Letting the days go by.

Here’s what I’ve been wondering: how in the hell did we get here?

[This was one of my father’s favorite phrases, by the way: how in the hell…[whatever, whatever]]

I’ve been wondering this wonder in a very literal sense, after reading Bill Bryson’s terrific A Short History of Nearly Everything, and then starting to write a post that I intended to have prepped and polished by today, for Father’s Day. But I’ve been distracted and having a hard time concentrating. Possibly you have, too.

How the hell did we get here?

This is what I’ve decided:  If we’re looking for a culprit, someone or something on which we can blame every damn thing that’s haywire right now, I say let’s level it all at Mars, that pesky red planet, and its current retrograde ways. We’re nostril-deep in the poo, and it’s entirely Mars retrograde’s fault.

Yes, I know Mars retrograde, a time for regrouping and introspection, is different from Mercury retrograde, a time when everything seems to be at sixes and sevens.

Yes, I understand fully that the theories of astrology have no scientific, evidence-based support. No matter; we’re beyond reason, fact-checking, thoughtful reflection, measured response. We threw all that to the wolves so long ago that it’s hard to remember how things used to be – if, in fact, they ever were.

So if we’re going to suspend all rational processes in blind quest of a singular, malicious culprit, then I say we pick on Mars, ruler of sex and aggression, and the fact that it’s been retrograde since April 17.

Possibly, you might be wondering what this retrograde stuff is about. Here’s the short-short-short on it:

A planet in retrograde appears to be moving backward in the sky due to the speed of its orbit and relative position to Earth. It’s an illusion, of course, a matter of perspective.

The companion astrological theory, in very broad, general terms, is that these relative positions of stars and planets affect us and our behavior through some cosmic dynamic we don’t fully understand. Right now, the big player on the astrological scene happens to be Mars.

Every two years, the planet Mars goes into retrograde for a period of about two months. The timing of this retrograde period, combined with the alignment of all the other stars at the time, determines the effects of Mars retrograde on us, the star-crossed lovers on Earth.

Oh, you’ve come this far; don’t leave me now; it won’t last much longer, I promise.

In assessing the impact of this current Mars retrograde phase, astrologers offer counsel, such as this:

“Caution is also needed when interacting with aggressive or dominant types in relationships, usually men. Such people already suffering from sadness in relationships or other areas of life, are more likely to become irritated and even fly into a rage.” (source: Astrologyking.com)

and this:

Mars will station within a degree from fierce red giant star Antares, which is found in the heart of Scorpio…. Antares “causes malevolence, destructiveness, liberality, broad-mindedness, evil presages and danger of fatality and makes its natives rash, ravenous, headstrong and destructive to themselves by their own obstinacy.” (source: darkstarastrology.com)

Clearly, Mars retrograde is the problem, the source of this pervasive bitterness, anger, violence, mayhem and confusion. We need to run that rat bastard Mars right out of the solar system.

The good news is that Mars retrograde is about to come to an end, on June 29. The bad news is that Neptune went retrograde on June 13 and doesn’t exit until November 20 (it will be a time marked by religious persecution, so I read). Then there’s Saturn, retrograde March 23 to August 13 (can’t remember the specific nature of this beast, but I don’t think it was good, either), and Pluto, April 18-September 26 (a time for deep soul-searching, I think – hard to keep track).

Really, it’s always something.


as Edna St. Vincent Millay suggested, perhaps it’s the same damn thing over and over again, the intractable problem we can’t seem to solve, unable to agree on a root cause, a common denominator, a singular villain.

I wonder if it’s possible that, as an alternative to leveling blame elsewhere – on religion, the President, the candidates, the NRA, the media – we might all, each one of us, agree to accept just the tiniest bit of personal responsibility, acknowledge that we are all complicit in building a culture of hate, in making this mess, through what we’ve done and left undone; in what we’ve said and left unsaid; in using words like excoriate, exculpate, eviscerate when a softer, kinder word would have sufficed.

We built this fractured, fractious society. All of us, together; we did this. Veni, vidi, vici. I did; you did; we did. It is done. Now what?

Well, here’s one idea, and honestly it’s all I’ve got:

Maybe today, instead of jumping aboard the crusade of the moment, you and I and some others we know might decide to take a tip from Jim Ryan, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and ask, “wait, what?” before responding or reacting – to anything, big or small.

(NOTE: this video is really worth the few minutes to watch, I promise. If you don’t like clicking links, then go to YouTube and search “Dean James Ryan’s 5 Essential Questions in Life,” or here’s the URL to copy and paste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW0NguMGIbE).

We might, you and I and some others, listen to Dean Ryan and then decide that following “wait, what?” with “I wonder…” might lead to a place where we can still be friends, even with people who love guns or hate guns or love Trump or hate Trump, or whatever. We might take this small pause, ask these questions, find a scrap of compromise, simmer down a bit and slowly, over time, find that we’ve walked out of this miserable wilderness and onto higher ground. Slowly, one step at a time, we’ll get there. We won’t get there overnight; we didn’t get here overnight. But we can start, today. Time isn’t holding us.

Who knows, we might even, in a short time, become so evolved that in response to hearing something outrageous we look in our mirrors and, – just for one fleeting minute – instead of seeking something, or someone to blame, think: My God, what have I done?

Or we could just blame Mars, at least for 10 more days.

Food | Week of June 20, 2016


Roasted Onion Salad with Arugula and Walnut Salsa

Za’atar Roast Chicken with Green Tahini Sauce

Malaysian Fish and Pineapple Curry
(the fish is third recipe in the link)

Pork Souvlaki with Cucumber Salad and Tzatziki


  1. Went for a walk with a newish friend 2 weeks ago. And partway between deciding we’re very much alike and realizing that we were doing the exact opposite things in 1991 (one of us studying at Yale, one of us a teenage mom birthing her first baby) I realized that we respect and despise opposite presidential candidates. And somehow we finished the walk still being newish friends. It was a very good challenge. Being near the ocean likely helped. Mars was nowhere in sight, thank goodness.
    (Happy Father’s Day. We just had our new Weber delivered. Cheers.)


  2. The ocean is essential, but I loved Dean Ryan’s video… your post, as always is the best part, so I shared it with family friends, who are heading on a trip–– where they will be challenged on the daily, by values they disagree with. Some great food for thought Jen!


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