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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

12 November, 2015

My Favourite Season, part I

I recently received a comment about one of my older posts. The blog post was about Spring and the things I do and do not like about it. The reader's comment asked where he could find a post about Autumn. Well, since he found one about Spring here at Contemplations, I'd better help him find one about Autumn here as well.  So, here it is.

Autumn, or The Fall, is more than likely my favourite season and while I am presenting a top ten list of the best and worst of the season, please remember, that this is MY list. There are things here that are very specific to my likes and dislikes and they may or may not be the same as yours. FYI, the items in each list are not in any particular order. Here goes:

The Ten Worst Things About Autumn

1. Halloween, part one - I've never been a big fan of Halloween. Granted, I didn't do too much Trick-Or-Treating growing up but, even then, that's not why I'm not gaga about the holiday. I always found it a bit odd for strangers to go around knocking on doors, ringing doorbells and pressing buzzers for chocolate, candied apples or the like. And then there was the possibility that the person answering the door would say "Trick." Well, that's just no fun. Other people love it. My son does and I get excited with him for him but, for me, it's not my thing. 

2.  Halloween, part two - Carving pumpkins. Well, this one's a bit of a cheat. The first time I ever carved one, I did it with my son watching and helping a little bit. He must've been just over two and I'll admit it was fun. I'd never done one before, we used one of those stencil kits and we were very impressed with what we'd produced. Every year, we do one or two together; usually at a party my wife's friend hosts for the neighbourhood. But, again, it's not my thing. If my son said he didn't care for it, we wouldn't do it. For me, it's a Bucket List item. If I'm going to spend an hour or so getting mucky, I'd rather spend it seasoning meat in the chicken or gutting a fish and preparing a nice meal.

3. Erratic Weather - I put this in my Spring list too. Generally, I like the cooler weather but The Fall, as with The Spring, can produce some strange extremes. Just look at the weather this year in New Jersey. It's November and just last week we had days in the upper 70s Fahrenheit. A few years back, kind of ruining the feel of the holiday, we had a Thanksgiving Day that was high temp, high humidity and gross. Autumn should be cool. It also shouldn't be freezing. We've had Winter-like days in October as well. If New Jersey had weather like San Francisco - consistently even and cool - New Jersey would be close to being all right. 

4. Flu Shots - Flu Shots are good, I suppose. Since we started having out son get them, his rate and level of getting sick has lessened. Granted, he's only 7 1/2 and his immune system is naturally getting stronger as he gets older but some of his resistance may have to do with annual flu shots. I've taken them on occasion myself. I got one just a couple of weeks ago. But, I guess my aversion to flu shots has to do with my age, perhaps. I'm 46 and I put myself somewhere between modern and with it and old school. Flu shots weren't a thing when I was growing up. (Did they even exist?) Now, however, it's all about the flu shot. "Did you get your flu shot yet?" Yeah, getting sick and being stuffed up and sore throats all suck but one just took the meds and dealt with it. We just did what we could to prevent getting sick (good hygiene, rest, avoiding those who were sick)  and, when we did catch a bug, we did what we had to get better (rest, fluids, orange juice, medicine). I guess my problem with flu shots is like my distaste for the term 'play date.' When I was a kid, if you wanted to get together and play with your classmates or neighbours, you  asked your folks if you could go out, you went to your friend's house, rang the the bell and asked if he or she was home. Now, it's like arranging a summit meeting. 

5. Work load - For me - and again this list is Juan-specific - The Fall is my busiest time of year. The easy days of summer are coming to a close, my teaching job is beginning, and my fall coaching job is on again as well. Sure, I could give something up but we do the things we need to and like to. I need to work (teaching) to support my family. I enjoy coaching volleyball (a fall sport in New Jersey). Both of these bring a lot more work - paper and otherwise - to what were nice, time-abundant days of the summer. I'm not lazy. At least I don't think I am. I just like things, like most of us, to be easier and less time-consuming, taxing, etc. All of this increased work load, too, kills my time to write and, as a writer, that's just not acceptable. 

6. Standard Time - I hate that first Sunday in November when we switch the clocks back an hour. Big deal that we 'get' an extra hour. The benefit of that lasts a day. What this does accomplish, however, is later mornings and earlier evenings and poorer health - physical and mental/emotional -  due to less light/sun exposure. I don't even know why we still do this. Shouldn't we stick to Daylight Savings Time to conserve (light) energy consumption and for healthier people? 

7. Holiday Weight Gain - Again, this is something completely within my control and it doesn't always happen but there is the potential for it. As The Fall arrives so, too, does the Holiday Season of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and others. With all of that comes partying, greater imbibing, richer and naughtier foods. Sadly, as one gets older, one's metabolism slows down so, unless you're constantly working out (as I used to) and you're super disciplined with your quantity and quality of food consumption, you're going to put on holiday weight. I think I heard once, on a radio show, that from Halloween to New Year's Day there is a potential to gain 50 pounds or more. 

8. Leaves, part one - I live in a nice suburban community where my job is only a mile away from my home and my son's school is two blocks from home. Right now, my wife still drops him off but in another year or two he'll be able to walk. Generally, our area is a nice quiet place and everyone knows who his or her neighbours are. The problem with our neighbourhood  - and I'm sure it goes in all suburbs - is the abundance of trees with loads and loads and loads and loads (you get the picture) of leaves. It's great when it's spring and summer and they stay on their tree limbs. The fall, well, that's an entirely different situation. The leaves are worse than The Tribbles!* They're annoying to look at after they've fallen and covered everything. They're annoying to rake and blow, taking time away from other more important things like writing, reading, chilling with my son and wife. (I will admit, though, as much of a pain as they are, my son and I have made it a thing we do together so it's almost tolerable.) Then, after you rake them, there's that windy day that blows the top layer of everything you cleaned up back all over the place. Yes, I could hire landscapers to do this but why? I didn't plant the trees. The town should be responsible for all of it but that's my opinion and, possibly, a discussion for another day. I could also move but, as you know if you've ever moved, that's always easier said than done. 

9. Leaves, part two - Another problem with the leaves is that they're driving a hazard. Dry or wet, they can make the roads slippery and harder to negotiate; worse when they're wet, of course. The other concern is when they're piled against the curb. There is no other place to put them until the town gathers them but until that happens they make driving difficult by narrowing the roads and hindering visibility from cars and pedestrians coming out of driveways and walking on the sidewalk. If leaves didn't fall off their trees, they'd be perfect. 

10. Blinding sunlight - Starting in Autumn and continuing through the winter, the sun is harsher this time of year than in the summer or spring. Sure, there's less leaves (there they are again!) on the trees providing shade and screening but I believe the extra brightness of the sun during these months has to do with the way The Earth rotates this time of year or the cooler temperatures or something scientific. I like longer days. That's why I yearn for that Sunday in March when we switch the clocks forward. I just don't to get blinded even with sunglasses on and the visor lowered in my car.

So, there they are - my 10 Best Worsts of Autumn. Ask me again a few months from now, I may have different things on the list. Regardless, we all have our likes and dislikes and they're predicated with our experiences over time and with what's going on in our lives in the present. Having said that, what are you likes and dislikes about Autumn?

* Click here for those non-Star Trek/non-scifi fans who don't know what Tribbles are.