The One Where Mercury is Retrograde

"What happens when Mercury retrogrades? You miss appointments, your computer equipment crashes, checks get lost, you find the car you just purchased during Mercury retrograde is a lemon. (Or, you hate your haircut, the lamp you bought shorts out, your sister hates her birthday gift.) There will be countless delays, cancellations and postponements..."  - Astrology Zone by Susan Miller

If you are a person of reason and logic who scoffs at superstitious beliefs such as astrology or finger-crossing, then you have missed out on an excellent opportunity to blame unpleasant and annoying circumstances in your life on the 'apparent backward motion' of the planet Mercury.  As I understand it, (and I don't ) the planet Mercury 'goes retrograde' some three times per year, which has something to do with the equatorial equinox, Avogadro's number,  the Cleveland Browns, and  - oh, who am I kidding.  I have no idea what causes Mercury to go retrograde, much less what 'retrograde' really means in this case. All I know is that- according to those who study these things- when Mercury is retrograde, it is wise to keep your head down, avoid complicated travel plans, and postpone signing important documents.  Whether you believe this or not, what I can say with complete confidence is that, when things start going wholesale catawumpus in the Asia Vu household, it is never a surprise to anyone to discover that Mercury is retrograde.  

I have been aware of this 'Mercury retrograde' phenomenon for almost 20 years, and , knowing what I know, you would think that I would find out in advance when it was going to occur, and move my family into an underground bunker for the duration.  However,  1) this has almost never been a viable option for us, what with the jobs and the children and all; and 2) Mercury is very adaptable, and moving into a bunker would not in any way prevent its effects.  You would just find yourself with a power outage or a malfunctioning blast door, or  you would discover that the freeze-dried rations in your apocalypse pantry were stale.  Try it yourself if you don't believe me.  

The good news about Mercury retrograde is that it does not cause terrible stuff to happen, like deaths or explosions or pestilence.  That is another planet's department entirely.  No, Mercury is in charge of annoying things;  things that make you bang your head slowly on the computer keyboard, things that cause you to wish desperately for the sun to be past the yardarm, things that make you write whiny and impassioned blog posts about minutiae.  Such is Mercury's power.

Now that I know Mercury's been in retrograde since August 2nd and will continue to be until August 26th,  it's all becoming clear to me.  It's been one thing after another lately, and it only took me about 2 weeks to realize why.  I submit as evidence:
  • An email from my cousin in Canada, temporary guardian of the Yellow Dog, informing us that the dog has torn his ACL ( a fairly important ligament that holds his leg together) and will require surgery to repair it.  To add insult to injury, he did this in the most unspectacular way, by just walking sedately around the dog park and not by leaping out of a moving car or catching a Frisbee in midair, so we were cheated out of even having a good story to tell.  The cost of this surgery is conveniently - or ironically, you be the judge - approximately the same amount that it would have cost for a family of four to travel in October from Seoul to Cambodia for 5 nights/6 days/breakfast and lunch included/English-speaking tour guide provided. Sigh.
  • A confusing morning spent at Son #2's new school - one of the best in Asia and, as far as I can see, an outstanding educational institution in every way, with the exception of registration logistics -  during which he was introduced to other new students, taken on a guided tour of the school, given the chance to meet his teachers, and was given his schedule.  While he was doing this, I was standing in endless queues along with all the other bewildered new parents, usually discovering at the end that I was either a) in the wrong queue or; b) not really needing whatever I was queuing for.
  • A slight problem activating Son #2's lunch account - after being told that I needed to activate it and presenting myself in the proper queue - at which time it was explained to me that the lunch account was based on high-tech fingerprint scan technology (actually, really convenient, since kids are always losing cards and forgetting their account numbers but almost always have their fingers) and that I would need Son #2s finger in order to activate the account.  Since Son #2 was being guided around the campus on a tour (strangely, given by another new 9th grader, go figure) and had his finger with him at the time, my queuing had been in vain, which is the type of thing that causes my blood pressure to spike dangerously.
  • The sinking realization that our car, which was inundated with floodwater during the recent flooding in Seoul, is probably never going to smell quite normal again.  Ever.
  • My unfortunate choice of timing when deciding to experiment with foot peeling, resulting in panic and flakiness on the eve of our first party in Seoul.
  • A frustrating 'Who's on First?' exchange with the school's transportation people, based on the fact that there is not enough room for Son #2 on the 'S' or 'T' buses that provide service to the school for children from our apartment complex, although they expect spots to open up in the next week or two - maybe.  In the meantime, Son #2 will ride to work with his father and catch the 'P' bus which leaves from an apartment building nearby.  However, due to complex factors (no doubt involving Mercury), it will be possible for him to ride home on the 'S' bus, providing he obtains a special pass from the main office, which I gamely tracked down and eventually secured, at great cost to my already-frayed emotional equilibrium.  The conversation went as follows:
Me:  I would like to get a bus pass for my son to ride home in the afternoons on the 'S' bus.
Her:  What bus is he assigned to?
Me:  The 'P' bus.
Her:  So you want him to ride the 'S' bus?
Me:  Yes, in the afternoons.
Her:  Not in the morning? 
Me:  Well, we would like him to ride the 'S' bus in the mornings, but we were told there was no space on that bus, so he is riding the P bus in in the mornings.  But they said there was room on the 'S' bus in the afternoon.
Her:  You will need a pass for the S bus in the afternoon.
Me:  Yes.  That is why I am here.  To get a pass.
Her:  So, he is on the S bus in the morning?
Me:   No, we are on the waiting list for the S bus in the mornings.  He is on the 'P' bus in the morning right now.
Her:  What about the "P' bus in the afternoon?
Me:  We want the 'S' bus in the afternoon.  He is assigned to the 'P' bus in the mornings.
Her:  He will need a pass to ride the 'S' bus in the afternoon.
Me:  Yes, that is why I am here.  To get the pass.  
Her:  Which bus do you need a pass for?
Me:  The 'S' bus.
Her:  In the morning, or the afternoon?

and so it went on, ad nauseum, until I was ready to just leave and let him take his chances on the P bus.  However, with the use of a detailed schematic and several logarithms eventually I was able to make myself clear,  and I got the pass. Afterwards, I felt very much like I had after delivering my babies:  generally satisfied, thoroughly exhausted, and with the vague sense that surely there must be an easier way to do this.

So there you have it.  Mercury, doing its thing, causing confusion, miscommunications, and glitches galore.  Until the 26th, we'll be keeping our heads down, and I suggest you do the same.

Oh, and you should probably take this opportunity to back up your hard drive.  You'll thank me for it later.


Wilma said…
Sounds like Mercury is causing you all sorts of problems. Sorry to hear you don't even get a fancy story about The Yellow Dog's ACL. Betty at least had the good sense to tear hers chasing a rabbit. LOL That school situation with the Who's On First? dialogue is classic. I can picture myself in a situation like that. :( Glad to hear it all worked out--sort of. Tell your son he has my sympathy on the bus deal. I've never ridden the school bus and neither has Sean or John but I can imagine that must be hard.
MsCaroline said…
Ungrateful dog. The least he could have done is provide us with a colorful anecdote, like Betty, but no. The bus thing would not have been so bad, but I'd already stood in the line/queued (every person I asked directed me to the 'queue' yesterday, so I had to adopt it out of self-preservation) forever with the bus people, and their system involved me telling someone my story, them looking baffled as if no one had ever had a situation anything like this in the world, and shunting me off to another person, where I would wait forever for the opportunity to repeat the whole thing again. And once I got to the person who told me about the bus pass, I had to hike to a completely different place in the school where that whole bizarre conversation ensued. Son #2 is fortunately an experienced bus rider, but you can see how having to take a completely different bus than everyone in your complex might rattle you a bit... I guess I'll hear it all tonight.
Wilma said…
I hope he made it through with no glitches. Sean has never gone solo anywhere so that in itself would be new to him. He's ridden the city bus home from school the last few years but I was with him.
Trish said…
Love that word 'catawumpus' - that's a new one on me!
Think I will stay under the duvet for the remainder of August if this Mercury thing is causing such problems.

(Very funny post, though!)
MsCaroline said…
@Trish - you only have to stay there til the 26th...and you can thank Mr. Logical for 'catawumpus/catawampus'-it is a word he uses. I guessed on the spelling, but since it's not really a proper word, it seems that anything sort of works.
Karen said…
Carolyne...just wanted to point out that your awareness of the Mercury retrograde phenomenon coincides with your beginning of the marriage/children experience. Now...this could be because hubby introduced you to this concept, but I'm just sayin'. I am reading accounts of children beginning the school year with jealousy since it it about 10 days before we begin this odyssey. I am planning to finish off the summer (and the Mercury retrograde) on 8/26 by attending a "spa day" with my girls, courtesy of SIL's birthday gift. Not usually my thing (actually never been to a spa but generally hate being fussed over) but the gift is a nice opportunity to spend some quality time with my girls. It's an expensive gift, we will all be getting massages and manicures. Opening night for the kids' play tonight. Go, Mr. Toad!!
Marion said…
So sorry about Shiner - you could always make up a great story (none of us would ever tell). But, being that it is not yet August 26th, and he still has 3 intact ACLs (I'm both imagining and hoping) you might not want to test a fake story for the health benefits of the other three. As for the Mercury Retrograde, now I can blame someone/thing else, other than the crook who has a bank account in the Phillipines who hacked my credit card/and or my paypal account (both of which have been stopped) on August 8. Hope Son #2 got to school safely, arrived home same AND enjoyed his first day at Hogwarts!
Marion said…
Of course that would be the other ACL and not the other 3 ~ that's what I get for writing before drinking coffee :)!
Wilma said…
Too funny that you pointed out Mr. Logical's word, Carolyne. My mother used it all the time so I didn't think anything of it. She said it a little differently though--cattywompus. LOL
MsCaroline said…
@Karen: If I had daughters, I'm sure it would be the type of thing I would do with them. I hope it's wonderful and relaxing. As far as Mercury goes...never quite thought about the connection between marriage/kids/mercury, but you have a point there. I wonder if I'm stuck for life or if the power recedes after they leave home?
MsCaroline said…
@Marion: No need to correct the ACL thing - I got it. But I think your bankcard criminal is precisely the kind of thing Mercury does best - annoying, frustrating, but not deadly. Glad you caught him/her before he/she did too much damage! Son #2 seemed to tolerate Hogwarts fairly well, but - typically - only waxed enthusiastic about the cafeteria. He also informed us that he had already read everything on the list in the English course he was assigned to, so we'll be tweaking his schedule.
MsCaroline said…
Wilma, I wasn't even sure how to spell it until Trish commented on it and I went looking. According the dictionary online, it's 'catawampus' but I found several references to 'catty' and 'caddy' and 'wumpus' 'whompus' and 'whumpus' as well. I never used it until I heard Mr. L do so, but I adopted it immediately. : )
Oh no, that bus situation sounds appalling. Schools can be so bureaucratic. At the moment I am furious because the school won't send out all the information by post about next term until the last possible minute, when we will be on holiday, so we'll get back on the day that school starts with no clue as to who has what teacher or where to go.
MsCaroline said…
NVG- it really does make you feel like a small cog in a big machine, doesn't it? It's annoying enough when you're the one affected, but it makes you insane when you feel like the children (who are supposed to be the ones that this is all about, after all) are getting the short end of the stick. I guess none of it should surprise me since I am a teacher myself, but it still does.
Mya said…
So, I have another week where things continue to go pear-shaped? I think I'll delay the wood chopping session until December.
Mya x
MsCaroline said…
Mya - thanks for stopping by - yes, I would suggest you hold off on the wood-chopping, although Mercury's nature is such that you'd probably only lose a few digits - not an entire limb.
Karen said…
Ha ha...went to Borders Bookstore tonight to check out the close of business sale. Found a book called Mercury in Retrograde. Had never heard of this before your blog and here it is again! Just like ACL surgery in dogs....
MsCaroline said…
Well, the more people who are warned, the better! Crazy how these things keep popping up.

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