My Fortune in Coffee Grounds

On Friday I had my coffee grounds read by a bonafide tassographist (some one who reads fortune via tea or coffee grounds -think Professor Trewlany from Harry Potter). I was at the Oriental Theater in Denver attending the Fucking Fabulous Fiction Fest that was hosted by High Fiction and BookBar and there in the lobby, that looked like a cross between a really old theatre and the entrance to a carnival tent, was a table with a kind looking man sitting behind it. His sign said that he gave authentic Armenian Coffee Cup Readings for $15. I was curious but it took me till intermission to decide to do it. The questions that haunt me from day to day about love, business, and life finally led me over to his table where he offered me a seat. I sat and he opened up a glass jar full of a fine brown powder, inviting me to sniff the coffee that he would be making. The powder had a rich smell laced with chocolate. He spooned a little into a small silver pot and put it over a single burner to boil. As we waited he had me pick out my cup – espresso sized with a purple pansy on it and a saucer with a yellow rim. Because I am a curious creature I asked him all sorts of questions and discovered that he was also a substitute teacher for elementary schools. He has been substitute teaching for twenty years because he loves teaching, but needs variety in his life. I completely understand. I asked if the students knew that he told fortunes as a side business and he laughed, he does not tell them. I wonder about the secret lives of teachers. Students don’t imagine them having a life, much less being fortune tellers on the side.

The coffee boiled and he poured it into my cup. Before he passed it to me he told me to drink it with only one hand to keep the cup clear and focused. I chose to drink with my right hand, even though I write with my left I am still right hand dominate when it comes to drinking coffee. It was quite warm, but was rich and a bit creamy on the tongue. Not bitter at all, it was easy to sip and keep asking questions. How did he get into fortune telling when it seemed that women were usually the fortune tellers of the family? He told me that when he was young they had coffee every afternoon as a family; aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents. He watched his grandmother pick up the cup and read the fortune of family members and one afternoon he picked up the cup and looked at the swirling patterns left by the fine coffee and what he was seeing made sense. From that day on he read the coffee cups. He offered me a pastry to go with my coffee. Fresh made from an Armenian bakery, it was like a roll with a hint of soft sweet filling. I guessed at the filling – butter? honey? bean paste? It was sour cream he told me, and I was surprised.

When I had the sluge of coffee at the bottom of the cup he showed me how to turn it over – gently swish the cup to stir up the grounds, place the saucer on top, pick up both with thumbs on top and turn towards my body. I handed the cup and saucer to him and he let it sit for a moment before removing the cup, blotting the edges and then peering at the dark swirls and patterns inside.
While the conversation lasted about 10 minutes, some of the themes of the reading were:
Very Busy – Well yes, that is my life right now. He suggested I slow down and focus on one or two things. Sigh, I am trying.
Mirror Pattern that shows up in the work and the home part of the cup – He said this indicated that they were connected and that it was a good sign. I do focus on having much of my work at home right now.
A camel or a llama – he asked me if one or the other of the animals meant anything to me. I wasn’t sure, though I did comment that I do call myself a Drama-Llama at times. He said that it was a beast of burden and was a good sign…okay…does anyone have a llama I could chat with?

He then had me “Open the Heart of the Cup” which meant I stuck my thumb on the grounds at the bottom and twisted once. He then looked at it and saw:
A bunny – which is a theme of my happy place. 
A sleeping horse – which indicates livelihood and I need to wake it up. How do you wake up a horse?
And a cat face – I could see the cat face too and he suggested that it was connected to someone I cared about and that I should spend more time with the cat. Was he talking about my nephew cat? He is pretty adorable…

We talked a little more after the reading and then another person sat down wanting to know how the coffee grounds felt about their life, and I headed back to the show. I kept all my notes scribbled down on a paper and I think the biggest thing that popped out at me was to slow down. I have so many things happening in the next few months and my mind is always a flutter with new ideas of things to do. Maybe in a few months I will go find him at the Tesoro Art Gallery in Denver on a Saturday to have my cup read again. It is nice to sip a warm beverage, enjoy a pastry, and talk about life through the patterns of coffee.

You Need to Have Something To Say

I heard a saying recently.

“If you are going to be a writer, you need to have something to say. ”

It immediately applied to my  music and storytelling.

Musically, I have a lot to say. I tell my personal story of the moment through the songs I write. My latest, “Birds in the Market” came when a man I was dating was offered a job out of state. As I absorbed the information the line came to me –

Our hearts are birds that sing to each other,

Ribcages holding us in.

Waiting to be sold and carried,

in the hand of another or the wind.

The imagery of my heart calling out to his and the impossibility that he and I could be together expressed itself through the lyrics and melody. I have a lot to say when it comes to music.

Traditional storytelling is a different beast all together. It is more elusive in what I want to say. It is a teacher more than self expression. I choose some stories because they call to me, like The Lute Player. Some I tell because they fit the situation. Other stories sit at my door and howl to be told until I open the door in my nightclothes, with bedhead and circles under my eyes. Other stories just let themselves in and wait to be noticed.

But, I do have something to say when I tell stories. The shortest summery is – Life is full of suffering, but it is tender and beautiful too. I tell my experiences through the stories and try to express that ineffable quality of life.  When I need to express the nuances of the death, I draw on my experiences of death. When a child is born in a story I remember watching my nieces birth and being shocked at the strangeness of a new born. When the child is hungry, or the magical food is burnt, or the path twists to a strange new land…well, I know all of those things too.

I have something to say and I will dress it in fairytales so it is entertaining and can get closer to you than I ever could.

I know you have something to say – how do you say it?

Something That Happened : A Unique Performance Venue

I went to see a performance art show at a strip club.

Really anyone who goes to a strip club can say that. I can’t say that I did anything but walk through the club to get to the back room where the art show was happening.

The show was part of Boulder Art Week Shows.

These are my impressions.

  • It smelled like layers of cigarettes and perfume and something else.
  • I thought it was a misnomer to call it a gentleman’s club.
  • Everyone looks better under dim red lights. Even my tired face. Maybe I should replace the bulbs in my house.
  • When I walked in the man at the counter thought I was coming to apply for a job. When I was in college I thought about applying for a job there. I thought about doing an anonymous blog talking about my work there. I didn’t do any of that.
  • I got to peek at an empty dressing room and a sign that said Ladies: You must always be dancing on stage! Even if there is only one customer. Failure to comply: $20 fine and/or sent home. 

I totally get that. Same thing with storytelling. If there is one person stopping to listen I will tell the story.

Oh, and the show was interesting. Music by Riley Ann was fantastic.


Lasso a dream…

I like beautiful things.

I bought a journal recently, with a blue cover and slightly yellowed, blank pages because I thought it beautiful. I bought it with a gift card because my penny-pinching self did not think that such an indulgence should put pressure on my personal funds. But now I am writing again. I am writing about my addictions, I am writing about bread, I am writing about dreams and ghost tours. I am writing. I am tracing my hand and drawing abstract surges of life. I am writing poetry that will be read after I am dead and some that will be posted on this blog. I am writing the alphabet in my best penmanship after writing a sloppy page filled with scribbles of ideas.

August 30
Into the wild.
The wild of the dream.
Lasso that dream to a hover
Just above the ground.
Let it pull practicality to its feet
And push doubt to its knees.

I have always loved to write. But now I know I love to write in something that is beautiful.x