The word that keeps running through my head as I arrive at psychic Stephen C. Robinson's doorman building in Chelsea is swank. The lobby is swank, the hallway is swank and the impeccable modern decor of Robinson's immaculate, softly lit apartment is definitely swank.
His psychic abilities are on display immediately when he opens the door ahead of my knock, frightening me not a little bit.
Whereas Fahrusha (click here to read about my visit to another psychic, Fahrusha) was all warmth and emotion, Robinson is cool, exact and precise, exuding a contagious confidence. He is so sure about what he does that it is impossible for me not to be just as sure as well.
He also works entirely differently from Fahrusha. He does not read palms and instead of touching me asks to hold an object belonging to me, preferably metal. I hand over my wedding ring.
Also unlike Fahrusha, who didn't want me to tell her anything about myself upfront, he asks me questions about myself and the people in my life. Names. Birth dates. This seems strange. Isn't he supposed to be psychic?
"It doesn't help you for me to tell you things you already know," he says. "How does it help you for me to tell you that you're married, or how many children you have or what your mother's name is? You already know that."
Robinson asks my permission to tape the session, explaining that I will be given the only copy to keep as a record.
Robinson slips in and out of trances during which sights, sounds and smells come to him. He writes down his experiences during these spells, be it single words, numbers, names, the scent of Chinese food, a voice or the description of a vision.
He looks at a photograph of my mother and describes a surgery she had 25 years ago. He says two male names, which happen to be the names of my family members, but he insists they represent men related to my professional future.
He describes a coming future event — including an associated smell — nearly identical to something that has already happened. I become convinced that Robinson is tapping into the past, but he declines my eager encouragement and validation, insisting instead that he's channeling the future.
Robinson also predicts a male child to be born during the same time frame suggested by Fahrusha.
Unlike Fahrusha, Robinson is a medium, and I ask him to help me communicate with a friend who died during the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. He has some visions and impressions about my friend, but no message for me, no communication. In this mission, I remain unsatisfied.
However, during this part of the session, a raw sadness strikes me physically, an electric current flooding through my bones. I am reminded of Fahrusha's counsel: Sometimes, it's better to just let them go.
At the end of our session, I tell Robinson that I have become absolutely fascinated by the scope and organization of the industry that surrounds his profession, specifically the concept that one can attend a school to be trained and certified as a psychic.
When I ask him how it is possible to measure or certify someone's psychic abilities, I am half expecting him to toss back his head, arch his eyebrows and growl "We have ways, ha-ha-ha!!!" in some evil, other-worldly voice.
Instead, he explains the process to me and invites me to audit some of the classes. Like most psychics I've encountered for this article, he believes that "everyone is psychic" to some extent, and that it's just a matter of getting in touch with your individual abilities.
He thinks I may have the potential to peer into the world beyond, and doesn't think it's a coincidence that I would be writing this article at this time in my life.