Through the Portal to $8/Hour

Everyone comes to L.A. with a dream, but while we sit around and wait for that call from Steven Spielberg, we have to do something to pay the bills and keep the ramen on the table. I signed up with several temp agencies and up until this past Tuesday, the majority of my temp assignments had involved stuffing some sort of envelope. Tuesday was the day I got the call to head over to Get Real Entertainment to spend some time with a past life regression therapist. "It's a really fun assignment," the woman at the agency assured me. "You might even get to go back on Thursday and be hypnotized!"

Oooh... watch out, Meredith!

The folks at Get Real are putting together a pilot for the Sci-Fi Channel called Through the Portal where a past life therapist works one-on-one with regular people to go back through their past lives and find the root of all their problems. My temp agency sent over a bunch of unemployed people to be guinea pigs for the therapists who could potentially host of the show. I showed up and was ushered into a small room with seven other people.

A representative of Get Real explained a little bit about the show and introduced us to our therapist, Charles, an attractive African-American man with a smooth-as-silk voice. He asked each of us to talk about any issues or phobias we had, and the possibility that they might be related to a traumatic experience in a past life. Not wanting to get into my many, many, many personal issues I mentioned my inexplicable fear of snakes. I can't stand the damn things and I really have no idea why. I figured it would be just the sort of thing Charles wanted to hear. Then Charles led the group through a short meditation where we had to picture ourselves in a museum of our past lives and concentrate on the one related to our phobia or issue. It sounds strange, but it sort of worked. I felt that I was trapped in a snake pit in the desert. It was pretty creepy, but apparently it was in fact exactly what Charles was looking for. He asked me to come back on Thursday. I figured what the hell since I was unemployed and wouldn't mind getting over my fear of snakes.

Meredith A. Riley, former snake fearer?

On Thursday I was sent over to a studio in Burbank to have my past lives analyzed on camera. I showed up at 11:30 and was put into a dressing room with James, another temp who had been in Charles' group with me on Tuesday. James kept having a recurring dream about being in a war. We sat and waited for a while, which wasn't too bad since there was a TV in the dressing room. After a couple of hours they sent me into makeup, which wasn't much fun since I'm almost as afraid of wearing makeup as I am of snakes. Eventually they gave me some lunch, and I met some other temps who were waiting to be analyzed by the other therapists. I was sad to learn that Charles was the only one who didn't use hypnotism. I've never been hypnotized and I thought it would have been pretty cool. Finally it was my turn to head into the stage. They put a mic on me and had me sit in a chair. They started to roll and Charles read a little intro off the teleprompter. Then he started taking me through my past lives. I was a little nervous so it was kind of hard to relax or concentrate. I had the same image of being in a snake pit that I'd had on Tuesday, and Charles started asking me for more details. I wasn't sure if I was just making things up to have something to say, or if I really did see a bunch of dirty old men laughing at me as I was stuck in the pit full of black snakes. Then Charles had me go back further to another life that wasn't too clear. Something about lying in the grass as a snake went by on my right side. I think it was Roman times. (I'd probably know better if I'd been hypnotized...)

I don't know if Through the Portal will be a hit. Hopefully the participants they put on the air will have stories that are slightly more interesting than mine. People will probably watch this show... if they put it on after the John Edward Show. I don't know if my brief encounter with my past lives cured me of my fear of snakes. I do know that it made me stop to get a plunger on the way home. Oh no wait, that was this life, where I live in an apartment with crappy plumbing.
-- Meredith Riley

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