Horoscope Aug. 4-10, 2004

Leo (July 23–Aug. 22)

Your stubbornness will be the end of you. You keep insisting on learning lessons the hard way, and then you act surprised when it hurts like fuck. Resist digging in your heels for once. Every so often, someone comes along who's wiser than you and tries to gently lead you in the direction you're headed anyway, only by a much better route than the one you'd chosen. When one of these kind and well-meaning souls tenderly takes your arm and steers you away from the foolhardy path you've taken, don't jab them in the ribs with a sharp elbow and continue on your way with indignant pride. Just humbly and graciously turn aside from the bad choice you've made and fucking go with them.

Virgo (Aug. 23–Sept. 22)

The spacecraft Messenger is headed toward Mercury, clothed in a hand-sewn ceramic cloth quilt to protect it from close proximity to the sun (which has about 11 times the intensity it has on Earth). I love the idea of the pinnacle of human technological achievement being protected by a quilt—the scientist who made it even had to get sewing tips from his mother. Mom must've been pretty surprised to learn the skills that she acquired in home ec class in junior high would be used to protect a spacecraft from 700-degree heat. You'll be similarly astounded this week, when a skill you picked up ages ago—probably as a little kid—has an eminently useful application you'd never previously imagined.

Libra (Sept. 23–Oct. 22)

Ticks tend to trigger a visceral disgust, especially when they're so engorged that removing them risks a bloody explosion when they pop in your hand. Most people just scream and point at the swollen bloodsucker, and wait for someone with a sturdier (i.e., more experienced) disposition to dig it out. Unfortunately, the human tick who's been quietly feeding on you has gotten to exactly that stage—freeing yourself from that discreet parasitism will most likely result in a filthy mess. Still, you wouldn't leave an actual tick nestled in your armpit just because you were too squeamish to deal. Don't wait for help—it'll be too long in coming. Just grit your teeth, get a grip, and yank it out.

Scorpio (Oct. 23–Nov. 21)

Most of us have had to eat our words at one time or another; you've eaten whole books, thick hardcover tomes that scratched like hell all the way down. The coolest part about having your convictions overturned and reversed (after you get over the shock and embarrassment) is that you really understand how differently people can see things. Instead of sitting on the fence forever, like those wishy-washy Librans (who have a theoretical understanding of both sides of an issue), you get to actually be on both sides. Use that experience this week; even though in this case no argument is likely to overturn your convictions, hopefully it'll at least trigger your empathy and understanding.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22–Dec. 21)

This is no mechanical bull you've mounted. There are no soft mats scattered around nearby to cushion you when you tumble (after putting on a good show, of course). This is the real thing, and there's no audience and every chance of a goring if you lose your grip. In other words, hang on. The stakes are much higher than just entertaining your drunk friends at a cowboy bar. But so are the rewards; if you manage to get this particular beast used to you, you'll have gained a formidable ally and lost any particular urge to prove yourself to those who foolishly doubted you.

Capricorn (Dec. 22–Jan. 19)

Stephen Hawking can do it; so can you. The Capricorn physicist recently announced he was wrong about black holes, reversing the precepts he'd advocated for nearly 30 years—in fact, around which he'd built a career. You're usually cautious and careful, so you make few errors. Consequently, you're simply not used to being wrong; you've had little practice at it. Nevertheless, you occasionally are wrong, and this is one of those times. Cough it up, Cappy. Dr. Hawking had to fork over an encyclopedia (he'd made a bet with a fellow physicist). What will you produce to show your regret, besides an apology?

Aquarius (Jan. 20–Feb. 18)

Like the silken fluttering of a moth's wings at the edges of your mind, you know you're forgetting something. It's one those tiny details that so frequently slips beneath your notice and gets left out of your hectic schedule. Usually these have consequences no more serious than a late fee at the DVD rental place, so you've gotten used to not worrying about them. This time, however, the unforeseeable repercussions are more annoying and severe. If I were you, instead of brushing that nagging little signal away when it comes, I'd sit down and try to figure out exactly what it's trying to remind you of.

Pisces (Feb. 19–March 20)

You tend to unconsciously inflate human inter­actions; therefore, going anywhere near that fellow with the temper could feel like walking into a nuclear explosion. Nevertheless, don't retreat to your bunker to wait this one out. There hasn't yet been a detonation, and anyway, your flexible soul is sturdier than an adamantium skeleton, and more able to resist (or roll with) radioactive emotions. When you see the danger signs this week, don't run; or if you must, run toward them. You can deactivate the bomb (and should try), but only if you have your hot little hands right on it.

Aries (March 21–April 19)

Your sign's symbol is the Ram, because of its tendency to fearlessly wander into precariously high places. You're just as brave as that plucky mountain goat—just slightly less surefooted. Luckily, you compensate with a skill not hinted at in stereotypical descriptions of your sign: tumbling. The talent most in demand this week will be your ability to fall—if not painlessly, at least recoverably—from lofty heights, and then just pick yourself up and start climbing again. When you're fucked over this week, pick yourself up, please. I've got money riding on this one, and if you come through, I'll let you know which asshole had the audacity to bet against you.

Taurus (April 20–May 20)

Let's talk about actions and their occasionally transformative consequences. Churning milk turns it into butter, compressing coal creates diamonds, and drinking too much beer makes you fat. Similarly, if you fuck with a Taurus long enough, you get one of two fairly predictable results: The long-fused Bull either turns into a sullen, immovable rock or transmutes into a swift, untouchable black storm cloud. The rock is sturdy but essentially helpless; it just has to sit there and take it. The thunderhead, however, has options, and power. When you get to that fork in the road this week regarding how you'll react to the persistent prodding you've been receiving, I think your choice is obvious, don't you?

Gemini (May 21–June 20)

Just stay calm. You've suddenly found yourself in the upper limbs of a very tall tree, now bucking wildly in the wind. You climbed up here almost without noticing, so intent were you on the fruit in these branches; then suddenly, just now, you looked down and noticed how high you've come. The vertigo is probably overwhelming. Breathe. I won't lie to you; the descent is exponentially harder than the ascent. But you can do it. The trick is finding the balance between taking your time and becoming paralyzed by fear or indecision. Keep moving, steadily, and don't think about how much further you have to go. You'll be on the ground in no time and, surprisingly, ready to do it all again.

Cancer (June 21–July 22)

Smack any asshole who says you're fat, however obliquely or subtly. Reject especially any of the kind of underhanded compliments you're likely to receive this week, the ones that are designed to make you feel bad about yourself, or worse, so that you'll react aggressively and start dishing out the same thing. A bad scenario would be you'd start disliking yourself because of something someone said; the worst-case scenario has you behaving just as badly as the fuckers who slyly abused you in the first place. Instead, just give 'em a slap, a dirty look, or, best yet, a hearty laugh, then forget about them.

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