Friday, December 11, 2009

Casual Stroll or Crash and Burn?

I've been talking to a friend about his upcoming Saturn Return. He says he is a bit scared that it's looking him in the face. It's not an uncommon reaction when you know there's one coming. But it can be a lot worse if you don't. Whoever said "Ignorance is bliss" certainly didn't know about the Saturn Return. I was completely ignorant when my first one came around.

It was near the middle of September, 1979. During the previous year, I had been spinning around like an out of control top. I had left my career as a cop in the dust and my marriage followed soon after. Actually it was final on September 9. We had been separated for a year and a half. When Saturn crossed my Ascendant, the astrologer had said, I would experience a break-up. When it did I told my wife that we needed some time apart. After all, isn't that what he had told me would happen? Not might, would. He got some other things right so I figured he had to be right on that one. That was my first experience with self-fulfilling prophecies.

Anyway, the year before I had been working as a drill instructor at the Detroit Police Academy. I loved it, teaching young rookies how to stay alive at work. I was the quintessential street cop with a huge reputation. All the stories in the world. Except they wouldn't let me tell most of them; couldn't swear, couldn't growl, couldn't do anything that might upset these poor up and coming police officers. It's been said that you come out of the academy knowing about 5% of what you need to know to become a good cop. I could see why.

I didn't remember my days as a rookie in the academy that way. It wasn't long after the riots in Detroit and things were different, I guess. So, as it turned out, I did tell some of those stories and the students loved it! I was their favorite instructor because I tried to tell them what was. My supervisors hated it. Then they began to hate me. I had walked into this place 8 months before having no experience whatsoever teaching. The commander had greeted me, handed me a lesson plan and told me to go to work. No problem. What's new?

I had worked hard to become the best instructor I could be, and I was doing it. But, I was doing it the wrong way. Apparently. So we began to battle, the administration and me. I was learning what happens when you bang your head against a wall enough times; you got a really sore head and nothing else. Do I have to tell you how this worked out? One day I just told them to shove the badge where it don't shine and walked away. Not just from a job but an identity. Walked away from something I loved so much I did it 24/7. Well, we were required to by law. We were always on duty wherever we were in Michigan and I loved that part of it.

One day in October of 1978, as this was all starting, I was confused, depressed and separated from my wife of 6 years. I was sitting on the couch one day trying to figure things out and wondering how I was going to pay all the bills. The phrase "Rent-a-Poet" flashed through me head. I said, "huh?"

I had written a poem for a friend in a lecture at the university who wanted to meet a girl in the second row. He ended up taking her out to lunch. This came out of nowhere like things of that nature tend to do. I immediately picked up the telephone and ran an ad in the Detroit Free Press: "Rent-a-Poet, your thoughts through my pen." One of the things about those flashes of inspiration, you can't sit on them because the ethers will give them to someone else. A telepathic network.

At this point, at the Academy, they knew just how to get to me. The wouldn't give me anything to do. I would walk around all day or sit at my desk and meditate. This got some attention, too. My buddies all knew me and they just threw paper airplanes at me. Management thought I was crazy. The ball kept rolling.

So, after a week I'd had no response to my ad. I decided, "oh, well, nothing ventured nothing gained." I didn't put it just like that but something close. The last day of the ad came and the phone rang. It was a reporter from the Free Press. He said his editor had seen my ad and thought it was 'cute." Would I mind if he came over to interview me. I thought 'what the hey?' And he came. When he got there and discovered I was a cop, he called for a photographer. They interviewed me and took pictures and left. He said he was going to run it in tomorrow's paper. See where this is going?

The next morning I looked in the paper. I was thinking 'Section G, page 38." Oh, no, it wasn't like that. The article was on the second front page with this big picture of me and the caption, "Detroit cop writes Poetry, he's the Rent-a-Poet." I wanted to cry. What was going to happen to my great rep now? Excuse my language but I would become known as the "Sissy Cop." Lovely. I was thinking, 'I'm calling in sick.'

Luckily, that day they had me assigned to the Federal Prison at Milan to conduct research on a new training program we were developing. I was out of there before anyone came in. When I got home, my brother was there. He had been answering the phone all day long. People were calling every few minutes to have poems done! Dear God, I hadn't even thought about how I was going to do this! So I made it up on the run.

I called some of the people back and found that they wanted mainly poems to boyfriends or girlfriends. One lady wanted a eulogy. On the fly, I started asking them questions about their situations. Important things in relationships, memories, code words, dates and anything they felt was important. I had said in the interview that I was charging two dollars a line. It sounded good at the time. Initially I had about half a dozen poems to write. I hadn't even thought about format, delivery or how to charge. Right at that point, my head was spinning.

Later that day, the story hit the wire services, went all over the United States. The next day, which was a Saturday, thank God, I started getting calls from places as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and Cleveland. I got calls asking me to be on talk shows, radio and TV. But, I didn't let it get into my head; I had poems to write.

It wasn't long before I figured out length, format, delivery and, of course, the money. It took me about 20 minutes to write the average poem which was 4 stanzas or sixteen lines in length. That was worth thirty two dollars and I could do two an hour. My muse was working overtime. Sixty four dollars an hour was a little more than I was making as a cop. Probably ten dollars an hour. This could be worth something, I thought.

Then Monday came. I reported to work and immediately was told, the Chief wants to see you. This was not good. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. In four months I was standing out on a cold downtown street wondering what had happened to my life.

Nine months later was my Saturn Return. Rent-a-Poet had pretty much gone by the wayside; I had no business sense, no marketing ability, no start up money. And so it goes. I was broke, I had to send my dog off to a lady in Washington State because I had to sell my house and move in with my parents. The only thing left from my former life was my pool cue. I had written her a poem and we became friends. I think it was six months later when Mt. St. Helens blew up. She lived at the base of it.

Looking back at the astrology of it, Saturn was conjunct my Saturn (maturity); Jupiter had just crossed my Ascendant, (opportunity, new relationships, greater understanding of self); Pluto was conjunct my Neptune in the third house (creativity, confusion and the beginning of my spiritual life); Uranus was conjunct my IC and opposing my Moon (residence, career, reputation and security); Neptune was conjunct my Mercury in the fifth (more creativity and confusion, sense of self and communication skills); Chiron was conjunct my Moon on the MC (old wounds, new healing and the beginnings of a new self).

All of the major planets save Jupiter were at seventeen degrees of consecutive signs; Virgo through Capricorn. Most of the planets in my chart are in the middle decanates, five at seventeen degrees. All of the planets connect to each other in major aspects. One of them may be a semi-square. Whenever a transiting planet hits one of mine, everything is activated. Is it surprising that I've led such a wild and crazy life?

So, my Saturn Return was an all or nothing time. I suppose I took both the all and the nothing. What would I have done if I had known in advance about the Saturn Return? If I had had someone talking to me about it? I'm sure my choices would have been less radical, less based upon emotion and much more considered. This aspect happens for everyone around the age of twenty nine. It is when you fully - and finally - become an adult. When you let go of things that no longer have a purpose in your life. Baggage. Saturnian rules apply. It's when you move forward with your life toward your second Saturn Return which happens at about fifty nine. That's a story for another time. Suffice to say, "forwarned may be forearmed."

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I remember my first Saturn Return and it was an eye opener all right. Welcome to adulthood the hard way. Second wasn't so bad but by then I had finally, painfully figured out Saturn is done by the numbers. No excuses just do the work.

    Good post, Lar.