Mercury in Retrograde

May 11, 2009 | TV, Movies, & Good Reads, Adventures & Travel, Friends

Right after I left on my trip my last Wednesday an email arrived in my inbox from an astrology list I belong to that read: “This is a good time to be especially clear in your communications, agreements and travel plans. Mercury is Retrograde from May 7th through May 31st  and little mishaps can happen.” Of course, I didn’t take my laptop with me, so I didn’t get it until Sunday morning. But it explained a lot. Let me tell you what Mercury in Retrograde can do to your travels:

  • Read a great book for a quote, and have only half the manuscript with you on the plane. Nothing like being at 37,000 feet and cursing yourself for checking the other half of the pages in your luggage.
  • Have you stand in line for 45 minutes at the car rental place. When there are only three people ahead of you. Then have you spend another hour trying to convince them not to send you off with a car that smells of mildew, cigarettes, or a combination of both masked over by lemon Pledge.
  • Arrive at the hotel after 6 hours of flying, an hour of waiting for luggage, the said wait for the rental car, only to find that the promised room reservations were never made for you.
  • After an hour or two of waiting, have the bellman deliver 14 boxes to your room that you need to unpack, sort, and put in goody bags for your talk at 8:30 am.
  • Speak at 8:30 am Eastern time, when you are on Pacific time.
  • Get lost trying to find just about every book store you try to sign stock at. Mapquest printed out all the street names and the freeway signs all use numbers.
  • Leave your makeup bag in the bathroom of the furthest store you made it to and discover that fact at 9 pm at night after a long day. Race out to retrieve it before the store closes at 10. I knew there was a reason why I took a picture of this store.
  • Having your civilized flight of 9:30 am be canceled and being moved to the 7 am flight, which means you have to leave the hotel at 4:30 am. Poor Niki!
  • Get lost some more.
  • Note to self: Call ahead to stores and make sure they are still located 40 minutes off the freeway, so you don’t arrive to find they’ve moved to the more convenient spot right next to the freeway that you passed 40 minutes earlier.
  • Lets you meet the only single bookstore employee who panics over you signing a book, orders you to stop, and frantically calls the manager to find out what to do about these people writing in unsold books.
  • Reserve a lovely, quiet, peaceful oceanside room to relax in and get some rest in only to discover it overlooks the bandstand where they play very loud music until midnight.
  • Settling in for a flight home, ready to watch some episodes of the Closer on your iPod, only to discover your headphones are in your checked luggage.

But let me assure you, Mercury in Retrograde can’t muddle everything. Say for instance:

  • Tommy, the wonderful bellman at the Doubletree who came up to our room and hauled all our goody bags downstairs at 7:30 in the morning and did so with a smile on his face.
  • A room overflowing with librarians at 8:30 in the morning, smiling and laughing along with you as you talk about romances. That, my friends, will wake you up and cheer your tired heart no matter the time zone.
  • The wonderful people at all the bookstores Niki Burnham and I stopped at who were thrilled to meet us and made us feel so darn welcome, even when we were a little frazzled.
  • Yanking those pages out of your suitcase and getting to read them in the comfort of your bed. Sighing over a great happy ending and discovering a new favorite author. (Emma Wildes. Hint. Hint.)
  • Seeing the breathtaking views and beaches around Clearwater, Florida. Sometimes a view can restore your soul, especially when there are pirates afoot.
  • Gives one a chance to meet Diane and Sabrina in Clearwater, both of whom were definitely my kind of people. Readers who adore romance and have the sort of interesting perspective and lives that makes you wish they lived down the block.
  • Have both your flights booked completely full except for the one empty seat—the one right next to you so you can spread out your books and knitting.
  • Rent the last remaining Digi-player because it comes with headphones, so those six hours passed quite pleasantly watching the Closer, and knitting away.
  • Making the cutest baby sweater without interruption.
  • Seeing Matthew’s joy at “having Mommy home.” He hugged me for twenty minutes. He may not be able to talk, but those hugs, oh sigh. That, my friends, is the best Mother’s Day present of all and something Mercury could never touch.


  1. Emily Cotler

    Laughing. Out. Loud. > “…frantically calls the manager to find out what to do about these people writing in unsold books.” V. Funny!

  2. Elizabeth

    Not when you’re the one she’s whispering into the handset about and saying “I think she’s sort of crazy.”

  3. Sarah

    Okay, that comment just made it even funnier.

    In regards to the car rental thing, I feel you. I once had my car in the shop and my loaner vehicle had an overly strong smell of something…I just couldn’t pin point it — it smelled like vanilla but not. Please note that vanilla scents make me light headed and sometimes nauseous, especially in strong doses. Driving around to go back to the shop to finish some paperwork, I finally sniffed it out as vanilla and cigarette smoke. I immediately turn the car around to complain – they give me problems, but finally give me a new rental.

  4. Sarah Tormey

    You have a brilliant sense of humor!

    Having spent many early mornings with a room of librarians, I am thrilled to hear that was one of the upsides to your trip, A gathering of people who love books (and authors!) can make even the worst travel disasters fade away:)

  5. Laura

    The baby sweater is very cute!

  6. Diane

    Love this! Totally know the feeling — bought a new computer and received it yesterday and killed it plugging it in. Argh…

    Love the sweater — it’s gorgeous. BTW got you two teeny skeins of Australian wool in Tilba Tilba — not enough to do much with but…

  7. Keira Soleore

    Elizbo, you made me cringe, laugh out loud, and at the end gave me misty eyes. Even in your posts you deliver, not just your books. From your e-mail when you said you were glad to be back, I could never have imagined *this* eventful of a trip. Ahem. How do these things happen to you? Remember that other warehouse signing trip? Oy!

  8. Niki Burnham

    ELIZABETH! The sweater looks amazing! Glad I can see the finished product after finding that amazing yarn for the trim. (And I promise, I will NOT leave at 4:30am again.)


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