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Welcome to My Year

Chinese astrology's Year of the Snake takes new meaning.

Hi, I’m Shawn and I’m a snake. Apparently, this is my year. Whew! What a relief. It’s about time. This comes as news to me, since I tend to think astrology is nonsense. Using animals as stand-ins for people is only valuable in children’s stories and allegorical adult fiction, and I’m as Chinese as a bottle of Scotch.

I don’t feel scaly unless I spend a lot of time in Arizona, or fork-tongued and venomous unless somebody has really pissed me off. I don’t think I’ve ever slithered. But I guess that’s not what my year is about, is it?

I had to give a cursory glance to the Web first to find out what all the fuss was about. And in the hallowed citadel of truth known as the Internet, there seems to be a lot of different opinion as to what exactly my year will hold. One site says I’ll be lucky this year. Another says not so much. At least I know the sun will rise in the east and set in the west 365 times, but other than that, my expectations are open. If I’m supposed to have some goals for my big year, I’d like to do some traveling, see the U.S. Congress do their jobs and ensure people post fewer stupid things on Facebook.

Some other snakes celebrating with me here on Earth or from the big snake shindig in the sky are Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Paul Simon, Martha Stewart, Bob Dylan, Ron Jeremy, Tony Blair, Ben Bernanke, Robert Downey Jr., Bjork, Kanye West, Tom Brady, Daniel Radcliffe and Yasser Arafat.

I was born in 1965, one of those years deemed snake-like by a few prognosticators back in the Han Dynasty. People born in the other snaky years, and of course, all the cute little baby snakes born between February 10 of this year and January 30 of 2014, are as lucky as I, eh, or unlucky, depending which website you go to.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that previous snake years turned out a pretty mixed bag. The stock market crashed and the world plunged into the Great Depression in 1929. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. But Jonas Salk delivered the polio vaccine, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the Mt. Everest summit first, the Korean War ended and Mickey Mantle hit the longest home run ever in 1953.

The Soviets became the first to walk in space, Watts burned in riots, the Beatles played Shea Stadium, and UC Irvine opened in 1965. The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Star Wars, and the space shuttle Enterprise debuted; Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx exited in 1977. 

The first GPS satellites went into orbit, the Exxon Valdez spilled, students died in Tiananmen Square, "Seinfeld" premiered, and Germans tore down the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The iPod debuted, Enron went bankrupt and the September 11 terrorist attacks all happened in 2001.

I’ve learned that I’m a wood snake, which makes me think I’m a cane, but which apparently means I’m a solid guy with lots of friends and family whom I value (true) but don’t listen to (so what’s the value of them, then?). I need sleep to be healthy (duh) and like to work very hard in a stress-free environment to great success. Snakes also make excellent magicians. I guess that’s why I chose to be a journalist at this moment in time; it was the closest thing to being a lottery winner. Or a magician.

Though I don’t remember all their birth years, I’m sure I used to date one girl who was both a rat and a pig. Even guys who lived 4,000 years ago knew it wouldn’t work. I’ll give them that one.

So, what should I or anybody else make of this wonderful Year of the Snake now unfurling in front of us? The same as any other year: work smart, be more considerate to others, learn something new, show friends and family you care, be healthier, and for God’s sake, stop watching reality shows.

Apparently snakes always get the last word as well, and there’s mine.

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