18 November 2005

24. Astrology

Dear astrology,

I don't believe in you in any meaningful sense of the word, but sometimes I wish I did. For instance, it sure would be soothing to explain away all my hyper-introspective troubles of the past August in terms of Mercury retrograde in Leo. It's appropriate that I started writing you this letter — a letter I was fairly sure could never reach you anyway — during said retrograde period, what with Mercury being a messenger god and his planetary namesake the astrological ruler of all things communication. Even more appropriate is the fact that I couldn't finish this letter during that retrograde period or the weeks afterwards when communications were supposedly back to normal. No, I had to wait until Mercury went retrograde again, because that's the kind of person I am. Okay, maybe that's just silly, but it amuses me.

The troubles that got me to start this letter began on July 23, a day marked "GOD HELP US ALL" in big black letters on at least one of the calendars at my hippie job, where I can actually get away with saying "I blame Mercury retrograde" and have people laugh not just at me being an astrology freak, but also with me, because they feel my pain and whatnot (it's actually store policy to avoid making major decisions during Mercury retrogrades, I kid you not). Extra bonus: word has it that since I'm a Virgo, I'm ruled by Mercury, so it was amazing I could get anything done at all during this period, which reportedly peaked out on August 16 and was completed (with Mercury's movement relative to the Earth looking normal again) on the 30th. Normal at least until the next cataclysmic cosmic convergence, which is just another way of saying "things may be bad, but the only way out is through, and if you just keep going you'll get there" --- which isn't too bad as far as advice goes; I'll buy that at least, and I don't have to subscribe to any of your stars and planets song and dance to appreciate that message.

Still, it would be nice if I could believe in you just enough to justify stuff I can't explain, at least to myself. The problem is — and I'm pretty sure it's not just you, but divination in general --- I'm a little too aware that your only meaning comes from how I read you selectively to describe my particular situation, and eventually I have to recognize that fact. Like earlier, when I learned about Mercury retrograde and it so conveniently explained so many of my problems of the mid-July and August, especially when I factored in Leo contributing extra bonus weird crazy ego issues... only then I got too far into the ego thing and found a Web toy and computed my birth chart, which I read as being full of things I didn't want to hear about myself. Not only was that not as fun as blaming all my troubles on a distant planet, it got me thinking that I probably wasn't reading my stars and planets optimistically enough, which in turn reminded me that I could read them however I wanted to, and wasn't it a good thing that I don't really take any of this stuff seriously anyway?

Yup, you're kind of a load of hooey, or at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself, except when you're useful. It's nothing personal, I'd just rather not turn into one of those people who can't shut up about the stars. And on that note, I'd better quit rambling and finish this letter.


Started 16 August 2005, at the peak of one Mercury retrograde period, published 18 November 2005, five days into the next, last updated/proofread 16 December 2005. Title abridged 1 December 2011.

23. Cars Parked in the Bike Lane

Dear cars parked in the bike lane,

Because of you, I used to wish for stickers that said, "I park in bike lanes! It's illegal, dangerous, and rude!" On good days, I'd imagine such stickers made with some kind of easily removable glue, and I'd promise myself that I'd only put them on glass. On bad days, I'd wish they were made with marine epoxy, for extra permanence and property damage. Sometimes I'd leave angry little notes on your windshields, when I had the time to stop, and little bits of paper to write on. But recently, I've had a change of heart.

Clearly, if you're parked in the bike lane, it must mean that your driver is involved in some kind of emergency. (In fact, some of your drivers are wise in the ways of using your emergency lights at these times, and I'm thankful for that, if not the fact that I still have to swerve precariously out into traffic to pass an illegally placed vehicle.) Still, from now on, whenever I encounter someone in a car parked in the bike lane, I'm going to stop and solicitously offer my assistance. I know a little first aid, and I'd be more than happy to call for help, even if it means ringing doorbells in a residential neighborhood until I find somebody who's willing to lend me a phone. I've almost been hit by police cars while trying to avoid bike lane parking jobs like you, so I'm pretty sure our local cops don't care about this problem, but we can always hope for a better response to an emergency call, right? There's really only one way to find out!

I will miss the petty satisfaction of kicking your car doors from the street as I pass, risking life and limb because your drivers were too inconsiderate to find a safe and legal place to stop. Those drivers always gave me the best shocked looks, like deer in headlights, only more offended. But no more. Now they will give me shocked looks when I try to be helpful. And I guess I still want those stickers.


started 7 November 2004, first posted 20 January 2005, updated 11 March 2009, after reading this lovely comic here. Title abridged 1 December 2011.