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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

25 January, 2012

Scheming Monkey

Monday was the start of Chinese New Year; the fifteen day celebration of the new lunar year. Happy New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Like in the western zodiac, which has a sign for different times of the year (there are 13 signs now, remember?), the Chinese calendar has an animal representing the current year. There are twelve of them and each one has certain characteristics attributed to it. Within each one, there are 'sub' versions of the animal. I, for instance, am a monkey but if you look deeper into the sign, counting the hour in which I was born, you will find that I am a 'lonely monkey.' Generally, the monkey can be mischievous; a schemer who is very generous but also very opportunistic. Hmm. That doesn't portray me in a very favourable light now, does it? Additionally, depending on when you were born and how close that i sto the previous or next year, you can also display some of the other year's animal's characteristics. For years, my family thought I was a rooster, having been born on 31 January, 1969. When I was in my teens, my sister discovered that the lunar new year happened a week or so after my birthday. Anyway, you get the drift.

This year, it's the Year of the Dragon. Generally speaking, the dragon is the most revered sign in the Chinese zodiac and it's an honour to have been born in the dragon year. Not just in the zodiac, but in Asian culture as a whole, the dragon is the highest symbol of enlightenment. It's a mythical creature that posseses the highest ideals of knowledge, strength, power and wisdom. From what I recall, hopefully accurately, from an Eastern Mythology class I took at Rutgers, there is a Shinto sect that believes that Japan was born from a dragon's egg.

With all its traits, the dragon brings a sense of intensityt, optimism, excitement and drive. It hints that the upcoming year is going to be filled with happiness and success. However, as ideal as the dragon is, there is also a sense of impulsivity to it. During the dragon year, people are encouraged to pursue their dreams but to do so with caution. Approaching them without care in the drago year can lead, ironically and sadly, to failure, poverty and whatever normal things none of us want to experience.

So, with that in mind, I wish all of you good luck, prosperity and much success. Just be careful how you get there.

For me, as a writer, I am very excited that it's a dragon year. I don't recall if dragons and monkeys are compatible - I think we are because one of my sister's is a dragon and we get along really well - but with my monkey traits of scheming (which I like to translate into planning; a less sinister word) and opportunism combining with the prospects of success brought with the dragon year, it appears to be very auspicious that my debut novel is coming out in this year. Maybe the stars and animals will align and I will have some kind of success with Back Kicks And Broken Promises. The marketing people at my publisher, Abbott Press, strongly believe that my book lends itself to being adapted into a screenplay and, consequently, a really good movie and that, as their agent put it, is a "life changer." A change for the better, I hope.

All-in-all, 2012 has been a good, albeit young, year. Taekwondo classes have resumed, after our winter break, and my students are progressing nicely. I'm also making new connections through my Twitter account with other writers and some influential players in the writing and publishing world. I also had a fantastic reunion with my best friend, who lives in Germany and who I hadn't seen since 1997. Thank God for the internet because we have been able to keep in touch, at least. And, my novel is coming together for a February release.

I know things won't always be up during the next twelve months. That's just the natural way of things. Things, however, are looking very bright right now and it's up to me, as a monkey, to make the most of that through the excitement and optimism and idealism of the dragon. I'm targeting and hoping for much success this year - professionally, personally, athletically, spiritually, you name it. I hope you are too and I wish you all the luck achieving it.

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

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