A Golden Space

The past year has felt like a lifetime. In a way it has been. I left my job and started writing a book. My family moved across the country. Life with a toddler feels like multiple lifetimes every week.

There’s a moment from exactly a year ago that I keep going back to. It was a Monday, and I had an appointment with an astrologist. 

My wife had given me the gift of a chart reading. This is where you give an astrologist your exact time and place of birth (after calling your Mom to find out what those things are) and the astrologist tells you all there is to cosmically know about you.

I met her in a borrowed jeweler’s office on 17th Street. After settling in, she started a recording of our session. Then we began.

Astrologist: “Today is the seventh of August, 2017. It’s a lunar eclipse today. This is the astrological reading for Yancey Strickler. We have about an hour and a half. I’d like to spend the first half of the time going into your natal chart, which is this map of the sky the moment you’re born. 

“Put yourself in the morning of Virginia [when and where I was born]. The sun is risen, and behind the sun are all these planets following. Uranus, Venus, rise right up on the eastern horizon after the sun. The sun rises with this whole pageant following it. The moon is about to rise too, but we won’t see the moon because the sky is so bright. Not much is below the horizon at all. That says something about you, that the planets are seeing you. It shows something about who you are, what you do. Your life is not simply for yourself.”

Me: “Okay."

Astrologist: “You’re Scorpio, so you’re born into the season of the underworld. Excavation, digging, research, getting to the truth of something. Getting to the core, figuring out the story behind. Probing to understand more, getting to the bottom of things. These are Scorpionic qualities.”

Me: “Okay.”

Astrologist: “Your sun is conjunct Uranus, the planet that turns the other way. This shows you have a sense of doing things differently than people around you. Having extremely different ideas but trusting them enough to move forward with them. Maybe even a sense of genius. Maybe there’s a sense of new ideas that come and you don’t know where they’re from. They’re ahead of the time. I don’t know if you have those ideas already. Do you? You should trust them.”

And here I was walking in with the question of whether I should write the book I kept thinking about. This was all in the first five minutes. How much are you supposed to tip your astrologist again?

The session ended with key dates for the year ahead. When I should be in nature. When creative inspiration might strike. My luckiest day of the year. 

Grading it a year later, some of it is uncanny.

The date she predicted was “BAM — your luckiest day of the year” was the day I met the editor who bought the book and who I work with today. A “pivotal” date coincided with when I signed the book deal. Another with when I met my literary agent. At the time the book was just a glimmer in my eye.

Not all the dates turned out. The day I was promised new income the check must have gotten lost in the mail. The day I was supposed to be in nature I was trapped in an airport. She said February would be a good time to move. It wasn’t. We moved in April. Still, pretty close.

The final date she gave was August 2018. Now. She said starting August 1, 2018 my project would be in “a golden space.” The cosmos would “be like Santa Claus” raining down gifts. “It’s all happening,” she said. 

*Knockonwood* but this forecast is also looking good. 

I closed part one of the book two weeks ago. That’s 100 pages in the can. Early work on Part Two is underway. The book is unfolding in front of me. It's as clearly as I’ve seen it. It really is a golden space.

I feel hesitant to say this out loud. I don't want to jinx anything. But what good is life if you spend it waiting for something bad to happen? Be thankful for the golden space when it pays you a visit.

Beautiful Boy

In the movie Boyhood there’s a scene where Ethan Hawke gives his son a mixtape called The Black Album made up of all the best solo Beatles songs. Like the Beatles never broke up. You can watch the scene here

Someone recreated The Black Album — whose concept and tracklisting Ethan Hawke actually made — on Spotify and it's a great listen. The transition from John's "How" to Paul's "Every Night" is unreal. An unexpected surprise was "No No No," a coke song by Ringo from 1974.

In our house we're hooked on solo John. We watch the “Imagine” video often with our son. “Oh Yoko” has long been one of his favorite songs. (Ringo and Yoko are his current favorite Beatles.) This weekend “Beautiful Boy” and “Watching the Wheels” were on repeat. Both songs are about the five years before John's death when he focused on raising his son with Yoko. The most beautiful time.

Sadly this led me into a deep dive on John’s 1980 murder. The same day this iconic photo of John and Yoko was taken in their house. The same day John autographed a record for the man who would murder him six hours later, asking “Is that all you want?” and his killer smiling and nodding in reply. There’s even a photograph.

Hours later John was shot in the back point blank four times in front of his apartment on 72nd Street. The police arrived two minutes later and rushed him to the hospital in the backseat of a squad car. He was gravely wounded and could not speak.

At the hospital doctors tried and failed to resuscitate him. According to the surgeon and multiple witnesses, at 11:15 when they pronounced John Lennon dead the Beatles song “All My Loving” came on over the hospital speakers.

“All My Loving” was released on November 22, 1963. The same day President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas.

“All My Loving” was the first song the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. The first time America saw them. Watching it now their power is still startling. They remain eternally fresh, different, new.

In the days after John’s death, mourners gathered outside his apartment. Their singing kept Yoko up at night. She released a statement thanking them for their love for John, but asked them to spend ten minutes in silent prayer in Central Park the following Sunday instead.

The request took on a life of its own. Days later, 250,000 people gathered in Central Park for ten minutes of silence. Millions of people around the world joined them. Every New York City radio station went off the air for the entire ten minutes, too.

Is there anything that matters that much anymore?

"If the glove doesn’t fit…"

I worry that the left’s narrative about Trump being compromised (Kompromat in italics, as journalists love to write) might backfire.

I won't be surprised if there's a pee tape and I'll be equally unsurprised if his supporters don’t care after it turns up. The same video will be declared evidence of treason and evidence of patriotism. The battle lines are drawn. 

The suggestion of blackmail seems to promise a moment of confession where Trump admits that the Russians had him all along. But I don't think it's like that. It's more like Trump and Putin/Russia are those insta-best friends who totally love all the same songs and hunt all the same endangered species. Trump’s motives are barely multi-layered. Like Putin, a shady autocrat is who he is.

The truth of this whole saga is hiding in plain sight. The sequence of events going from the Trump Tower meeting to Trump’s public statements to the timing of the hack of Hillary Clinton’s emails are laid out so cleanly it’s like a mystery novel for a five-year-old. It couldn’t be more obvious. 

The actually hard question is whether it matters. So far it doesn't seem like it. We knew much of this when people went to the voting booths. It didn't dissuade people then. Its influence did just the opposite.

When the whole truth is known, it might be checkmate. Or the familiarity of the story could feel more like "okay, and..?" 

Mueller seems likely to prove that illegal behavior has occurred and is occurring. Some of it possibly threat-to-the-Republic illegal. But to Trump's supporters, enforcement of the law will seem like cheating on a technicality. He won, albeit on an electoral college technicality. Isn't that exactly how the Deep State would execute a coup?

This is why the revelations of the relationship between leading conservative organizations and the Russians are just as troubling. Funding for the NRA and other conservative causes has been coming directly — and illegally — from Russia for at least the past five years. Trump is not an aberration. Something bigger is going on.

We don't yet know what it is. But, again, it's hiding in plain sight.

Seven Republican Senators visited Moscow literally on the 4th of July and met with sanctioned Russian officials. Rand Paul, another prominent Senator, flies to Moscow this week to meet with others. This isn't clandestine. This is brazen.

We’re in the deep end. The only thing we know to expect is that underneath the fog and noise, the truth will be right here in front of us all along.

Good music

The four-plus minutes of Courtney Barnett playing "Depreston" in a courtyard in Paris are as good as it gets. I also really liked her interview with The Creative Independent. This especially:

"My goal has always been to incorporate every experience, good and bad, and spin it around until it makes something interesting or something useful. I try to draw inspiration from anything and anywhere. You just have to open your eyes. If you’re open to people and open to situations, there’s always so much more going on around us than we realize."

A hopeful thought. Here's to opportunities in everything.