Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

After fighting the worst weather in China for the last hundred years (and all the travel woes that came with it), I am finally home! I am finally back to gloriously sunny Southern California, and she has never looked better. I, on the other hand, looked a little worse for wear on Saturday. I looked tired, jet-lagged, and my clothes were out of place. While everyone else at LAX was wearing California-appropriate winter clothing (read: flip flops), I was wearing jeans tucked into black suede boots, a gray cashmere hoodie, and a pink snow jacket. In my defense, it was really cold on the flight from Shanghai to San Francisco, and I held on to that down jacket for dear life. It became a big chore carrying it around once I got to San Francisco where the temperature was a balmy 70 degrees at the airport terminal. There isn’t such a notion in Shanghai, and most people have to wear their thick jackets inside the airport where the temperature is not controlled. I only shudder to think what the conditions were like in the Guangzhou train station, where over half a million travelers were stuck for days waiting for trains to take them home for Chinese New Year.

In case you have not heard, today is the Chinese New Year and it is the year of the Rat. Xin Nein Kuai Le! (Happy New Year in Mandarin) You are a Rat if you were born 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, and 1996. According to Wikipedia.org, attributes of this Chinese zodiac sign are:

Being the first sign of the Chinese zodiacs, rats are leaders, pioneers and conquerors. They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking. Rat people are endowed with great leadership skills and are the most highly organized, meticulous, and systematic of the twelve signs. Intelligent and cunning at the same time, rats are highly ambitious and strong-willed people who are keen and unapologetic promoters of their own agendas, which often include money and power. They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily. A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone, but rats are usually highly exclusive and selective when choosing friends and so often have only a few very close friends whom they trust.

Behind the smiles and charm, rats can be terribly obstinate and controlling, insisting on having things their way no matter what the cost. These people tend to have immense control of their emotions, which they may use as a tool to manipulate and exploit others, both emotionally and mentally. Rats are masters of mind games and can be very dangerous, calculative and downright cruel if the need arises. Quick-tempered and aggressive, they will not think twice about exacting revenge on those that hurt them in any way. Rats need to learn to relax sometimes, as they can be quite obsessed with detail, intolerant and strict, demanding order, obedience, and perfection.

Rats consider others before themselves, at least sometimes, and avoid forcing their ideas onto others. Rats are fair in their dealings and expect the same from others in return, and can be deeply affronted if they feel they have been deceived or that their trust has been abused. Sometimes they set their targets too high, whether in relation to their friends or in their career. But as the years pass, they will become more idealistic and tolerant. If they can develop their sense of self and realize it leaves room for others in their life as well, Rats can find true happiness.

According to tradition, Rats often carry heavy karma and at some point in life may face an identity crisis or some kind of feeling of guilt. Rats are said to often have to work very long and hard for everything they may earn or have in life. However, a Rat born during the day is said to have things a bit easier than those who are born at night. Traditionally, Rats born during the night may face extreme hardships and suffering throughout life. Rats in general should guard themselves against hedonism, as it may lead to self-destruction. Gambling, alcohol and drugs tend to be great temptations to Rat natives.

Traditionally, Rats should avoid Horses but they can usually find their best friends and love interests in Monkeys, Dragons, and Oxen.

Professions include espionage (oooh, a spy!), psychiatry, psychology, writing, politics, law, engineering, accounting, detective work, acting, and pathology.

Happy Chinese New Year to all Rats out there! May you be prosperous in the coming year!

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