I’m not one to put much stock in horoscopes. The only one I read regularly is Rob Breszny’s Free Will Astrology – since it only comes out once a week, I like the author’s way of thinking and frequent use of literary allusions, and his words always have an uncanny way of fitting whatever is going on in my life (far more than any other “horoscope” I’ve read).
Here’s an example. As you know, this week marks the fifth anniversary of my release from prison (7 June 2004). Here’s Rob’s horoscope for Virgo (which I am), as it appeared on his site on 7 June 2009:
“When I was 19 years old, a so-called psychic predicted I would die when I was 24. As much as I scoffed at his careless quackery, his words subliminally worried me for years. On the day I turned 25 I celebrated extra hard. Partly because of that experience, I’ve always tried to be impeccably conscientious about how I conduct myself as a fortune-teller. I’ve vowed never to manipulate you with melodramatic prophecies that could distort your free will. So it’s with a cautious sense of responsibility that I offer the following augury: The weeks ahead could be one of the most illuminating and successful times of the last five years.”
The specific mention of “five years” is interesting, don’t you think? Yeah, yeah, I “know” it’s a coincidence, but still…. And that it bears striking good news might make me put a bit more stock in it than I might otherwise. Ha!
I’ve been “free” five years now! But I always find it difficult to celebrate these anniversaries. First, they remind me that I was in
prison – and for a heinous charge of which I was innocent. Second, it’s the time of my legally mandated annual registration at the local sheriff’s office. For two or three days prior to my visit, my blood pressure rises, I have difficulty sleeping, lose my appetite and become more crabby around the house. Yesterday I walked into the office dressed nicely, in blue pants I rarely wear (because they’re the same color as the pants I had to wear in prison), a crisp light charcoal dress shirt, and a Goodwill tie that looks a whole lot more expensive than what we paid for it. The receptionist smiled and asked what I was there for — so I handed her my driver’s license and said something about my annual registration. Her whole demeanor changed then. She looked down, away, seemingly anywhere she could to avoid catching my eye. It’s a good thing I knew from past experience that after I check in I am supposed to sit and wait in the lobby until someone calls me, because the sheriff’s receptionist said nothing more to me as I stood before her, separated by bulletproof glass and the small metal voice hole in it, awaiting further instructions. When it became obvious that she’d moved on to another task, I slowly turned and walked away from the window, half expecting her to interrupt me with an “I’m not finished with you yet.” But she didn’t, and I crept to the back row of seats, behind all the other folks who were waiting to visit their loved ones in the county jail, waiting to get their concealed weapon permits processed, or maybe even waiting for Godot, for all I know. I stayed behind them so I could see everybody in the room without having to turn my head – you can never be too careful in places like that – and so they’d be less likely to notice me or realize why I was there. Maybe with my tie and paperwork they’d think I was a lawyer anyway, I surmised. Of course the sheriff’s staff knew the truth about why I was there – the truth, that is, except for the part about me not being guilty. Police types generally assume that if you were convicted, you were guilty – and if you weren’t convicted you were probably still guilty but lucky.
I began to write in my journal. But this time I didn’t have to wait as long as expected, and I was interrupted by a female voice yelling “Burroughs!” A deputy (I believe that’s her title) called me into the “media room” – a cubby hole, almost, with two seats, a mini desk, a camera, computer, and fingerprint paraphernalia. I thought for probably the hundredth time in the past week that I should have gotten a hair cut first, since they will plaster my new photo onto their website – but it was too late now. “I don’t want folks who see it to think I’m a lunatic,” I thought. In last year’s photo, I looked a lot more clean cut – with short, preppy hair and a bit of a tan. “Too bad they couldn’t keep last year’s photo online.” And the deputy (if that’s what she was) who “processed” me looked like someone I went to church with when I was a teenager, someone who’d once looked up to me as the “preacher boy.” I knew it was her. It had to be her. She wore a tag displaying her last name. But she stayed professional, polite, said no more than was necessary, and pretended not to recognize me. I wasn’t about to draw her attention to it. But she had to have recognized me. She was looking at my driver’s license and a computer screen with much of my personal information on it. She used to come over to my parents’ house – and had been good friends with my step-sister. At least she didn’t fingerprint me this time. I remembered thinking last year, when a different deputy fingerprinted me, “How many sets of my prints do they need?” I remembered in the mid nineties in prison when they called me down to the library to take a DNA sample. Humiliating? Yes. An invasion of privacy? I suppose. But it was a good thing, too. Thank goodness they took my DNA. Next time some woman falsely accuses me of rape they can test the semen and prove it wasn’t me – as long as the guy cums in her, or at least leaves some hair behind or some flesh in her fingernails. “I hope he does cum in her – so I can be exonerated.” Then I felt horrible for hoping that, even for a second. I shouldn’t hope that. But maybe spending 11 years in prison for a crime you didn’t commit can make you think things people who haven’t might never think.
This year, the registration was over fairly quickly. I’m tempted to quip that I was in and out — but when I think about it, that’s not so funny. In many ways, it’s not a joking matter. Yet sometimes laughing at it makes it a bit easier to bear (and write about). Anyway, once it was over, my mood lightened appreciably, my appetite returned, and I was no longer as crabby. I came home and cleaned out the dog kennel, added Dante’s Inferno
to the Online Library, ate chicken parmesan Geri made, and watched Bruce Almighty
What does any of this have to do with my Free Will horoscope? I’m not so sure. But the registration gets easier on me each time – and I’m glad I only have to do it four more times now, unless I move (7 June 2013 will be the last). Rob says the “weeks ahead could be one of the most illuminating and successful times of the last five years.” But define “illuminating and successful.” There was a time when certain folks I know would have considered my becoming a Southern Baptist pastor or assembly line worker at the Chevy plant “illuminating and successful.” Really…. And of course Rob qualifies it with “could be.” Any week COULD be illuminating and successful – any week COULD be the week someone wins the lottery (if he buys a ticket) or peace comes to Iraq or I finally make myself read Tolstoy’s War and Peace
. It could be – but it probably won’t be.
But maybe if I define “illuminating and successful” a bit more creatively… hmmm… let me give this some thought. Meanwhile, I might have to pick up that book.