Monday, September 29, 2014

The Saturn Opposition; or, Trying NOT to Be "As a Dog Returns to His Own Vomit, so a Fool Repeats His Folly."

To my dear readers who have been waiting since late August for a new post:

In case you wondered where I've been for the past month, here is my answer: on the dark side of Saturn. All other transits and progressions have taken a backseat to the Harsh Taskmaster. My Saturn opposition was exact over the weekend, and now that it's over, I feel tired. And OLD. My lower back aches; it's high time for me to get back into my yoga routine -- not the fashionable kind in which one sweats like a pig in a room whose temperature rivals a summer day in Miami, or socializes after class with a glass of wine in the studio with fellow Lulumon-pants-wearing yoga students and enviably toned, toe-ringed instructor, but the kind in which one rolls out an old sticky mat on the living room store and goes through all the basic asanas -- Nag Champi incense optional. Ironically, the practice of yoga was a gift I gave to myself on my Saturn Return in the spring of 2000. I did it three or four times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less if I was under the weather or in the middle of relocating. But Saturn transiting through the opposite sign of Scorpio has nearly killed off this dedication. In fact, Saturn in Scorpio has been kicking my ass in many areas.

I don't want to fight Saturn in Scorpio, really I don't, but for nearly two years this transit has rejected my overtures of friendship. Feeling thusly dissed does not tickle, as I am a super-sensitive Cancer (with a stellium including the Sun, Mars, and Mercury) who also has a Scorpio Moon and Neptune in so-late-it's-last-call Scorpio. You would think Saturn in Scorpio would want to be not necessarily my BFF (since Saturn in any sign is no sign's BFF) but my stern yet fair mentor...someone who can truly show me the way to go home.

It could very well be that I am just a spoiled brat. Perhaps Saturn in Scorpio has been exactly what I'd wished for. After all, I managed to collect EUC through 2013 (when Congress cut it off for all longterm out-of-workers); hold on to my below-market-rate apartment; write approximately 250 pages of a children's book that shines with potential and, I daresay, timelessness; and maintain a relationship with one person who still seems to be, after many ups and downs and ins and outs, THE person for me. Though my health has not been great (Saturn in Scorpio has manifested in multiple UTIs -- since last November I've been taking prescription-strength cranberry pills as a preventive measure), it could be a lot worse. I know that I am hardly the only person in this "new normal" economy who has been jerked around with potential jobs that all came to naught; not the only not-funny real-life cartoon character known as the Floundering Freelancer. Hell, I understand that I am not the only writer-artist-mystic-astrologer who has been suffering from creative constipation. I get it.

On the other hand, maybe I don't really get it at all.

Saturn is not just about hard lessons, structure, limitations, depression, and "growing up," but also about parenting. I have so-late-it's-last-call Capricorn (the sign that is ruled by Saturn) on my 5th-house cusp of children, and exactly three weeks ago tonight I became the proud adopted mother of a young black cat (most likely a 2013 Scorpio with a Taurus or Cancer Moon, since he loves food and is extremely affectionate). His name is Little Franklin. His middle name is Coltrane. His last name, at least for now, is Gardstein. When he is being a total mental case, he is Franklinstein.

Some of you readers may recall the grief I recounted regarding Miss Meowsers, my boyfriend's darling gray tabby girl who died in May, an hour past Mother's Day. I miss her still; she will always be the Pioneer Cat in my heart, the amazing feline who turned me into a Crazy Cat Lady. But she was a preexisting condition; along with two daughters of the human persuasion, she came along with my boyfriend. Little Franklin is the Cat of Abundant Intentionality.

Unlike some of my friends, I was not nearly cool enough to have Little Franklin enter my life by lurking outside the front door of my building or following me home from the subway. No, LF did not drop into my lap. I spotted his photo among scores of other eligible kitties when I'd officially taken a break from cat cruising -- it was the last week of August, my boyfriend was going away for five days with his daughters, and we had been wrangling with the issue of cat adoption for the past few weeks without real solution, as we do not live together and would be unable to do so for almost another year. The possibility of adopting a pair of kittens and (temporarily) splitting them up so as to have a cat in each of our homes was discussed; I even came across a photo of two darling little kittens who might've fit that bill, except that they were adopted in a New York minute. My boyfriend met, in an impromptu manner, a pair of tuxedo kittens at an adoption van in his neighborhood one afternoon; he liked them, but was not magnetically drawn to them the way he'd been with Miss Meowsers a decade earlier. A calico cat I liked the looks of had similarly been spoken for, and there was a tabby tom whom I developed a crush on, but he was a senior citizen, and my boyfriend understandably did not want to go down that road. A day or two before his trip, I showed him the photo of Little Franklin, whose "rescue" name was Kew; the reception, from where I was sitting, fell on the cool side of neutral, so I decided not to push it.

Yet I could not stop thinking about this little tom with the ebony coat as shiny and fluffy as mink and the soulful copper eyes. And two days later, when his photo link appeared on a paid-service buying-and-selling e-newsletter I subscribe to, I knew that I had to move fast and try to arrange a meet-and-see before someone else beat me to it, even if doing so would cause strife. I emailed my boyfriend expecting a response filled with brake slamming, but though he did respond, it was not to my sense of urgency concerning "Kew." I sent an email to the adoption shelter, and though I heard back a few hours later, it turned out that the foster mother as well as her housemate were out of town, so the meet-and-see was arranged for the following week, after Labor Day, when my boyfriend could come with me to meet the cat who had imprinted himself on my heart. The meeting, overseen by the housemate, went very well; Little Franklin almost immediately sat on my hand, displayed impressive conversational ability (I naturally meowed right back -- it was a real conversation), and much to my relief and joy, allowed my boyfriend to scoop him up in his arms, where he went blissed-out boneless.

It took four more days to officially clear the red tape of the adoption application and reference checking that I had already submitted in order to expedite the process (nothing was binding till the adoption fee was paid), plus the home visit to confirm I did not live in a crack den or was a cat hoarder (the latter of which had been Little Franklin's home environment until all the cats in that place had been removed and sent to death row, at which point the rescue agency stepped in), until Little Franklin came home with me. Just four days culminating in the Harvest Moon, but they felt like four months, and through all my amped-up anticipation I felt storm clouds gathering in the Boyfriend Zone.

You see, as unbelievable as it may sound, I had chosen not to list him as one of my three references. One reference had to be "professional," I assume to screen out the jobless or freelanceless, but as for the other two, I chose two good friends to vouch for my character...not my boyfriend. And why? Well, I told myself I was sparing him the ordeal when he had so many other things to attend to, so many figurative fires to put out. The hard, Saturnian (and Plutonian) truth was that I did not trust him to give me a good reference, because I had gone against our agreement to take a break from cat cruising until we figured out just how such an arrangement would work. True, on the surface all seemed smooth after the meeting in which cat charmed boyfriend: we both liked the name Franklin so the naming decision seemed fair enough, and I assured my boyfriend that Little Franklin would spend plenty of time at his place (which is fortunately just a few neighborhoods away) once LF had gotten his sea legs and felt he had a solid, secure nest in my home, but the storm broke just a few days after the adoption.

My boyfriend had been staying at my place with our new son; I suspected that it was mainly because of Little Franklin that he was there, as for nearly three years the vast majority of our get-togethers had been conducted at my boyfriend's. Part of it had to do with the fact that until Miss Meowsers died, she lived there, though she sometimes visited me (sometimes to mouse-hunt, other times just for a change of scenery, which she seemed to enjoy); part of it was because his daughters stay with him every other weekend; part of it was that although I have a cozy, albeit small apartment, he has cable and I do not; and part of it was that we tended to fight right before one of his "off" weekends when he could've come over, but did not because we were on the outs. Anyway, at bedtime I kept pressing him to tell me what was wrong, and the cat, so to speak, came out of the bag. I am sorry to say that Little Franklin witnessed the escalation from soft voices to shouting on both sides, my boyfriend nearly storming out, and my flood of tears. We made up, as we have always managed to do sooner or later, but...Saturn was clearly not handing me parenthood on a silver platter. I had, after all, decided that I wanted what I wanted, that I was not going to let this cat slip through my fingers, and that despite my reassurances to my boyfriend, they were perceived as Band-Aids at best, "fronting" at worst.

I had truly wanted a cat, but I had also wanted to right the gross imbalance of the relationship's dynamic. (I have Jupiter in Libra, in case you were curious.) I did not want to cause him pain, but I felt compelled to take definite action instead of waiting for who knew how long on a situation that I deeply desired. For about two weeks midway through this past summer, my boyfriend and I were not just on the outs, but no longer a couple. I had been the one to pull the plug. There were a number of problems, but one of them was that I could no longer take the horrible sensation of being pulled along on certain important decisions I did not agree with, while not truly being heard or taken seriously. My boyfriend has many more moving parts than I do, which can be tricky to deal with in the best of circumstances, but these circumstances were far from the best. I had never stopped loving him, but I no longer loved our increasingly joyless situation, and at that time I felt that I had no choice but to take drastic measures to save myself from being further drawn into something that felt like a combination of a roller coaster and a vat of quicksand.

Although Pluto is the planet that most obviously deals with the isuse of trust or lack thereof, Saturn has to do with commitment, structure, limitations, a willful deprivation of pleasure (aka anhedonia), and an inherent lack of faith (for that, one must turn to Jupiter), and therefore has quite a bit to do with trust. And though my boyfriend and I have several lovely interaspects -- more than enough to explain both our attraction and longevity -- both of our Saturns form challenging aspects with the other's planets: my Saturn in Taurus squares his loose Venus-Mars conjunction in Aquarius and his Uranus in Leo. In other words, my Saturn "locks in" his natal opposition between Venus-Mars and Uranus, turning it into a fixed-sign T-square. This is not a pretty interaspect, and also overshadows, at least in my opinion, his Saturn in Capricorn opposing my Sun in Cancer (thankfully it's a separating opposition, yet it's still close enough to exert a strong influence).

My Saturn sits right on the cusp of my 9th House, so it is safe to say that whatever faith I naturally lack (thanks to a wide but approaching Moon-Saturn opposition) is exaggerated by Saturn's placement in the House that is most associated with faith. My real religion (the domain of Jupiter / 9th House / Sagittarius) is art, astrology, and a pragmatic form of mysticism. Shamanism has appealed to me since reading Carlos Casteneda in my early 20s -- not wanting to go to a "Don Juan" to be healed, but to become a Don Juan in order to heal others as well as myself. It has never been enough for me to merely be; in order to be in good standing with myself, I must do. And what I have been doing for nearly two months is trying to give my relationship another chance while not wanting to slip back into the very patterns (Saturn) that caused so much hopelessness (Saturn again) and resentment (Pluto). Oh, and I have also been trying (and failing) to find gainful employment that will free me from my stagnating career as a freelancer.

I do not want to be the dog returning to his own vomit. I want to create real, positive change instead of only reacting to outer circumstances, and just as important, not to give up whatever hope I have managed to hold on to for 44 years.

Little Franklin is a cat. He is also a son to my boyfriend and me, our friend who exhibits more humanity than many people we know, and a desperately needed ray of hope. This may sound like a tall order for one little fellow who has not yet celebrated his first birthday -- but if anyone can pull it off, Little Franklin can.