I remember doing some temporary work in late 1999 or early 2000. This was only months after I had my very first Astro Map produced for me (just the map, and it was $90 — those were the days). At the time I had lived in Pittsburgh for more than 11 years, and I wanted out. Or I wanted something I didn’t have — wealth.
I wanted out in part because something in Pittsburgh was missing, and I didn’t know what it was, although I wasn’t developing the friendships that I thought I was entitled to. Or a relationship. I was pretty much indigent at that point (that was about to change, but it hadn’t, yet).
I had just joined a research study that would last the better part of three years. As I was told, it was a research and treatment study called EPICS. I don’t remember what the acronym stood for, but I did know this acronym — CET.
CET stood for Cognitive Enhancement Therapy. It was the method of treatment used in the experimental group in this study. The control group would get something called Personal Therapy, as denoted by the designer of the study, the late Gerry Hogarty. He had a Masters in Social Work, but he was also very self-taught, intelligent enough to conceptualize a method of treatment for schizophrenics that was shown to increase the amount of gray matter in the brain.
When I agreed to be in the study, the psychiatric nurse, Ann-Louise DiBarry, went into the other room to flip a coin. It went my way — it put me in the experimental group. (It is entirely possible they may have cheated because they liked me and wanted me in the experimental group, because they already knew how efficacious it was. That is just speculation on my part, but it’s speculation I’ve had since the very beginning).
I had not been diagnosed schizophrenic, but I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, bipolar type earlier in the year. That enough qualified me. I would not be diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome for another 7 years. But I suspect that the study really helped this writer on that basis as well.
The study involved us playing computer games that would exercise the brain and cause our brains to work better. They involved reaction time, timing, and memory. The one game I particularly remember was called Trail Trace. We would be given a certain number of steps — say, 4, and would have to guess the directions of the steps of the trail (up, down, left, right).
In the end we would have to get the trail perfect before moving on to the next trail, which involved one more step (in this example, 5). And once that was done we’d move on to 6, and 7, and 8 — as far as we could go. This definitely worked out our brains. I remember the weekly therapy sessions where I would play this and other games.
After the computer exercises, we were put into our weekly group. This had seven ‘students’ — myself included; it was not a support group in the traditional sense. In fact it was a group where we would practice stretching our brains, but in a social context. The support we would give each other involved support for each of us to be better. We were helping each other grow.
I have most of the fifty lesson plans for the group, but they are probably in storage somewhere, so not available right now. Yes, fifty lessons. These groups started in June 2000 and lasted more than a year. The lessons are telling — because this was still a research study at the time and included mostly intelligent people, we were given homework assignments that were advanced relative to what most people got after the research study was over, deemed successful, and put into practice.
I can tell you it improved my outcome.
With all that in mind, let’s get back to the temporary work, remembering that I wanted out and noting that my parents would never have supported me in my move away from Pittsburgh, nor did I have the means (although they certainly had the means to help me do this, should they have chosen this).
I saw an older man carry a book entitled “A Bridge Too Far.” This was written by Cornelius Ryan, but I didn’t know that and I never read the book. It is apparently a nonfiction book telling the story of an operation among Allied forces during World War Two.
All I looked at was the title. And it resonated with me. My moving away was a bridge too far. Or, I had the capability to go so far in my change of residence, but no farther. Given my current example, it might have meant I could have gone as far as Colorado, but not as far as Hawaii.
In 2016 I moved to Colorado and now that it’s 2021 I’m considering Hawaii. Once I got to Colorado, I made some friends — real ones, for the first time in my life. One of my friends — an older woman — considered what I had done brave.
It was brave to a point. The issue here was that I received an inheritance, which was given in stages between May 2014 and October 2015 — enough to make me worth about $370,000 at one point. I had the means (and, especially, the time) to do what I did, which was quit my job and then wait a whole year before relocating, because I had to find out where I wanted to relocate to and then do a LOT of soul searching, and looking at my astrological interpretation, the same way I look at with my clients, and weigh the positives and the negatives, and take a calculated risk.
When I left Pittsburgh, I had been there for 28 years — after wanting to leave in 1999 (or earlier), it took another 17 years before I could do so. I am occasionally bitter about the lack of opportunity I had for so long. But I was also brave — just not as brave as my friend said I was.
Truly hardcore brave would have been picking up and starting over without any money.
Every relocation astrologer has to be mindful that each of their clients has a unique situation and varying degrees of comfort with the idea of moving. Many people live in one place for their entire lives, and couldn’t even think about moving elsewhere. Others have no problem with picking up and starting over. Still others are more inclined to pick up and take a job in another city — the conventional path.
Some people are comfortable with the idea of moving 50 miles, some 200 or 400 miles (the latter was my official move from the New York suburbs to Pittsburgh to enter college in 1988). Some people are comfortable moving halfway across the country, as I finally did in 2016. And — this is especially poignant — there is a minority of people, but a significant number, who are worldly (if that’s even the right word) enough to move to foreign country, or many foreign countries.
I know someone on Facebook who is from Ohio and lives in Memphis, TN. He is highly articulate, intelligent and youthful and when I finally found out he was in his 60s, I was very surprised (perhaps his youthful bent is because his Sun sign is Gemini — Gemini III to be exact, per the Secret Language series).
The idea of moving a significant distance across the country scares him. For whatever his situation (I don’t fully know his situation) it might be a bridge too far. I don’t know if it’s about money. Maybe it’s just about unease at the unfamiliar. Maybe it’s a subtle and subconscious love of where it is, or he’s just set in his ways, or a combination of most of these things.
It goes without saying that a relocation astrologer needs to be highly sensitive to the differing needs of their different clients, and that they’ll encounter situations like that of my friend in Memphis. You cannot demand courage of your clients or friends.
After I had gotten to Colorado I was having lunch in the lunch area of the local IKEA. I had a brief conversation with the cashier and told her where I was from. She remarked that Pittsburgh was a violent place. I had never expected to hear something like that. She clarified that her husband was Latino and there was a great deal of hostility toward Latinos there. But the violence could apply to anyone living there.
In the late ’90s, I was on a public bus and had a conversation with a man who had left Pittsburgh in 1959 and returned in 1991 and was struck by how xenophobic people were when he came back.
You might attribute that to the fact that in Pittsburgh, almost all the steel mills had closed, hundreds if not thousands were out of work, and the businesses they supported had to close, the economy was depressed in entire neighborhoods (though other neighborhoods were spared). In short, a dying Rust Belt town (although, it turned out, a town that managed to reinvent itself more than most other Rust Belt towns). Perhaps the xenophobia had to do with all that.
Someone passing through Pittsburgh who lived in Chicago called Pittsburgh ‘weird.’ Another person I overheard on a bus said Pittsburgh was just ‘old.’ Truly, most of the housing stock is literally a century old, yet at this point of gentrification, the prices of a typical house have been bid up from $15,000 to $30,000 to $110,000.
All of this was all I knew, for 28 years.
I had made it to Colorado and it wasn’t all that long before I successfully flipped a condominium. Not super-successfully — with all costs incurred, I made a profit of about $3,000 in a rising market — but my flip allowed me to manage people, contractors, difficult people. I did what I had to do to get this done, even though twice the place was at risk of flooding and the only reason it didn’t was because I was there.
I cannot emphasize enough that I would never have been able to do this in Pittsburgh. Not even remotely close. The 1st house Jupiter makes one capable. In Pittsburgh it was still in my 12th house, as it was at birth. No way would I have been able to flip anything there, though I so much wanted to.
As I learned, being capable does not necessarily mean you can pay the bills, but it doesn’t hurt. Having faith that the astrology works still requires knowledge of what is the scope of a planetary position. What it affects and what it doesn’t affect. If I tell people they are going to be ‘capable’ in this location, I don’t want to oversell it. But I want them to have faith in the process — so much depends on faith.
One of the reasons I enjoyed and appreciated studying under David Cochrane so much was the fact that he is a very realistic man. This makes his astrology practice and his teaching so much more credible. What it also means is that he set a tone in each and every class, and my personal encounters with him (we had lunch once, and a lot of conversation online) reinforced this. The tone he set in class affected me greatly, as I respond to changes in tone. I hope it affected the other students as well.