Aries 8° (March 28)
Woke up to find out my old theater colleague Danny Burstein has been struggling with the virus for the past two weeks and is now, thankfully, on the mend. I rediscovered the anthology series, American Short Story, that played on PBS in the seventies. Watched an adaptation of Bernice Bobs Her Hair, the first Fitzgerald short story he published, with Shelley Duvall and Veronica Cartwright and Bud Cort. Was so good and I must now find other episodes. My first male crush, Mark LaMura is in it as is Dennis Christopher from Breaking Away. Mark played Mark Dalton on All My Children. I wanted to be him. I wonder if what I’m writing is a printed-esque form of procrastination. I don’t want to alarm anybody, but I’m not feeling all that swift today. I’m going to keep a positive attitude and keep pounding liquids; but my brain feels pretty scrambled as well and I haven’t been able to be linear and finish all but completed tasks piling up on my desk. I did manage to vacuum the house already today; and I did make some wonderful food over the past couple of days. Today for lunch we will have caviar omelets and for dinner a sirloin steak sliced with a salad of arugula, palm hearts, tomato and parmesan. I already made a chicken stew for tomorrow’s supper, and will rustle up a Greek salad for lunch. The following is a little Garde Manger for the coming weeks, in no certain order.
Caesar Salad, Roasted Pepper Soup, Cauliflower steaks with Brussel Sprouts and turkey bacon, Pea Soup with mint, Mushroom Barley Stew, Roated Beets and Goat Cheese with Salad, Miso Soup with Cabbage, Avocado Toast, BLT Salad, Clam Chowder, Tuna/Sardine Melts, Omelets with turkey bacon and homemade ketchup, Smoked Salmon on Rice Cakes, Chicken Sausage with Rutabaga and Cabbage Stir Fry, Spaghetti Faux-lonese, Hot Dogs with Homemade Baked Beans, Sweet Potato Soup, Black Bean Soup, Re-run of Tuna/Sardine Melts, Rerun of Smoked Salmon on Rick Cakes, Burgers with Blue Cheese, Pizzas, Linguine Clam Sauce, Rice and Beans with (frozen) vegetables. So that’s at least twenty-four meals not including the fact that some of these will entail leftovers. That’s fourteen days of food in the house including the meals today and tomorrow, without having to go to a single shop, which we inevitably will.
I have no Twitter game. None to speak of. Which is weird because I am pretty verbal. I will eyeball the podcast info this week. Putting it on my list. I may be too hard on myself. I think I need to bolster my immune system even more than usual and I definitely need to set up my home hot yoga (Bikram) studio, which has worked fine in the past. We have a bunch of clients this coming week and I really must pace myself. I want to get back into bed as soon as possible today though I think. I am scared that I am feeling under the weather. I must remind myself that there are other ailments besides this deadly virus and anyway I’m not giving into fear. I’m going to put on my headphones and play some favorite songs and get myself in gear. Knocking things off the list as I go. I have pretty bad body aches but no respiratory symptoms. Maybe a bit feverish, or it could be my imagination. I don’t want to take my temperature unless I really start feeling poorly. I’m going to keep breathing deeply and suck back a ton of hot beverages. The trick is to send whatever virus you encounter to your stomach instead of your lungs, or so I’ve heard. There is so much disinformation (or no information, really) out there. We have learned that in America we are all potential sheep being led to slaughter. When this is all over, those of us still standing will have to take to the streets in protest of all of this. We will never be the same. That seventeen minute song Bob Dylan released the other day? That is pretty amazing I must say.
The following blocks of texs are exceprts from my first year of Blagues, nos. 41-45. I am reading through all my Blagues, five per day, and posting some samples here. Now, in my sixth year of writing this Blague, but the time I get to my seventh, I will have through all the daily Blagues of my first five years. If that’s confusing I apologize:
I am engaged in several creative and heady work projects all at once, and my schedule for the next several weeks is packed with marks to hit and stolen moments when I’m meant to move so-called mountains. But what if I were to approach all my scheduled activity as play, letting a good half of my mind float around in the tide of creativity, ebbing and flowing and washing up ideas, here and there, as needed. If the most functional or professional or together I need be is akin to some kid frolicking along a beach who, when out of imaginative notions, might need only run down to the water’s edge to see what life might be floating there, to consider, poke at or capture? Well then that might surely make the month ahead less fraught and more fun and, possibly, just possibly, yield more successful products than a default type-A personality ticking items off myriad to-do lists might achieve. Frankly, I’ve had it up to here with that guy; and I would so very much enjoy just one May without him huffing and puffing and bemoaning the fact “there isn’t enough time.” For what? To be some self-profesying stress case?
I have been very fortunate to spend all but the first six years of my life with a house a stone’s throw from a beach. (And the first six were spent at the Skyline Cabana Club, now on the site of Liberty State Park, in Jersey City and that was a total gas.) But from the age of seven, I spent every summer growing up “down the shore” in Belmar, N.J. where my parents bought a big house with a wrap around porch just a block from the ocean. It was city-ish compared to the beach experience we had out in Wainscott, where Stella and I rented our first beach house, or on Cape Cod where we bought a house in the days before we rented in Provincetown and Wellfleet. The point is I’ve never been able to be very far from the ocean. I don’t think I’d be happy without at least knowing it’s nearby.
As a child, my mother, sister and I spent the entire summer in Belmar and my father visited on weekends. It wasn’t that far away from our permanent home or his work; and now in retrospect I’m sure he was up to a little bit of no good. And my Pisces mother was happiest in her cups without any overlording by him in those days. My sister was hostile and never spoke to me. So really summer meant that I was completely untethered. It was the seventies and eighties and I too got up to a little bit of no good. Tales of my nighttime teenage revelries that included long and winding bike rides to and from Asbury Park in the wee hours would curl your hair, so I’ll skip that bit—I have to leave something shocking for the memoirs—but my collection of daytimes was one long idyll. Even when old enough to legally drink and work as a waiter in restaurants, partying with a pack of preppy, nut-brown, sparkling tooth faces framed with dry, thick surfer, salt-stiff, sun-bleached hair, I might skip going to bed, but doze on the porch in a blanket in a hammock for a couple of hours until the first old man or woman walking a dog at dawn would wake me; at which point I’d grab a towel, zombie-like, and stroll the block to the empty beach to greet the rising Sun which would paint the entire ocean pink as it poked its way above the horizon; and I would slip into the silky rose brine and swim out as far as I dared indulging in the rare private moments one might have in this environment which would, within hours, be blanket to blanket, boombox to boombox, a battle of Coppertone and Hawaiian Tropics and orange Bain de Soleil played out in the breeze.
I would emerge after an hour at least, imagining myself a young Apollo or Dionysus dripping from my rejuvenating bath, and fall to my towel to finish the sleep I started hours before, often awaking to find myself completely surrounded by the throng. And I would tip toe home to no recrimination, pulpy orange juice and Munster cheese lovingly melted by mother on a plain toasted bagel. Even writing this is chilling me.
Whenever asked to imagine my most relaxing experience or directed to go to my happy place, or attempt to get a lower blood pressure reading than I typically do, I always recall the sense-memory of my morning swims in that pink water, the crystalline pre-dawn sky still twinkling with stars. My favorite spot to slip in was along a jetty that created a tiny cove and pool that was spared the large rolling effect of the breakers, even at low tide, if you hugged the line of jagged rock and conglomerate as you pushed out to sea. There would be tiny minnows and starfish and crabs and whatever those barnacley things are called attached to the rocks—barnacles maybe. The unreal colors led me to imagine I was swimming in an ocean on another planet, or in some Yes album landscape come to life.
The summer before going to college I decided not to work a job; I demurred, really, much to my parents “chagrin”, apparently—at least this is what my friend Dick Badenhausen’s mother Margo said my mother told her though she never uttered anything to me. I spent everyday, all day, on the beach, from 8am until 7pm, with quick runs home for food, bathroom breaks and, quite probably, the occasional puff off of something soothing. And I read. I just read. Starting with children’s books. I know this will sound odd or sad but I never read children’s books as a child. My parents never read to me and I didn’t read. Even in grade school I would skim any reading assignment or just not do it at all. Nobody checked my homework. We were not a conscientious family. I remember the first book I read, besides D’Aulaires Greek Mythology and Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, was The Once and Future King which was kind of a doorstop and supposedly too advanced for my ten year old brain. It wasn’t. Though I loved this book it didn’t trigger readership in me and,, by that time, it was too late to go back and read kids books. I had never even heard of The Chronicles of Narnia until my best friend senior year of high school gave me his set to read over the summer after graduation. Which I did all at once, followed by the The Lord of The Rings trilogy and then Salinger’s Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, and Raise High The Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction, plus my university catalog. I was the most tranquil I’d ever been in my life, at seventeen, no longer a child, already possessing dark secrets, while not yet an adult in spite of them.
Even though I’ve been at the beach most of my life, there is nothing like, and no way to recapture, the experience of ones salad days, which for me were very specifically, July and August of that summer. I am so grateful that I had the unwitting forsight not to work that summer. I have something so potent, more than memory, to draw upon, now as a result. And while it’s still early May, today’s oracle reminds me that: no matter what my calendar looks like, I am going to do my absolute damnest to not create unnecessary work or stress for myself, and to channel the feeling of moving through that pink water, as I consciously would, with the smoothest, longest strokes and nary a splash. I’m going to let the Sabian symbol of Taurus, 14° set the tone for the entire summer. In a twelve-fold sequence this forty-forth symbol would fall under the rule of Scorpio which, in contrast to the preceding sign of Libra, eschews the outer world of order and appearances and embraces an inner world, that, of the subconscious. It is the fixed-water sign, concentrated, distilled and crystalized emotion that isn’t expressed but kept guarded and used to power one’s desire, like a dragon protecting its treasure deep in the recesses of the earth. There is no f.o.m.o here or whining or complaining. Scorpio, ruled by Pluto, named for the god of the underworld (subterra and the subconscious), employs the power of elimination, pruning, to inspire growth at the unseen root level of experience. Thus Scorpio and the astrological eighth house are associated with regeneration, sleep, sex and even death, which is only a dreadful name for rebirth.
As a child we are naturally inward focussed; and at seventeen or ability to be so is still rather automatic. As most of us age we lose our capacity for this and have to intercede with meditative practices to reintroduce this element back into our lives. Even in meditation, I employ that pink dawn ocean; so I’m going to return to that source now, in light of all the tap dancing I’m meant to do as fast as I can, and find that fixed-watery place inside myself, the vibrational crystal of my inner being, the insouciant Mona Lisa smile of my salad days and demure, once again, when it comes to work, taking on only that which I can execute as play. I have Mars conjunct Neptune in Scorpio. In simple terms that spells an active imagination, not to mention the ability to cast some pointed spells. Mars is the active self, fighting the good fight; and Neptune is that vast primordial sea of imagination and possibility. And, really, today’s oracle is about working on both levels simultaneously, finding the parrallel between them, returning to simpler joys for revitalization. Running around, like yesterday’s porter, subject to the needs and dictates of others is anathema to the experience of the child taking his cues from his inner life; not to mention remaining connecting to the natural world and its energies.
The message of this oracle is sychronistically the same as the Tarot card I pulled from the deck, as I’m wont to do daily, yesterday and then, curiously, again today, the Page of Pentacles: Connecting with life’s simple pleasures. As Stella and I tell our clients, this may be simple, but it isn’t always easy. We mustn’t attempt at once more than we can achieve via our conscious minds and ego drives. We must keep a toe in that water and skip along the shore. A not so nice voice in my head is saying: Who are you kidding? And the truth is I have already failed to take this oracle on board in the hours spent putting this blog entry together. Living life on life’s terms can be a challenge. But we must live and let live and allow that which isn’t working to fall away, as no amount of struggle or speeding your way through a schedule like a pin ball bouncing off walls and obstacles will serve you in the end. I’ve never said it before but today it seems highly appropriate: Peace Out.
To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Cosmic Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree pointof the Sabian Symbol may at times be one degree higher than the one listed here. The Blague portrays the starting degree of for this day ( 0°, for instance), as I typically post in the morning, while the Sabian number corresponds to the end point (1°) of that same 0°-1° period. There are 360 degrees spread over 365/6 days per year—so they nearly, but not exactly, correlate.
Typos happen. I don’t have a proofreader. And I like to just write, post and go!
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