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Hey, baby, what's your sign?

I don't recall my exact age when I started checking my horoscope, but I'm sure it correlates with my reading of the newspaper, a routine that started when I was about eight. (I had been drinking coffee every morning long before that, because apparently, I was a tiny, grumpy preschool-sized writer woman.) Fascinated by the fortune-telling aspect of horoscopes, I remember trying to plan my high school days according to what a Virgo like me could expect from the universe.

From that point forward, my sign became a defining characteristic of who I was -- it explained my irritating pickiness and an intense ability to function well alone, even though I claimed to dislike being alone. Much like being left-handed, being a Virgo was about being special in some capacity (though I blame my family for that, because your family is really the only human entity that can bloat a childhood ego by telling you how "unique" you are, all of the time.)

See also:

- Breeality Bites: Does this rental car make me look grown up?

- Michelle Tea on Sister Spit, tit-ins and how to deal with Mercury retrograde

- Rob Brezney's Free Will Astrology

When I moved to New York City, my best friend Melanie had the pishy-poshiest job of anyone I knew -- she worked as a manager at a hair salon set high atop a Fifth Avenue department store. She got me in with a master stylist on the down-low, and was the sole reason I had a nice haircut (one that would have normally cost more than three months of my Metrocard). But she also introduced me to the website of a client of the salon -- and that client was Susan Miller, aka the best horoscoper on the planet.

With my birthday fast approaching this year, I made sure to be prepared: I charged my crystals under the full blue moon, prayed to the Virgin Mary and had a nice talk with the universe about my upcoming 32nd year. Then I devoted a good hour to reading Susan's in-depth Virgo horoscope -- we Virgos like to be informed as well as prepared, and timing is everything. Susan tells me when I should make financial decisions, when to focus on creative projects and even when to fall in love. (She doesn't seem to know I think love is for suckers, but that's not a Virgo trait, though we are often unattached for much or our lives because we'd rather be that way than settle for imperfection.)

But my favorite part about being a follower of the zodiac? Discovering that other people are, too. When someone in my friend group is dating someone new or just crushing hard, the first thing to ask is, "What's his/her sign?" It only seems logical to me, because how else can one determine the potential in a new match?

Mercury retrograde: This totally explains why life seemed really fucked up in July, am I right?
Mercury retrograde: This totally explains why life seemed really fucked up in July, am I right?

More important, what better a way to look insane in public than sitting at a table in a restaurant talking about the dangers of dating a Leo? I personally prefer to surround myself with Cancers and Tauruses, because they seem to have the ability to "let" me be in charge of everything. I do have some good Aries, Aquarians, Pisces and Geminis in my life, too, and I can't discount their deep level of commitment to our friendship. But I am definitely weary of Leos, because I find most of them to be too self-centered to function with on an interpersonal level.

And don't even get me started on this past summer's debacle involving Mercury being in retrograde. Every sign was out of whack -- I mean, my car got hit while I was asleep, my friends were losing their jobs, people were getting divorced. Ugh, it was a rough one. But we survived and were better for it, because the universe always has to throw a challenge our way in order to facilitate the true breakthroughs and changes of life.

So what does all of this Zodiacal witchcraft mean? Nothing, probably. There is a science to it, yes, but I just enjoy the parameters the Zodiac places around my decisions. I also like following my horoscope because I find adult make-believe to be just as important to functioning in reality as the cold hard facts of life. After all, what is life without believing that at some point, not everything that affects you is in your control?

Or better yet, why wouldn't I want to believe that being a Virgo is the reason I'm a demanding, unreasonably judgmental, control-seeking, imperfection-disdaining, harshly critical and frigidly brutal loyalist?