Friday, October 2, 2009

Making Travelers Annoyed

SUN IN 9TH HOUSE
The sun, planet of warmth and vitality, is drifting through the 9th House, the House of Exploration and Travel. Now may be a great time to find new places to venture. Folks may be taking more vacations or trying something new in their lives.

Speaking of new and travel, I've seen some fairly odd behavior on the transit system lately. Is there no transetiquette anymore? First of all, I don't understand how people A: shove straight through others when coming on the train and don't let people off, and B: don't move to the middle of the train so that people coming on the train have room to stand. It's amazing to me that people do not make room for others.

Then there are the people who listen to music on the train at volumes that can be heard at the other end of the train. Thank you for being so into your music that you want to share it with the rest of the world, but seriously, I have my own space and prefer to keep it that way. Plus, don't you know that you're destroying your hearing? Might as well start learning sign language now. You'll need it later.

Still, I can forgive all this in light of the event I witnessed the other night. It was a late night after work and I waited for awhile for the 4, 5, 6. I would have preferred to take the 4 or 5, but with infallible fallibility, the MTA let me down again and delivered the 6 after an annoyingly long wait. The upside was that I had a seat. A man was sitting in a smaller seat near the door. As I watched with incredulity, he slid open the door between cars, pulled out a cigarette, and proceeded to light up. He smoked from 125th street to 68th street. Just to be sure I wasn't crazy, I glanced up at the wall where the NO SMOKING sign rested, oblivious of the irony.

Anyone else see this kind of thing? It makes me want to drive...

...almost.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Detailing

MERCURY GOES DIRECT
Mercury, planet of communication, has just returned direct on its course as of yesterday, and today, drifts through Virgo, the sign of meticulousness and detail, as well as service. This implies a refocusing on the details of one's life and the possibility of "fall cleaning" as people attempt to get their lives back in order after the Merucry-in-retrograde period. As Virgo likes to say, a place for everything and everything in its place.

Revamping one's life to return to order is more easily said that done. There are so many aspects of life to keep straight and this writer, for one, is feeling a little overwhelmed. Whether you are dealing with school, work, projects, partners, friends, enemies or just quotidian minutiae, one might hope that the Mercury in Virgo will be there to support and benefit you. As they say, "Life is in the details," but then they also say, "You can't see the forest for the trees," and who are they anyway?!

Details become a huge part of human life. You never hear a cat saying, "I'm sorry; can you run that by me again? I missed the part where you feed me and I eat. What exactly do I do first?" True, details are a natural part of life. One only has to look at the intricacies in a spider web or the patterns of dots on a lily to see that detail is what helps create beauty. Yet being bogged down in detail is certainly a human construct, is it not? We try to keep things simple, but eventually, all of the little parts begin to speak and soon, it is a cacophony of clamoring slices of the whole. After all, that is where the word "detail" comes from: detailler, meaning to cut up into pieces.

This is not to say that those pieces are not important. Far from it. After all, a word is comprised of letters - at least in the romantic and germanic traditions. These letters are associated with sounds and the sounds are then put together to create blended sounds, which we then associate with meaning, thus creating a word. Words are then put together to create sentences and sentences to create stories, or blogs just like this one. So without the details, the story in question could not exist. And then you come back and say, "Well, a picture is worth a thousand words." Of course. Let's examine the millions of brush strokes or pencil marks, etc, that make up that picture. Or if it's a mental picture, then the millions of details that you might notice in creating that picture - the colors, the movement, the textures, the expressions - and that's just the visual sense. Everything here is comprised of detail, including a blog about detail.

Then, of course, teachers ask you, "What's the gist of the story?" Well, now, although the detail is vital, that's not what the teacher is after. In fact, most people don't want to hear the innumerable details when a story is being told. It rarely matters whether the incident happened on a Tuesday, at 2:56pm, outside on a day of 83 degrees...no. Many people would get fed up with such a story. Vital in a police report; boring in a tale. Therefore, they want the gist, the overall action. What happened? One has to eschew the many details to pick out the important themes. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. It's working through those parts to find the whole that makes it difficult, but once the whole is found, the parts don't seem to matter much anymore.

So go ahead and sweat the small stuff. Just don't let them take over.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting Reacquainted

SUN IN LIBRA
The sun has just entered the seventh sign of the zodiac, Libra, sign of balance, harmony, and relationships. Libra is currently sitting in the 7th House, the House of Partnerships. We should see a deliberate shift of focus from the quotidian minutae of Virgo to the more social, outgoing nature of our connection-centric selves.

It has been nigh a month since I last wrote and apologize for that. Things have been quite busy, not the least because of Mercury's decision to travel retrograde. Still, Libra brings relationships and balance to the forefront, so I return to connect with my readers.

A focus on relationships doesn't necessarily mean romance. And with Mercury in retrograde, there's high possibility for miscommunication and misunderstandings. Still, in examining our relationships, it's important to take a look at what benefits each of us in our connections with others, be they friends, family, or even foe. Yes, believe it or not, you have a strong relationships with your enemies too; consider the emotion involved. It's the acquaintances you have to examine in depth, since they are the ones you don't have such a deep emotional involvement with!

Sun-in-Libra is an special time for me because my natal sun is in Libra, meaning my birthday is coming up. Yes, I am a Libra; I admit it! I am charming, shallow, vain, and relationship conscious. We just can't help it. One of the hardest things for most Libras to deal with (besides making a decision) is handling the anger or depression of others with regard to them. Libras are a balance-oriented breed and the thought that someone could be upset with us is highly disturbing. We don't like to fight or argue and unless there's a strong water or earth streak in the chart, we don't hold grudges very well. The only time a Libra will come out swinging is if there is a question of fairness. We are sticklers for fair treatment - it comes from being able to see both sides of the story, which is a curse and a blessing.

Recent events have brought to my awareness the way that different people deal with issues of injustice, unfairness, and hurt. I have many friends who are able to close a door. Some of them slam it shut. Do not get on their bad side for you will never recover from it. They encourage others to do the same, seeing former friends who have hurt them as a cancerous element of society that they prefer to cut out. With the power of "defriending" someone on Facebook, there's an added way to make the point.

Others are more willing to forgive. My parents taught me that in every relationship, you start out with 100% trust. Once that trust is broken, you go down to 0% and you have to work your way back up. I've adopted this theory because I like to believe that people are basically good. They have their faults, of course. Everyone has their baggage. It's whether we can handle the baggage that matters. I want to be a forgiving person who understands that people make mistakes, but there comes a point where you have to recognize that no matter how much you may understand their side of the story, you still ended up hurt. Self-preservation has to play a part at some point, doesn't it?

One of my friends subscribes to the adage, "Forgive, but don't forget." This is becoming increasingly sensible as I watch the events around me. I'm studying to be an educator, after all. Understand that people make mistakes. Know that they will. Expect it. Students are encouraged to try and not be afraid of failure. Intention should count for something, even though the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Still, if something is not meant to be malicious, I can usually understand it. Even so, learn from it. Don't forget. Forgetting dooms the victim to repetition. Learn and be guarded next time. Go into things with eyes open. "Forgive, but don't forget," seems to embody the balance required by a Libran Sun. We must remember that people are not always out to get us, that they might see things in a different way and it can be misconstrued, that they are acting on their behalf - then so must we. Learn from the situation, and move forward.

The sun continues to shine and there are more relationships to be explored.

Happy Equinox!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Child Care

MARS IN CANCER
The combination of the most passionate planet, Mars, in the nurturing sign of Cancer is going to show an increase in mothering instincts and critical natures. This may seem like a contradiction, but looking to our own mothers, they were probably the most nurturing and critical influences in our lives. Keep in mind that people are looking out for your best interest and not intending to shoot you down.

I've noticed an odd trend through my nights at work. As I work until midnight or 1am, I end up taking the bus across town, no easy feat when the bus tends to take forever just to arrive. That being said, while I stand there awaiting the bus, I notice an unbelievable amount of children, especially ages six and younger. They're on the street and on the bus. Okay, they're not random children wandering the streets of New York; this is hardly a production of Oliver! or anything. They're usually accompanied by an adult, but still, what in the world are children doing out in New York until 1am? I'm watching them fall asleep on the bus. They have to be carried off the bus and taken home.

There was even an incident at my place of work where, during a performance, the sister-in-law of one of the performers showed up with a gaggle of children. While he was onstage, she dropped them off, said they were his responsibility and left. We had a number of young children with nowhere to go and no one to look after them. Who does that?

Honestly, do we care about our children anymore? As my mother always said, "You didn't come with an instruction manual." Still, aren't there certain ideas that just seem like common sense? I realize that there are extenuating circumstances that might require one to bend things for children every so often, but they shouldn't be the norm.

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well, but don't let them lead the way because if they have their way, they'll stay up late!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Radio Debut!

MARS IN GEMINI
Gemini, the sign of communication, is playing host to Mars, planet of ambition. People will be developing a stronger and more passionate method of communication. Arguments may develop (Mars was the Roman god of war), so be careful.

I have the distinct honor and privilege of being Mark David Gerson's guest on his blogtalkradio show: The Muse and You. Details are as follows:

Show time:
12 Central (1pm ET / 10am PT)

Call-in #: 646-595-4478

All friends are welcome to call in (same number as you'll be using) with questions. If you have a blogtalk radio account, you can also log in and ask questions through the chat room. Listeners can also tweet their questions (@markdavidgerson.com); he will be monitoring his feed throughout the show.

Information on Mark David:

Mark David Gerson is an internationally recognized author, speaker, mentor and coach whose inspirational writings are read in more than two dozen countries.

Through more than 15 years of classes, workshops, coaching and consulting, Mark David has guided groups and individuals to connect with their innate wisdom, open to their creative power and express themselves with ease.

Poets and playwrights, novelists and educators, amateurs and professionals, people who don't believe they can write and people with a compelling call to write — all have benefited from working with him, as have nonwriters seeking to move through life's challenges and awaken to their highest potential.

Mark David is author of the award-winning novel, The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy, and of The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, a book and companion 2-CD set of writing inspiration, instruction and practice.

He recently completed a screenplay adaptation of The MoonQuest and is at work on the first of two projected sequels to the book.

Hope you tune in! Looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Revival

URANUS IN PISCES
Uranus, planet of eccentricity, appears to be going backwards (retrograde) through the sign of illusion and spirituality: Pisces. We may see a revival of faith in a unique way. With faith as such a personal aspect of life, it may not be revealed so overtly, but a chance conversation may open unusual doors.

Speaking of unusual doors, I slipping behind one last night into another world. I was present at what turned into a full gospel revival. For those who have read previous posts, you may be asking yourself, "Why would you attend such an event?" Well, I was actually working the event as a server, so I wasn't quite there as a guest. However, I wish I had had a notebook for the night. There were so many moments that I lost due to lack of note-taking.

Growing up in the Jewish religion, and not incredibly observant, I have had rare religious experiences that approach the level of last night. There was one instance in Indiana where I went with friends to their church. They were so excited about it that I couldn't resist. It was fascinating and somewhat uncomfortable. I have to admit that it felt a little cult-esque.

Last night, however, was a truly new experience. The stage was set for all kinds of performances and they appeared. There was an opening benediction and a few prayers that went with that. Everything was blessed in the name of Jesus and every song was dedicated to the Lord. There were Jesus songs, Jesus poems, Jesus comedy. People everywhere were praying, laughing, dancing, stomping, singing, crying. The entire room was filled with "a joyful noise," a cacophony I had never witnessed. My customers were in various stages of zeal. I saw a man dressed completely in pink pajamas dancing across from a 6'5, 350 lb. man, stomping and clapping.

It was complete immersion into another culture. I felt like Alice in Wonderland, where all of the rules are different, and you're trying to find your way. Everything made sense to those who knew the rules. It was incredible to see the bond people have with each other, almost tangible faith.

Definitely a night to open the mind and take a walk in someone else's shoes...or on water.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Twisted

NEPTUNE IN AQUARIUS (RETROGRADE)
Planet of illusion, Neptune travels seemingly backwards through Aquarius, the sign of originality and eccentricity. Unusual experiences may occur in unexpected ways. Twists and turns of life shall surprise, sometimes delighting and sometimes depressing, but all surprise.

Illusion and twist is a fascinating part of human existence. We are fascinated by it. We crave it. We are seek it out: in books, in movies, in television. We are not always happy to see it in life, but we are conditioned to expect it. Things are not always what they seem. Humans rely on such and often are able to tell that something is up. It's called a sixth sense.

Speaking of sixth sense, I'm currently watching A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, starring Haley Joel Osment. I had never seen it before today. It's terribly frightening and the fascinating, not just because of the development of film-making progress used in this movie, but because of the study of human existence. Still, what captures me the most is how terrifying Haley Joel Osment's character is, though I don't believe he's meant to be. Let's face it, the kid was cute as a kid, though he has not aged well. There is nothing more disturbing than something that seems innocuous, but presents itself as much more in practice. Granted, the movie itself is supposed to be disturbing, but there is a further element in that this seeming child is, in actuality, a robot, and to see child-like reactions from a creature that is not a child strikes a minor chord in our brains.

We see this representation in numerous books and movies. The scariest enemy is the most innocent one. As I've always maintained, there is nothing that sets the searing rush of fear through my chest as a child singing a nursery rhyme in a darkened hall. Horror writers have used children for countless stories. Things associated with children have played major parts in such tales: dolls, clowns, toys. Stronger than a fear of the unknown, it is the finding of something unknown within the familiar. There is excitement and apprehension involved in the discovery of new information. We find it intoxicating. And so, no matter how many times it may hurt, there is always the possibility of it being something amazing. So we search again.

Just be ready for the twist.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Exercise Connection

MARS IN THE 2ND HOUSE
The fighter planet, Mars, blasts its way through the 2nd House, the House of Physicality. Drive and sexuality, rooted in the physical body, pushes us to discover our limits and possibly expand them.

Speaking of pushing physical limits, I've expanded mine by embarking on a new journey at my gym. Usually, I go to the gym to do cardio with a friend of mine or make a well-intentioned attempt at free weights. Sadly, though, I don't have a great deal of experience or background in exercise (unless you count dance class). Therefore, I don't know when to up the reps, the sets, or the weights. However, I do find that cardio is very beneficial and though I don't completely understand the numbers, it's nice to know that I burned 300-500 calories, depending on the session, of course.

Recently, though, I decided that I have been missing out on a huge section of the gym membership: free classes. Now, in the past, I've gone to dance class at Broadway Dance Center or some equivalent, but I simply can't afford daily classes. Fortunately, my gym offers free classes in yoga, strength training, spinning, power dance, etc. To some, that may sound like absolute misery, but I am attempting each class in hopes of toning up with instruction. Some, like spinning, leave me completely drained afterwards. Strength training taught me that I have none. Power dance proved to me that I should never attempt to hip hop. Yoga stretched me - something I needed after taking spinning, strength training, and power dance.

There is an interesting phenomenon I have noticed in my gym experiences. When I work on the free weights, I seem to be mostly, though not exclusively, surrounded by men. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining. Yet, the second that I set foot in a class - be it yoga, strength training, or dance - the class is overwhelmingly female. Spinning evens the score a bit, but since starting the other classes, I have been the only guy in each and every class. Brings me back to middle school days of taking ballet. Years of that can prepare a guy for being the lonesome Y-chromosome member, but somehow, I figured the New York sports scene would boast a different ratio.

Why is this? Are men (in general - careful, now, I'm not making blanket statements) more independent when it comes to working out and women prefer a bit of direction? Obviously, our body types are different and need different types of workouts. Still, do we gravitate towards what will help us the most? What is easiest for us? Why this gender divide with regard to exercise? I think each gender uses the gym as a metaphor for taking control and in their own way, each enjoys the benefit of support. Women find an obvious connection with others through formalized class; men find this connection by surrounding themselves with like-acting individuals. Either way, the bond is formed and more than endorphins, that connection creates more good feeling for when one leaves the gym. It also keeps us coming back. That's why they say having a gym buddy keeps you going.

I know I will keep going. Class dismissed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wedded Bliss

SUN IN LEO
The basic planet of warmth is in its ruled sign, Leo, the sign of drama and creativity. This is when the bombasticism of life comes out in spades and people show their more domineering and aggressive sides. This is also when we see the more entertaining elements of life come to the forefront. Additionally, the sun is in the 7th House, the house of partnerships. Creativity and dramatics abound in our relationships such that we might see flare ups and passionate resolutions.

This past weekend, I attended my third wedding of this year. (There are seven in total. Hmmm, seven weddings, 7th house is the house of partnerships...and 2009=2 numerologically. Gotta love synchronicity.) This wedding was slightly different from the others. Well, all weddings are different, of course, but this had an added element of being my first lesbian wedding. Not only that, but an interfaith wedding on top of that - Jewish/Christian. Strangely enough, that seems to be a theme this year. Third wedding, and all three so far have been Jewish/Christian weddings. However, where the first two were Jewish/Italian, this one was Jewish/German.

It was a beautiful ceremony and very much tailored to the interests of the brides. It took place in a synagogue (somewhere I haven't been in forever), under a homemade chuppah. The chuppah was created through the efforts of friends. Each guest was given a square of fabric to design in any way that they saw fit (within reason, of course) and they were sewn together to create the chuppah. The music was chosen by the brides and it was untraditional and very poignant. I don't think I've cried so much at a ceremony in my life. (Yeah, I'm sensitive.) They kept my favorite Jewish tradition: the breaking of the glass at the end. My favorite explanation of this tradition is that love will last as long as it takes to put the myriad of pieces back together.

There was another cup used in the ceremony: the German wedding cup. Here is the tale as written in the program:

Legend says a young noblewoman fell in love with a goldsmith. Her father, who did not approve of the marriage, made the following proposal: "If your goldsmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop, you may marry him." Inspired by love and with skillful hands, the young goldsmith created a masterpiece which owon his beloved's hand in marriage.

The German wedding cup that the brides used was also used for the wedding of the brother of one bride. It was a lovely tradition that connected the family to the ceremony. While the brides were the focus of the wedding, of course, they made sure their friends and family shared a large part of the day. We all felt included in this public declaration of love. It was unique and powerful and I am happy to have been a part of it.

More weddings to come.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Schadenfreude

FIERY SUN AND MOON
The sun has been in Leo for over a week now and the moon is currently in Sagittarius. Both are fire signs, and therefore very passionate, and Leo is a very dramatic sign, while Sagittarius is the sign of exploration. Our outer nature will be drawn to drama and bombastic adventures, while our inner self longs to travel.

Speaking of travel, I am coming to you from the road. That's right, folks, I'm in transit from New York to Philadelphia, and thanks to yet another element, water, what should have been a two hour jaunt has turned into a five hour excursion. Still, I can't blame it all on the rain. There is a fabulously obnoxious practice that will never fail to create traffic even under the best of weather conditions.

As we crawled under the dark, pendulous clouds with gray rain sheeting around us, I suddenly saw the light. No, I had no epiphany; it was the familiar blue and red lights of a squad car. Aha! There was an accident. Being on the other side of the bus, I could not see what unfortunate event had occurred, but I did note that no sooner had we passed by that our speed began to increase and traffic seemed to disperse.

What could have possibly caused this phenomenon? There is a term that is an apt description of the situation: rubbernecking. The act of twisting one's head in order to observe and event more easily. However, when driving, that act can be very dangerous; ergo, most people will slow down in order to perform this irritating action.

What is this fascination we have with accidents? We describe other things, such as someone's outfit, this way. "It was like a train wreck. I couldn't look away." The human race is infinitely fascinated with seeing people fail. It's incredible to me. Specifically with roadside trauma, unless you are a police officer, an EMT, or some other service member who is able to assist, keep moving! Besides, if it's a big enough issue, it'll be on the news later.

Which brings up another point: why must the news be inundated with accidents, deaths, rapes, shootings, killing, murder, etc? It's so rare to hear about a good thing. The television has been referred to as the "idiot box." Why? Because it enables escape. It's supposed to free our minds; hence it being mind-less. The news does just the opposite; it smacks us in the face with reality, forcing us to acknowledge such horrible aspects of our world with wild abandon that it's overwhelming at times. I am amazed by people who can sit and watch the news all day. I go to my television to escape reality.

Reality TV shows are no better. While they don't quite provide us with "reality" as they claim, it's certainly enough of it to make me cringe. Shows like American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance are great shows in their own right, I suppose, especially when (and if) you get to the point where everyone is incredibly talented. However, they televise the auditions and I have many friends who are uninterested in the show once the auditions are over. They love to watch people get shot down. That is not fun for me at all. People who have dreams of performing get crushed on those shows. And folks argue, "But it's good for them. Someone has to tell them that they suck." Fine, go ahead. I don't want to watch someone's dreams destroyed. I'd rather watch the last episode when someone's dreams come true.

This is beyond schadenfreude ("happiness at the misfortune of others"). I admit that, when watching a movie, I want to see the bad guy get what's coming to him, but it's not exciting to me to see the the average human being harmed for the entertainment of others. And roadside accidents are certainly not for the entertainment of others, but people certainly seem to view it that way. If you're one of those people who has to watch to see what happened, fine, but pull over! Otherwise, drive on!

The drama of misfortune has its appeal, but I prefer to attend such an event when it's planned and brilliantly written, rather than accidental or shallow. Perhaps the sun in Leo will not let us get away with banal tragedy. Yet, Leo's sun is playful as well and as I finish this blog, I can see it winking at me from behind the clouds.

Here comes the sun.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Word Of Mouth

PLUTO IN THE THIRD HOUSE
Pluto, planet of power, rests in the 3rd House, the house of communication and humanity. People will find great importance in what they and others say, write, and other media of conveyance. Pay close attention to what your friends are saying or telling you through their body language. You might find some hidden tidbits.

In the vein of communication (or lack thereof), I realize I am way overdue for a new blog post and I beg the forgiveness of my readers. However, with power rooted in communication, especially with the influence of Capricorn, there is great potential for growth, especially with regard to career and recently, there have been many developments in my literary world. Since that has been an enormous influence in my life, I can't help writing about it, so I am excited to make the following announcements.

Firstly, I have just been introduced to blogtalkradio, which is an online radio talk show website, where you can tune in to shows of varying topics. I've been exploring some of the shows and in fact, one of my newest friends just began a wonderful show, called "The Muse & You." His name is Mark David Gerson and he is an award winning author who helps people with their creativity. I have the pleasure to say that I will be his guest on August 20th at 1pm EST, talking about the writing process. Please feel free to tune in and check it out!

In other book news, Rising Sign was just entered into the Wake Up Celebrity Author Contest, where votes from all around the world count to rate it as far as cover, title, and summary are concerned. The more votes and the higher rating, the better the book does and the winner of the contest will be pushed to the top of the Barnes and Noble bestseller list; a coveted position among writers. As many of you are readers in your own right, I would be honored to have you stop by and cast your vote for Rising Sign.

Tell all friends. As Pluto in the 3rd House demonstrates, word of mouth can be a powerful influence.

Thank you to everyone who has been steadily reading for their continued support and I promise that the next blog will be much more entertaining.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grab-Blog

DIRECT VS. RETROGRADE There is a split in the chart for today. Half of the planets are direct and in a row of houses while the other half are retrograde and in a row of opposite houses. What madness might occur from this, especially after yesterday's solar eclipse? This might be a great opportunity to try something you wouldn't normally explore.

A few friends of mine have subscribed to the madness that is the blogosphere. There is a great deal of joy to found in blogging and in reading blogs. I would like to introduce them to my readers.

If you love sweets, this first blog will whet your appetite. The Chocolate Swirl is a dessert company run by a friend of mine in New York. There are numerous confections that they offer, including truffles, cupcakes, cakes, brownie pops, and cookies. They ship throughout the country and will create specially designed desserts for numerous occasions. (I sound like an ad, don't I? I can't help it. I love The Chocolate Swirl.) When my mother graduated from college, I commissioned a cake that was made from two books and a graduating cap. It looked awesome; everyone commented on it. They just started a blog, complete with pictures and advice, one post of which is what you can do with leftover cupcakes. I would have never thought to use them the way The Chocolate Swirl does! Curious? Or hungry?

The second blog is a new blog by an author friend of mine. If you like the Star Child Trilogy, but feel that it's too old for your kids, you might want to check out The Wonky Witch. Author Becky Titelman has recently started a blog to track her endeavors with this fabulous series. Kids will find endless fun on the Wonky Witch website and book three is almost out! The adventures of Maude Sinks and her friends in Abracadabra Academy are wonderful for any age, but especially those who haven't quite reached Harry Potter or Star Child level yet. The adventures of Becky herself are a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in children's literature or enjoys writing themselves.

Whether your passion is sweets or books, be sure to check out these fabulous blogs!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Casey Feldman: In Loving Memory

MARS AND VENUS IN THE 8TH HOUSE
Both the planet of passion (Mars) and the planet of beauty (Venus) lie in the Eighth House, the house of regeneration, death, and rebirth. There will be change, especially with regard to relationships or passionate endeavors. Perhaps you'll be changing idea of what you want.

Unfortunately, this is a rather negative post. Upon exploring my Facebook, I saw a post that one of my former students had joined the group: In Loving Memory of Casey Feldman. Completely shocked, I immediately went to the group, but since it was a locked group, I requested admittance and headed over to her page where I found a number of RIP messages from her friends. I checked the pages of other students and saw posts and pictures in her honor. Determined to find out what happened, I Googled her name and came across one article that finally told me that she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street in a crosswalk. She was rushed to the hospital where she passed five hours later. There is also a Fordham blog in her honor.

I realize that there are many who did not have the pleasure of knowing this young woman. Casey was a former student of mine who I directed in my high school's production of The Laramie Project back in 2004. She was a bright, vivacious girl who went on to work in journalism. Working with her made me laugh. She had an infectious smile and incredible enthusiasm for the work. She showed wonderful promise when I worked with her and though she was never able to realize her full potential, she made fabulous progress before she left us.

I am devastated to experience my second loss of a friend almost within a year. My roommate was killed the same way last year. Although death is a change, it is an incredibly radical change and extremely hard to deal with when it's so personal. And so young. Jen was taken from us at 29; Casey, at 21. One of the hardest things is watching others go through the same thing. Seeing them deal with death at such a young age is heartwrenching. No one knows what to say when something like this happens. Nor would I, given the same situation.

One friend offered this: Some people are meant to sit under the stars and some are meant to be them. My Casey's star burn bright and watch over all of us.

I wish to send all love and warmth to those who deal with deaths in their own lives and especially to the family and friend of Casey Feldman. My heart grieves with you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black And White

SUN IN CANCER/PLUTO IN CAPRICORN
The sun, planet of vitality and basic nature, is in Cancer, the sign of nurturing and home life. Pluto, the planet of power, is in Cancer's opposite, Capricorn, the sign of ambition and career life. This suggests that personal focus is going to be sensitivity and the hunt for belonging. The worldwide focus is going to be on economy and workforce. This combination may bring about a strong focus on job security and how the workforce will support or not support those in power.

As Cancer and Capricorn are opposite signs, there are many opposites with regards to interpretations of our world. We've heard the phrase "black and white" before. It shows up in many ways throughout our lives: good and bad, pro and con, either/or, this or that. Any situation can and is broken down into very simple choices. We know people who see the world in black and white. For them, choices are easy. They see everything as either on one side or the other.

I also know people who see the world only in black or only in white. They refuse to see any options other than the one before them. For these people, there is no choice. They can only work with the shade of life they choose to view. There other is always viewed as bad.

Of course, some people say, "That's ridiculous. Nothing is black and white. Everything has shades of gray." Many people I know agree with this and fit this category. There are so many sides to any situation. If you have thirty-five people that witness an event, you're going to get thirty-five different accounts of that same event. These shades of gray are myriad, but they are yet not enough.

I like to take the worldview a step further. The world can be seen in a veritable smorgasbord of color, each with a plethora of shades. Take the previous event into consideration. Now, not only will you have thirty-five accounts of the event, there are innumerable emotions intertwined with each moments of the event and those will change from day to day. People's experiences change their perspectives and of course, everyone prefers to offer an account that makes them look better. We are all individuals and as widely varied as there are frequencies of color and light, even beyond the human eye.

Think about it. Just not too long or your perception will change. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tykes And Teens

MOON IN ARIES
The moon, planet of hidden emotion, is traveling through the youngest sign of the zodiac, Aries. A bout of childishness will emerge in many people, but in subtle ways. Keep an eye out for your own inner child and try to give him or her what she needs before he or she takes over and you find yourself watching unattractive children's theatre.

So, continuing with the lesson in child development (oh, stop it, you were fascinated by the last post), we discussed another theorist - Piaget - who has four stages of development. As my professor was discussing these stages, one thing became abundantly clear: adolescence is just a repeat of early childhood. I'll pause for the resounding, "Duh!" from all of the parents out there.

Let's examine the evidence.

The main quality that exemplifies the early child: they are egocentric. Well, of course they are; they have no concept of other people, except for the parents, who, if they're typical parents, dote on the child. I mean, come on, even if there are older siblings, the parents are going to show attention towards the younger child for awhile. Unless the child is taught to share, a young kid is going to focus completely on themselves and believe that everything revolves around them. No one could feel differently from them. The only rules that really apply are created by them. Everyone thinks exactly the same as they do.

Sounds like a lot of teenagers I know. Egocentric? Check. Name one teenager you know that doesn't think that the world revolves around them. Exactly. They believe they are invincible; they can do whatever they want at any time without repercussion because they knew best. They take this to the extreme. They are consumed with themselves. No one could possibly understand them.

Taking it a step further, I believe that age 15 is the equivalent of the terrible twos. Where a two-year old is "no"-it-all, a 15-year old is a know-it-all. It's the wonderful age that a teenager believes that they know everything and it starts almost the second that the 15th birthday occurs. Fortunately, eventually, that dissolves and the teenager regains a sense of humbleness.

...hopefully.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Matter Of Trust

SUN AND GEMINI IN CANCER
As these two planets traverse the sign of nurturing and home (Cancer), we'll see a lot more communication with our "home" groups, whether that be family, friends, coworkers, etc. We turn especially to the mother figures in our lives to find a trusting soul who understand us.

This week, I began my class in Child Development. Stop groaning; it's actually fairly interesting, especially to me since I originally went to school for psychology. For those of you who were just tempted to stop reading, consider that each of you was a child at one point and this applies to you. I'm also highly intrigued by this subject because of the psychological aspect of astrology. From the first day of class, the comparison between these two subjects was setting off bells inside of my brain. The teacher, on the first day, asked us to think about the question, "Who am I?" as we read the eight stages of development by Erickson. (If you're unfamiliar with Erickson, do not fret.) Who am I? There are so many ways to answer that question, including, on an astrological level, Libra sun, Pisces moon, and Gemini rising. I'm also a firstborn and the only boy among four grandchildren.

However, this question was asked in specific respect to Erickson's article. Erickson defines the development of the human being as a series of crises. The first crisis (and I'm sure I will be working through each of them here over the course of the...well, course) occurs between a person's birth and 18 months of age. The crisis is called trust vs. mistrust. It's when we either learn to trust the world around us or we learn to to distrust it. Who is to blame for all of this? Why, our parents, of course. If they are inconsistent in their ministrations to us as babies, we do not develop that sense of trust that we so desperately need throughout life. Without this, we will be unable to to form relationships or even know that there are things we can depend upon.

That's an awful lot of pressure to put on a new parent! Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this crisis, should we fail to develop the proper sense of trust. Therapists love this, of course. Babies must feel that they will be taken care of. There is no better sign for this than the nurturing sign of Cancer, the sign of the mother. Additionally, it's probable that a strong Piscean influence will produce a desire to escape, which Erickson may say stems from the infant's learned mistrust. While I am fairly certain that my teacher will not accept a strong planet in Cancer as a compensation or a Piscean excuse, I have to admit to strong curiosity regarding these stages and what other influences may be involved, and not just the astrological ones.

My teacher, so far, seems pretty hardcore about the Ericksonian developments, but then, I suppose it's her job. I certainly enjoy having a professor who is passionate about her subject. I am not likely to broach the star route in class, but I will certainly be keeping track of any parallels between them.

On a personal note (as if there isn't a part of this blog that isn't personal), I do not think that trust vs. mistrust is a crisis that I have carried on. I believe my parents did a very nice job helping me to trust the world around me. I learned my mistrust later, but not from them (or maybe it's my moon in Pisces influence).

And so the Erickson blogs are in their infancy. You can trust me on that.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Midsummer's Twelfth Night

NEPTUNE IN THE 1RST HOUSE
Identity confusion is going to be rampant while Neptune, the planet of illusion, traverses a retrograde path through the 1rst House, the house of self. There are always challenges when it comes to knowing oneself, and this is a difficult time for those who do not have a firm grasp on who they are. There may be a strong desire for escape from the self.

Nobody does identity confusion better than Shakespeare. Last night, I had the fortune to attend a production of Twelfth Night at the Delacorte in Central Park. This is the first show that I've ever seen at the Delacorte and the first thing that immediately hit the audience was the set. I do not always notice the set when I attend a show, but this set was beautifully constructed with faux grass and rolling hills. Trees dotted the landscape. It truly looked as I would have pictured Illyria to look. The advantage that the Delcorte offers a show like this is the natural outside environment.

Having been invited by a friend, I had no prior knowledge of the cast and I was surprised to see that Raul Esparza would be playing Orsino, Audra McDonald as Olivia, and Anne Hathaway would be taking on the gender-bender, Viola/Cesario. Knowing the first two to be well-known for their voices and aware that Anne was also making more use of her singing experience, I wondered aloud if the show were a musical adaptation. I was assured that it was not. We took our seats in the section that provided closed captioning, something I had not experienced except for at the Metropolitan Opera. There was an electronic board in front of our section, not blocking the stage, of course, that would scroll with the lines. I think it highly enriched the show for me, as a bibliophile and a writer, I absolutely love words and there are very few people who achieve the same resplendent poeticism that Shakespeare does. There's something to be said for reading a play and watching it come to life before you.

And come to life it did. From the moment the actors entered the stage, we were transported to Illyria. There were fabulous integrations of music throughout the show and the musicians were not kept separate from the actors, often stepping from the musical world directly into the Illyrian landscape. From the depths of the stage emerged Viola and her seafaring comrades. I was expecting fabulous performances from the well known actors (at least to me), and I was delighted to find that that extended through the entire cast, from those loveable characters like Maria and Sirs Toby and Andrew to the soldiers who stood by, silently in character, and adding depth to the scenes. I was never taken out of the show.

As the sky pinked with sunset, a full moon (in Capricorn) rose high over the stage, sending beams down upon Belvedere Castle in the background. Even the elements seemed to sense the drama that was happening onstage and Nature herself appeared as a character. The air seemed to pick up whenever the drama increased onstage. It added an extra dimension to the show.

To see Shakespeare's work come to life is always a treat and a treasure. To get the opportunity to experience that in Central Park in an open air forum was truly magical. If you get the chance to see this production, I highly recommend that you take it.

If music be the food of love, play on!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Everyday Tracking Devices

JUPITER IN AQUARIUS
Jupiter, the planet of expansion and travel is sitting in Aquarius, the sign of originality and eccentricity. This will reveal itself in a series of new innovations, especially in the technological world and the world of travel. Perhaps will see new advances in travel technology itself.

One such advance that I just became aware of is the Loopt application on cell phones. No, I'm not paid to promote it, as you'll discover as you continue to read. Just stay with me for a moment. I saw a commercial for this application and, curious to learn more, I sought out information on the website. Loopt allows the user to find out where their friends are and what they're doing. What a cool idea. Instead of calling your friends to find out where they are, you can just look on your phone and find them easily, along with directions to get there. It's perfect for the friend on the go.

Or the stalker. Am I the only one who finds this terrifying? Granted, I'm all for the cell phones and I love technological advances that make our lives more convenient, but goodness, this seems to be crossing a line. After all, not so long ago, you had to wait until you got home to find out if someone had called. Nowadays, you're not just a Luddite if you don't have a cell phone; it's unthinkable. You're beyond passe. Many can't believe that someone can survive without a cell phone. In fact, I can't imagine what I would do if I didn't have a cell phone, but I do remember a time when I didn't have one. I didn't get my cell phone until my junior year of college. Even now, I don't have a phone that allows apps.

The idea that we could be reached at any given moment almost makes the supposed convenience and inconvenience. Fortunately, right now, you can ignore a phone call, especially with caller ID. Imagine if someone that you're not particularly interested in speaking to not only can call, but can show up to wherever you are without prior notice. And let's consider the possibility with ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriends or someone who is interested in you, but it's not reciprocal. Let's just add that into the mix. They can find you no matter where you are.

There is something to be said for being unreachable. Pack animals though we may be, we do not need to know where each member of the pack is at every moment of the day. Haven't we seen enough scifi or action movies where they put a tracker on someone? They always attempt to get rid of it immediately. Now, we're offering the exact same thing to anyone who wishes to have it (and can afford it)? I find that a frightening prospect.

Say what you will. I like being off-radar.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day Fireworks

SUN IN CANCER/MOON IN SAGITTARIUS
Sun in Cancer, the sign of belonging and home is going to push people towards finding their own sense of unit. The moon in Sagittarius will color that with a great deal of wanderlust. People may travel in their journey to find a place that they call home.

That sense of belonging and home extends to the nation and the patriotism that naturally arises during Independence Day. It brings pride and comfort to know that you are celebrating with many others throughout a given nation. It's what draws us together during the Olympics. Well, that, and the sense of sport that churns the blood of many. The Olympics are a wonderful forum for nations to come together in healthy competition and for those of each country to show patriotic pride.

It seems that we love celebrate with ways that mimic that which frightens us the most: war. Some sports are highly war-like. Take a look at football, hockey, soccer, even capture the flag. Okay, that's not an official sport, but goodness, it certainly felt that way when I was playing. And don't even get me started on dodgeball. (Yes, I was picked last for everything; what of it?)

Moving on from that, all over America tonight, there were fireworks displays. People all over the country eagerly turned their eyes to the night sky to see "bombs bursting in air." Interestingly enough, fireworks predate the Independence Day celebration and were incorporated into the first Independence Day in 1777 (the war wasn't even won yet). Color wasn't even added until later.

When I was a child, I loved to see fireworks, but I was terrified of the loud noise that they made. Especially those that are most bomb-like. You know which ones I'm talking about; the ones that explode with a huge bang and a flash of white light and disappear immediately. Gosh, I hated those. I still do. What a pointless display. They're the bravado fireworks. It's like, geez, get over yourself. Look at the other fireworks. They have something to say. They have staying power and color and sometimes, sparkle. You are just loud. But then, so is war. So, I must acknowledge your right to be there.

As the night sky explodes throughout the country, I say, happy birthday, America.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rising Sign!

NEPTUNE/JUPITER CONJUNCTION IN THE 3rd HOUSE
Neptune, the planet of escape, and the Jupiter, planet of expansion, are together in the 3rd House, the house of communication and writing. People may be returning to reading and writing for entertainment. There may be a renewed dedication to blogging or maybe folks will pick up that book they haven't been able to get through.

Speaking of books, I have a bit of an announcement, if you'll forgive the shameless plug. My first novel, Rising Sign, is now available for purchase. If you're looking for that great summer read, this is a great choice, if I do say so myself (and I do).

"What's it about?" you ask. Well, imagine if the astrological signs were made human. What if they had special abilities on top of that? Now, throw in a deadly enemy and an child who can save the world. Sound interesting? If that doesn't sell you, head over to the Star Child Trilogy website and read the first two chapters. Here are a few of the reviews from folks who have read the novel:

"This novel kept me enthralled from start to finish."

"[...]it consumed my lunch, my train ride, and into the wee hours of the night."

"The development of each character in conjunction with his/her astrology is a remarkably intriguing twist on the sci-fi adventure epic[...]"

"This is a great book for both teens and adults who love adventures in the world of the supernatural."

So stop by and grab a copy today! :)

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride

MOON IN LIBRA
The moon, an emotional planet, resides in Libra, the sign of harmony and equality. This combination makes for a strong inner sense of fairness. We may see some movements towards equality and a desire to avoid conflict. People may show more tact in their methods of communication.

One of the greatest demonstrations of the fight for equality is the gay pride parade which occurred today in NYC. In the four and a half years that I've been here in New York, have never had the opportunity to attend this illustrious event. Needless to say, I was eager and excited to go this year and I made arrangements with friends of mine to meet up. Prior to this, I had had the pleasure of attending Allentown Pride (oh, yeah, REAL exciting), and Philadelphia Pride (much more exciting). I couldn't imagine what NYC Pride had in store.

Friends of mine went to Love Ball last evening. And I use the term "evening" loosely. Cinderelal would not have been able to handle this ball. It went from 10pm until dawn. Now, let me go on record by saying that I am not the party gay boy and never have been. It's not a lifestyle to which I am accustomed, but I have nothing against it. I spent last night at home, enjoying roommate time. I arose this morning and dressed in my best regalia: tight little jeans and my Ja(Red) shirt. Leather bracelet, rainbow bracelet, and gay pride rings. I strapped on my rainbow shoulder bag and my boots and I was out the door, on my way to the parade.

I arrived at the parade at noon and immediately found that my friends were going to be late. I befriended a photographer and we chatted for a bit. She and I watched the opening of the parade. Dykes on bikes started it off. There is something so awesome (in the traditional sense of the word) about the pride parade. There are so many ways to show pride and so many different areas of life to be proud of, not just in the gay community, but even within the alternative lifestyles. It was incredible to me. I especially loved the PFlag groups. It actually brought tears to my eyes to see families marching together.

My friends and I met up eventually. I never realized how political it would be. There were innumerable politicians marching with stickers and buttons and signs, demonstrating their support. There were so many different elements of support. In fact, the sign that caught my eye the most was carried by a woman marching alone: "Straight Married Christian Supporting Gay Rights." There was so much love and screaming and clapping. It was incredible to be part of it.

It was an experience I will never forget and I am looking forward to next year. To all who are celebrating every day in their own way: happy pride!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happiness

EARTH TAKES OVER
Half of the major planets are sitting in Earth signs. Venus and Mars (love and strength) in Taurus (stubbornness), Moon and Saturn (hidden emotion and limitations) in Virgo (health), and Pluto (power, AND retrograde on top of it) in Capricorn (ambition). The one quality that all Earth signs share is practicality. They are the grounded signs, the ones who hold to stolid, steadfast logic.

Happiness is finding a pencil, knowing a secret, telling the time...

Happiness is fragile, isn't it? It drifts in and whispers in your ear and the corners of your mouth twitch. Your lips stretch into a smile; the quintessential sign that someone is happy. There are so many kinds of smiles, though. There are sad smiles, fake smiles, smug smiles, concealing smiles. There is so much meaning behind a smile and yet, we assume that when someone is smiling, it means that they are happy.

Yet, happiness itself can be a lie. It is fleeting. Only a word or a gesture and the feeling is gone. And we fear that. Even the Funny Girl tells us, "Don't rain on my parade!"

Life is so harsh. It forces us to be practical, even negative at times. There's the fear that someone will burst your bubble. And it takes so little, doesn't it? It's very often with respect to love. New relationships bring so much happiness, but have the potential for so much heartache. It may be ourselves that brings about the fatal pinprick. There's a tendency to watch everything we say for fear of breaking the euphoric trance that we're in. Relationships can be like a drug; they bring incredible highs and tremendous lows and we struggle to find the right way to achieve the fix that we felt at the beginning. Is that possible? Was that true happiness? Or does true happiness lie within the latter parts of the relationship?

What is true happiness? And in finding it, does it contain within itself the seeds of its own destruction, usually manifesting in fear? Can we recognize it when we have it? Hey, everyone, if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! Clap and you get to save a faerie, for when a baby laughs for the first time, it becomes a faerie. So says J M Barrie. Clapping has been tied to happiness since we were children.

It's so hard to find this elusive element of life and yet, when you find a small pocket, you want to stay in its warmth forever. This is not always tied to relationships. There are many areas of life that may bring incredible happiness. Sadly, even then, it is a breakable quality and it usually takes something to small to douse the flame. Some way to "bring someone back to reality" that forces the happiness out, which begs the question, is happiness diametrically opposed to reality? Is it unreal? Surreal? Insane? Is ignorance really bliss?

This was explored somewhat in the previous blog Reworking Rene, but where that was a study of mind vs. heart, I want to know why happiness is so hard to pin down. Does the practical element of Earth have its own measure and method? Is its stolid take on life a weight that prevents those who attempt to soar from achieving flight? Or does it protect us from the Icarian fate that awaits those who soar too far?

I don't know these answers, but I do know that I shall cling to that sliver of insanity, that attempt to soar. As is said in Jeffrey, "How dare you not lunge for any shred of happiness?"

So I lunge. Don't rain on my parade.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Idiomatic

MERCURY IN GEMINI IN THE 3RD HOUSE
Triple threat. Mercury, planet of the mind, sits in its naturally ruled sign, Gemini. Both are in their natural house, the 3rd House, house of communication. We'll see a sharp peak in communication while this alignment exists.

Communication is a funny concept. We discussed some of it back in Tact: A Lost Art. There are always certain phrases that are innate to a language. Vernacular is powerful. Phrases such as "It's raining cats and dogs" or even "What's up?" are ingrained to mean things other than their literal interpretation. We all accept that these are known.

I had an interesting incident today at work. One of my supervisors sent me an instant message. Now, I know that instant messages have their own versions of language and their own rules regarding response time.

Sidebar: Apparently, if there is romantic interest, not responding within four hours to a text message is considered rude. (Keep that in mind.)

So, I was in a meeting and I get back to my desk and there's an IM on my screen asking for a username and a password for one of our sites. It had been sent, I saw, some seven minutes prior. As I laid my fingers on the keyboard to tap out a response, a new message popped up on the screen: "Nevermind." Shrugging, I went back to my work. Not three minutes later, another message pops up. "Are you going to respond to my IMs? It's been like, 10 minutes." I blinked. Um, did I miss a social cue? Does not "nevermind" mean "forget about it; don't bother responding?" Who responds to "nevermind?" I wouldn't even know what to say to that.

Seriously, let's get with the program people! Learn the words and know what they mean! I mean, am I alone on this? Anyone? Anyone?!

Nevermind...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Drink Up!

PISCES IN THE 2ND HOUSE
Pisces, sign of illusions and escape, is completely encompassed in the 2nd House, the house of sensuality, food, and possessions. People will show different ways of escaping, but through strange twists on practical means, especially imbibing and possibly drugs. Uranus's influence will add some eccentricity to the mix.

My grandmother is overfond of reminding me of a statement I made as a child, when I declared that I would never drink alcohol. I was maybe seven or eight. Naturally, I was unaware of what alcohol can do as far as good feeling is concerned. Nor did I understand that people drank to escape.

Needless to say, I have broken my former vow. I mandate that a promise made under duress is invalid and ignorance is certainly duress. I have had more alcohol in the past five days than I have in quite awhile. Oh, don't look at me like that; there are circumstances warranting a little alcohol and a wedding is certainly one of them. A friend in crisis is yet another. For those that know me, I am not a drinker by any stretch of the imagination and this is not because of any moralistic code. I don't like the taste of alcohol. Never have. The only alcohol I'll readily drink are sweet drinks or fruity wines (insert staple joke here).

It's interesting. Many people turn to alcohol or drugs for escape; to dull the pain or stress. Sometimes, I think it's a societal reaction. We know that's a routine for some. I know it. Strangely enough, I've said, "Man, I need a drink," but I never mean it. I just know that's what you're supposed to say. I know that's a natural thing to do. I still don't love the bite of alcohol. I don't even like being drunk. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy being tipsy. Yet, cross that line into drunk and forget it. I'm one of the most obnoxious creatures ever to walk the face of the Earth. Including Sarah Palin. I even annoy myself. There are very few drinks that I will willingly seek out purely for the taste.

I think it's fascinating that I react this way. It's almost Pavlovian. Okay, maybe not that far, but it's definitely a reaction. "Oh, you've had a hard day? A drink will help." Well, it's either that or cookie dough and honestly, given the choice, I'd rather eat cookie dough. I don't even like shots. I know that I am probably unique in this respect and if you enjoy alcohol, by all means, party on.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a glass of wine with dinner.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Health Education

SATURN IN THE 1RST HOUSE
Saturn, planet of health, sits in the 1rst House, the house of self. People will be focusing more on themselves with regard to their diet, exercise, and overall health. Especially with the influence of Virgo.

Health is a recent issue for me due to the class I took this week. This is large part of why I've been blogless this week. I know, you've been desolate without new Sign In Ink to read, but it's been a long week, trust me. A large part of that was because of my Teaching Health for Special Education Students class. This has to be the most depressing class I've ever had the misfortune to attend. Of course it's a required class! No one would take it otherwise.

It takes me back to middle school, when they first started teaching health, especially sex education. It lacks the incredible awkwardness of those first years of learning about sex from a gym teacher, but I'll be damned if it doesn't make up for it in story after story involving injury or death. The class is only a week long, so they're clearly trying to shove as much insanity into these 2.5 hour classes and they succeed. Fortunately, the teacher is a very nice and somewhat humorous older man who has a lighthearted attitude about his age and a somewhat feminist outlook on life.

We began with child abuse. I learned all about the horrendous things that can happen to a child and what to do if I should encounter or suspect it. The laws are extremely strict regarding the treatment of children. I am all for the protection of children, but did we have to go through and detail the countless ways that a parent or guardian can harm a child? Really, I didn't need to know what "sock burns" are. (If you really want to know, it involves scalding water.) The class has gone downhill from there.

We moved on to school violence. As if child abuse wasn't bad enough, let's talk about when the danger comes from inside the school. Children, parents, and strangers have been known to bring in weaponry, putting each attendee in jeopardy. It's a terrifying prospect. My professor was quick to reassure us that most of us would not encounter something like that, but now that he's declared that, it's fairly certain that I'm going to be one of those teachers. Beyond the gun issue, school violence also traverses the wild world of bullying.

Day three brought the most tumultuous subject: sexual education. Of course, it involves none of the joys; just the possible effects (STD and pregnancy) and how to prevent them. Ah, yes. There's nothing like American education to take all the pleasure out of sexual education.

Yesterday, we began forays into drugs, or as my professor likes to call it, "Better Living Through Chemistry." This time, there were none of the fun details to make us go, "Oooh." It was just a brief overview of the kinds of drugs and the ways that they enter our bodies. Of course, our professor was kind enough not to gloss over physical effects that could be detrimental. For someone who tends to have MSS (Medical Student Syndrome), that is NOT a good thing.

Monday, the last class will delve into nutrition. At this rate, the class will be exploring all eating disorders and the ways that food can negatively affect us. I know I can't wait.

I'm sure everyone is jealous that they don't get to take this class with me. If you really want to know how it feels, on Monday, June 22nd, from 430-7pm EST, just go back in your mind to your 6th grade health class. Remember sitting there with all of the other students, listening to a middle-aged teacher who usually forces you into dodgeball on rainy days, showing you the most revolting pictures they can find to scare you away from drugs and sex.

This is worse.

Monday, June 15, 2009

There Will Be Blood

1RST HALF
All of the planets, save Saturn, rest in the first houses of the zodiac, commonly ruled by Aries through Virgo. Currently, Capricorn through Gemini have usurped the usual rulers and taken over. The first half of the zodiac is commonly associated with the self, the individual's world. The 1rst House is especially self-associated. Yet, the planets in the first two houses are in retrograde. This would suggest that there's a warped sense of self going on and I can honestly say that I'm experiencing that today. Especially when it's the farther planet, Pluto, sitting in the 1rst House. Saturn, meanwhile, sits in the 8th House, the house of death, while traversing Virgo, the sign of health. An interesting combination. Perhaps that twist is what is affecting the introspection that accompanies a full first half.

Warning: Oddly dark thoughts ahead.

Blood. It's so powerful. So primal. So frightening. There is something about blood that is hypnotic and repulsive at the same time. The deep maroon river, coursing through our bodies to the heart current. It carries nutrients, drugs, disease, DNA. It oozes, pools, spurts, streams. It pulses and engorges. And it lightens to scarlet at the first taste of air. It is animalistic. Its presence may signify salvation or destruction.

Creatures are associated with blood: the hematophagytes. Leech, bat, mosquito. They feed on it. Vampire, of myth, is most easily identified as one who drinks blood. As Spike (vampire) says in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, "Blood is life [...] Why d'you think we eat it?"

It is the wine to accompany a carnivore's meal of choice.

Blood has religious significance. The Red Sea turned to blood. The transubstantiation of Jesus Christ. It has been used for decoration in Aboriginal rituals. It is a vital part of sacrifices from many religions.

The blood thundering in your ears. First blood of a fight. First blood of a maiden. Blood-ties. Blood-relatives. Signing a contract in blood. The significance of blood shows up in many ways throughout our lives.

I can't honestly say what prompted me to write this particular blog, unless one considers that I watched the season premiere of True Blood last evening and took a class examining child abuse and school violence this afternoon. There is so much hurting that happens in this world. People just seem so eager for it. Are we, at our basest natures, such fighters that when angered, we crave a way to affect the blood in someone else the way ours has been heated? To cause their blood to boil, to pool, and in extreme cases, to splatter. "Spilling blood" makes it sound like an accident, doesn't it? "Oops, I spilled your blood. Well, no use crying over spilled blood..." I wonder what it is within us that creates such an impulse. Is it instinct? Is it survival? I choose to think that we have evolved beyond that. Then why have we created such weaponry as to spill the blood of not just one person, but many within a very short time? There is such capacity for harm, for hurt, for hatred. Is this part of what it means to be human?

Is the killing instinct really an instinct anymore? Animals kill to survive. Humans rarely do. We kill for sport, for game, for fun. We kill in the name of our country, our god, our people. And the blood spills. To what end? What good is it to have the intelligence that we profess to have when it seems that animals cherish life far more than we do? I do not understand.

Perhaps the British phrase "Bloody Hell" is more literal than we thought.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All That Jazz

MOON IN PISCES
The moon, a planet of hidden emotion, just recently entered the sign of sensitivity, Pisces. This all takes place in the 11th House, the house of originality and eccentricity. A romanticized expression of emotion emerges while the moon traverses this sign. It will manifest in odd ways that might not be obvious at first. Exploration will reveal its path.

Last night, I had the experience of sitting through an improvisational jazz performance. I have to confess that although I would love to be the "artist" who is able to grasp the intricate complexities found within the lingering notes of a boisterous brass instrument, I was not a fan. I sat, assailed by the cacophony, attempting to discern the magic pattern behind the music, while dedicated patrons eagerly awaited the next blast. It was unfathomable to me. I could detect no given pattern, no rhyme or reason to the music. It appeared to me to be a series of solos wherein the given performer would demonstrate his prowess with his instrument. I saw nothing more than consecutive showing-off with no regard for the other performers onstage. Strangely enough, from what little I knew of jazz music, I assumed that musicians had to listen to each other to keep some sort of cohesive form. This is not to say that they weren't listening to each other, but it wasn't apparent to me.

In an attempt to understand, I turned to a companion of mine who not only enjoyed jazz music, but had participated in a few performances, and asked him whether the music before me was following a given routine or whether it was created on the spot. He responded that it was a little of both. The musicians, he informed me, were following a set of chord progressions, but within that construct, they had the freedom to improv. This made sense to me.

It does seem to be a metaphor for life. We work within a given construct, but we make decisions that help us standout. There are certain rules, whether they're set by family, society, religion, or by our own sense of personal duty, that we have to follow. Beyond that, we have the freedom to explore our own interpretations of the choices handed to us. Jazz seems to view music (and by my own interpretative extension, life) as a choose your own adventure. Remember those books? For those of you who have never experienced one of these books, at the end of certain pages in the story, you have a choice. "If you want to see Matt go through the door, go to page 52. If you'd rather see him take the stairs, skip to page 147." The story changes depending on the choices that are made, but if you're following the rules of the book, you have to make the choices given to you. You can't suddenly skip to page 204 if the page isn't offered. The story makes no sense.

I developed a different appreciation of jazz music in this light. Admittedly, the music that I heard last night is not that which I would naturally seek out, but the inherent constriction/freedom dichotomy within it is highly attractive. For those who study Kabbalah, the balancing elements of Chokma (expansion) and Binah (limitation) can be found in jazz music. Though my ears were reluctant to accept the sounds overtaking the room, my mind was fascinated by the varying meanings found within those sounds. They declared their own individuality within a world that requires certain acceptances.

I think that's part of why I write. It's my version of jazz.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened...

JUPITER IN AQUARIUS
The expansive planet Jupiter, ruler of Sagittarius (sign of exploration), is in Aquarius, the sign of originality. A wider realm of exploration opens before us. Travel to exotic places will be highly attractive now. New ways of learning will develop.

I am happy to announce that I've adopted one of the newest developments: the forums. I realize that online forums are not well-known, but I've seen them used in many ways. One is for education, as used by the Grey School of Wizardry. Another is for authors to communicate with their readers, such as Skyla Dawn Cameron's forums. A friend suggested to me that this might be a wonderful medium for my own novel. I thought it was a great idea and thus, the Star Child Trilogy forums have been created.

I'm so excited about the forums that I just had to announce it and invite all readers to check them out. They're easy and fun to use. You can create a profile. You connect with friends. You can discuss numerous topics. It's definitely a new world to explore. I encourage everyone to take a gander at the forums and maybe take a chance by creating a profile. Hope to see you there!

AstrologyClock