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Divine Beast

In 2011 I lost my kick-ass condo and went on anti-anxiety meds that — when combined with stress, financial troubles, moving house, and excessive drinking and dining out — left me two sizes larger. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in 2011 I almost lost my father (who nearly died in the hospital while undergoing what was supposed to be a simple biopsy).

Last year was depressing, stressful, and effed up. But this year — this year holds such promise. Not only because I’m resettled, trying to wean off the meds, and working to regain the level of fitness I once had; I could do those things any old year. No, it’s because this year – 2012 – is associated with a special symbol in the Chinese zodiac: the dragon.

I was born in the Year of the Dragon. Growing up, I wove its folklore into my identity. But before I go on about why being a dragon is important to me, I must admit that, in general, I don’t pay attention to astrology. There’s a reason horoscopes are listed in the entertainment section. The entire field is fantastical quackery, which astronomers have proven by pointing out the Earth has shifted since the ancients devised their constellational categories, meaning whatever sign you think you are (and all of the characteristics supposedly associated with “your chart”) is wrong. When the position of the stars is actually taken into account, my father is not a Taurus, but an Aries.

And yet, regardless of all contrary evidence, I choose to hold tight to my belief in all things dragon because I find its traits suit me. For example, according to archaic Chinese documents, anyone born in the Year of the Dragon is perfectly compatible with anyone born in the Year of the Rat. It just so happens that David, my best friend/business partner/husband, is a rat. So when I read something like, “Dragon often takes center stage, leaving Rat to orchestrate the rest” or “They thrive on each others’ energy and will do all they can to make their relationship special,” I willingly suspend my disbelief.

If I were born in, say, the Year of the Dog, or if I were a dragon but David turned out to be born under my least compatible sign, I probably wouldn’t give as much thought to this. But I’m happy it worked out this way – it’s nice to have something to live up to.

As a girl who came of age reading historical romance novels and collecting statues of fairies, the dragon itself has particular appeal. Unlike my Western sign, Virgo — “shy and conservative”? — my Eastern, birth-given identity was so…me. And any descriptions that weren’t me yet were ways I wanted to be. I wonder if, rather than my serendipitous dragon-ness casting the mold for who I was to become, it was my wanting so badly to embody the characteristics of the dragon that guided my development.

“Bossy, dominating, and authoritative being”? Check. “Loves to be the center of attention”? You betcha. “A force to be reckoned with”? Watch out. A “deliverer of good fortune and master of authority” is something I strive to be, along with all of my determined so-called dragon characteristics, which include “enterprising, flexible, self-assured, and brave.” There’s also “tactless and scrutinizing,” but we’re picking and choosing here, even though, if cornered, I’d confess to being both at times. My favorite bit has to be that “people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected.” That’s a given — only a handful of masochists I know would choose to be dishonored and disrespected.

There’s no way I will allow any Year of the Dragon to be a bad one. The last Dragon year was 2000. In 2000, I was fired from a job I hated in Los Angeles, which prompted me to move back to San Diego. That was the year I got my dragon tattoo (two dragons, one red the other black, together forming a yin-yang symbol). It was the year I was first published, the year I went to Burning Man. It was a year of change and growth, and though I was out of my mind on a smorgasbord of drugs for most of it, I had an awesome time. It was a good year.

I like to believe we shape our destiny, to an extent. This is why, even though we’re only a month in, I’m choosing to view 2012 as one of my best years. I want to embody the strength and the luck of the Chinese symbol under which I happened to be born.

Studies have shown that placebos can be effective up to 60 percent of the time. “Placebo” is Latin for “I shall please” and has come to mean “Any medicine adopted more to please than benefit the patient.” I know that astrology is a bunch of hogwash. But this year — my year — I’m choosing to believe it as truth, because I want to remain optimistic about 2012; I want to manifest my belief that this year will be drastically better than the last. So I embrace my inner dragon and will do my best to embody the divine beast I was born to be.

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