Mercury is Retrograde and so is Uranus

I had never heard of Mercury retrograde until my friend Sharon Rosenzweig enlightened me. While sipping tea at her house one day a few years ago, I mentioned that everything in my life seemed to be going awry and askew and I couldn’t figure out why.

Sharon said, “Well, Mercury is in retrograde.”

I said, “Well, that’s nice, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Ever so patient Sharon explained that people tend to misunderstand each other, transportation can get messed up, and lots of other things can easily go wonky when Mercury is in that cycle. She also told me that the periods before and after retrograde can get messed up, too.

“That’s like my sister Beth,” I said. “She goes wonky before, during and after her cycle. In fact, she doesn’t have PMS; she has AMS!” 

I’m sure I gnaw away at Sharon’s patience, but she never shows it. 

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, and automobiles… So, when Mercury is retrograde, remain flexible, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing contracts…” 

Actually, Mercury retrograde is an illusion that happens several times each year. When Mercury is in retrograde it appears to move backwards. But, “Mercury is just moving slower than Earth, causing the illusion that it’s moving in retrograde,” according to “Mother Nature Network.” 

While most astrologers and just plain regular folk believe that Mercury retrograde can mess things up in life, most scientists think the whole thing is just plain hooey.

In his blog “Bad Astronomy” Phil Plait wrote an entry titled “Astrology in retrograde” in the October 3rd, 2008 issue of “Discover” magazine. He wrote, “I was called by MSNBC reporter Helen Popkin yesterday because she was doing an article on astrology. And she stumped me with a simple question: “Have you heard,” she asked “about the idea that electronics tend to fail when Mercury is in retrograde?”

Uh. What?

I hadn’t heard of this little piece of nonsense, but according to Ms. Popkin, sure enough, some astrologers say that technology tends to fail more when Mercury is in retrograde… Since, astrologically, Mercury controls communication and technology, when it’s in retrograde things get screwed up. That’s why Hubble is malfunctioning, and why the LHC (I had to look this up: Large Hadron Collider) is having woes.

Yeeeeeeah. Oooooookay.

So for the next half hour we chatted technology, we chatted Mercury, we chatted astrology. You can guess how I feel about all this astrology stuff.”

He went on to say that Ms. Popkin had written “a fluffy humor piece, not really meant to sway people either way. I smiled a lot while reading it, even though astrologers make me want to stick my head in the microwave.”

Well, this is my fluffy humor piece! I am not of science or astrology, but I believe! So, go ahead and stick your head in the microwave, Mr. Plait.

I ask you, “How do you explain this?”

And, if scientific proof is needed, let’s go back in time two weeks to Thanksgiving weekend when winter storm “Bruce” caused, among other things, nearly 3,000 flight cancellations.

Was Mercury in retrograde then? As a matter of fact it was! 

“Bruce” dumped so much snow it was as if the heavy-duty laxatives it had been taking all month finally kicked in.

Many people say that when Mercury is in retrograde we should slow down, as Mercury appears to, and take time to reflect upon ourselves without placing blame.

So, during this time of reflection, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Plait. After watching a video of Taylor Swift explaining the ways in which Mercury in retrograde destroys our lives, I, too, would like nothing more than to stick my head in the microwave.

In the November, 16, 2018 article on called “Mercury retrograde, explained without astrologythere’s an embedded video of Swift who says that when Mercury is in retrograde, “You can’t blame yourself. You just have to blame Mercury ‘cause it’s just hella in retrograde.” Oy.

If I really wanted to, I could find out when Mercury will be in retrograde in the future, but I’m afraid that if I know I’ll just sit in the dark worrying and waiting.

Conversely, if I know when Mercury will be out of retrograde, I’ll have no excuses during that time for being lazy, unproductive, and disorganized. 

I prefer the element of surprise, so I simply ask Google, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” Usually, I get this response:

I’m always surprised when I ask and get this response:

But, in case you’re wondering, Mercury will return to its regularly scheduled orbit on November 7th, 2018 and won’t be in retrograde again until March 5, 2019.

It might interest you to know that ALL planets go into retrograde at some point; Mercury just gets the worst rap because of its ability to throw shade on so many important things in life.

You can do the astrological math to find out which planet rules your sign and how it might affect you when it goes into retrograde. But, to make it more fun, why not use that idea as a pick-up line at your company’s holiday party? “Hi! Which planet rules your astrological sign, when does it go into retrograde, and how does this phenomenon affect you?” I didn’t say it was a great line, but it’s something to think about.

I’d like to end with this: I feel it is my duty to inform you that the gassy planet Uranus has entered Aries and just won’t leave until January 7, 2019. My birthday is January 7th, so Mom, I can’t go out to dinner that night because I need to sit here and wait for the gas to pass.


P.S. I am still working on my book I Married him Anyway; I just wanted to write about Mercury while it’s still retrograding. 


The African American Jewish White Girl

AADC 1981-82 warming up at TV studio before performing and filming Lemonade Suite

In 1974 I chanted Hebrew as a member of the Jewish community in front of family and friends, and celebrated my new-found womanhood at North Shore Congregation Israel, in Glencoe.

In 1981 I danced onstage as a member of The African American Dance Company (AADC) of Indiana University, and celebrated the resurrection of Lazarus’ “dead” body, played by the only other Jewish white girl in The Company on the stage of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Indianapolis.

After the performance, we were treated to a delicious dinner supplied by the Women’s Auxiliary of the church. I ate food that was better than anything I had ever tasted. I said to one of the male dancers, “Wow! That spinach is really good!” He laughed and said, “That’s not spinach. That’s greens.” Talk about feeling white.

Years later, while having lunch with our friends, Savannians Alex and Michele Raskin, at Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse, I learned the secret of making great-tasting greens. Now, I make some of the best non-Kosher greens east of the Mississippi.

As members of the AADC we danced, took lecture classes, had exams and learned about African culture. We learned how African dance evolved, forming the basis of tap, and many other forms of dance. Since my mother was a tap dance teacher for 25 years at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, I found it all fascinating.

Professor Iris Rosa (ProRo) founded the AADC in 1974, and poured her heart and soul into all of us. The alumni were recently told that ProRo is retiring at the end of the year.



My parents performed in many benefit shows together while I was growing up.

If you have one of these, please leave a comment after this blog post.
If you have one of these, please leave a comment after this blog post.
 [Barat College- in master class with Dennis Wayne of Joffrey ballet c. 1974 Taking a Master Class from Dennis Wayne of Joffrey Ballet at Barat College c. 1975.  Notice I straightened my hair so it would look nice. It didn’t look that nice after the class.
I was a dance-studio “rat.” I grew up at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, in Highwood, Illinois, where my mother taught tap dance classes for 25 years, and my much-much older sister, Beth Chase Avraham, and I used to perform at local schools with The Carol Walker Dance Troupe. Of course, because of the huge age difference, we didn’t perform together.
After taking a Jazz class with Randy Duncan or a Modern Dance class with Carol Walker, I’d come home and thank my parents for genetically giving me their strong legs and sense of rhythm. After ballet class, I’d come home and “thank” my father for genetically giving me his flat Fred Flintstone feet that made being able to get on pointe next to impossible.

Auditioning to become a member of the AADC was especially important to me because, even though our years at I.U. never overlapped, my brother had been a member of The Company five years earlier.


The experience of being a part of the AADC family is an integral part of who I am now. Plus I had the opportunity to dance every day, which I loved, and to perform frequently, which I didn’t. But, once I’d get onstage, I had no choice but to do what I was supposed to do, which helped take my mind off of being perpetually nauseated. Vomiting onstage? Not cool. Unless you’re a 70’s rock star.

I remember once standing frozen in the wings, thinking, “There are four other dancers already out there. They won’t miss me.” Iris Rosa, the director of the AADC, found me and told me to get onstage. I’m glad she did. I didn’t like it, but I knew I’d eventually get used to it. I haven’t.

I know that a big part of the reason I didn’t go out on-cue was because all I was wearing was a purple leotard, purple tights, and tap shoes. Nothing else. No skirt to cover my adipose tissue. No dress to smooth out my curves or tame my boobage. Plus, my boyfriend at the time had thoughtlessly remarked that in that particular costume I resembled a grape. I broke up with him shortly thereafter.


The first time I remember truly enjoying myself onstage was when we performed at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The stage was low and closer to the audience than any other stage on which I’d tried desperately not to throw up. And, being able to look into the eyes of kindergarteners who sat with amazed, mesmerized faces thoroughly enjoying every single move we made, gave me a newfound confidence to smile at the faces smiling back at me, allowing me to temporarily forget how terrified I usually felt in front of an audience.

I knew I didn’t have what it took to be a professional dancer; like arched feet, weighing 80 pounds, and little things, like being able to balance and pirouette on pointe,  so I decided to transfer to Lake Forest College to study Creative Writing that upcoming fall.



My final performance with the AADC was in the spring of 1982 on the main stage at I.U.  I was going to miss this family with whom I had spent nearly every day during the school year. We had fun, especially when we weren’t in rehearsal and spent entire classes dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1979 album “Off the Wall”.

But I was excited,too, because my parents had come to see me dance. We debuted “Lemonade Suite,” a piece that combined Iris Rosa’s choreography, Dr. Kenneth Ware’s original score, and the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.

My bio in the program read, “Leslie Jo Chase (dancer) is a junior from Highland Park, Illinois. Majoring in General Studies, this Capricornian likes to dance, play tennis, read, and cook.” I was grateful the editor of the program added our astrological signs; otherwise, mine would have been as plain as, well, white bread.

I was one of the dancers in a part of “Lemonade Suite” titled “The Mother.” It was the most dramatic piece in which I have ever danced, and the only one that didn’t cause me to be afraid to be onstage.

The stage was dimly lit. The background music sounded like a funeral dirge that intensified as we walked slowly and aimlessly with blank stares out onto the stage, and then fell to our knees.

We clutched and contracted our midsections, as if we’d each received a fastball to the stomach delivered by a Major League pitcher, as the narrator spoke the first word of the poem with agony in her voice: Abortion.

My parents must have been so proud.


There was much more writhing, contracting, and rolling around the stage in remorse as the narrator repeated the words of Gwendolyn Brooks, “I Loved you All.” It was haunting, and powerful, and, just a tad embarrassing because I knew my father was videotaping it.

The last segment of ”Lemonade Suite” was “The Wedding Dance.” That was really fun, and not at all embarrassing to perform. But, I had to rein in ”the girls” by binding them up with an ace bandage beneath my dress to prevent getting  a black eye.

That would have been quite the Pas de Don’t.

The audience didn’t just sit there clapping politely when we finished a piece. This audience enthusiastically showed us all of its love — while we danced — by cheering, screaming, clapping, and then jumping to its feet yelling, “Break that body!” Their infectious enthusiasm and encouragement moved me to dance better, harder, and have more confidence than I’d ever had before. I knew I might never feel that way again so I let loose and became “Leslie, the African American Jewish White Capricornian,”  “breaking her body” to the delight of the hundreds of people in that auditorium. It was exhilarating. It was magical for me.

For my parents? Oy.


But, to this day, they laugh about a letter I sent to them that included an article and photo from a local newspaper about The AADC. I noted on the side, “I’m the first person on the left on the 3rd step.” My mother called and said, “Did you really think we wouldn’t be able to pick you out?”

Before the end of the year, we recorded a DVD of “Lemonade Suite” at the I.U. television studio. It was shown on local cable stations and used as an educational tool in schools, helping children learn to make good choices.

Years later, I contacted the Black Film Center at I.U. and bought a copy of the DVD that I watch from time to time, always feeling proud to have been a part of something so profound. (Of course, when I showed it to my husband and kids, they thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen.) But, most importantly, I actually DID weigh what my driver’s license said I weighed for once in my life.

My brother and I went to th 25th reunionIMG_3281 of the AADC in Bloomington, Indiana in 1999 and were invited to come back in April, 2014, for the 40th reunion. We thought about going, but then realized it fell on the same weekend our family had decided to have an early Passover Seder so everyone could be together to celebrate our peoples’ freedom from bondage in the land of Egypt, as it is said.

I’m looking forward to the 50th reunion, so, in case anyone on the planning committee is reading this and wants the three or four Jews who were in The African American Dance Company to be able to celebrate with you, Passover is Tuesday, April 23rd through Monday, April 29th, 2024.

If it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. I’ll just sit in the dark, alone, waiting for the invitation to the 60th anniversary. May we all live and be well, and still be breaking those bodies!


My brother, Paul Chase, was killed in a car accident on June 25th, 2014, three weeks after my father passed away from a sudden heart attack on June 6th, 2014. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If only we had attended the 40th anniversary celebration. But, we didn’t. Iris Rosa, and her husband, Anthony Artis, attended a memorial service for Paul in Indianapolis, on July 6th, 2014, created by all of Paul’s friends and colleagues. Iris, the most thoughtful person I’ve ever met, brought along an AADC 40th anniversary commemorative pin, and gave it to me at the service. It’s one of my most prized possessions.

Images of Lemonade Suite are the legally protected property of Indiana University.