Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year, and it is now the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese zodiac.
There are five different kinds of Years of the Dragon: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water and Wood. 2012 is a Year of the Water Dragon; the previous Year of the Dragon, in 2000, was Metal. Metal dragons are the strongest of all dragons, so people born in 2000 (Chinese astrology goes) are natural-born leaders. Those born in the year of the water dragon (the last cohort was born in 1952, the year both of my parents were born) are calm and take a balanced approach to life, seeing things from multiple points of view.
All dragons, including those born in '64, '76 and '88, are said to be hard-working and independent. They'll help you, but rarely ask for any help in return. They may have colorful personalities that attract others to them, but deep down, all dragons prefer to be alone.
It may help to know that in East Asia, dragons are rarely vilified as they are in Western culture. According to David Colbert's The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter, Asian dragons are typically benevolent, "though sometimes bossy." One such benevolent dragon is Haku in Spirited Away.
The West is coming around to the idea that dragons might be misunderstood creatures, though. The wizards and witches in J.K. Rowling's novels consider them worthy of study, and they're appalled at the mistreatment of the Gringott's dragon. (Some might still call the use of dragons in the Triwizard Tournament rather exploitative.) Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series, Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cressida Cowell's How to Train Your Dragon series all feature heroic dragons.
Dragon shape-shifters are also counted among the immortal hotties in Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe's Dating the Undead, a comic guide to vampires, zombies and other immortals out there in the dating pool.
Katie MacAlister, who was born in the 1964 Year of the Dragon, has written not one, not two, but three paranormal romance series featuring dragon shifters (technically, they share the same general cast of characters and take place in the same world): the Aisley Grey, Guardian series, the Silver Dragons series and the Light Dragons series. A dragon shifter tale called "Perils of Effrijim" appears in the anthology Death's Excellent Vacation.
1964 was the Year of the Wood Dragon, and appropriately, wood dragons are highly creative and must express their artistic side.
Just don't be like Homer Simpson. If a dragon asks for your airline peanuts, give him or her the entire bag - or you'll break the dragon's heart. The dragons will cry rainbow tears and sing about it accompanied by a traditional Chinese stringed instrument (the erhu).