A week or two ago, as I flipped through our alumni magazine from Holy Cross and saw that fellow alum Billy Collins ‘s latest book is called Horoscopes for the Dead, I knew I had found the perfect 50th birthday gift for a friend of mine. She and I are both Scorpios and the last year we’ve had fun sprinkling a little horoscope silliness into our conversations about neighborhood or work or family. For the last year, I clipped dozens of memorable ones from the paper, making messes all over my house. I think I meant to do something creative last Christmas for her, but regardless of the creative tear our horoscope said we were on, I just left the crumpled and ripped pieces of paper to gather dust in three rooms of my house. At some point I put most of them in a folder. Progress of sorts. Finally, with her 50th birthday approaching, I knew the time was now, but I had no idea what to do that wasn’t completely lame. Pasting them on a poster board just wasn’t going to cut it. Thank God for Billy Collins and his way with words! I bought the book (read a few poems myself and trimmed the horoscopes I deemed worthy of inclusion. Then I scattered them in the pages. Minimalist creativity is my favorite kind. Let Billy do the heavy lifting and I get the credit!
It helps that most of the horoscopes I’d clipped refer to the creative roll we were on for a while–an energetic arc that was unstoppable until it shrivelled and stopped. It also helps that we don’t put much stock in all of that. It makes more sense to read a Billy Collins poem a day and take that for what its worth.
This friend’s twin sister, who not coincidentally celebrated her 50th birthday last week as well decided she wanted to have a party to honor the occasion. A friend and neighbor offered her the perfect room for the affair–with not a view exactly, but a worldview, shall we say. This 50th birthday party was held in the basement of a funeral home. I can only hope some Billy Collins was recited.