Shock Treatment

(8.19.02) THE OTHER DAY, while watching TRL (Total Request Live) on MTV, I experienced the shock of my life. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating the importance of this particular epiphany. Still, I was pretty shaken up. It happened while viewing the number-one video, "Complicated" from newest pop-girl-phenom Avril Lavigne. I discovered that its appeal—indeed, its very meaning—completely escaped me. Considering I fancy myself a pop-culture aficionado, this absence of understanding was something I deemed totally impermissible. Despite the perpetually increasing age-gap between actual teen fans and me, I had hitherto adjusted my savvy to encompass Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, their league of featureless imitators, even, hesitatingly, Michelle Branch, first in the new pack of guitar-driven females with supposed cred. But with Avril's arrival, it seems unavoidably official: I am old, and I'm losing my edge.

Navy Pier, Chicago. August 02.

Avril Lavigne's recent rise to fame wouldn't confound me as much, if she weren't making a splash as an anti-Britney "punk princess" when she hardly seems so to me. Seventeen-year-old Lavigne supposedly breaks the Britney mold due to the fact that she strums a few guitar chords and writes her own music, forget that her lyrics document unremarkable high-school drama. Her official online bio even concludes with the statements, Avril's real, all right. And ordinary? Anything but… My inability to buy into this myth stems from the simple fact that, now, finally, I've been around the pop-music-fan block enough times to see patterns and cycles emerge. I recognize the write-my-own-song three-chord structures from at least one female pop star, the unmistakable vocal howls from a couple others, the "fuck off" attitude from a history of punky wannabes, and yes, the production value from the era of Britney and beyond. It's the freshness factor that evades me. I just can't stomach the fact that, due to my increasing age, pop doesn't seem to work on me anymore.

Okay, I'm being glib. (Pop will always work on me.) But this shift I was shocked into acknowledging is real for me. It represents one step further away from old comfortable behaviors (in my case, being young and impressionable, skimming along the surface of pop culture) and one step closer to future progressive endeavors (that is, consistently providing intelligently mature, meaning-giving insights derived from ample experience). This movement was already quietly and gradually taking place in my life. Yet, in a single moment (while watching MTV, alas), the growing tension burst wide open. The adolescence-worshipping old-me, who had naively escaped maturity into Britney Spears fandom, could not contain this last straw, and it broke my back. I saw my future adulthood as now, and I couldn't retreat.

I pose this anecdote to illustrate the type of sudden wake-up calls that are liable to mark this week, with its powerful Leo-Aquarius Full Moon on Thursday afternoon. The Sun in Leo is closely conjunct Mars, opposed to the Moon in Aquarius accompanied by Uranus, the ruler of Aquarius. This Mars-Uranus energy attached to a full moon can be like an earthquake, releasing pent-up energy in quick and sometimes violent motion. When two pieces of earth are grinding against each other in opposite directions—like two divergent parts of our psyche—eventually something has to give. The event, brief but sudden, moves things to a new location, and there is no going back. Full moons shine light on otherwise hidden feelings. With the Leo-Aquarius axis emphasized, it's likely that all our conscious ego-driven activity (the fun, the drama, the excitement) could be momentarily disrupted by sharp reminders that we are all in this together. We must stick together as one people and understand our roles in the group in order to prosper individually. No one can do it alone.

The Sun/Mars-Moon/Uranus opposition this week, though potentially unsettling, is ultimately positive in that it pushes us onward toward fully utilizing the Saturn-Uranus trine. As I mentioned last week, this whole upcoming year is heavily influenced by energy that fosters opportunities for building something new, progressive and enduring to replace the old crumbled detritus of yesterday. Well, if there's any hesitation about releasing the dead structures and letting them rest in peace, then this week should force your hand. If I could give any one piece of advice to ease your unsettled feelings, it would be to look ahead and not behind, lest you allow your fears to crystallize into pillars of salt. To those who heeded my advice two weeks ago and used the New Moon to forge ahead, you know you're on the right track.

As if two planets in Leo opposed to two planets in Aquarius weren't enough, our solar system makes sure to get its point across with a third opposition—between Jupiter in Leo and Neptune in Aquarius—continuing to take shape. We've been allowing our self-expressions to become grander, more confident, bold and creative. Through this expansion of self, we lose a little bit of conscious focus and enter the Neptunian realm of romance, psychic inspiration and confusion. There is ultimately an invisible, hard-to-identify unifying force that connects all us little souls into one boundary-less whole. Of course, we aren't always in touch with it. As we act out more and more of our own dramas now, without self-consciousness, we don't yet understand how these acts feed our sense of connectedness—or detract from it. The events happen; the meanings come later.

So Avril Lavigne shows up on my TV screen, and it shocks my world. Her music happens, but the meaning of it? Perhaps it comes later. She seems like such a silly source of life-changing perspective, but I'll happily take it where it comes. Maybe realizing you're out of touch with today's pop music is no big deal. But how about acknowledging that youth is over? Maturity is here? Work needs to be done? These and more are my shocking revelations for this Uranus-influenced Full Moon. What will yours be? And will you be ready to let the pieces of your history fall by the wayside and continue moving forward toward your inevitable future? If you're having trouble, I recommend watching a little MTV…