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Saturday, August 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 80.0° F  Partly Cloudy
The Daily
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Madison mystic Janet Merino mystifies at The Psychic Gallery
The New Girl gets cosmic
The Psychic Gallery is located at 103 State Street. Even if you don't want a reading, check out the artwork in the window painted by local artist Rick Turvey.

The other day, on my way to Urban Outfitters to steal home decorating ideas, I was distracted from my mission by the swankest storefront on the 100 block of State Street.

I became really excited for a hot minute. Had some interior designer read my mind and perfectly decked out my dream pad? Then I glimpsed the placard: The Psychic Gallery. I was instantly intrigued.

Not to knock the methodology of the general psychic populace, but most of the marketing techniques used by clairvoyants don't aim to win over customers. Hand-painted signs with the obligatory celestial symbols and darkened windows cloaked with clichéd tapestries aren't exactly going to draw patrons in. But a tasteful-looking lounge decked out like a Pottery Barn catalog? That's classy.

I decided to get a tarot card and general psychic reading. Even if it was a bunch of hooey, I could at least ask the mystic for style tips. So I scheduled an appointment with the owner, Janet Merino, and got ready to have my life handed to me on a square of paper.

The day of my appointment, I was shitting bricks. I won't lie: My life is a bit salacious. Did I really want some stranger delving into my deepest thoughts, knowing the darkest events of my life -- the espionage, the threesomes, the loitering?

Merino was not dressed like Miss Cleo. There was no fruit bowl on her head. She emerged from her office in plain clothes, apologized for looking tired and got down to business.

She sat me down in her softly lit reading room tucked in the back of the shop, the air scented by perfumed candles.

Naysayers can mutter, but I'll tell you one thing: This woman is tapped into another realm. As she states online, Merino makes a point of asking her clients not to utter a word. She had me shuffle and divide the tarot cards and think of three questions. While she replied to my mental queries about family, relationships and work, her eyes were either closed or cast downward, as if entranced by her desk.

I covered my face with my hands to hide any tell-tale expressions. All those YouTube videos that attempt to show how people are faked out don't apply here. Merino was quick to note details that were not general possibilities.

I will refrain from rehashing the sordid details of my reading. Questions about my past were put to bed, realizations about my present were solidified, and the future, well, time will tell. She hit the nail on the head when she told me one portion of my life was "F'd up." Her honesty and demeanor were refreshing. "If another person hits my window...!" she said when some hooligans passed by. Merino was tough, not some eager-to-please moneymaker hoping to bank on my desire to have my ego stroked with false promises.

The other day my cat fell on my face while I was sleeping, and I was left with a "superficial inflammatory nodule." I don't know what the hell that is, but I was certainly not informed that I was going to acquire one. I was a little miffed by this but as Merino explained, she's not God, she's a psychic. She sees what she can.

If you want to exit a State Street shop, muttering, "Damn! Damn!" over and over while rapidly dialing friends and family to tell them about how some stranger stepped into your head, set up an appointment at The Psychic Gallery. Readings can be scheduled online, which even gets you a discount!

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