Posts Tagged ‘Tarot’

Pat Bertram with her famous blue 1972 Volkswagon.

Pat Bertram with her famous blue 1972 Volkswagon.

Earlier this week I had a most pleasant surprise: my friend and fellow novelist Pat Bertram came to Ohio to visit.

Now, through the powers of the Internet, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a variety of authors and editors and just plain lovers of literature. I’ve read hundreds upon hundreds of their blog posts, reading about their new books or their thoughts on the Craft of Writing, reviews on books or movies, milestones in their careers or lives or whatever. And through podcasts or videos, I’ve even been able to hear their voices.

Never had the opportunity to meet them though. Distance in real life has made that difficult. Until yesterday, that was.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Pat Bertram, let me introduce her to you. She’s a writer out of Colorado who has written four suspense novels and one memoir on grief. She’s a very smart woman whose posts focus on her life and the strange things that happen in it, as well as writing and reflections on the many experiences she’s had. For the past couple of months, Pat’s been travelling across the country, seeing new sites, hiking and camping and staying with friends. And when I found out she was going on this big trip, I asked if she wouldn’t mind visiting me in good ol’ Ohio.

Not only did Pat say she would, she ended up staying overnight at my place (which is also my dad’s place, considering that I’m staying with him until I move into a place of my own).

Honestly, I was a little nervous. This was the first time I got to meet one of my online friends in person. Without the context of a blog and all the commonalities that we as bloggers have, would we get along? Pat was also staying overnight, so would it be a pleasant stay or would things go south at some point?

Me with Pat's car.

Me with Pat’s car.

Turns out, it was an unnecessary worry. From the moment we met, we had plenty to talk about. I was so curious to hear about Pat’s adventures, from her camping trip to some of the strange people she met (she told me one story about a family in the Blue Ridge Mountains she stayed with who could be the basis for a horror story someday). And Pat was really interested in my family’s Passover traditions, which I (and later my dad) were all too happy to explain. And that wasn’t the full range of our conversations: we talked about writing, childhood experiences, how you never know what will go viral, my family’s complicated structure (ask about me about why I have three mothers, but only two live in Columbus. I dare you!), where we hoped we might go in our lives from here, ballet, Tarot, and more subjects than I can remember, let alone list. We talked late into the night and quite a bit of the morning when we met for breakfast. We were talking even while we were taking photos and while I was helping her load up her car. We were talking right before she drove away!

As you can probably tell, this was a really fun experience for me. And it also made me realize something. Part of my worry was that Pat and I are such different people. I’m an eccentric young adult who still doesn’t have a car and, while well-traveled for someone of my age and means, still has a lot to experience in this world. Pat, on the other hand, is a much more reserved and introspective person who has been driving the same car since she got it over forty years ago and has had a lot more experiences in her life than I have. Without our blogs or Facebook as buffers, I feared we couldn’t connect to each other in the real world because of those differences.

The reality is, we’re both human beings. And that’s really all that matters. We’re both human beings, and human beings have endless ways to connect. Even without a blog or computers to act as connections. Heck, sometimes you just need to meet someone and you can connect with them: my dad met Pat, after only finding out a few hours beforehand that she was coming over to stay, and they immediately got to talking. You’d think they were older friends than I was with her, the way they got on!

Like I said, I had a great time. And so did Pat, even if she didn’t get a T-shirt that said “I SURVIVED A NIGHT WITH THE UNGAR FAMILY.” I was very sad to see her go, but I’m glad we had this chance to connect with each other in the real world. I hope that we get to meet again someday, and that all my future meetings with online and author friends in the real world go just as well.” Because in the end, I think we can all make a connection, no matter what our experiences in

Selfie with Pat/

Selfie with Pat.

life have been. And those connections can lead to the most wonderful memories being made.

And if you’d like to meet Pat for yourself, check out her blog here. Trust me, she’s having some really interesting adventures, and you’ll want to keep up with her on them.

*Just remember that before we meet I know who you are and I feel cool with us meeting. Otherwise it could get creepy very fast. And not in a way I like.

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I’ve been waiting a long time to write this post. That’s mostly because of paperwork taking a lot of time to get processed, but now all the annoying papers have been processed, so I can finally spill the beans of something exciting happening to me on the job front.

As many of you know, I was set to take a position at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base about an hour’s drive from Columbus, where I’d intern in their legal office as an office assistant. This would be through the same program that took me to Germany last year, only it wouldn’t cost me two plane tickets to take the position. I’d even sent in an application for an apartment a literal stone’s throw from the base. Except for getting my license and my car (that’s still a work in progress, unfortunately), things were all squared away.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m speaking in the past tense. Meaning that something’s changed. Something’s happened with this particular job. Well, something did happen. Though it’s not as horrible as you’re probably thinking, based on the way I’m talking.

Late last month, I received a phone call out of the blue from someone at the Defense Logistics Agency, which sends supplies to every branch of the American Armed Forces. They have a facility here in Columbus and they were looking for an intern to fill a position in their Equal Employment Opportunity office. The same sort of office I worked in while I was in Germany. And they wanted me to fill the position, even though I was supposed to be working at Wright-Patt in about a month.

Well, after some thought and some advice from my career counselor and a few other people, I decided to take them up on the offer. It’s a great job, it’s local, and there’s a pretty good chance that it could lead to something full-time after the internship is done. And you know what? It feels like a much better fit for me than Wright-Patt did.*

You know, not too long ago I had an epiphany about job searching: it’s a lot like a spider laying eggs. A spider can lay hundreds or even thousands of little spiderlings, but only a small fraction of them will live to maturity. In the same way, someone looking for a job will send out hundreds upon hundreds of resumes and applications and emails, but only a few of them will actually get anywhere if you’re lucky. And the process of getting there can be a twisted and strange journey.

The process of getting to this job has certainly had its shares of twists and turns. But I’m glad I got to this job eventually. I can’t tell you, I’ve been wanting to get to work since I got out of work. It’ll be good to be in a job, making a difference and earning some cash. It’ll feel especially good to move out of my dad’s house and into a space of my own (I love my family, but they drive me crazy sometimes).

So wish me luck as I start this new chapter of my life. We’re still working on a start date, but I’ll be visiting the facility soon for a Holocaust-themed event, and I’ll be meeting my supervisor-to-be there. Hopefully it’ll be the beginning of a very fruitful working relationship.

Also, interesting enough my Tarot cards kind of predicted this. One of the cards said I would get some delayed and/or disappointing news. Well, six months to get the perfect job might be called a delay. And I need to do more Tarot readings.

*Speaking of which, the folks over there took my plans to switch internships very well. They actually kind of hinted that they expected something like this would happen, and wished me the best of luck. I’m just happy they’re not using voodoo dolls to get revenge on me.

Today I leave for my first post-college job, working with the US Army Civilian Corps in Germany. I’m all packed up (hopefully my suitcase is under fifty pounds, I think it is but that scale’s needle keeps moving), my carry on has everything I need, my passport’s tucked away, and my farewells have all been said on Facebook and Twitter, with lots of comments on both wishing me well. As far as I can tell, I’m all ready to go.

And yet it feels so unreal to me, like instead of going to Germany, I’m jumping into a fantasy world straight out of a movie. You can understand why I feel that way: while I’ve been to Germany before, this is going to be on the opposite end of the country, I’m going to be on a US Army base, and whenever I step out of that base, I’m going to be in a place where the language, culture and the people are very different from what I’ve grown up with (thank goodness I’m already a little familiar with all three of those). It’s definitely going to be unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and unlike when I went to Israel the summer before my senior year of high school or my study abroad trip, I’m not going with a bunch of people in the same boat as me. I’m going by myself! To say the least, I’m a little nervous.

Despite that, I’m looking forward to this. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the life and cultures of both the US Army base and of Germany. I’m looking forward to meeting all these contacts I’ve been set up with through friends and through my own searching (who knew there were so many people friends with people I know in Germany?). I can’t wait to explore the cities, the castles, the forests and museums and Jewish sections of the cities I’ll be near. I’m looking forward to all the ideas I’ll have for stories or articles while doing this.

And I’m sure that, despite the fact that I’m diving into this alone, I’ll be fine. I’ve reason to believe that. Despite my nervousness, I’ve usually been good with new situations. My dad can testify to this: he saw me on my first day of kindergarten, my first day at Columbus Torah Academy, my first USY (that’s a Jewish youth group) convention, my USY trip to Israel, and then when I got to Ohio State. And, as he made clear on Facebook, I was fine, so I’m sure I’ll be fine this time around as well.

Plus my latest Tarot reading gave a pretty positive outlook on the whole thing, so there’s more reason to be hopeful. Yes, I’m still reading Tarot, and no, I don’t really believe in it but it’s nice to have a positive reading, isn’t it?

When I post again, it’ll probably be in Germany, and to say I’ve arrived safely. What else will there be to say, I can only guess. First impressions, what my roommate is like, how they weren’t kidding about Europe being in the grip of a heat wave, a bunch of other stuff I can only guess at. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, wish me a safe flight, in English or German, and wish me luck in my new environment. I have no idea what’ll happen, but I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had.

Auf wederschein, my Followers of Fear!

For a while now I’ve been wanting to try Tarot. Not because I actually believe in the ability of the cards to actually tell me my future (I’m a bit more skeptical of fortune-telling than most people would think), but because as a horror writer I have a few story ideas where the Tarot is either a central part of the story or comes up once or twice, so I want to be sure I know what I’m talking about before I start writing. Plus it’s very easy to learn with the right tools, and I’ve always found Tarot to be strangely beautiful and mystical. And who knows? Tarot might actually have something to it. In which case, best I learn it well.

So, if you’re actually unfamiliar with what Tarot is, it’s a form of divination using a deck of 78 cards, each having their own special meaning. The cards, when laid out in a certain spread, can act as signposts on the journey of life when you ask them a certain question. This evening, after reading an instruction book I got online and opening my own deck, I did my own reading. My question was pretty simple, as it should be with Tarot*: since I turned 22 recently, how will the coming year go for me?

The answer, according to the cards, is that I’ll rise to megastar fame, get married and divorced, have a baby, and then die saving the world from terrorists, cementing my legacy in history. And all this before May 2016.

Done laughing yet? Yeah, I wish some of that would happen to me. And even if that were possible, Tarot is never that specific. Like I said, the cards are meant to act as signposts or guides. They hint and rarely, if ever, give the full story. Also, the whole spread has to be used in interpreting the cards, so no one card can give you full insight into the future. It’s not an easy art to learn, especially when each card can have multiple meanings. You learn through trial and error

So what actually happened is that I used a spread known as the Celtic Cross, which uses 10-14 cards to indicate the answer to your question. I looked over the spread, wrote it down in a notebook I got for the very purpose of recording my Tarot spreads, and tried to interpret that. My conclusion is that I either shuffled the deck wrong or I’m still very new to this and it’ll take a while to understand what, if anything, the cards were trying to point me to (or none of it’s real, got to stay open to the possibilities).

The Hanging Man. I might actually be in a state of suspension like it hints at.

Some of it actually did seem on the dot though. The first card was of The Hanging Man, which can literally mean being in a state of suspension, which I am at the moment, waiting for this delay to go to Germany to end. The third card, The Eight of Wands, indicates fast progress after delays and travel, which could pertain to the whole Germany thing, as well as traveling from my apartment to my dad’s house (the third position deals with the past), and the fourth position, the Knight of Wands, seems to complement this. And the fifth position points to recovery after a strain, which is interesting seeing as I strained my hamstring not too long ago and I am working to make it better.

A couple of other things were pretty on the dot, but for the most part there’s a lot of stuff I don’t understand. It’s interesting, and makes me realize how much of this art I still have to learn. Even if I’m on the fence about whether or not there’s actually anything to Tarot, my curiosity is piqued by how some of the cards did point to things I’m actually feeling or thinking about. So I’ll definitely be doing another reading one of these days, seeing what I can learn from this and maybe improve my skill before I actually write a story having to do with Tarot.

In the meantime, has anyone reading this gotten a reading or regularly done readings for themselves and/or for others reading this? If so, I’d love to get your take on this, so hit me up in the comments below.

Also, what do you, my Followers of Fear, think of Tarot and divination in general? Had any memorable readings that turned out to be strangely accurate or just plain off? Loved to hear your thoughts.

Still so much to learn here.

All for now. The Big Birthday Sale is ending in less than an hour from now, so I’ll write a post about how that went in the morning. Though if you hurry, you might still be able to get one of my books from Amazon or Smashwords marked down or for free. It’s still a good opportunity to get a good book at a great price for the next forty minutes.

Until next time!

*By the way, I know there are those who want to tell me Tarot is dangerous, that it involves devils, that I’m going to Hell for using it. I’ve heard it all, and I don’t really care. So if you’re going to comment about how I’m putting my immortal soul in danger or I’m being a bad Jew or something, please stop, because I’ll just use the opportunity to make a snarky joke about it. And trust me, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of my brand of humor. Just ask my folks, they hate it!

Guten morgen, mein Anhanger der Angst. Translation: Good morning, my Followers of Fear.

Well, it’s official. I’ve found a job. I was going to wait to announce this when I had all the full details, but I was like, “F*** it,” and decided to post it. Besides, this is such good news, I can’t keep it under wraps for long.

So, if you haven’t seen my Facebook post or tweets yet, I’ve accepted a job with the US Army Civilian Corps, and I’ll be working through some point in September with them (possibly longer, but no guarantees). To be specific, I’ll be working with their Equal Employment Opportunity Office in Wiesbaden, Germany. Yeah, that’s right. I’m heading to Deutschland! It’s been a year since I’ve been to Germany, when I was in Berlin with my study abroad trip, and I’ve been wanting to go back to Europe ever since. I can say with great happiness that opportunity is come.

As for what work I’ll be doing, it’s mostly going to be dealing with policy changes, as well as a newsletter. Yeah, that’s right. I’m working on a newsletter. I actually landed a writing job. Can you say, “OH YEAH!”? Writing is my life, and this will help me work on my skills and build a portfolio.

I leave for Germany May 31st–ten days from now–and will arrive in the evening on the 1st in Frankfurt, which is not too far from the base I’ll be staying at. Some of the details are still being finalized, but that should be coming along soon. In the meantime, today I’m doing a lot of stuff related to getting ready to move out of my apartment and get ready to fly to Europe. Trust me, it’s going to be crazy!

And does anyone remember that Tarot metaphor I used back when I graduated? Well, it looks like that next cycle of my life is starting. How long it lasts or where it’ll take me, nobody knows. Still, I’ll be having a ton of fun as I dive right into this next challenge, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I enter the next phase of my life. Wish me luck, Followers of Fear. I’ll see you next time (probably in my review of Poltergeist).

Me, my grandfather Seymour Ungar, and my dad Rabbi Michael Ungar at the English Graduation Breakfast.

Me, my grandfather Seymour Ungar, and my dad Rabbi Michael Ungar at the English Graduation Breakfast.

In Tarot, the World card represents the end of one life cycle and the beginning of a new one, or the pause before the new cycle begins. Great changes come, and one has to adjust to the new changes. Yesterday one of my life cycles came to a close, and today a new one is either set to begin or has already begun. Yesterday I graduated from The Ohio State University.

I’m telling you, the week and a half leading up to graduation has been incredibly busy and crazy. And the day of graduation was the most tiring of all. I woke up around 6:30, about a half hour earlier than I normally do on weekdays, got myself dressed up in a dress shirt and tie, and headed to the Union for a graduation breakfast put on by the English Department. Almost all of my family was there, which was fun and slightly terrifying (if you know me well, you can guess why). I introduced them to some of my professors who were there, and took some photos, one of which you can see here.

After breakfast I headed back to my apartment because it was really hot out and I wanted to change into something I wouldn’t boil to death in. I then went to where the Arts & Sciences grads were assembling, in one of the gyms in the RPAC (the school’s main building for exercise and playing sports with your friends), and then we headed out to the Ohio Stadium. We then waited outside the Stadium for about ten, fifteen minutes before going in and sitting in the stands. In total, there were over eleven thousand students, the biggest graduating class Ohio State has ever had the pleasure of producing. I can only imagine the work that must go into making sure that many students walk in, are seated, get their diplomas, and then get out of the stadium without causing chaos. Must be a nightmare.

Anyway, we had our commencement address from Archie Griffin, a former OSU football player and head of our Alumni Association (note to self, sign up for the Alumni Association). He actually gave a really good speech. He spoke about how his family had worked hard all through his young life, how he’d gotten to OSU on an athletic scholarship, and how despite fumbling the ball his first game in his freshman year, he still somehow got to play the next game and did spectacularly. The message we got from his speech was, sometimes you fumble and stumble and fall. Don’t let it get you down or hold you back, though. Instead, keep going forward and keep pushing, and you’ll do amazing things.

Our commencement speaker, Archie Griffin.

 

After that, they conferred honorary degrees and distinguished awards to people who had accomplished much in life or did amazing things for the university (one of the honorary degrees went to Kathleen Sebellius, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services. I thought that was pretty cool). Then the doctorate students went up and got their diplomas on stage, the only group to do so. Because nearly two hundred people were going up to get their doctorates and it took time for each to come up and get their diploma, a lot of grads took that time to go and grab something to eat from the food stands in the stadium (I was among them). After that we sang the school song Carmen Ohio and then began the long process of giving students their diplomas by having them walk down from the stands and getting their diplomas from the dean of their school at little tables set up on the field.

It took a while to get to my section of the stands, let me tell you. Even though the process is designed so that several different colleges can go up at once and get their diplomas, the College of Arts & Sciences had nearly two-thousands grads yesterday, and they get their degrees in alphabetical order. I was among the last five-hundred. But I eventually got down there, got my degree, and headed out of the stadium to meet with my folks, take some more pictures, and then go home to shower before going out for a celebratory dinner.

All told, that graduation ceremony took about three hours from the time it began to the time I got out of the stadium. It was not only long, it was very hot, and even though I mostly just stood and sat, I was exhausted by the end of it. Thank God I brought in two large water bottles with me, or I might’ve overheated or passed out from dehydration sitting there.

And still, it was wonderful. I’m glad that, after four years of hard work and a lot of tuition paid, I got to attend my graduation and get my diploma.

My sister Adi and I after I've gotten my diploma.

My sister Adi and I after I’ve gotten my diploma.

Today, things feel very different. The feeling that I’ve had since around exam time, like I’m the prom queen and all adore me, is dissipating pretty quickly. What’s left is this wonderful zen feeling that’s been going on since I woke up and has lasted pretty much the whole day. I also feel like I could make any changes to my life right now and they’d stick. I’ve already noticed a few just today: I’m talking to myself much less (something I do on a daily basis) and I’m not craving chocolate at work (which happens every time I step into the office!).

A new cycle begins. What’s in store for me, we will soon find out.

 

I think that might be because, for the first time since I was small, I’m no longer enrolled in any sort of education. I’m now past education! It’s a weird feeling, meaning a major change to my identity, so I’m adjusting and finding my new self. Maybe that’s part of the beginning of the new cycle I mentioned above. And perhaps, with a new job and everything else that comes with that, I’ll figure out my new self fairly quickly.

In the meantime, it’s back to business as usual. But first, I want to thank everyone reading this blog. Since I entered college, this blog and the people reading it have been with me, guiding and supporting me through exams and publishing and Europe and everything else in between. I hope that you, the Followers of Fear, will continue to support me as I figure out what comes next for me and work my hardest to accomplish that.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Have a nice day.

Oh, and if you get a chance, check out my About page. I just updated it to reflect my new circumstances. Tell me what you think of it.

Good News: Somehow I managed to get several articles written for Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, all of which will come out in the coming weeks leading up to my study abroad trip. The next one comes out tomorrow, if I remember correctly.

Bad News: As the end of the semester comes closer, I’ve got a number of exams and papers to prepare for, including a 25-30 page paper for a research seminar! Oy vey! So as much as I’d like to focus on making progress in Laura Horn before I go abroad, I doubt that with my workload I’ll make it to Chapter 35, which would be a nice stopping-point before I go on my trip.

Good News: A short story I wrote for a class assignment got an A+ from the teacher, who “cried at the end of the story” and wanted me to publish it, along with some suggestions on ways to edit it. I plan to submit it somewhere this weekend, as well as submit a couple other short stories to other magazines.

Bad News: Another short story I wrote got rejected from a magazine this morning. I’ll try submitting it somewhere else, but I worry. Some of the criticism the editor gave me made me wonder if this short story is as good as I thought it was.

Good News: Reborn City got another five star review. This, along with a sale I plan to hold next month and the possibility of making it to the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award make me hopeful.

Bad News: I won’t know about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award until Monday most likely, and I don’t want to go into more detail about the review or the sale until I have that info. Plus, RC‘s my first novel and I’m up against 399 other books in my category, all vying for 100 spots at most. I hope the excerpt I gave them is good enough!

Good News: I’ve found a camcorder that is within my budget that I can get after I get back from my trip. Creating book trailers and maybe starting a YouTube show or improving my YouTube channel might get easier with one of those camcorders.

Bad News: My local theater isn’t playing a movie I really want to see, a horror film with Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame. Well, that’s not as bad as it could be. I might know a certain woman (my mother) who’ll want to go see it with me, even if we have to drag her fiancee with us to do it. Forget I mentioned it.

When you get right down to it, a self-published novelist’s life is never easy, especially when you also happen to be a student with a part-time job and a lot of homework. Sometimes, like when I get criticism from magazine editors, I feel a little down. But there’s always opportunity for improvement. There are people who enjoy what I write and let me know when they get the chance to do so.

When I first started writing this blog nearly three years ago, I was just some freshman with one publishing credit to my name, a novel in need of some serious editing, and no idea how I was going to build a following or get my novel onto the printed page. Nearly three years later, I have a few more publishing credits, I’ve got two books out, a third on its way, and two more in various stages of writing/editing. I write articles occasionally for another website to help other self-published authors out, and I’ve made some friends who’ve been invaluable assets in helping me get this far.

So is my life as a writer ideal? I don’t know a single writer who can say that their lives are ideal. Even the biggest names in the industry are wracked by the usual anxieties, wondering if their work is up to scratch or if people will think their manuscript is sh*t or if they’ll ever live up to their childhood idols or if they’ll sell any copies.

I think for where I am at this point in my career, I’m at a pretty good stage. Would I like things to be better? I don’t know a single writer who wouldn’t want that. But I’m a lot better off than I could be, and I have plenty of space to improve, and the resources and friends to allow me to do that.

So as the weekend creeps nearer, I’m going to work to improve, to write and to publish and be the best I can be.

Good News: The future is open, and my Tarot tells me fortune is headed my way. I’m heading to meet it.