How Did I Get Here? Or, What to Expect From the Spring 2010 Merc Retrograde

I unwittingly did some advance work on the nature of the Mercury retrograde that’ll be with us from April 16 through May 11. Hoooboy. Buy a compass and carry a cell phone, preferably one programmed with the number of at least one Taurus.

When Mercury goes retrograde (an optical illusion, when the planet appears to be moving backward because of a change in relative orbital speed), communication and transportation often go flooey. Thinking gets fuzzy. Misunderstandings, confusion and lies abound. Travel hits snarls and delays. Technology breaks down. It’s not a good time for starting new projects and entering contracts (unless you want to keep the door open to renegotiating them later), because the words you’re thinking, hearing and reading do not entirely line up with what the other parties involved are thinking, saying and writing. It is a good time, however, to research and investigate and to clean up old business.

This time around, Mercury will be retrograde in the sign of Taurus. This slow, steady, earthy sign is not a comfortable place for the winged messenger, who prefers darting around to sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn. Mercury’s high-flying tendencies will not only be doing a major U-turn, but also be coming to ground. It’s not a coincidence that as Mercury was slowing to station retrograde, clouds (clouds! how Neptunian!) of volcanic ash grounded flights across Europe and shut down Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle and other major airports. Prepare for a widespread muddling of practicalities and concrete information, and how.

My unintended research confused me so greatly that I concluded that the retrograde had already begun. It took a little distance to realize that the full power of the retrograde was still a week away; what was happening was transiting Mercury in Taurus opposing my natal Neptune and turning my natal t-square into a grand cross (effectively creating my own personal retrograde simulation). And what happened down here on terra firma? A drive to the Bronx and subway ride to the Village, following routes I’ve taken more times than I can tally and which should have taken an hour and 45 minutes, worst case scenario, lasted closer to three and a half.

The trouble started when I attempted to recreate a mistake I’d made the last time I’d driven in, which took a good 10 minutes off the drive. I misjudged the exit and ended up in an unfamiliar part of Harlem. I couldn’t remember where the avenue I was on, Lenox, was in relation to Madison, where I needed to be. I phoned the friend I would soon be visiting, and she wasn’t sure either. I doubled back and U-turned (with a police car coming into rear view, of course, as I completed it), took the first major street to the east and ended up a bridge other than the one I expected to be on. I phoned my friend again and she told me how to continue avoiding the expressway I had avoided in the first place. Then the street split, the signs weren’t clear and I found myself on that very same expressway. The upcoming exit wasn’t what I expected, but it mentioned the bridge by the warehouse where my friend lives, so I took it. The right street and bridge and highway sign layout came into view, but the corner buildings were from another universe, and the access road didn’t lead to her street but to … the bar and grill on the other side of the bridge from it. Apparently I had driven into the universe perpendicular to hers. Crossing over took multiple corrective turns, then — whew! Destination reached; ordeal ended.


At least part two was shorter. It began after I discovered at the entrance to the closest subway station that my Metro card had expired. I’d been told there were no card machines there and certainly saw none, so I headed out in search of the station for the next closest line, which I’ve used multiple times and which I knew had machines selling cards. Once again, reality was familiar in one direction and absolutely foreign in the other. I walked a block. The side streets looked right; the buildings on the main street looked wrong. I phoned my friend yet again. She guided me back to the other station and to the entrance that did lead to Metro card machines. There was an attendant on duty, too, who transferred the unused fares from the expired card onto a new one. Just in case, I decided to run the card through a reader and verify the amount. A very large, very, very slow moving man was inches from me as I turned toward the scanner. “Excuse me,” I said, which immediately gave way to a loud and blasphemous curse (mine) as the man slammed into me without acknowledging my presence in any way — and catapulted me solidly into the there and then.

It occurred to me during the subway ride that the voice on the other end of my calls of confusion belonged to a Taurus. I’d recommend you get a couple lined up to act as guide lines.