The Help Desk: What's your sign? My sign says "stop reading horoscopes"

Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to

Dear Cienna,

When you ignore all the day-to-day noise of politics, my Twitter feed was manageable until those writing astrology accounts started taking off. Now every writer I know is gabbing about how Mercury is in retrograde and how nobody understands Sagittariuses and they're all getting their charts done. It's bullshit. It's all bullshit.

But now this horoscope talk is becoming so widespread that I can't block everyone doing it. Some writers I really admire have started blabbing about the healing power of crystals, for fuck's sake! Is this just a passing fad, or am I going to have to move to the wilderness to get away from this insipid shit?

Leo, Capitol Hill

Dear Leo,

I feel your frustration but unpucker your buttocks for a minute and consider this: in times of fear and uncertainty, people often turn to religion and divine intervention – or for the nonreligious, stars and crystals – to inject a sense of structure and stability in their world. And as your Twitter newsfeed or the entire state of California or really anyone with a mouth will tell you, these are damn uncertain times.

Sure, astrology is annoying – or rather, people who proudly make important life decisions based on astrology are annoying. But I'd advise you to take a page out of Facebook star Sheryl Sandburg's playbook and instead of fighting the astrology/crystal fad, Lean In. Launch your own crystal-harnessing, planet-divining Twitter feed – only instead of talking about crystals, nature's kidney stones, sell actual kidney stones. In fact, you can Lean In even further and claim to harness the power of George Soros's kidney stones. Imagine how powerful and vindictive (and expensive) those are!

As for astrology, stars are only worthy of your passing contempt and most planets are unimpressive (what has Venus ever done for society?). The only planet worthy of attention is Mars. Named after the Roman god of war and agriculture, Mars is a severe and judgy planet, a planet whose approval starry-eyed crystal gazers will crave. And NASA's InSight Mission makes Mars' opinions especially topical right now. By harnessing the power of Soros' kidney stones and offering only Mars-based astrological readings, you will fill an important Twitter niche for the insecure and directionless. For example: "A coworker smells weakness on you. Your greatest professional fear will be realized in the coming weeks unless you take aggressive action. Mars advises you to buy two Soros kidney stones and practice sharpening everyday objects at work. Eat two servings of spinach daily for strength and vitality."