You guys, listen up. As of Thursday, Mercury is in retrograde. What’s that you say? You’re one of those “analytical” types who doesn’t “believe” in astrology because you like your “science” to be backed up by actual “facts?” Well. Fasten your chin strap.
First of all, what the crap is Mercury Retrograde? Harken back to your fourth grade literature segment on Roman mythology. You may recall that Mercury, the little dude with wings on his feet, was the “messenger” god who ruled the realms of communication, travel, commerce, and finance. His namesake planet oversees the same areas, according to astrology. Being the closest planet to the sun, Mercury has a shorter orbit and speeds past earth 3–4 times a year. When this happens, for about 3 weeks at a time, Mercury appears to be moving backwards. Kind of like when you’re sitting in a car while your boyfriend pumps gas and the car at the pump next to you pulls away, but for a brief moment your perception is that your car is moving backwards. See? Science!! According to science, when Mercury pulls this optical illusion, all the life factors we count on to keep us moving forward go a little haywire.
Still not buying it? I used to be like you. Sure, I was the casual reader of horoscopes, becoming a devoted adherent only when I was feverishly wondering if the boy I had a crush on liked me back, and the answer could clearly only be found in the stars. I liked the feeling that I could blame my innate bossiness on the fact that I am an Aries, and first sign (and natural-born leader) of the zodiac. But did I think astrology actually had the ability to control/ruin my life? Of course not!! I thought “Mercury is in retrograde” was one of those commonly used but mostly meaningless phrases that get tossed about, like “water under the bridge” or “God bless America.”
A year ago, I was on a beach in Mexico, meeting with some representatives from a travel agency that helps plan yoga retreats. (My life is hard, I know.) The travel agents chatted about some of the experiences they have had in retreat-planning. “We actually had a yoga teacher say to us once, ‘I can’t plan a trip right now. I have to wait until Mercury retrograde is over.’ Can you imagine??” No, I couldn’t imagine. We all had a good laugh at her expense — “Haha!! Stupid hippies!!” — and then we got drunk.
Shortly after that trip, I was back and home, and Mercury was in retrograde. In short order, a series of strange events ranging from inconvenient to infuriating took place: I got on a public transit bus headed the wrong direction and went a mile out of my way before I’d realized my mistake. I tracked a package I’d been expecting and saw that it had pit-stopped in Illinois, didn’t get delivered, and then got sent to Puerto Rico where it spent three days hanging out on the beach before it finally made its way back to Chicago. (When I emailed the company to inquire about the shipping snafu, I got a response saying, “That is so weird. We just got another email from a woman in Delaware whose package got sent to Hawaii.”)
If that wasn’t convincing enough, I got a real slap in the face from Mercury. I settled on my desired retreat venue and dates, and signed a contract. With the paperwork finalized and the deposit paid, I blasted the announcement on social media. Somehow, in the nanosecond between me finalizing my end of the deal and my travel agency submitting the paperwork back to the venue, the spot was snatched up by another booker through a third-party site. I heard the message loud and clear. Mercury was saying, “No, you know what? You should go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself right in your face.”
Maybe that silly hippie yoga teacher who refused to sign contracts during retrograde wasn’t so far off the mark.
So I learned to be careful; to pay more attention to the phone battery suddenly dying or the CTA trains taking longer than usual to arrive. And the nice thing was, when things went wrong, I had a cosmic force to blame it on.
Just this past Thursday, however, Mercury Retrograde pulled a new stunt. I was at a large, Chicago-based ad agency, performing with my improv group as part of the agency’s Take Your Kid to Work Day festivities. (And not to digress, but when did it stop being Take Your Daughter to Work Day? And since when is it a full-on festival and not just sitting in your parents’ office, watching work happen? Anyway.) We had just finished our first of three shows, and I squatted down to greet a child. In that instant, I felt my jeans split. Well, not split, so much as explode. Eviscerate. Vaporize. Spontaneously combust.
Keep in mind that I only wear non-yoga pants on about four occasions a year, and three of those are usually weddings. And yes, I was wearing underwear, but it was a thong, and that doesn’t really count in terms of preserving your modesty, does it?
So there I was, trapped on the 28th floor of a downtown high-rise, surrounded by children and their parents, in all my immodest glory. Mercury Retrograde had not just slapped me in the face, it had smacked me on my bare ass.
This particular retrograde will last until May 22. Until then, make no plans. Book no trips, sign no contracts, write no wedding vows. Best to play it safe, stay home, and batten down the hatches.
Oh, and wear stretchy pants.
I like careers that involve wearing comfy pants. If I weren't a yoga teacher, I'd try to write full time for a living. Join me here to see what's on my mind, and share your thoughts with me!