christmas-cactus-desert

Winter is coming! Do you know how I, a desert dweller, can tell? The temperatures have dropped to double digits. Add in the fact that I work at a University where students have the most curious modes for dressing (bundled in sweater and scarf on top, Bermuda shorts and flip-flops on bottom) and I can definitively say that Winter has arrived in Arizona. Well, okay, it’s coming in on the coat tails of the lingering monsoon storms, but it’s a CHANGE OF SEASONS, dammit.

Seasonal change is necessary, in my opinion. It’s how I mark the passage of time. For instance, Summer is determined by how willing I am to step outside between the hours of 5 am and 7 pm without fire protection. Plus, I spend more time herding the Prankster Duo off their electronic world domination quests before heading into job-that-pays-the-bills. Writing gets squeezed in between mediating battle strategies, dodging the fur obstacle course provided by the Fur Minxes, and the round of yearly medical appointments that only fit in this three-month time span. I’ve been known to hatch escape plans with the Knight or other above-18-crowd-members, some successfully deployed, others–not so much.

My Spring is January to June.  These six months are spent frantically hitting writing deadlines, submitting proposals for the next writing deadline, demands of the job-that-pays-the-bills, trying to stick to whatever lofty goal(s) I set at the beginning of January, outpacing the bill collectors, rushing around educational institutions with Prankster Duo in tow, and in rare moments of downtime, touching base with my friends (who also seem to be on this same damn roller coaster ride). The speed generated by these six months is breath-taking (literally), and by this time every year, I’m bent over, hands on my knees, relearning to breathe and begging for a break.

Then comes October to December. I look forward to this time every year because it means that the sun will not be searing my retinas from five am to eight at night and my make-up might last until the afternoon. Plus, it’s the time of year I’ve always loved. Something about the shorter days, the cooler weather, and the promise of pending holidays equals a sense of homecoming. Maybe it’s the fact that the urge to spend more time with loved ones is a bit more pronounced, or maybe it’s because exhaustion has set in and I’m more libel to say the hell with it, but things feel as if they step off the hamster wheel and meander down the fall lane. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Of course, if you’re looking in from the outside, it may not seem like I’m slowing down (third series out on home search, working on fifth Kyn novel, final edits for third PSY-IV novel, participating in Nano, reporting for duty for job-that-pays-the-bills, family and friend engagements almost every freakin’ week, and holidays bearing down like an unstoppable juggernaut) but I swear I’m slowing down. I think.

While my days may still be scheduled within an inch of their life, it feels like there’s more room to breathe. Maybe it’s because it’s that time of the year where I remember to cherish those around me. Those friends and family we shot a quick text to during the first part of every year, this is when you actually pick up the phone and talk to them–talk, with words and everything. Or you make the time to spend a few hours in their company. Or you do that small act of kindness you’ve been considering but didn’t have time to do before. Or you wander out your front door and lend a hand on whatever community project is in process, so you can be an active part of your community.

Maybe it’s all of these, but whatever it is that makes winter my favorite time of the year, this year contains the added bonus that maybe those overly loud, obnoxious, hate-driven, ugly voices that have risen into a deafening wail will finally shut up and drink their damn pumpkin spice lattes so the rest of us can reclaim a little peace this season.

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