P (ART) NER [excerpt #1]

[PROLOGUE | ACTRESS]

When it all begins, you are sixteen, and you are an actress. You don’t know the mechanics of it yet –you know barely more than the fact that you’re a Pisces–but you are experiencing your first Saturn opposition. The planet is just finishing up a transit of your tenth house of reputation, public image & career. You’ve just come off a successful run of playing Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The Rock Musical, to many, many accolades. You are kind of a square. Most Friday nights are spent with Cary & Megan: both approaching eighteen, seniors. You are beloved, a younger friend, almost a pet. The three of you have a tradition called a caker. Cakers entail: hitting up the Gristede’s located in the shopping center adjacent to your town’s senior community, and picking up a frozen Pepperidge Farm cake. The cake is then thawed just enough, and devoured as quickly as possible, straight from the box, while watching a Turner Classic Movie, or an episode of Scrubs. This is your version of a kegger. Summer is approaching. You’re on top of the world. At the end of the summer, your friends will go to college.

For your big English 10H research paper, you are assigned Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. A theme of Franny & Zooey is the battle against ego– or perhaps, it is the battle to transcend ego. It is the story of two precocious New Yorkers– geniuses– who also happen to be actors. You’ve always considered these ways of being (genius & actor) to be mutually exclusive; you’ve found that they get in each other’s way. Intellect is of the mind, while acting is of the soul. Intellect is a solid, while acting is a liquid.  Salinger introduces you to a world where they co-exist, though maybe not successfully. He introduces you to reckoning with your ego.  You still want to be an actress, but now you’ve started romanticizing the internal struggle, rather than just the physical one. For the first time, you feel melancholy in a productive way.  Now, whatever you do, you do it for The Fat Lady.

* & the Fat Lady sings:

Your crush who you have been harboring a secret crush on, finds out that you have a crush on them, through a series of unfortunate events related to AOL Instant Messenger. They don’t reciprocate. It’s embarrassing. The feeling is: panic. To cope, you volunteer first to do a trust fall in gym class. You do well. Your gym teacher now expects more from you. You don’t have your driver’s license yet, but you’re okay with it. Your friends can drive.

The summer is approaching. You might be heartbroken.

At the end of the summer, your friends will go to college.

On a Friday night in the spring, you rent the movie Garden State, from your local Blockbuster. You also rent I Heart Huckabees. You are practicing for when Cary & Megan go to college, and there will be no more cakers. Because you are a contrarian by nature, and because everyone else loves it so much, you expect to hate Garden State. The Full Moon is bright outside. You pop in the DVD. “Motorcycle Ride With Sam” by Chad Fischer plays on the menu slide. You press play. Despite yourself, you love it. 

You write in your LiveJournal:

i decided that i really do want to go into directing 

and movies and stuff. 

like, i think i want to start out in acting, 

but move my way up to writing my own movies 

and directing them 

and things like that. 

and if i'm not successful? 

oh well. 

for me, its all about the art. 

and i'm sorry if i sound

indier than thou”

or something 

because i'm not trying to be. 

that's truly just really what i want to do with my life!

i want to create, 

that's all i've ever really wanted to do.”

*

Throughout your life, you will lose sight of this mindset constantly, as one born with a Balsamic-phase Aquarius moon in the fifth house (of theatre) is wont to do.  You will forget that you want to create––although it is the truth! From the mouth of babes! You need attention, but you hate to ask for it.  Because of this, you are continually drawn to performance, constantly in pursuit of #showz. You need to be center stage. It is your primal circumstance to be under a spotlight.  You search for friends and for community because you imagine yourself as a nucleus. A nucleus of their attention. And once you get their attention, you feel like a nasty, seedy film is covering your body, like the surface of the snack table one week after a particularly successful party: never cleaned.  Immediately, you feel sticky and nauseous. Once you have their attention, you immediately feel dead. You are suffocated by your ego. Because it is so large.

You are sixteen years old. 

The summer is over. 

Cary leaves you a note that begins, 

“If everything goes as planned, you won’t see this until I’m gone…”

It’s a funny note, but you cry.

Virgo season climaxes. 

Fall is approaching. 

Your friends went to college. 

On a Saturday afternoon, you are standing at the bar at the Starbucks in Yorktown. 

The barista turns to you and says, “What are you thinking about?” 

“What?” you say.

“I can hear your wheels turning.” 

He smiles encouragingly as he hands you your Chai Tea Latte. 

*

Each morning, you get down on your knees on the dirty floor of Somers High School. 

Go Tuskers! This is how you must open your locker. You look forward to the National Honor Society meeting on Wednesdays. Living for the few moments you feel like yourself. 

Saturn, planet of solitude, is now transiting your 11th house of friends, allies, dreams and wishes. The house of good spirit.

*

SATs come and go, and senior year arrives. You must commence applying to college. Your dream is NYU Tisch. BFA Acting. But, convinced that you are Rory Gilmore and all that she contains– cherubic scholarship, divine gluttony, fictional socioeconomic privilege– the fantasy you paint of life at NYU is not the liquid joy of studying theater in a conservatory setting (the rolling on the floor if you will), but the solid happiness of scarves, imagined cobbled streets, and many hours huddled in a library, without a name. You dream not of art school, but of an autonomous cocoon. On some days, you dream of a vacuum. But to art school you apply.

You are not re-elected to the Board of the National Honor Society. You cry about this for the entire duration of your visit to Muhlenberg College. To make matters worse, you are fired from the quarterly student newspaper, The Tusker Times, of which you are the Features Editor.

You are fired because you miss editing day because you skip school to mourn the fact that you weren’t cast in a speaking role, or even as a featured ensemble member, in the spring musical,

Pippin.

You donate blood at the blood drive. You are type O+: not rare, but useful.


*


Over February break, you visit Cary in Los Angeles where she is studying screenwriting at USC. Cary has just started dating her first boyfriend, Rain, and she doesn’t have much interest in hanging out with you on your visit. One night though, she takes you to a college party. There you meet someone who is in the theater program, and halfheartedly ask him a few questions because you have applied there too. He tells you that BFA stands for “Best. Fucking. Actor.” And that he is not one of them. The BFAs that is.  He is from San Luis Obispo. You don’t know where that is.

“North,” he says. You do a shot of vodka with the NOT Best Fucking Actor, and admit to him that it is the first time you’ve ever ingested alcohol. This embarrasses Cary. She wishes you would just Play. It. Cool. This is the person who inconsolably cried the night of October 10, 2003 when Ben Berger tried to enter her house with a six pack of beer. A betrayal. You think, “Remember cakers, Cary??????”

You return from Los Angeles, and you have nothing. Even the existentialism unit in AP English Literature cannot bring you joy, not even reading for Estragon in Waiting for Godot. Saturn is still transiting your 11th house. Every wish, every dream, every ally has been put through the ringer. Examined. Isolated. Turned to dust. Not much has come out on the other side. Looking for what lights you up, who makes you shine, has left you alone in a gaping void.  In pursuit of making your presence larger than life, you have failed to buoy yourself. Your orbit grows more and more irregular as you resist the gravitational pull of being truly known.

*

On a Saturday afternoon trip to Borders in Mt. Kisco, with your Dad,  you notice a sign advertising that Starbucks is holding an Open House interview for aspiring baristas. 

You think about how much you love Chai Tea Lattes. 

You think about how Steve the barista could hear your wheels turning. 

You sense a buoy. 


You have your driver’s license, but you don’t have a car so you ask your friend Leighann to drive you to Mt. Kisco for the Open House on February 28, 2007. 

A few days before your 18th birthday. 

Krista, the District Manager, interviews you, and finds you quite charming. You tell her that you want to be an actress, and she thinks you’re very smart. You meet a few of the store managers. They like you too. Krista tells you that they’ll be in touch soon.

Getting back in the car, Leighann asks, “How did it go?”

You say, “Really well.They liked me!”

“So did you get the job?”

“I think so, but they’re not sure which store yet. I told them I didn’t want to work at Yorktown. Too close. Don’t want to see people from school.”

“Makes sense.”

“Yeah.”

“That would be cool if you worked at Starbucks. You could get free stuff!”

“Yeah, it will be cool.”

*

You turn away from Leighann to look out the window as she pulls onto the main road. To your right, you notice the strip mall where you take piano lessons so you can learn to play “Baobabs” by Regina Spektor. You think of your teacher–– a kind divorcee. He humors you. It’s raining. Seattle-esque. Your favorite weather. A sense of purpose cascades over you. This feels lucky. Fated. A pull. A buoy. North. The beginning. Creation. Something. It’s not much, but it’s something.

*

MERCURY RETROGRADE IS FEMME.

Originally published on Instagram on July 26, 2018.

mercury retrograde is not about calamity

or

chaos or

things breaking down or

computers not working or

emails not being sent or

iPhones atrophying or

“being” “late” or

digital decay.

it’s not about any of that.

yes, those things happen.

but it is “not about that.”

-

it’s about space and time,

allowing room for error

to let in basic goodness,

or at least let in some air.

if you understand one thing I tell you.

I hope it is that:

mercury retrograde is femme.

*
think about mercury retrograde like this:

from our little position on earth -

“the center of everything” (which is the hilarious given of astrology)-

mercury appears to be moving backward.


mercury is not actually moving backward.

that is just how it appears. to us. the viewer.

the lil humans at the “center of everything.”

*

mercury is the only planet

in traditional astrology

that is not associated with the binaries.

she is not “masculine” or “feminine”

he is not “of the day” or “of the night”

they are not “eastern” or “western”

“hot” or “cold”

mercury is the fool who finds her joy in the first house,

the house of the self.

mercury embodies whatever she contains.

mercury is a vessel.

she is time,

a space to fill,

fluid,

not a narrative,

but a story.

*

mercury retrograde is an offer from the universe

to slow down,

embody,

& explore.

take a peek in every crevice,

re-examine the path.

mercury retrograde can be a bummer 

if the goal is absolute “productivity”

let the goal be hypothesis.

take the time you need with the experiment

because sometimes pushing ever forward

actually gets you nowhere.

go back instead.

VIRGO PROBLEMS

“Structure without life is dead. But Life without

structure is un-seen.”

-John Cage, Virgo

from Lecture on Nothing

Our experience with Virgos is not about timeliness.

Our experience with Virgos is not about lists.

Our experience with Virgos is not about neatness,

nor precision.

“It’s back to school time.”

We all think about Virgos in this way. At least off the top of our heads. Organized, analytical, helpful, skeptical, fastidious, persnickety, and (not quite) pure, we think about Virgos like we think of syllabi: refreshing, but complex lists.

What we forget though, about Virgo, our teen earth sign–– both mutable and mercurial–– is that Virgo season is not just back to school.

(Everyone forces Virgo into fall, no one lets Pisces be Spring)

Virgo season isn’t the fall, but a fall. Virgo season is a transition. It’s the end of something too. Not just back to school, but the scramble. It’s spending the whole day packing, and then minding five hours in the car or the airport terminal on the last day of vacation; it’s the crowded ritual of examining every aisle in Staples for the perfect funky but classic three ring binder and college ruled paper and a new TI 83 Plus; it’s the insurmountable task of completing an entire summer’s worth of assignments for College Level French, AP US History, and AP Statistics, in three days and two nights, while a rolling thunderstorm reverberates from out the window.

Virgos live in a state of inevitable free fall toward the celestial equator. Virgos contain both equanimity and decay. Libras do too. But while Libras hold onto the equinox, and must lose their balance to have it at all (or nothing at all), Virgos contain and behold the burden of always landing on their feet.

Nothing is more sacred to a Virgo than priorities.

*

“We’re all creatures of habit.”

-Wylie Dufresne,

award winning chef & Virgo

who eats at Pret A Manger

approximately 4x / week.

Wylie Dufresne, pioneer of molecular gastronomy, has engineered the perfect breakfast sandwich. This innovation is available at Dufresne’s latest venture (his “retirement” from Michelin star fare at wd~50 and Alder), Du’s Donuts–– a casual but fastidious donut shop, located inside the William Vale hotel, near the Williamsburg waterfront (a mall at the end of the world).

Imagine: a grilled cheese wrapped in tight waxy paper, like a true bodega sandwich. When pulled out of its covering, this sandwich gives the impression that it has been vacuum sealed…in a bespoke way. An extraordinary pocket. Take a bite into this sandwich: white bread filled with two pillowy scrambled eggs and gooey American cheese (and add bacon, if you’d like). Upon finishing, immediately want a second and a third and a fourth. There is a desire to be eternally sated by this, this thing that is both a grilled cheese and an egg and cheese; this thing that is from both the most primal moments of childhood and deep in the future.

*

How did Wylie pull off this remarkable mindfuck? Well, he's a Virgo.

Virgos can execute anything. If they put their mind to it. But Virgos only put their mind to it if it is worth it, and they only put their mind to it if it is love.

Wylie loves bodega breakfast sandwiches.

Amy Winehouse loved singing.

John Cage loved silence.

A Virgo who loves you will hire an entire excavation and landscaping team to move a mountain and get to you, but only if the love is real. And real to a Virgo means that the love must be useful to them, or at least useful to the greater world at large at that very moment, which must start with them. Virgos are solution oriented. And if a Virgo doesn’t love you, they will ignore you.

Remember, the nature of a Virgo is not about timeliness. Virgos will also flake–– not just on something small, on something important! But on something that, to them, is not important enough. In the same way a Pisces fucks up by being overly generous, a Virgo fucks up by being overly selfish. These things are adjacent points on a circle, culminating ends of the continuum.

Virgos love to cancel as much as they love to plan. Wylie Dufresne (as told to T Magazine), keeps a binder clip of punch cards to his favorite bourgie coffee shops (no bad coffee) in his shirt pocket. Each day, he seeks “two meaningful coffee experiences.” Upon arrival at his favorite coffee shops though, he will start a timer, and if he has to wait more than 8 minutes for his treat, he will leave. A savage persnicketiness, but, Wylie is right.

Virgos make selfish choices, because if they didn’t, there would be no excellence.

*

Like the love of a Virgo, the creatiivity of a Virgo is uncompromising.

“I know it sounds a bit wanky but I can’t even work with someone unless they know more about music than me. I have to learn from them or it’s pointless.”

-Amy Winehouse, Virgo

*

If we return to the incorrect idea that a Virgo is a refreshing list, Amy Winehouse’s Virgo identity surprises us. She is a Virgo remembered less for her structure and more for her fall. But we must look closely at what Amy was trying to do, what she was trying to solve. Amy Winehouse’s love for music and singing is so clear in her meticulous and irreverent attention to phrasing, her perfunctory technique, and the scope of her croon. As Anthony Lane noted for The New Yorker, “[Amy] learned or pilfered as much from artists like Theolonius Monk as she did from other singers…[S]he was an entire brass section, melted down and poured into one small frame.”

Amy wasn’t a dedicated practitioner of jazz, Amy was an instrument. A trumpet. A vessel.

John Cage wrote,

“ Everybody has a song

which is no song at all:

it is a process of singing

and when you sing ,

you are where you are .”

Even Amy’s hair had a disheveled, but precise structure. Amy was a reliable shape. Too reliable. Caught in a bout of insecurity or vice or myopia, a Virgo continues to fall, but is unable to seek solutions. Or worse, becomes the problem. Or even worse, has nothing left to fix. Equanimity has become decay and decay, equanimity. Fallen Virgo, we say. But Virgos always fall. And Virgos always land. It’s about where they land. Amy Winehouse knew the shape she needed to hold to provide a solution, and as time went on, this shape became more and more unsustainable, until she could no longer land among us. But her shape is still with us: Amy’s voice gave structure to her larger-than-life heart.

Listen to her sing “Lullaby of Birdland,” her pronunciation and tone blending seamlessly with the brass section behind her, like the saxophone, gliding into drowsy emphasis.

Watch a video of Amy in 2007, at a lowkey AOL “The DL” session. She sits with perfect posture on an artichoke green leather chair, hands in her lap, hair in her classic beehive. Microphone in the center, with some light hand drumming and an acoustic guitar, she channels the songs. “They tried to make me go…”

Watch the video of Amy summoning the title track of Back to Black, in the studio with Mark Ronson. It flows out effortlessly. “Oh, it’s a bit upsetting at the end, isn’t it?” she muses, leaving the booth whistling. She does this like it’s nothing.

Because it was nothing.

For a Virgo, there is no greater relief than being nothing: living inside of the list, flying above the neatness, floating on the precision. These are all givens. These are all nothing. To live inside something and do it and make it happen is nothing. To work is nothing, to love is nothing, to embody is nothing.

“ All I know about method is that when I am not working I sometimes think I know something, but when I am working, it is quite clear that I know nothing. ”

-John Cage

A Virgo smiles after moving a mountain, “Oh that? No worries. That was nothing.”

*

Originally published in moon missives: summer.

I AM GOOD I AM CHAOTIC I AM PURE [a song for Aries]

how are you feeling in ancient September

I am feeling like a truck on a wet highway

how can you

you were made in the image of god

I was not

I was made in the image of a sissy truck-driver

and Jean Dubuffet painting his cows

“with a likeness burst in the memory”

Apart from love (don’t say it)

I am ashamed of my century

For being so entertaining

But I have to smile

-Frank O’Hara, an Aries, who spent his life thinking he was a Cancer.

*

I have big ambitions for this.

*

Something about Aries makes me want to write concisely, in neat paragraphs (like Mary Ruefle). I want to say my piece in just a few words, convey my love in a phrase. This isn’t to say Aries are neat (they usually aren’t), but they give compact gifts.

*

My friend Allison has a party every year on March 20: the Spring Equinox. Allison is a Pisces, like me. In 2015, the party was on the day of a total solar eclipse–– a powerful new moon, in the final degrees of Pisces. By the days’ end, the moon blushed into Aries. So did the sun. Spring! On this day, there was also a blizzard. I bought a bouquet of flowers at a bodega on Broadway in Bushwick. Because it was spring. I walked through the snow with my bouquet. I forgot winter. We all did. We all brought flowers to Allison’s party because it made us feel good. There was nowhere to go but up.

*

You say that everything is very simple and interesting/ it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great Russian novel does/ I am terribly bored/ sometimes it is like seeing a bad movie/other days, more often, it’s like having an acute disease of the kidney

-Frank O’Hara

*

Aries are at their most powerful when they are at their most explicit.

And most urgent.

Name dropping

Singing from the gut

*

Sometimes, Aries forget to listen.

It’s not that they don’t want to listen,

or that they don’t find you super fascinating. It’s just that “It’s reallllllly crazy and hard and fun to be on this journey that is life sometimes and I need to run! I need to write a song! or a poem! or make edits! I have something so say! Feelings are so beautiful! Wow! Now I need a nap, but I also need to learn! to! cook! Mangos! Tahini! Sesame seeds. Sweet & fresh! Smooth but also crunchy. Textures! Sigh. Hm?”

*

One day, I walk to the G train, high on Xanax. I am going to MoMA PS1.

It’s not quite spring, but I’m wearing a short skirt with no tights for the first time & my legs feel good. I pass the coffee shop, Marcy & Myrtle, and I notice that the logo of the store features twin rams. This makes me contemplate whether Aries,

like Gemini (the twins),

Pisces (the two fish),

or Libra (the scales),

is a sign of duality.

Looking again, I notice that the horns of the twin rams are intertwined.

Purity and Chaos.

*

Aries come in pairs. Best friends, usually. Two Aries together will depend, never co-depend, and if they do co-depend, it soon will end. Two Aries involved romantically is a disaster. With the power dynamic of sex and the ram competition, the rhythm will never settle. Two Aries can be lovers for a short time. Aries can sweep each other into the next dimension of their mutual lifetime! This is what happened between the artists Max Ernst and Leonora Carrington. Carrington was just nineteen when she ran away with Ernst, an old man (though can an Aries ever really be an old man?). It was a very brief affair which ended with Ernst in prison, and Carrington in an asylum. No surrealist exaggeration. But while they were together, they made sculptures of their guardian animals, played pranks for breakfast. Utopia.

Purity. Chaos.

*

So many born in the spring are songwriters & poets.

And what is a song? Minutes that convey lifetimes.

Melodies that distill in order to expand.

*

Aries are prolific. Frank O’Hara spun one million lunch poems. Greta Kline a.k.a. Frankie Cosmos (nicknamed after Frank) wrote one million songs before she turned 20.

Aries obey their inspiration

which comes in bursts. Pure bursts.

I ask: Is purity chaotic?

Or is chaos pure?

*

Aries sing of water.

Aries sing of mountains.

Love feels like a cannonball into the ocean:

skin quenched in salt water,

and victorious palms in the cool air.

*

Aries have nowhere to go but up.

*

On “Sinister,” a song off the millionth (and second studio) release by Frankie Cosmos, Greta Kline sings, “Sometimes I get sinister/ can’t always be like Arthur.”

On “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” off the debut self-titled album by Fleet Foxes, frontman Robin Pecknold sings, “I don’t know what I’ve done/ I’m turning myself into a demon.”

These Aries confessions speak of darkness. Kline, the Aries, is sinister. Incapable of being as pure as Saint Arthur Russell. Pecknold, the Aries, turns himself into a demon. Lost wandering aimlessly.

I don’t think Greta is sinister. And I don’t think Robin is a demon.

Their songs speak of stillness. To an Aries, stillness is evil. Stillness is sinister.

Aries are effusive. They lift with their affection, and carry with their criticism. Everything is a kick in the pants. An invitation forward. Aries want to climb the mountain. And they don't want to do it alone. They'll always take you along for the ride. Aries encourage.. They want to do well and do good. They'll help you do well and good too.

*

Richard tells me I’m intuitive.

Deepali tells me my aphorisms are songs.

Kelsey tells me I am a powerful star witch.

These are things I cannot tell myself.

As a Pisces, these things seem both too obvious and too aspirational.

How can I be anything?

How could I aspire to be something so pure?

How could I embody something so chaotic?

*

I’m not an Aries but I think I get it sometimes when I just wanna send someone I love 1 million green heart emojis. Because what else matters?

*

Originally published in moon missives: spring.

There's a little bit of sand left in the hourglass [for Capricorn season]

“Verticality is the move from the passive 

(fear & violence) to the active.” 

- Louise Bourgeois (Capricorn Sun, Aquarius Moon)

“Love is lack de sea. It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore.”

– Zora Neale Hurston (Capricorn Sun, Sagittarius Moon), from Their Eyes Were Watching God

The year is 2007. And darling band of the indie scene, Rilo Kiley is about to release what they don’t know yet– well, yes they do actually know, but they’re not telling the press– will be their final album: Under The Blacklight

The album opens with lead singer, Jenny Lewis, about to fully embrace the sea of her own resplendent solo career, sings:

And I’m not going back

Into rags or in the hole

And our bruises are coming

But we will never fold

And I was your silver lining

As the story goes

I was your silver lining

But now I’m gold.

.

The year is 1995. “Former” “child” “stars,” Blake Sennett (Salute Your Shorts!) & Jenny Lewis (Troop Beverly Hills) meet and start writing music together. Sixty songs later, Jenny self-admittedly “falls off the face of the earth for a year or so,” and when she surfaces, she gets a call from Blake. Blake is getting a real band together. Blake asks Jenny if she’ll sing background vocals.


Jenny says, “No, I want to sing lead too.”

(“Look she was a flake!” “No, I was your creative equal and you tried to screw me.”)

Blake agrees. Jenny sings lead too. It’s her voice that separates Rilo Kiley’s method from the general indie-folk madness. Her voice isn’t just a monotony of melancholy.

I’m a modern girl but I fold in half so easily

When I put myself in the picture of success

I could learn world trade

Or try to map the ocean

The lyrics are colloquial poetry, but what separates Jenny is that she’s got soul.


Blake and Jenny start dating shortly after the band’s formation (touring & writing & hanging all day can you know, plant some feels), but they break up before Takeoffs and Landings gets  a solidly disappointing 4.0 from Pitchfork.

.

Around this time, Jenny meets poet/musician/Aquarius/bad man, Conor Oberst who loves Rilo Kiley. With help from his swooshy hair, the band gets signed to Saddle Creek. With the cool kids. Early on, Conor Oberst says to Jenny,  “I think you should make your own record.”

Jenny says, “I am making my own record with Rilo Kiley!”

“But, Jenny. You’re the voice.

Conor’s words hit Jenny, but they don’t quite reverberate. It takes years, but it’s 2005ish, Rilo Kiley’s More Adventurous is a hit. Warner Brothers is distributing, “Portions for Foxes” is named sexiest song of all time, and Jenny finally sees what Conor means. She makes her own record. That record is Rabbit Fur Coat. And though it sells modestly at best, it solidifies Jenny’s star. She’s the propulsive force. She’s the rock, and the world is her sea.

The year is 2007. Rilo Kiley is about to release their breakthrough record, assuring mainstream success. And, they are also assuredly “Breakin’ Up.” For Blake Sennett, who hasn’t achieved much with several solo albums under the moniker, The Elected, Jenny’s rise is humiliating. Privately, he confides, “She’s meteoric, and I’m…mediocre?” Libra Blake wants to simmer in the brilliant demise of Rilo Kiley, but Jenny Lewis is a Capricorn. 

And this lost isn’t good enough

For sorrow or inspiration

It’s such a loss for the good guys

Afraid of this life

That it just is

Because everybody dies

For a Capricorn, there are only two options, to swim at the bottom, 

or to take her shoes off, throw them in the lake, and keep running up that hill.

(Kate Bush was quite possibly a Capricorn moon)

.

People love to drag Capricorns. But the joke’s on them. I’d like to see anyone who drags a Capricorn get ANYTHING accomplished in their life. I’d like to see anyone who drags a Capricorn rise above the languishing mediocrity of Blake Sennett (you won’t).

Capricorns are knowledge-keepers. They’re professors. They often seem very old when they are very young, and very young when they are very old. Capricorns are ancient souls. They have plans for the week, plans for the month, plans for the next 40 years, tbh. Some climb, and some stew. Either way, it’s intimidating. It can summon the feeling of an eye roll. But don’t make it so easy, a Capricorn’s dedication should be admired.

David Bowie, produced an album on his death bed,  timing it so his final music video would be released just after his death. 

Eva Hesse–pioneer of latex, fiberglass, and the post-minimal art movement– had a vision of a sculpture in the hospital after having a tumor removed (in a series of surgeries to remove tumors before her untimely death at age 34). She made a sketch in her hospital bed, and her assistants would later craft this sketch into one of her final masterworks, Untitled (7 Poles)

Zora Neale Hurston lied about her age, often saying she was 10 or even 20 years younger than she was. This was not for vanity, but for dignity. The public couldn’t know a literary genius like herself started high school at age 26.

Ana Ros– chef of Slovenia’s Hisa Franko– taught herself to cook after her husband’s family left them the restaurant. She had no formal training. “I spent a lot of time experimenting because I was convinced I had to learn everything.” Ana essentially invented new Nordic cuisine, again. What Magnus Nillsson and Rene Ridzepi made through decades of study, Ana Ros created over a few years of passion for work, and admiration of her surroundings. She created it because she had to. What else was there to do.

This isn’t to say that Capricorns are always right. A Capricorn lost trekking too high of an elevation (work-a-holic), or stuck underwater at the bottom of the hill (succumbed to laziness) will be miserable. This Capricorn can be shrewd, totalitarian. They know in their heart that the journey is the thing, but they get lost in what they’ve already accomplished. This Capricorn feels they’ve paid their dues, wants absolution. But there’s no such thing as absolution. Everything contains what has come before.

Despite this, for pessimists, Capricorns are pretty optimistic.

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Louise Bourgeois, who was known mostly for her sculptures, especially of the large spiders representing her mother, lived to be 98 years old. And she was working the entire time, like the entire time– to the goddamn bitter end, buddy. Throughout her life, but particularly toward the end, Bourgeois made work documenting fictional, but palpably emotionally real women, who were extremely dissatisfied at the end of their lives. In this motif, these characters appeared both as figures and as absent diarists who had made notes around the shapes in her drawings. These were women who when asked to reflect on their lives come up with a list of chores. It’s unclear if these are representations of Bourgeois’ own feelings. She made so many beautiful things, but were any of them good enough?

At the very end of her life, Bourgeois could barely see. She couldn’t make the sculptures anymore, nor anything very detailed at all so she returned (as she had before again and again) to a different practice, making etchings and prints.There were no more monograms, no more anthropomorphized windows. But inside that abstraction, those broad strokes, the work still contained the entire shape of what had come before. 

Perhaps Capricorn never stops working because she knows reinvention is a fallacy, there is no greater me, just greater perspective. That’s why it is so important to take note of all that we can, and to make every step forward, a step outward. 

At our best, we remember that we are strongest not when we are climbing the ladder, but when we are tiny rocks embracing the sea.

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Originally published in moon missives: winter.

NOT/BUT [for Libra Season]

The French Republican Calendar begins with Libra Season.

1 Vendémiaire (from vendangemeaning grape harvest), New Year’s Day, commences when the clock strikes midnight at the Paris Observatory, on the day of the Autumn Equinox.

Implemented from 1793 to 1805,

again during the Paris Commune,

& forever in our hearts,

this calendar was designed to remove oppressive religious and royalist influences from the ways of marking days.

It was part of a larger attempt at decimilisation OR, simply: the queering of time.

Every day of the year has a special name–

1 Vendémiaire or Raisin (grape).

11 Vendémiaire or Pommes de terre (potatoes)

17 Vendémiaire or Citrouille (summer pumpkin).

i.e. “Vous voir à la soirée Citrouille?” (“See you at the party on Summer Pumpkin?”)

It’s paradise. But that paradise belies a sick sense of humor, a healthy pessismism. It is as beautiful as it is insidious.

We are all in the gutter. To begin a calendar with Autumn, with Libra Season, is to begin in a state of free fall. Libra commences at a place of equilibrium (the scales, after all), as does Aries, Libra’s opposite. But unlike Libra, Aries isn’t known for balance. Aries has no use for staying at the point of equilibrium. Aries ascends! Aries is The Believer!– expectant, ready to skip the fuck up the goddamn mountain for her breathtaking view. VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE! Aries just can’t wait to begin!

But for Libra, the stroke of the Autumn Equinox means there is nowhere to go but down. This is why Libras desperately try to make things beautiful, to keep the balance, keep the peace. One hand clings to the equilibrium as the rest of them swings above the dark abyss. It’s a long way to fall.

We are all in the gutter. The other two Fall signs, Scorpio and Sagittarius, are better equipped to handle the days of waning light. Life is a pleasure in a Scorpio’s murky cave of wonder, and a Sagittarius thrives while partying till the dawn of the imminent Winter Solstice. Libras aren’t suited for the dungeon or the fantasy, so they must do their best to stay afloat.

We are all in the gutter. We think of Libras as romantics. But they often love love– the idea, the chase,far more than they love the physical comfort, the mechanism, the mundane experience. This is because they know that real love can be dark. It can be painful and boring.

They’d rather put their heart on their sleeve,

install it like a permanent exhibit,

wear it like embroidery on a Gucci dress.

We are all in the gutter. Libras know themselves their tastes very well. Too well (It might be a free fall, but they know their corner of the well.) But does anyone else ever know a Libra? Cancers will splash us with their emotions; Capricorns will reveal their soul meticulously, through their dedicated work. But to know a Libra, we must be sleuths.

We are all in the gutter. Libras are muses. Patti Smith worships Rimbaud (a triple Libra). But in what way? She is captivated by his style? His air? Wears loose pants, a hat, made collages, posed for photos–

BUT WHO IS RIMBAUD, REALLY?

WHO IS USHER?

WHO IS KATE WINSLET?

WHO IS PAUL SIMON? (it’s…who and Julio down by the schoolyard?)

We are all in the gutter. Libras cling to their partners for equilibrium. With their partners, they can be known. They can just be. Let it be. John Lennon had YokoNico had The Velvet UndergroundJim Henson had Kermit.

We are all in the gutter. Libras want nothing more than to give themselves to the descent. To fall. Their nature is active after all. Some keep the balance by upsetting it. Susan Sarandon voted for Jill SteinSimon Cowell is literally the bad judge. Sacha Baron Cohen built his career on alienation. He could only thrive as long as he was unrecognizable. Once the world watched Da Ali G Show, he could no longer trick passersby in the UK, or in America. He needed to go further, deeper. To Kazakhstan. So Borat was born and then Bruno, and then another, and another: one offensive & vile caricature after another until he dug himself into obscure oblivion.

We are all in the gutter. Scorpios may make a kingdom of the underworld, but Libras wield their power by turning to the dark side. Libras are hard to read. Though they love beauty & balance, they don’t care at all for making sense. (“Vous voir à la soirée Citrouille?” ) A Libra will turn in an assignment on confusion when they were meant to write about clarity. They don’t believe in the difference. This is their genius.

“We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars”

-Oscar Wilde (Libra Sun, Leo Moon)

We are all in the gutter. Nothing could possibly be more bleak. But some of us are looking at the stars. For there is no beauty without decay. There’s hope on the vertical horizon. We just need to look.

Nonsense is sense.

It’s not/but.

Everything must contain what it isn’t.

It’s not a poem, but a map.

It’s not a story, but a song.

It’s not a fantasy, but a cautionary tale.

“If we say, ‘these are the clothes,’

It’s all very usual

So we said ‘these are not the clothes.’

It sounds like a Zen dialogue, but it is very simple.”

-Rei Kawakubo

Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo is a Libra.

Her clothes hold space for phantom curves.

Not a cloak, but a stagecoach.

From a single pattern, she creates a constellation of skirts, a constellation of forms.

This speaks to the Libra’s ability to walk in anyone’s shoes, to acquiesce to anyone’s needs, to agree to disagree, and to do so not righteously, but politely. To be the lock, and let someone else be the key.

Compromising does not mean giving in.

It means we must carry our demons

on our sleeves,

on the train of our ballgown.

We must look to the stars.

Let’s fall.

1 VendémiaireRaisin, Autumn Equinox, Libra Season.

The harvest. Let us share what we’ve sown.

Let us match our extremes.

Let us go forth with nonsense.

Aim higher.

Our pain cannot be solved in a vacuum.

Because the more we take,

And the more we give,

Then the more we get,

And the brighter it seems.

We are all in the gutter.

But we’ll float.

This piece first appeared in moon missives: fall.