Thursday, April 27, 2017

3 Ways to Survive a Dangerous Year

Somewhere in my mid-thirties I lost track of my age.  The whole year when I was 36 I thought I was 37.  Then when I actually did turn 37, Buddy and the kids and I had to do several rounds of calculations before I would believe that I actually was just 37.  Again.

Granted, my 36th trip around the sun was a hectic one.  That was the year when we sold all our belongings in California and moved to China and started a new life there.  I was trying to settle into a new culture and learn a new language.  I had done that three times before - once in Germany in 1987, once in France in 1989 and once in Japan in 1992 - so you'd think it would be easy for me.  But this was the first time I'd done it with kids and that was a whole new ballgame.  As a mother now, my first priority was keeping Grant and Audrey's little heads above water and I used whatever energy I had left to take care of myself.  Sometimes, that was very little.

So you see how I lost track of my age.

It didn't cause any problems, really, except for the fact that according to the Chinese Zodiac it was my 本命年, my ben ming nian.  That comes around once every twelve years when it's your animal year.

Chinese astrology says that in their ben ming nian, people have offended Tai Sui, the God of Age.  They have incurred his curse and will have nothing but bad luck during their animal year.  As a result, those who follow Chinese astrology "pay special attention to their conduct every twelfth year of their lives, i.e. in their birth sign years."

Luckily I slipped by Tai Sui that year when I was 36 even though I paid no special attention to my conduct at all.

This year I'm turning 48 and it's my animal year, the Year of the Rooster, again.

Worried that Tai Sui might be holding a grudge from twelve years ago, I'm paying special attention this year.  There are three things I can do to get myself through this dangerous year:
  1. Wear something red against my skin all year along.  It can't be something I bought for myself though - it must be something that a friend or loved one gives me.
  2. Wear jade all year.  
  3. Spend a lot of time facing due West, which is directly away from Tai Sui.
The kids were in China with Buddy and his family for Chinese New Year this year and I asked them to bring me back a red thread to tie around my waist.  They brought me one that has little pieces of Jade woven into it - how efficient is that?!

I've been wearing it for four weeks now and it's making me absolutely crazy.  I keep getting my thumb caught on it when I'm getting dressed, and it takes a long time for it to dry out after I shower so for the first few hours of the morning it feels like I have a long earthworm around my waist.  

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to stand this for a whole year," I told Audrey the other day.

"Yeah, we didn't think you would last very long," she replied, nonchalantly.

Well!  That changes everything.  I'm posting this on my blog as a sign of my commitment - I will keep this red thread around my waist all year long even if it kills me.

Which would be ironic. 

I will keep you posted on how this goes.

If you find me especially frustrated this year, please know that it's not you and it's not even me.

It's Tai Sui and this damn red thread around my waist.


Your friend, Nancy said...

Maybe wrap it around your wrist several times as a bracelet. Good luck! Happy Chinese New Year of the Hen!

Anonymous said...

people usually buy a dozen of red underwear.

Melanie Gao said...

Thank you Nancy! Year of the Hen sounds so much nicer than rooster!

And Anon that would have been a better place to start!

Betsy, short for Elizabeth, formally known as Esther said...

Go you!

Melanie Gao said...

So nice to see you again Betsy! :)