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This is, I promise, a generally joyful issue of rjmagazine. ’Tis soon to be the season, after all, with its glad tidings, new beginnings, and premonitions of the happy resolution of all those resolutions we make. But bear with me for a moment, because the leaves have begun to fall from neighborhood trees, and our valley, besotted as it is with homeowners associations, has a leaf problem. The problem is not the leaves, but the fact that we think leaves are a problem.

Greg Blake Miller, Editorial Director of rjmagazine
Greg Blake Miller,
Editorial Director of rjmagazine

When I was a child, at a time when neighborhoods did not have associations but neighbors actually associated with one another, leaves — mostly mulberry at that time — were permitted to pile up to a crunchy thickness in the gutter so that we kids could waffle-stomp them all the way to the school bus stop. And at the end of the day, we headed for the nearest leaf-buried front yard, found a pile, and dove in. This is why I mock people who say Las Vegas does not have seasons. I have seen Vegas autumns, and I have crushed them.

Once the leaves reached a depth where the bottom of the pile had turned to goulash, the rakes would come out. My front yard did not have mulberry trees, so I joined the neighbors and raked their yard with them. That neighbor kid and I used to fight at the bus stop, but over autumn rakes we bonded and became fast friends.

Why am I going on about leaves when we stand at the precipice of the holidays? Well, because I can’t think straight. And I’ve written a poem to explain why:

Death of the Rake

What will be left of birdsong

Once the autumn air

Has been reduced to the sound

Of leaf blowers?

OK. Now, I will use my advanced spiritual capacities — Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll use my headphones — to drown out this racket. And I will think Advanced Happy Thoughts, which will take me to the Special Holiday Place where hope springs — and even winters — eternal.

We’re nearly to the end of 2022, a perfect time to break out of an almost decadelong cycle of global, national, local, and personal headaches, some of them deadly, some simply irritating. Let this be a year of problem-solving, creativity, renewed friendships, team play, humility, mutual trust, openness and new thinking. Where there is a challenge, there must be a breakthrough. Ours has been an epoch of noise and engineered discord. It’s time to let the music of humanity cut through.

To that end, we’ve assembled a collection of stories on people finding new ways to live, new approaches to old problems, new trust and tolerance, new projects to inspire and new homes to invest with their love. Follow UNLV MFA grad Soni Brown as she returns to her native country of Jamaica in search of both roots and new inspiration. Join Cinthia Martinez on her journey to transform her life — and her community — through the power of weightlifting. Read Art Kane’s sharp-eyed tale of a Las Vegas man who found his footing in the world through arcane rock ’n’ roll and the search for swag. And join Nevada writers Claire Vaye Watkins and Alissa Nutting as they set out to create a new streaming series from Watkins’ celebrated novel, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness.

And of course, there’s our cheeky calendar, “23 Breakthroughs for 2023,” an exercise in wishful thinking to whet your appetite for better days.

If you listen closely, you can almost hear the birdsong.

Article written by Greg Blake Miller #ReviewJournal

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