Powered by the Dragon

English: Japanese dragon, colour engraving on ...

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Happy Year of the Dragon.

This is my year. Are you a Dragon, too?

The Chinese astrological calendar runs in a 12-year cycle. I won’t have this chance again until I’m 60. I have to make 2012 a good one.

I have a few goals: putting together the memoir; figuring out my new career path; getting my bike tuned and riding on/off road all season; completing a 42-mile group bike ride the day before my Girl from the West graduates high school; spending a week camping in the Rockies while working on the Continental Divide Trail; completing the Warrior Dash; pitching our tent a few more times before the leaves turn; and getting Girl from the West off to college.

Which reminds me, last week we were at a Chinese New Year dinner at a neighbor’s house and one of the hosts grabbed the Chinese zodiac chart and asked who among the small group of parents is a Dragon. Three of us raised our hands. Then he made notes in the margins of the wheel, including our names, our Chinese child’s names,  and when we were born.

He worked his way around the room. When he came to me, he said; “OK, we know you’re a Dragon born in 1976 …”

That’s when my husband half-choked on his tea and began to raise his hand in protest.

I shot him the death stare.

“There is no need whatsoever to correct the man,” I said through gritted teeth.

This amused my husband for a good while. Why should I remind my kind host that rather than being born in ’76, I was on the edge of adolescence, proudly marching in my red, white and blue ensemble in our school’s bicentennial parade? (Were you around for the madness that gripped the United States during that period? I think we all bled red, white and blue.)

On a side note, a Dragon’s most suitable mate is a Monkey (my husband), so even though we are often on each other’s last good nerve, we cannot mess with ancient wisdom.

By the time we went home from the party I felt like I’d really pulled one over on those folks, making them think I was 12 years younger. I have news for you, I did not feel 12 years younger. Rather than go to the gym and run on the treadmill as planned, I slipped into my fleece p.js. and slid under the covers. I was feeling run down and achy.

While I managed to pull though with extra sleep and big doses of vitamins, a phone call a few days later threw me into a dark place. Yet another fellow fortysomething friend from the college days went to the doctor with stomach pains and learned he had liver cancer. I’m losing count now of the number of people in my life who’ve made the early exit. It’s too soon to know what will happen with this college friend, but it serves as a reminder to treasure each day ahead and be proud and grateful for the miles behind me.

All the more reason to embrace this year of the Dragon.


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