Dear March Hares,
I don’t know what it’s like where you are but here in Brooklyn I’m walking around with no coat on and tights as pants (forever and ever). It is glorious and I feel hopeful which is something I haven’t truly felt in a long time. I’ve been reading the first and earliest of Susan Sontag’s notebooks and thinking about what it might be like to feel hungry for knowledge all the time instead of hungry for money (which is just a True Fact about living without a net).
It took me a long time to write these letters for you and I’m sorry if you feel I’ve kept you waiting. In the olden days, a love letter might have simmered for weeks in the secret inner-skirt pocket of a mistress before finding its way into the hands of her desired recipient. And, perhaps we don’t live in the olden days but I will tell you that we might as well because yesterday afternoon, on Bedford Avenue, there were lots of ne’er do wells sipping absinthe and strange unnecessary inventions in the shop windows (an IPhone charging oak log?). Not one coffee shop took cards or had Wi-Fi. It was basically the France World Fair of 1889. I’m not making excuses, dear readers; I’m just taking my role in this elaborate scene, a writer en plenair.
Before you read the text ahead I just want to thank you for inspiring me, for trusting me, for all your generous loving notes and comments. One day, when I am an ancient crone, I will take out an old USB—a relic!—and plug it into some sort of magic converter that will project all your beautiful words across my ocean-floor apt. I will do this every night to remind myself that I did a little good in the world.
Clearly Feeling Silly & Free,
P.S. Thank you CLAIRE SKINNER for saying yes or no to everything.
P.P.S. Thank you Marina for making me get into downward dog.
P.P.P.S. Thank you to everyone who supports this writing all the time. Special thank you to my former boss Kim Menig because for some reason I get teary eyed about it.
If you want to support the writing of these horoscopes here is the PayPal. I love you!
Dear animal, aren’t we both animals? Don’t you hunger like me? Don’t you feel trapped, don’t you spend your days imagining the many powers you were meant to cultivate if only… Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself—perhaps that’s not what animals do. Animals survive, they move by instinct and desire. Animals, it seems, are compelled by empathy—but they are not ruled by it. Animal compassion has no god.
But, you have a god, a god that holds justice in one hand and reason in the other. Dear animal, justice lowers her head in the face of love. Here is another Aquarian woman who wrote about love as a kind of freedom and freedom as a kind of drowning: Even as a child she had lived her own small life within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life – that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.
Kate Chopin / The Awakening.
If love is an opening in the self—it is also destruction. The things we depend on obliterate us and build homes out of our ruins. When you listen to the god of reason, you move through this world, through relationships and cities, intact and unharmed. When you are an animal, the world breaks open from under you and everyday you serve your hunger. Both ways of living offer up a kind of freedom and survival, but only one of them will push you to thrive.
I want to picture you walking along the Coney Island shoreline for hours, with the fog laid thick on the Parachute jump, and the ocean slapping the salt rocks. Dusk setting, the attraction lights rise up in the distance like new stars. Climbing into an empty lifeguard chair, you watch the sunset—a beautiful fluorescent gasp in the sky you suspect might be pollution. The moon is for you tonight and her abundance scares you just like the enormity of the night sky pressing up against the very breath of your body scares you.
The fear of this world swallowing you whole in its starry mouth is not dwarfed by its impossibility. All night you’ve been feeling the very real fact of your aloneness in the world, the way we are made and the way we die. It will do you no good to think of these things further.
When your lifeguards chair—your small oasis—rattles, it’s because a lone child climbs up the stripped metal rungs and finds you. She isn’t wearing a coat and she isn’t yours but, like you, she belongs to the ocean. This child is drawn to the strength in you, the very real sweetness that lives behind all your anxious gestures and moments of cruelty. She knows that it’s your turn to be the healer now. Tell her what beauty is, what living means. She is looking to you to teach her how to look fiercely back at the world and be the one who loves more.
How do I come into my own company—an ablution of the night’s stock film. The wall is a neutral board to echo off or to limit my veins and learn their urgency. I am seen when lost, void of language. When a formless whisper overtakes the airwaves. I am seen most exactly with open palms.
Sara Renee Marshall / Multiplicity
I haven’t lived long in this room, the one I’m writing you from. Most of my walls are bare and there are only two plants—which is unlike me. When I think of beautiful rooms, I think of you: your blinking red lanterns and sky blue linen comforter. That one time you built a fairy arch around your tent, how you beckoned me to kneel down and notice the sweet little accents of collected moss. Recently I found a card you gave me and considered framing it. I am happy enough with my life for now, you wrote. The people who surround me give me love & hope. I’m just suffering a little bit with myself.
Today, I am thinking about that suffering, your bright young heart buoyed by love in the river of your uncertainty. These months have been a kind of mixed blessing—you worked so hard and then—doors opening with possibilities, but somehow just out of reach or not quite soon enough. You generated what you could, you kept the fire in the hearth and made good on most promises. And the days and your nerves and your body wore on.
What might you need to do to fill the beautiful room where you keep your bright hope? From now on, imagine yourself as deserving abundance. Who would you get to be if you let yourself have more than just enough?
Towards the end of last year, I went to see a friend’s work in a group show. Despite my interest, I became overwhelmed by the overcrowded space and left within fifteen minutes of arriving. But, not before grabbing one of the show’s few offerings: a lone poem with no mention of author that sprawled generously around its small page.
Pay close attention // and a long, slight neck. // An elegant // refusal // may be // all you get. // I don’t think // I was a little boy // or // a little girl, // I was just terrified. // that can’t be right.*
I brought this poem to my girlfriend, whose childhood I imagined near those last lines. I took it to Pittsburgh; I carried this poem around the Cathedral of Learning. A week ago, I spent an evening with a poet who is Pittsburgh MFA bound and delighted in the easiness of his company. Tonight, re-reading the small found poem, I realized it must be his.
What I’m trying to tell you, reader, is that the world is stitching your thread across more lives than you can imagine. I know you drag the loss of friendships (and the dreams intimacies engendered) like drowned boats behind you—if bodies were oceans, if oceans were archives. But you are meant for great things, Taurus. Because of the nature of your heart, its steadfast coming, the world rushes to meet you where you stand.
Your face was an instant relief despite the fact that I was not aware of my own suffering. I wanted to keep your attention, keep you near. I jazz-handed my way through the hors d’oeuvres table, talking up the chips and goat cheese cups, and you played along. It’s as if we were right back where we started, years ago at an artists’ retreat. And this is where memory gets murky; where I can’t remember any one specific moment that felt deeply ours, where I can’t quite find the root of the affection. Yet it’s obvious, flexible, and untethered from time.
Gemini, as this world shrugs off winter’s last cold front, I can feel you aching to do the same. If you think the weight of these last few years—the missteps and setbacks have squandered your radiance, you’re wrong.
There is no one who is near to you who does not love your light—even if you keep most of it to yourself these days, even if you are afraid to be seen lest you are seen the wrong way. It’s getting warm and so sweet outside, I open my windows and my block is loud with neighbors chatting and sunning on their stoops. My record spins and the music mixes with the street sounds. This afternoon, I am one of them and I’m thinking of you. Open yourself to the affections of others by asking them in, making concrete plans and do your best not to break them. You don’t have to wait until you’re “at your best” to receive the support you need. Your heart is at its best all of the time.
Dear sweet friend, I try my best to make sure that the artists I reference in each love letter I write are matched to the sign I write them for but, this month, I am compelled to move away from tradition. Today, I am remembering the many different ways we have tried to be strong for one another and how, when it came to heartache, you were the one tending to mine. I’m not sure how to tend to your heart, which is obvious and guarded all at once (crab life), so instead I’ve put on a song that reminds me of you.
I’m sorry that I left you with your questions all alone / But I was too happy driving and too angry to drive home / I was thinking about the easy courage of my distant friends / They said, I could let this bridge wash out and never make amends.
Dar Williams / Spring Street
Because it is Spring, because once we thought we could change the world with our big brains and at night, after all our thinking was done, we’d blast these songs on full volume and shake the whole house.
But I’ll push myself up through the dirt and shake my petals free / I’m resolved to being born and so resigned to bravery
Because outside of our house, there was a large still lake and a tree full of crows, because any pain we felt in those years is a small pain now. If you are hurting today, Cancer, what I want you to remember about disappointment and injury is that they are strongest in the places where they occur. Wounds are tethered to their origins but you are not. You can be strong anywhere.
I’m in downward dog and you’re on the speakerphone. “I should get you a Bluetooth like mine,” you complain because my head is hanging between my arms and you can’t quite hear me. “I’ll never use it,” I reply, mostly in truth and mostly because I don’t want you to spend what little money you have on me. “You’re right,” you agree, “first I’ve got to get you some new curtain rods.” You hate my curtain rods and maybe I hate my curtain rods but they’re not top priority so instead I ask, “If you had a big bowl of fruit right now, I’m talking the best of the best—perfectly ripe and good—what fruit would be in it?” We discuss the last time we had nectarines, the undervalued luxury of the perfect apricot.
This is something like that scene in Hook when Robin Williams as Peter Pan leads the Lost Boys in an imaginary feast which soon transcends their imaginations and sustains them.
If I was a rich girl… I would probably sell out just like Gwen Stefani did…and I would buy you so many things. But, since I’m not, since you’re not, our innovation and work ethic will have to do for now. In that vein, it might do to remind yourself that, contrary to some collective beliefs, money might not buy you happiness but it can grant you opportunities. For that reason, the line between pride and integrity is not well defined. It’s our job to re-draw our vision of it each time.
When I first moved in with you, I had no idea how we would get along. Walking into your small nook of a bedroom, I found fuzzy green-framed corkboards, Disney posters, and curtain to rug hot pink accents. You played a lot of Dave Matthews Band, an affliction affecting 75% of the college-going residents of upstate NY, which I found ultimately confounding. Despite those factors, or precisely because of them, I fell into enduring and admiring friend love with you.
Who else would collect money to build water wells in Darfur using posters doused in glitter? Who else would wake me every morning and roll my body to the gym? Who else would teach me the true pleasure of an Eggo, PB, and Fluff sandwich?
In loving each other we pushed each other to become the biggest baddest version of ourselves. You taught me that it was OK to believe in the impossible goal of making the world a better place. And I helped you discover The Goddess, which I think is a pretty substantial contribution.
When we were young it was easy to become new, to abandon the preconceived selves that we carried. Now it seems like the harder we try to take chances, the more difficult it becomes. Perhaps what we need to remember is that evolution felt most natural to who we were when we loved something more than we ever expected and were not afraid.
When I was young I did not understand that I was serious. Now I understand and can only vaguely do anything with that information except point back at what I made and say, See? I’m such a libra. Libra bodies are co-dependent.
Hannah Ensor / Ms. Dryer and the Good Man
Today I’m thinking about what it means to put in the work. In the past few months I’ve constructed some kind of new career for myself in which I visit the homes of successful female artists and help them with their unwanted tasks. Sometimes these tasks are ones I’d find pleasurable without payment, organizing the quirky wardrobe of a Scorpio welder, tuning the receptivity of LED lights for an Aries painter who speaks Electricity. Sometimes they teach me a great deal, like the fact that I can send out one grant application per day for someone else but can’t manage to write one single cover letter for myself without contemplating faking my own death.
It’s easier, of course, to put in the work for someone else. Putting in the work for yourself can often feel like a last ditch effort toward survival. Clearly, this kind of relationship to self-fulfillment isn’t a very good one and it’s not easy to change. To change direction, to put in the work for one self, one might have to trust that their life and ideas matter. There are many factors in this world that can make that seem impossible but trust me when I tell you this: those factors are just evil apparitions that don’t belong in your beautiful (one, precious) life.
Last night, strolling the streets on what felt like an unseasonably warm night, my lover and I were beckoned into a bar with its barn doors wide open. Inside, the young hip artists of Bushwick gazed over their IPAs at a Democratic debate on UNIVISION. The screen turned to a Guatemalan immigrant named Lucia, whose five children were seated nearby. She explained that her husband had been deported some years ago. “I have a great pain,” she told the two candidates on stage.
When Bernie (Virgo) responded, he was quick to underline his role as her most trusty champion. “I absolutely support that,” he began, “At the heart of my immigration policy…the most progressive and strongest of any candidate…” Despite this impersonal approach, Bernie was quick to guarantee results—his vision of the future as mutable as his sign.
Hillary (Scorpio), on the other hand, began by saying, “Please know how brave I think you are, coming here with your children to tell your story. This is an incredible act of courage that I’m not sure many people understand.” If the rest of that response hadn’t devolved into roundabout talking and indirect promises—she could have won Lucia’s heart and her vote. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for Hillary to make big promises she can’t keep because Scorpios hate lying and only do so when pressed. This trying not to lie and then surrendering for the sake of image is obvious in most of her responses.
In that moment, I understood something about Hillary and something about Scorpios who have always felt at the edge of being great. When we treat the world as if it is as fixed we are—when we speak of the world as if it is unchangeable, we perpetuate spiritual weakness. When we listen, when we lay aside our bitterness at not being seen and our need to prove ourselves to others—it is then that our strength and kindness is most visible. It is then that we get the love that we have been trying to prove we deserve.
It’s easy with us, you say as you steer your Jeep off the thruway and into the backstreets of Williamsburg. Our date was short but fabulous: female drummers stationed throughout Brooklyn Museums’ many exhibits, telling a story of solitude and collective strength with their rhythms. I agree it’s easy, the way I can slip my arm through yours or not, the way you look where I am looking and remark, “Eye-candy” without a hint of jealousy. We’re both tired already after a day toiling away at our jobs and proud that we’ve stayed out this late. We can get a drink or I can drive you home, you offer and there is no weight in either option.
This sort of erotic friendship is a treasure and we have earned it. In the car we talk about your instinct to pull back when pursued—even if you are interested, even if the other person “makes sense”—and I am not surprised. I remember when you pulled back with me, I remember the way every Sagittarian I’ve loved pulled back first so that they might glimpse at the bigger picture.
Dear Archer, there will be years when life demands you jump in headfirst, years when the bull will find you and well… the horn etc. This is not one of those years. Trust your instinct, your steady meditation between want and resistance. The journey you are on now will create a major shift in your life. Choose the path with your full heart this time, don’t let the path choose you.
Last night over what felt like (and was) an absurd amount of meat and a pitcher of Sangria, we played my favorite game, the one where old friends recount their own versions of a shared history. Who was the one ostracized? Who was left the most unscathed? “Oh that boy, he hated me because I wouldn’t fuck him,” I said. “Remember when you made him hold his sweater up as a partition on the train while the two of us made out” you interjected, “so that he’d really get the point?” Of course I didn’t remember. Of course my memory clung so tightly to my own suffering, it forgot about cruelty.
Morality informs experience, not the reverse. I am my history, yet in my moral desire to understand my past, to be fully self-conscious I become precisely what my history demonstrates that I am not—free.
Susan Sontag in her diary, 26 years old.
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom lately, not so much as an idea but, rather, as a practice. At a women & non-binary writers’ retreat hosted by the inimitable Rachel McKibbens (cap-witch), Airea D Matthews (Virgo/libra Empress) stood tall before a yard of human stars and commanded us to “Bitch, Get Free!” Tattoos followed and they were bitchin’ but we all know getting free is easier tattooed than done. Getting free, it seems, is a daily exercise in mindfully surrendering the stories we carry about who we are and what we deserve in favor of the unknown possibility. In order for a goat to move on from injury and into her strength, she must let go of her injured-memory.