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Ye Auld Neighborhood Psychic
By Kathryn Guta
Psychic readings used to go hand in hand with rickety staircases, crystal balls, and mumbo jumbo. Now they just conjure up the blizzard of ads on cable TV.
How refreshing then to find that we in Noe Valley have our very own "psychic clinic" going on every Thursday in the comfort and civility of Lovejoy's Antiques & Tea Room at Church and 24th streets.
The refined atmosphere of the tearoom makes the slippery business of exploring one's psychic horizons wonderfully benign. Who wants to be launched into inner space without the comfort that a decent cup of tea and a fruited scone can bring?
At Lovejoy's, the embroidered tablecloths and fine china mingle with the perfume of fresh roses and chamomile tea. It reminds me of my grandmother's parlor, though I never met anyone at Granny's who could read tea leaves.
Lovejoy's co-owner and soothsayer, Tricia Hollenberg, says it's different in Scotland, where she was born and raised. "In Scotland, psychic matters are routine and accepted. It's an old-age thing rather than a New Age thing. Young people find it a bit old-fashioned."
Hollenberg, 46, does not wear a turban, jangling jewelry, or crimson red polish on dagger-sharp nails. She does not even own a crystal ball. Nothing in her dress or demeanor distinguishes her from any other sophisticated Noe Valley businesswoman, wife, and mother. Her manner is gracious and direct, and she really does know how to brew a good cup of tea.
"I can read anything," Tricia says with professional pride. Her brogue rests on the ear like fog on a Scottish loch. Her blue eyes glisten like dewdrops as she speaks. "Playing cards, tarot cards, tea leaves -- you name it, I can read it. The real gift is the gift of intuition. It's the connection with the person that counts."
A surprising number of mainstream psychological counselors are drawn to Hollenberg's intuitive brand of "therapy." Two-thirds of her private clients are practicing psychotherapists or psychiatrists who want her advice on big-life decisions -- when and whom to marry, or whether to have children.
"People benefit from psychic readings because the ethical boundaries are different from those of a therapist. For example, I can tell someone on the first visit that they should get a divorce, but a therapist must let their client come to this decision on their own."
It may sound fast and dirty, but Hollenberg is quick to note that her clients leave Lovejoy's holding a hopeful plan of action under their arm like a takeout container.
"But let's not talk anymore about what I do. Why not see for yourself?" she says, as if suggesting a mere stroll in the park.
Before you know it, I am shuffling tarot cards and wondering which issues are most pressing in my life. Am I in the right line of work? What about my non-existent love life?
Somehow Hollenberg "knows" my concerns, saving me the time and embarrassment of having to expound upon them myself. My insecurities are laid on the table, next to the mismatched porcelain cups, then swiftly dealt with in a no-nonsense yet loving manner. I get the feeling that I'm receiving six months of psychotherapy in about six minutes.
"It all comes through me, and then I let it go. If I see you on the street later, I won't remember a word of what I've said," Hollenberg assures me, which is comforting, since we live near each other.
After cleaning up my personal plate, Hollenberg moves on to the larger platter of our Noe Valley community (my justification for doing this story). She moves with uncanny speed through topics ranging from parking to property sales. As I encourage her to hold nothing back, she warns that "even the nationally famous psychics are sometimes wrong."
Although Hollenberg can predict the futures of others, she can't as readily divine her own. She is currently scouting around for a Noe Valley office space in which to do private psychic readings, and would appreciate any leads.
When I leave Lovejoy's and step out onto sunny Church Street, I do feel a bit like I'm leaving Granny's house. There's a comfort in being warmed from within by a soothing cup of tea and a sympathetic ear. Best of all, Hollenberg has confirmed that I am meant to be a writer, and that I will soon meet Mr. Good Enough. M
Thursday-night psychic readings at Lovejoy's Tea Room, 1195 Church St., run from 6 to 9 p.m. and cost $20 for 15 minutes. Tricia Hollenberg also reads cards and tea leaves for private parties. For information, call 642-0689 or 282-0722.
Predictions for Noe Valley 1999
The Voice asked neighborhood psychic Tricia Hollenberg to gaze into the future and tell us what to expect for Noe Valley in 1999. Now it's our turn to fulfill her list of 10 predictions:
1. Wait until March to sell your house. Property sales will pick up at that time.
2. There will be a controversial program started at the Noe Valley Ministry, perhaps something to do with mar-
ijuana treatment for people with AIDS.
3. There will be a change in parking regulations to allow diagonal parking or parking at right angles to the curb.
4. Buy a Silicon Valley stock that includes the letters S and Y.
5. More city politicians with close ties to Noe Valley will be elected.
6. A private foreign language program for preschoolers will open in the neighborhood.
7. Noe Valleons need to connect more to their community. We should throw more fun block parties and hold fewer political meetings.
8. Drewes Market can be saved, if the new operators try some fresh ideas. They should advertise more, and turn Drewes into an upscale gourmet meat market that features personal service.
9. The Noe Valley Merchants Association will grow and begin to interact with other neighborhood groups. We'll hear more about them.
10. A big romance will blossom in Noe Valley, possibly between opposing neighborhood groups.
Okay, let's get started. Everybody give everybody else a hug. Happy New Year!