Tag Archives: life

My Post-Election Dive Into Astrology

Throughout much of high school, before 3G networks and touchscreens, I checked my horoscope every day through a primitive app on my flip phone. It probably cost my parents an arm and a leg in data charges, but they never said anything about it. I just had to know what the stars had in store for me, an awkward Virgo with bad skin and a crush on every boy.

Things seemed so uncertain back then. Despite the routine of school and extracurricular activities, I worried constantly about what the next day, week, or month might bring. Would I pass the math test I definitely didn’t study for? Did the boy I kissed several states away still think about me? Would I get into college? Were my parents really healthy? Would my Max Crumm win Grease: You’re the One that I Want?!

I now know that these questions stemmed from a greater anxiety that I did not yet know how to control, but it was easier to put my faith in something mystical than actually listen to my therapist. Those four or five line horoscopes gave me a bit of comfort and hope, enough to quiet my mind, at least for a little bit. Of course, if the stars called for more chaos, I’d dwell on this for for the rest of the day. I’d read and re-read each line, trying to interpret just how these vague predictions applied to my life. More often than not there was no correlation, but any hint at something negatively relevant would send me into a tailspin.

Once college rolled around, I stopped keeping up with my horoscopes. I started hanging out with skeptics who ridiculed the practice for being, you know, not real, and mostly a “women’s interest” thing. College wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for me, but I didn’t feel the need to rely on some astrologer with an internet connection and too many pashmina scarves to tell me what planets might throw a wrench in my month. Plus I just didn’t have time for anything that wasn’t schoolwork, theatre, or subtweeting people on Tumblr (sub-tumbling? Is that a thing?).

Suddenly it was 2016. I was in a new city with a job in my industry and some sense of stability in my personal life. I’d occasionally look to my horoscope when I had something big on the horizon or flip to the forecasts in the backs of women’s magazines while waiting for a train home to Philly. I was always a little curious, but careful not to put too much stock into things that may or may not happen because Mercury happened to be spinning in a different direction. But it made for a good way to pass the time.

And then the election happened.

Looking at the history of our country and the events leading up to the 2016 election cycle, I can’t say I was completely blindsided by the fact that America decided to give the nuclear codes to an anthropomorphized bag of Cheetos. But I had been optimistic. I was so excited to FINALLY have a capable, brave woman lead our country and I really believed it was going to happen. Nothing made sense after that night. I’ve been fearful for our future, for my own future since November 9th. At this point, that fear is part of my baseline. I’m getting used to it.

Around the same time I decided to kind of blow up my life. I figured I might as well stop ignoring the things that were bothering me while I still had time. My relationship ended. I started looking for a new job. I toyed with the idea of moving to LA. I got highlights.

With all this chaos, I once again turned to the stars. I now regularly read reports from three different astrologers, with others thrown in for good measure. Tweets from Poet Astrologers are regularly in the “While you were away” section of my timeline, because the algorithm knows what I want. I spent hours studying my birth chart, trying to figure out the intricacies of each planet and what my moon sign says about my personality. I still don’t fully understand it all, but I know that I’m a Scorpio moon with Libra rising. I’ll let you all dissect that information as you will.

The skeptical side of my brain that stores all my deep trust issues keeps screaming that all of this is fake and everything is just a big coincidence and nothing happens after we die. But the closer we inch towards nuclear winter, the more I want to tell that side to shut up and let me have fun for once. I’m not alone in this. I’ve seen more and more of my friends and Twitter acquaintances embrace astrology in the age of Trump. Sites like Bustle and Refinery29 are full of astrology-related content. We’re looking for comfort and guidance wherever we can find it. Maybe the planets aren’t pulling the strings and everything is just a random coincidence, but right now I’d rather blame the eclipses. Sure, I haven’t gone full woo-woo, and I probably only half-heartedly believe in every word written in my horoscope. But who am I to make fun of something essentially harmless that gives someone comfort?

We all need something to look forward to, and Mercury comes out of retrograde on September 5th.

Shocked by Culture Shock

Nearly every travel guide out there will tell you that there are several stages of culture shock. The more time you spend away from home, the harder culture shock will hit you, blah blah blah. For some reason, I thought I was immune to culture shock. I’ve traveled internationally, I’ve been exposed to British culture through different forms of media, and I’ve spent plenty of time away from home before. Culture shock can’t hit me! I’m super-traveler!

I was quite wrong.

Wikipedia describes culture shock as “a term used to describe the anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) felt when people have to operate within a different cultural or social environment, such as a different country or a different state”. That seems pretty accurate for Wikipedia, seeing as I’ve felt a lot of things since I arrived in London three weeks ago. I spent the first week or so in the “honeymoon stage”. I wanted to get out and do and see everything that this city has to offer. Homework? That can wait, let’s go to the Tower of London! That club is a fifteen minute walk from the tube? That’s totally worth it, they’ve got the best DJ in the city!

Naturally, I’m exhausted right now. Tiring yourself out in the first few days is probably the best way to enter stage two of culture shock, the “hostility stage”.

I feel like the term “hostility” is a bit strong, considering how I feel right now. I still love London, and I’m definitely not ready to go back to the states, but there are some things that frustrate me about being here. Things are expensive, in between school and travel plans I never feel like I have enough time for everything I want to do, and I still can’t find anywhere to get my eyebrows waxed (seriously, it’s getting out of hand).  I guess the thing that I’m most frustrated with is being so far away from the people I love. I want to share my experiences with them. However, I’ve been blessed with a great group of people to live and study with here in London, which makes this whole “hostility period” much easier. I’m not hostile, just a bit sad, particularly because the Reading Room of the Victoria & Albert Museum (where I happen to be writing this post) keeps playing songs that remind me of the states.

Of course, I’m still having an amazing time here. I’ll leave you with some highlights of the last few weeks.

I took a tour of Parliament with my classmates on Monday morning. Honestly, I didn’t think that “common folk” were allowed in Parliament. My experiences with American government buildings has been limited, and mostly experienced from the outside. Apparently anyone can come in and have a chat with their local Member of Parliament or attend a debate. The building alone is a work of art, and yet someone let me on the floor of the House of Commons. I call that government transparency at its finest. Congress, take notes.

I did the ultimate tourist thing and took a ride on the London Eye last week. My friends and I went at night when the city was all lit up and ready to party (well, as hard as you can party on a Wednesday night). The views were gorgeous enough to distract me from my fear of heights, which probably means that I’m not afraid of heights anymore. Here are a few of my favorite shots of the night.

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Last Saturday I saw Zach Braff’s new play All New People at the Duke of York’s Theatre. I went on my own, which is a theatre first for me. As much as I enjoy discussing a play after I’ve seen it with others, it was nice to just take it in and digest the work on my own. The play was a funny, yet poignant portrayal of life as a young person in such an isolating age. As this was Braff’s first play, there were some things that he still needs to work on and some writing choices that I didn’t agree with, but overall I enjoyed the show and would recommend it to theatre fans in London in the next two weeks, particularly if you are a fan of Braff’s work. I also got to meet Braff at the stage door after the show! He was really great with his fans, making sure to sign everyone’s program/Scrubs DVDs/Marks & Spencer’s voucher. Image

I leave for a weekend in Amsterdam bright and early tomorrow morning. It’s high time for a change of scenery.