Hang on tight Honey Girls; this month’s astrology is as wild as the waves at State.

You’ve probably heard people complain about Mercury retrograde, which is often blamed for communication and technology breakdowns. Mercury’s backspin began August 12th and will last until September 5th, but that’s not the only thing happening in the galaxy this summer. Four other planets are also in retrograde and on August 21st, a total solar eclipse will cross the continental United States for the first time since 1918.

So, what might five retrograde planets and a total eclipse mean for our lives? Here’s what some of my favorite astrologers and experts have to say:

  • “Having Mercury retrograde during Eclipse season is definitely a cautionary tale to slow down and not be in a hurry to act. It also means that more information is likely to be revealed when Mercury goes direct again.”(Forever Conscious)
  • Saturn moving direct (on August 25th) will help to get things moving again, so if your life has felt sluggish and slow; if you have felt unmotivated or lethargic, know that some relief is on the way.”(Forever Conscious)
  • Uranus, the planet of surprises, freedom, and independence, is going retrograde in early August.”(Women’s Health)
  • Neptune retrograde 2017 aligns closely with the Moon to make this an especially sensitive time. As well as feeling more emotional and romantic, you may also feel suspicious of others and extremely vulnerable.”(Astrology King)
  • Pluto will be guiding us to make changes and to transform our lives to a new level of power. Pluto works on such a deep, subconscious level that we are likely to not even understand or comprehend the influence of Pluto. It moves direct on September 28th.”(Forever Conscious)


Total Solar Eclipse:


On Monday, August 21st, America will see the moon completely eclipse the sun for the first time since 1979.  Hopefully, many of you will be viewing the eclipse from school, or have the day off. This rare occurrence is more than just a sight for sore eyes. In fact, This entire eclipse season is revealing our shadow selves. Our eclipsed selves. Our personal and collective underworld journeys,” said Chani Nicholas, a counseling astrologer and writer.

In the next few days, expect sudden urges to have fun, and listen to that little voice in your head telling you to follow your heart. According to Donna Page, a professional astrologer with a graduate degree in counseling psychology, “it is about living your life with enthusiasm and appreciating all things around you—and letting go of that which no longer feels right.”

Page says the eclipse will even make an impact your astrological sign, with Leo (shout out) and Aquarius affected the most. “If you are one of these signs, you may experience a bigger shakeup like getting a new job, meeting someone new and feeling like it’s love at first sight, or even the urge to change everything and move across the country to a place you barely know.” (Women’s Health)

If you do watch the eclipse, make sure to wear official protective eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. It may look pretty, but going blind certainly won’t. “When you look directly at the sun, the intensity of the light and the focus of the light is so great on the retina that it can cook it,’ said Dr. Christopher Quinn, president of the American Optometric Association. ‘If the exposure is great enough, that can and will lead to permanent reduction in vision and even blindness.'” (CNN)

At this point, it’s too late to order glasses online. Stephen Ramsden, head of an outreach program called the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, suggests checking your local stores such as 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Circle K, Lowe’s, Toys R Us, and Walmart. (

If you can’t find glasses or are looking for a more fun alternative, consider making an old-school, Honey Girl style pinhole projector, which requires only a shoe box and a few items found around the house. 

In the final edit of “Riptide Summer” (as in all novels), I had to say goodbye to some of my favorite scenes and chapters, including one called “Total Eclipse” where the 1973 Honey Girl lineup uses a pinhole projector with their friends at State Beach. Although it’s fiction, there are some factual points. Check it out:



Total Eclipse


I got to State at the crack of dawn. There was going to be a total solar eclipse and another one like it wouldn’t happen until the year 2017. Of course Jerry and the VPMs were already out surfing with a few other guys, but I was the first of the lineup to stake my space. The eclipse was going to happen at exactly 7:39 AM.

There was another person at State besides Lolo and his dog, a guy with a long grey ponytail and a camera swinging around his neck, who looked to be the age of my dad when he died. He was photographing the break from different angles. He crissed, he crossed, and then finally he asked me, “Are the waves always this good?”

“Yep.” I knew better than to talk to strange men at the beach, but this one had an English accent and seemed aristocratic. He was barefoot and wearing rolled up white linen pants and a matching shirt that looked like he had slept in it. He quickly snapped a picture of me. My legs were curled under my sweatshirt, and I looked up at him all sleepy, my hair blowing every which way.

He gave me a business card. It read:

Glenn Martin
Tubed Magazine Photographer

“I’ll be around all summer,” he said. He started to walk away but then turned back toward me and raised his camera to take another picture. I smiled and shifted my position so my hair was blowing in one direction.

After Glenn left, I traced the pattern of planets fading in the sky. Mars looked red. I think because it was closer to the Earth. And Venus was shimmering in the distance.

What makes a solar eclipse special is that the moon goes between the Earth and the sun, making two perfect circles, one on top of the other, so there’s only a thin glowing rim where you usually see the sun.

While I waited for this magical event, the heaviness of living somewhere other than Hawaii came rushing back. It was a yearning I had no control over, and it felt like a weight in my chest. I think the Topangas would call it my heart chakra, which is located below the ivory elephant and coral necklace Dad gave me. I missed Oahu, the trees and green of Diamond Head’s hillside. I lit up a Lark, and hot-boxed it with a deep inhale. When I let the smoke out, I said, “Hi Dad. I miss you. Do you see me?” I walked into the ocean and scooped up some water. As it slipped through my fingers I asked, “Where are you? Can you hear my prayers, or are you so far away I don’t exist anymore?”

Everything felt all wrong, but then I looked at the sky and it was all right.

I glanced over at the Topangas who were stretching their spines by placing their arms way out in front of them like they were worshipping Mecca. Just watching them had a calming effect. Maybe it was because I was early and so were they. I call them a pack because the Topangas are like the coyotes up in the hills who live and travel together.

I was a bit surprised when they invited me to be a part of one of their rituals. Melanie handed each of us a piece of paper and said, “Write something you really want.” Then, at the moment of the eclipse, our wishes would all be burned together. I liked this idea. It reminded me of a myth about the gods and how they could hear your prayers if you said them through smoke during an eclipse. So I scribbled a poem:

I want to live in Fiji,
a place only the invited visit.
There my pulsing joy
and love lives every day of the year.
Send my true love with me.
Untethered and free from scorn.

The eclipse would begin in an hour. My towel was wrapped around my shoulders to keep me warm. Lolo was lingering by the trash like it was a buffet, eating something that looked like potato puree from a Dixie cup. When he saw me, his craggy face broke into a smile. “Hi Funny Funny.” I gave him a quick wave, glad he kept moving.

It was another cool morning, but the weatherman said it was going to get to 90 degrees. A heat wave had slammed us way too early. That meant fewer games and hoards of people from the city. Wilt Chamberlain and his volleyball pals would be sitting in the shade. The temperature would slow everyone down: gay boys drinking white wine spritzers out of stylish camouflage coolers, little guys who could surf but were unsupervised for the first time ever and annoying all of us with their blaring transistor radios, and new moms with flabby bellies and control top bathing suits who were waddling around in the water holding their babies in slings made of Mexican scarves bought during their last trip to Tijuana.

Nothing would be in Virgo order, but I would be restored by the sound of small, sizzling waves trickling onto the shore. Of course there would be problems. Big families would come, bringing oversized blankets instead of towels, and sit too close to us while the men smoked cigars. Then they’d leave their stinking trash right on the beach, never caring that this was where we lived.

By 7:30 the sky was noticeably darker. Technically, nobody was supposed to be out when the eclipse was happening, but State was a constant party. Lisa and Johnny were throwing thick clumps of seaweed, playing any kind of game that gave them permission to get on top of each other in the sand. And Jenni hid her face behind a big fan so she could say things to Coco that no one could hear. Who knew what was going on over there.

The sun was a strange color as it disappeared over the Santa Monica Pier. Way down the beach, the Ferris wheel stood still and the old merry-go round, resting on wooden planks, looked like it was about to slip into the sea. The Lisas always used to warn me that the Pier was for junkies, winos, hookers, and low-riders, but worst of all, it was where the Valleys went. I didn’t care. I was going to check it out for recruiting possibilities. Hidden talent might be found there. You never know. I didn’t like the whole Mary Jo reincarnation, and I couldn’t let the scales tip any further away from me. I needed to find an ally.

JJ and Dennis, two of the VPMs, came out of the water and sat on either side of me. The eclipse gave me a chance to get a better look at them. They weren’t so bad. JJ was a Libra who resembled Luke Halpin, the cute star on Flipper, that TV show about the dolphin. His eyebrows were darker than his dirty blond hair, which was swooped to one side. He was scrawny but looked strong. You could see his muscles whenever he moved, especially his well-defined pecs. He had a smirky grin and tilted his head to the right to look tough. But he seemed like a real sweetie pie and gave me M&M’s as we watched the sky, being careful not to burn our eyes by looking directly at the sun.

Dennis, a Cancer, was insanely good looking, a total jaw-dropper. He smelled like Tide—not the ocean, the laundry detergent. His only crimes were being short and having no driver’s license.

Jerry Richmond on the other hand wore the best solar eclipse outfit. He had gone Hindu for the day and dropped his towel low around his waist. One of the Topangas had given him some sandalwood beads, and with his wide-brimmed straw hat and leather sandals, he looked downright mystic. All the Topangas were ogling Jerry, but they knew he belonged to Rox, so they literally kept their hands off him by holding them behind their backs.

“Bottoms up, take a swig.” Lord Ricky pushed a flask in my face. He sat beside me and whispered, “I want my kiss,” and blew hard into my ear.

I thought, You disgusting douche bag.

“No, thank you,” I said.

Brad and Stu ran around in circles, jabbing at each other while splashing sand on everyone. They were dressed in yellow trunks like canaries and telling dirty jokes not worth repeating. Brad was bad news like Lord Ricky, but Stu was just a bonehead.

From the lineup’s perspective, it looked like they were staring directly at the eclipse. They reached out their arms, hollering, and staggering toward the sun like the Mummy.

“Don’t do that, you’ll go blind,” Mary Jo said, announcing her and Kandee’s uninvited selves.

Stu and Brad clutched their hands over their eyes, screaming in agony and finally yelling, “I’m blind, I’m blind!”

I could see they had their eyes closed the whole time, but poor, stupid Kandee fell for it, rushing to their sides to see if she could help. They cried out in fake pain, “Where are you, where are you?” and groped her all over before she realized they were faking it.

Then Brad’s wall-eye swung all the way to the other side. He kissed Kandee full on the lips, felt her up quickly, and walked away. Kandee sat down acting as though it hadn’t happened. If it were me, I would have wiped my face off, taken a shower, and gotten a shot for rabies. I didn’t get that girl.

Lord Ricky leaned his face into mine and said sternly, “I want my kiss, too. Right now.”

He was scowling.

He thought I was going to give him a big wet one. Instead I looked him right in the eye and said, “Dream on, cretin.” Nobody tells Lord Ricky off, let alone an inch from his face.

“It’s happening,” Lisa yelled.

“Hey Nani, want to look through my thingy?” Jerry handed me a cardboard box. The box had duct tape around it and an inch-wide piece of aluminum foil with a tiny hole made by a thumbtack. There was a space for my head to go through, and when I stood with my back to the sun and looked into it, the eclipse was reflected on a white a sheet of paper. Coco had a box on his head too and was shouting, “Awesome!”

“Everything good, Rick?” Jerry asked. I hadn’t thought the two of them were actually friends, but Jerry had been spending time with Lord Ricky since the McBrides left.

“Oh yeah, man,” Lord Ricky said. He stood up right next to me sounding all sincere. “Let me look through your hole, Nani.” What a pig he was. He took the box off my head, and I gave him a dirty look before he tilted his face close to mine again, so no one else could hear what he said.

“Listen Miss Mulatto, you’re on thin ice. Better get nice fast.”

I’d have to go home and look up the word mulatto, but I had a feeling it was just another way of saying hapa.

The eclipse was amazing but the guys got bored with it pretty quickly. Dennis complained, “This is going to go on for hours.”

“County Line time,” Johnny said.

Coco kissed Jenni goodbye and told her, “Later. ”  

None of us knew when “later” was, but we would wait. State was in flow. It’s sort of like the girls and guys there were a living yin yang symbol. I imagined them as two interlocking spirals, one black the other white, each with the color of the other reflected in a single dot. My dad used to call the symbol “two little fish cuddling.” One was hard and one was soft, but side-by-side they created the perfect balance. So the guys were going wherever they wanted, while the girls held down the fort. We nest. They travel. That was the balance.

Ebb and flow, come and go. High tide, low tide. Riptide currents, smooth water. Right at that moment there was nothing to look back at or look forward to. We were all just sort of together, gazing at each other.

When the vans finally pulled out of the parking lot, the lineup put the boxes on their heads one at a time, all of us mesmerized by the sphere of light and the shadow of the moon.