Hello my babies, hello my honeys, hello my ragtime gals. I would like to shout out to twitter user @ravvy_rachel who very sweetly tweeted at me that she was in need of some news from the stars, which served the dual purpose of warming the dreary cockles of my heart to an incredible degree (they read the horoscopes!!! my brain shrieks) and also of getting my ass into gear because this November started off terribly, and I’ve been using that as an excuse but sometimes you gotta turn your own tides, you know? [Britney Spears voice] Choose your own destiny. ANYWAY. Here is a thing for you, before we get into this, and I will preface it by saying that it has gotten me through some cold bleak winters, and I shove joy like a knife into my own heart isn’t not the point of everything, anyway, anyway:

Reasons to Survive November
Tony Hoagland

November like a train wreck—
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze—
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

—Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.

Try to love your November life, this month, and all the months that follow in its footsteps. Now we can get started.



Scorpio: “You Learn”, Alanis Morissette. You live you learn.

I love Scorpios. I’m not supposed to love Scorpios, I think, logistically – this is one of those pairings that does not necessarily work – but some of my favorite people in this whole world are Scorpios and I admire them and value them and it is your birthday month, Scorpios, so happy birthday. This month I want you to think about learning, about the ways you are shaped by the world. It is hard to admit that you are still learning, and it is even harder to try and learn not just from people you deem worthy. You are so vast and so smart and so capable of absorbing all the information that the world has to give you, but you tend to only accept it from certain sources, in certain forms. This month I want you to open your heart to places and people and things you would not generally expect to have anything to teach you. It is a frightening thing not to know everything, to open yourself to the idea of being wrong, of changing your mind, but this is the way you grow. This is the way you become more. You take everything in and distill it down to the things you know to be true, and sometimes these things change and sometimes you change and this constant unfolding is so, so important. Don’t be afraid to keep learning; don’t be afraid to be changed.

Sagittarius: “Little Me”, Little Mix. I’d tell her to speak up – tell her to shout out – talk a bit louder – be a bit prouder.

Just because sometimes you don’t want to hear what you have to say doesn’t mean that the world feels the same way. This month is for probing gently at your feelings of inadequacy, of self-doubt, turning them over and exposing them to the light. You have a tendency to hide, to focus inward, to assume that you have been talking too loudly and too long for anyone to still be listening. I am not saying that your impulse is wrong; if you feel that you need to remove yourself from the world for a bit I want you to do that. But what I also want is for you to be sure that self-doubt isn’t what’s driving you. There are times when a little bit of isolation, of contemplation, is exactly what you need to replenish yourself. There are other times, though, when your self-imposed exile comes from fear and doubt and not from a need to be alone with yourself, and that is dangerous. The more you assume that you should not be heard the less you will make yourself heard, and your voice is too important for that. Try to nurture yourself, this month. Try to remember that you are your harshest critic.

Capricorn: “Everything is Connected and Everything Matters (A Temporary Solution to a Permanent Problem)”, empire! empire!. What It Takes To Move Forward.

I was watching Jane the Virgin the other night, and I thought of you at a certain point. Jane has writer’s block, and her writing group mentor says to her, “Most of the time the problem is further back.” The problem isn’t with the actual scene she’s stuck on, it’s further back in the book. It’s deeper than she thinks. Capricorn – the problem is further back. Your current situation seems isolated, sudden, a sharp jagged uptick in an otherwise smooth line, but I want you to take a hold of that line and follow it back, notice its actual texture. This month I want you to think about how you have come to be where you are, and the things in your life that have made you and shaped you and brought you to this point. By focusing so intently on the present moment you are sort of – sort of Bell Jar-ing the situation, does that make sense? You can’t slam a cup down over this moment and separate it from the stream of all the other moments that make up your life. This is not limbo, and everything that is happening now is influenced by larger and more subtle things than you are presently aware of. Try and widen your perspective, this month – zoom out on the map, if you will. Look how far away the rivers start before they converge. You will find your way forward by looking at the path you’ve taken.

Aquarius: “Fear and Loathing”, Marina & the Diamonds. I’ve lived a lot of different lives. Been different people many times.

Don’t let the tilting of the world, the constant spinning and shifting of the ground beneath your feet, don’t let this shake you away from who you are. You have an incredibly strong sense of self, a candle that burns in the hollows of your gut and does not waver, but lately the flame is dimming. The uncertainty of your life is scraping away at you, scaring you away from the person you know yourself to be. There will always be situations in which you don’t react like yourself, choices you make that you’ll look back on and think who was that person, what was I thinking, but these things do not invalidate who you are. Part of being a person is acknowledging that you contain multitudes, that sometimes you contradict yourself, and knowing still in an unshakable way that you are a cohesive whole. Whatever is happening lately has you feeling like your grip on yourself is lessening and that is a frightening and difficult thing, but try to hold on to this: It will pass and you will remain. Even if you change you will remain, and you will know the truth of yourself even in the darkest night. Don’t let anyone or anything make you unsure of that.

Pisces: “Talking Shit About A Pretty Sunset”, Modest Mouse. I claim I’m not excited with my life anymore.

I want you to read “Leaves of Grass” this month. I want you to think about forcing yourself toward pleasure, about the idea that smiling can actually make you happier. I want you to do this because you have a tendency toward fixating on the things that you hate, the things that bring you pain and sorrow, and in naming them so directly and so often you give them power. This month I want you to think about “dismiss whatever insults your own soul”, about the idea that you can let go of the things that hurt you. I know this is hard, I know, but I want you to be firm and vocal about the things you love. Notice the things that bring you joy and address them, talk about them, replace the litany of darkness with a flood of light. It is maybe the hardest thing in the world to just not think about something and I am not asking you to do that, because I genuinely don’t yet know how to do it myself. What I am asking you to do this month is to try and lessen the power that the painful things have over you by giving them less space in your life, in your mind and your heart and your thoughts. They won’t be gone – they will never be gone – but the less attention you pay them the less you will notice them curled in the corner. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”

Aries: “Mouthful of Diamonds”, Phantogram. You’ve got a mouthful of diamonds and a pocketful of secrets.

There is benefit sometimes in playing it close to the chest, Aries. This is counter to everything that the fire in your blood tells you, the impulsive shout of your birth that thrums in your veins, but it is worth knowing. You do not have to speak it out loud for it to be true, and you do not have to give away any part of you. It is tempting to lay yourself bare to be picked over like a carcass, submission as a form of power, of control, but there is a different and colder kind of power in silence. Naming your demons gives them less power, toss of the hair yeah that happened but it’s whatever, but this has become more of a reflex than a genuine urge to speak of them. When you feel like you have to talk about it in order for it to be real, when you feel like you have to legitimize yourself by exposing your rawest places, you’re no longer in control. You are offering pieces of yourself on an altar that is already slick with blood and the only things that will take heed of this are scavengers. Be cautious, this month, with the bits of yourself you put on display. Every time you open your mouth diamonds tumble off your tongue, and it is worth it to decide who really deserves them.

Taurus: “Take Care”, Beach House. I’ll take care of you if you ask me to. 

Imagine that you are a plant. This should not be difficult. Imagine that you are a plant and that there are specific ways to ideally care for you. What are those ways? That is your task this month, Taurus. I want you to establish with yourself what it looks like to nurture you, to take care of you. Once you do that I want you to think about who, in your life, actually takes care of you. Who do you allow to care for you? Who cares for you in a way that doesn’t mesh with your plant-care manual? There are different ways to express love, obviously, but much of our unhappiness comes from the knowledge that we are, empirically, being loved, and yet not being able to feel it in a way that resonates with us. Maybe someone is overwatering you, to continue my plant metaphor, because they love you so much and they’re so worried you’re going to dry out, but they’re not listening when you tell them you’re actually good with a once-a-week watering. This month I want you to think about the people in your life that take care of you and the ways in which they do that, and I want you to find your way toward making the ways that you need care clearer to them. You deserve to be loved as carefully and intentionally as you love others, and the only way to do that is to first really understand what you need and then to speak it.

Gemini: “The Chain”, Ingrid Michaelson. And if you come around again then I will take the chain from off the door.

The things you have loved have a way of coming back to you. This is because you have loved them well, as you love all things, and because you are a soft and tender creature. This month I want you to think about the fact that it is your choice whether or not to accept them when they return, your prodigal beloveds. They return, but they left in the first place. It is not in your nature to be cruel and so you allow them in, but in doing this you manage to be cruel to yourself, reopening old wounds, accepting less than you deserve. Your willingness to see the good in people is a beautiful thing but it is a soft spot in a suit of armor made almost entirely of soft spots. Listen: It is well within your rights to lock the door when the past comes knocking, to examine apologies for truth, and ultimately to choose not to open your heart again. You do not owe anyone a second chance, is what I’m saying, and anyone that tries to make you feel that way – yourself included – is wrong. Be discerning, this month, and really think about who deserves more of you than they’ve already taken. Keep yourself safe.

Cancer: “End of the Day”, One Direction. You love who you love, there ain’t no other way.

You don’t have to understand someone to love them. You have so much love to give, it pours out of you almost without your permission, and so you try to ration it in this way, to stem the flow and direct it in a way that feels safer, that you can justify. We have so much in common, they really get me, we’re like, soulmates. You have loved so many people and so many of them have hurt you, and it doesn’t make sense that you would continue to fall in love so deeply and openly, to keep your heart as full as it is. Love doesn’t make sense, though, and this is your blessing and your curse: you love so much. You can look for kindred spirits, of course, but what you can’t do is mold someone into a person that you feel like you should love, the idea of a person who deserves your love. You don’t have to understand them, they don’t have to share your interests or your hobbies or your flaws; if these things happen they are great but you cannot force them. You love who you love, as One Direction says, you follow your heart even though it’ll break sometimes. The danger of being a person so capable of love is that you will be hurt, and shared circumstances don’t mitigate that. Be brave this month, all months. Take every leap; don’t close yourself off.

Leo: “Control Freak”, Copeland. You lose your mind if you lose control.

You are a very proud creature, Leo, of course you are, and you have every right to be because you are a force of nature. What you need to know, though, what you need to hold on to through this month, is this: you don’t have to do everything on your own. This requires you to trust other people – their abilities, their judgment, their choices. It is difficult for you to relinquish control, especially because you are generally very good at doing things. But listen – it’s not about your ability to do things all on your own. It’s about the fact that it’s not good for you to do so. You don’t have to be constantly proving yourself. You don’t have to be the first one into the fight, the last one to leave the office, the most tired person at the party. You know? You don’t have to do things all on your own and maybe even more importantly, you don’t have to do everything perfectly. You don’t even have to do everything right! You hold yourself to these impossible standards, you run yourself ragged and then you wonder why your edges are fraying, so this is what I am telling you. Cut yourself some slack this month. Delegate some responsibility; let people help you. Not because you need it, but because you could use it. You don’t have to play your life on xtreme difficulty hell-level, okay? Take naps, use cheat codes. Leave work at five and don’t feel bad about it.

Virgo: “The House That Built Me”,  Miranda Lambert. I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am. Out here it’s like I’m someone else. I thought that maybe I could find myself.

Be careful of the idols you choose. You are clever enough and determined enough to become them, to shape yourself in their image and emerge from a mold of your own making time and time again. You are capable of such self-transformation, of learning so precisely and completely how to be what you admire, that you need to be more judicious with your admiration than others do. This month is for thinking about the things you value in others and why you value them, and what they would mean to you if they were part of you instead. Burrow down inside yourself and examine what you know to be true, what you would like to change, what you value that is present in your own soul. Keep hold of these things, keep them in your sight, and you will be better able to discern what it is about a person that captivates you, makes you want to befriend them, makes you want to be them. What is charming in another person may feel disingenuous in your own skin; if you transform yourself with an eye only on the horizon you may lose sight of the shore.

Libra: “I Don’t Want To Let You Down”, Sharon Van Etten. When dreams grew black I didn’t want to see the light.

The ease with which you navigate people makes you distrust them, which is an interesting but understandable way to respond to your particular gift. You wear many masks, Libra, and it serves you well and there is a bright genuine core inside you that suffuses you no matter what, but you are aware of what you are projecting all the time. You’re always on, always ready. You are so good at sussing out a motive, at understanding what someone wants from a given situation, but lately you’re reaching a sort of terminal velocity with it. What I’m saying is that if you expect the worst from people you will find it. It is impossible not to disappoint someone who expects to be disappointed. There are caveats here, obviously – your radar for bullshit is peerless, and if you are genuinely getting bad vibes from someone I want you to trust yourself – but what I want you to work on this month is approaching people with an open mind. Game recognizes game, is what they say, but I want you to consider the possibility that there is no game. The interpersonal situations in which you find yourself are sometimes veiled negotiations, contests, but they’re not always. Trust yourself enough to know that you will feel it when someone is trying to play you; trust the world enough to know that most of the time, they won’t be.

About Aly

aly was born in nashville but left before she could meet and befriend and ultimately wed taylor swift. now she lives in colorado, where she spends her time crying about bucky barnes, yelling about pop music and vampires, and writing young adult fiction.

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