Giving In to Mercury Retrograde


I decided to just give in to this exceptionally head-rattling Mercury retrograde (an astro-phenomenon I typically deemphasize in importance), rather than let it cause me too much grief…

… though I suppose I must take some responsibility for the disruptions, seeing as I'd sort of been tempting fate by taunting trickster-god Mercury with my performance of nonchalance. (Here's a helpful hint: Don't taunt the trickster.)

It probably began with my series of somewhat cocksure tweets implying Mercury retrograde is really no big deal:

'Mercury must be retrograde: I've been struck by a sudden desire to make travel plans. I'm a terrible role model.'

'I swear I can't count how many times I've traveled and/or made plans to travel while Mercury's retrograde (a traditional astro-no-no).'

'Standard rules only apply until you're internalized their lessons; then they can be set aside at will.'

'Traveling is definitely OK during Mercury rx. Just be prepared for detours, delays, and surprises. Hey, I'm actually traveling right now!'

'On multiple Mercury retrograde occasions, I've had my flights arrive to their destination oddly early.'

I tweeted these sentiments while on the road in Tucson, AZ, shopping for crystals and jewelry for my shop The Sacred Well at the annual Gem & Mineral Show. At the end of my workweek, my sweetheart Ricky was planning to fly down to meet me so we could visit with family for a couple days. Then, I'd drop him at the airport in Phoenix, spend the night at my familiar way-stop hotel (free breakfast!), and make the 11-hour drive home in my rented SUV full of rocks the next day.

Whenever I was asked why Ricky was flying back instead of just driving with me, I'd make the same crack: 'Because neither one of us want him in the car with me for 11 hours!' Though the two of us get along great, one of our only regular sources of disagreement revolves around automotive transportation. He likes neither my aggressive driving-style nor the loud music I blare. Hell, he doesn't even really like being in cars, period. I, meanwhile, cherish the joy and freedom I experience while behind the wheel. Nothing makes me happier than a road trip… except, that is, when my beloved is playing 'back-seat driver' in that way which both irritates and unnerves me. (I suspect you know where this tale is headed.)

After a couple weeks of making that same crack, I shouldn't have been surprised when we received an email from the airline right as we were headed into Phoenix: Ricky's Sunday evening flight had been cancelled, and he'd been rescheduled on a TUESDAY MORNING flight through Denver. Could this be right? An hour-and-a-half-long flight-route that's served by multiple planes on a daily basis had no availability for more than 36 hours, and required a stopover in Denver? Was the airline planning to foot a bill for two nights at a hotel? I figured this had to be some Merc-rx computer glitch rather than an actual travel problem. Right?

A patient hour-long customer-service call with the airline, however, revealed its actuality… though, if you can believe it, the airline totally refunded the cost of Ricky's entire round-trip fare. Have you ever heard of an airline doing that (rather than handing over a company credit riddled with rules and restriction)? That's a pretty favorable detour-upside. I decided to embrace the very advice I'd offered my social-media followers at the start of this retrograde: 'Try treating the "glitches" like they're cosmic poetry.' There really was a certain poetic irony to the fact that my honey would be spending 11 hours in the car with me, right on the heels of me joking incessantly about how neither of us supposedly wanted that to happen. And if your flight is going to be full-on cancelled, the best possible occasion for that to occur would be when your partner will be driving the same route the next day.

It turned out, of course, to be a wonderful roadtrip. Because the truck was carrying such a heavy and fragile load of rocks, I had to drive more cautiously and less assertively than usual… which therefore caused Ricky to be more relaxed, and thus less anxiously back-seat-driver-ish, than usual. I lowered my music to a more moderate volume level; he never once complained about it. The only downside was that circumstances had impelled me to sacrifice my precious me-time (for I consider these drives to and from Arizona downright sacred), though I hope I did a good job of containing any traces of resentment so as not to make Ricky feel badly about this inconvenience he'd had no control over.

Once home again but having lost my on-the-road 'personal day', I hardly felt refreshed enough to dive straight into my writing. I ended up pushing my work back a day, to steal a few moments for myself… and certainly never counted on losing another consecutive workday to a good friend's sudden need to be taken to the emergency room after having woken up with painful eyes and blurry vision (don't worry, she's okay: turned out to be a freak reaction to her contact lenses). Got way behind on my writing, and especially poetically ironically so considering how badly I'd wanted to tell this tale of Mercury-retrograde madness. At least I'm self-employed and have nobody to answer to but myself for such last-minute shufflings. Plus, it beats poor Ricky's Mercury-retrograde mix-up: He awakened one morning this weekend at 6:00am, got on the train and the bus to cross the Bay to Oakland for a 5K run, only to discover once he arrived that the run wasn't until the following weekend. (Let's not tease him for this innocent mistake, shall we not?)

Following the unexpected E/R visit, I was still trying to find time to catch up with my work—and also still badly needing a few moments away from the madding crowd. So, after a full weekend without an actual day off, I swore I'd take this past Monday off since it was after all a legal holiday. A not-even-turn-my-computer-on-or-check-my-calendar kind of day off… which included purposely not sending out my weekly Monday-morning e-newsletter. (Did you miss me?) Ordinarily, I'd relentlessly rail on myself for falling short of such an expected duty, but I obviously needed the break. Plus, I really wanted to finish this article first, so I could share it with you when I sent out my email. I decided it was okay to 'go with the flow' and change my publishing schedule.

I didn't, of course, intend to also forget the therapy appointment I'd rescheduled for that Monday afternoon… and when the call from my therapist to see if everything was all right interrupted my couch-potato-ing, I was startled to say the least. I've never missed a therapy appointment in my life! Even in light of this, however, I still let myself off the hook. Though my therapist naturally wanted to discuss whether there was an unconscious reason why I missed the appointment, we eventually concluded that sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar and it was just an innocent mistake.

And besides, Mercury is retrograde. I resist 'blaming' Mercury retrograde for anything, yet still notice the meaningful connections. In fact, now that this piece is finally finished, I can post it… and then send my weekly e-newsletter out, on a Wednesday for the first time ever. I've given in, and am happy to do so.

Mercury remains retrograde through February 28. One day later, Mars begins his two-and-a-half-month retrograde—but that's another story.