The Zodiac and Me This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Impatient, energetic, plenty of sex appeal. In every Chinese zodiac, these words would appear under The Horse. As a girl, I would religiously read the paper placemats in Chinese restaurants, gazing in awe at the poorly drawn animals. My dad was lucky (the rabbit), my mother mean (the rat), and oh my – how they were always dead on!

I didn’t know who “they” were; I didn’t question how the zodiac gods decided upon these traits. All I knew was The Horse was the best. Not everyone could be outgoing, attractive, and quick-witted – I was in the ranks of Clint Eastwood and Barbra Streisand.

In fifth grade, I found out that half of my grade was The Horse. My glasses had been crooked all this time; my special identity was not so special.

A quick visit to Chinatown will show that the zodiac is actually a ploy to attract customers: Horse key chains, Horse piggy banks, the Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes. The vendors are more ­interested in your wallet than your date of birth.

Honors pre-calculus, AP chemistry, AP European history. Silly girl, the ­zodiac isn’t supported mathematically, scientifically, or judiciously. As I ­became more educated, I began to view things in a cynical light: Fashion is a ­socioeconomic statement for the insecure trying to prove something in today’s materialistic society. Rap is bad music with catchy hooks for the sake of catchiness. Democracy is …

You get the point.

Here I was, a girl of 17, sounding like a film critic who was bitter, lonely, and divorced. I could talk ­myself out of just about anything. But I never felt the satisfaction that I naturally expected.

One evening at a Chinese buffet, my grandma turned to me. “Joyce, you are growing up. Soon you will be looking for a husband.”

My 17-year-old self raised a skeptical eyebrow.

“Remember to look for a Tiger. The Horse is most compatible with a Tiger.”

My cousins, six and seven, giggled. They loved Tigers.

To my grandma whom I admired – who was born in China, never attended high school, and truly believed in the zodiac gods – I nodded.

The spirit is the hardest thing to foster and the easiest thing to crush. The aim isn’t necessarily recognizing what the flaw is, but recognizing when to let it go.

So I will do the wave at the football game (mob mentality, conventionality) and attend prom (graceless, materialistic) and vote when I’m 18 (fundamentally unjust) and even keep my eyes open for a Tiger husband – because despite the flaws that could be picked out, there is still a sense of spirit to be gained, something that can’t be described mathematically or rationally.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Tashan said...
Jun. 13, 2009 at 9:24 pm
It was really cute and entertaining, well wrote and fun! Good job ;D (zodiac signs are so much fun, I am a horse too, but I was the only one out of all my friends and siblings. I married a mouse/rat) hehe
 
pretty14da1nonly said...
Dec. 10, 2008 at 12:03 pm
this is really nice whats the horse though (the sign)
 
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