The sunny side

Nothing sneaks past you. You have an eye for detail, an inborn sense of efficiency, and a supreme sensitivity to the implications of language. Smart, funny, and engaging, you can claim extraordinary analytical abilities, a rare clarity of mind, an enviable capacity for concentration, and a love of learning that isn't just for show. On top of that, you're considerate and appealingly modest. You know you're not perfect — but you're doing just about everything you can to get there. Like the other earth signs, you're conscientious, industrious, and efficient. Unlike them, you're also an idealist. You know how things ought to be, and you're certain that you can make them that way, one detail at a time. Armed with your lengthy to-do list, you're organized and disciplined, ready to push yourself to the limit. You're equally willing to assist other people, an offer that extends way beyond your immediate circle. You have a strong moral core and can be helpful to the point of selflessness. People often forget that Virgo is the sign of service. (Think of Mother Teresa.) Acting on behalf of others makes you feel good about yourself.

You're too hard on everyone, yourself included. You nag. You criticize. You can't distinguish between that which is acceptable (your spouse) and that which is ideal (your spouse, if only he would shape up). You can be incredibly demanding — and incredibly disappointed when your demands aren't met. At times you act the part of the martyr who's compelled to put up with the inadequacies of others, but you also suffer from waves of guilt, inferiority, shyness, and anxiety. You worry about the air, the water, global warming, war, calories, the homeless person you passed on the street, the insensitive remark you're afraid you may have made, your investments, and your body. In the life of a typical Virgo, hypochondria is a dragon you have to slay (which is one reason Virgos often immerse themselves in the Merck Manual or become fascinated by alternative healing techniques). A healthful diet, sufficient exercise, and a reliable method for reducing stress are essential.

A note on neatness: No matter what you may have heard, not all Virgos are neatness fiends. Not that it doesn't happen: I've known Virgos who can't rest unless everything in the refrigerator is arranged parallel to the door. I've known Virgos who have genuine opinions about tile cleansers. I've also

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