other people think you’re smart enough or serious enough or whatever enough. There’s nothing to prove, you just go have some fun, play all the crazy variations with the wild cards and weird rules, do what makes you happy.)