Is this what this feels like?

Autumn has finally started showing up around here.

It’s Sunday evening. And while I can’t say I’m bummed about that, I already miss my weekend. Okay, so technically I’ve been off work since Wednesday so this time off has felt extra good. Nonetheless, I love weekends. How do I get more of them?

This weekend has been weird and also, super productive. Not only did I reorganize the master bedroom and move my gynormous “headboard” (which isn’t a headboard at all) out of my room, but I shifted furniture around, too. I made major changes to my spare bedroom, (mostly) finished decorating for Christmas, and then created an office in the spare room.

I moved from a four bedroom house to an apartment. That second bedroom of mine, here in the apartment, has been a mess of boxes and stuff – for ages. I was also a foster mom with two twin beds and a crib. All of that furniture moved into this apartment with me and has sat there – taunting me, to be honest. Some of the other items piled up in there included kid’s toys and books. It was depressing thinking about it.

But I started working on organizing and didn’t stop until I could set up one of the beds (for now it’s a daybed kinda couch sitch) and move my desk and a bookcase into the room. There’s still more work to do, but I’ll probably leave that until I take vacation time in December.

My writing space will take shape soon enough. I’m happy with how it looks for now.

I kid.

Here’s the thing, I also made beef stew, maple Dijon chicken thighs, and edited/wrote 11,211 words for NaNoWriMo. I’m now at a grand total of 28,149 words edited/written, since the 1st. Where did all of this energy come from? Probably my infusion on Wednesday – in part. I have another one this coming week. If I feel this good before the second one – I’m hoping after #2, I’ll be feeling like a million bucks.

After a busy day yesterday, I made an apple cider margarita, turned on all of the Christmas lights (and a Hallmark Christmas movie), and relaxed with the dog.

It feels good to be productive. Which probably sounds dumb. But when you have a chronic illness and all of your energy goes to the 9-5 job, Monday – Friday – there’s usually nothing left for my personal life. So is this what this feels like? Having energy to accomplish life things? I like it. How do I get more of this energy? 🙂

I hope your weekend has been either super restful or productive! What’s something good happening in your life these days? I would love to hear from you.

National Novel Writing Month

Live Oak, spanish moss, elaina m. avalos, chasing hope, lacey mays
Photo by Ashley Knedler

November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). I’ve been a NaNoWriMo participant since 2009. But until last year, I never actually finished a project. In 2020, at one of the wildest times for me professionally, I wrote a 51,640 word novel. The words poured out of me. The novel, A Thousand Years, has been varying states of editing for 11 months. I start in on re-write and it doesn’t feel quite right and I start over. It has been weird. I love the story. But it has changed dramatically from what I started writing in 2020.

As I gear up for NaNoWriMo 2021, I have a decision to make (real quick like). Do I focus in on a final draft of A Thousand Years, or do I write Sea Glass Hearts (which I’ve started)? I also have another book – still untitled, about a character named Lacey James that desperately needs to be written. I have until Monday to decide. I thought tonight I’d play around a little with all three and see if my muse catches fire. He’s finicky. So . . . eh, we’ll see what happens.

You can read some of Lacey’s story, here & here.

Sea Glass Hearts excerpts are here.

A Thousand Years, is here.



Till There’s Nothing Left

“I wanna know what it feels like/To disappear into you and/Never have to say goodbye…”

This is a song I hadn’t heard before until I started listening to a “Country Kind of Love” playlist on Spotify. It’s kind of addictive. I’ve listened to it about a million times the last couple of days. I thought I’d never heard of the singer before, but found another song of hers, Burning House, on YouTube. I do remember that song (from 2015). She’s good. It’s sad that I had no idea who she was and hadn’t heard this song before. Country radio is really crappy, to be honest.

But I digress. Some songs just stick with me and this is one of those. My muse is . . . I miss him. He’s a him, right now. Maybe always will be. But songs like this, help. I have the itch to write today.

Till there’s nothing left by Songwriters: Hillary Lindsey / Jeffrey Bhasker / Cam Ochs / Tyler Sam Johnson

But Not Without My Muse

“Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die
I don’t belong, and my beloved, neither do you
Those Windermere peaks look like a perfect place to cry
I’m setting off, but not without my muse

I want auroras and sad prose
I want to watch wisteria grow right over my bare feet
‘Cause I haven’t moved in years
And I want you right here
A red rose grew up out of ice frozen ground
With no one around to tweet it
While I bathe in cliffside pools
With my calamitous love and insurmountable grief”
– Songwriters: Jack Antonoff / Taylor Alison Swift

The writing muse is finicky. My current lifestyle makes him/her/it hide a little more than I prefer. I’m ready for change. “I’m setting off, but not without my muse.”

Things a Man Oughta Know

Can I just move in?

I came home from work tonight with a boatload of work to do before an insanely wild week, next week. But you know what, bro? I don’t wanna. It’ll be there tomorrow, right? Things that won’t be there tomorrow? My time this evening. My time writing, planning my vacation, and making myself a somewhat normal dinner instead of ordering takeout. So, on that note, for old time’s sake – here’s some random musings and favorite tunes this week . . .

1. It’s hot and humid in the south. In my corner of the south, it will probably be hot – off and on through October. There are times Halloween is chilly. And then there are other times when I hold Halloween/Fall events and I’m switching out hot cider and hot chocolate for water & extra ice. But, I digress. I have some big events coming up, in the midst of the super hot/humid that is our August. I’m not a fan. So this weekend, I am re-evaluating my clothing choices (haha) and may just show up wearing the most comfortable things I own, which may be things I would not normally wear to work. Whatever, bro. It’s mid-August in the south – you get what you get.

2. My dog – Abby the Wonder Dog – is the sweetest, funniest dog. She is hilarious. She is also weird and very particular. I’ve paid for expensive dog training for her. It worked for a while. But after a bit, she lost the most important part of that training, which was to peacefully co-exist with other dogs. She has her favorite dogs. But they’re few and far in between. This makes life with her quite . . . a pain in the arse sometimes. Like today. Today, I didn’t realize, while I cleaned up after her, that her leash wasn’t truly in my grip. She charged. You wanna know who she charged? A cute little blonde boy and his PUPPY corgi. You know how small Corgis are, right? Yeah, this is a puppy. She’s such an arsehole. She’s pretty big (54 pounds). But charging at a little boy and a puppy, I’m sure she seemed gynormous…

“I think I should lay down now.” – Abby

The photo above shows my dog in her natural state, which is being lazy. She sleeps most of her life. And she’s quite serious about it. She will nag me to go to bed if I’m up too late. Right now, I’m propped up in my bed, typing. I’m even wearing my nightgown (though it’s barely 6:30). This is her preference so she can contain me in one place and voilà, I’m close to my bed for her favorite thing – sleeping. But alas, when she’s charging at a child and a puppy, she’s menacing (looking). All she wanted was to run over, give everyone a sniff, and come right back to me. Which is what she did. She didn’t so much as lift a paw.

But boy did she scare that poor kid. I was horrified. I mean, you know how small corgis are, right? IT WAS A FREAKING PUPPY. Needless to say, there was a time when she was a puppy, 11 years ago, that I prayed she’d grow out of this. Nope. She’s 11 (aka 72 in human years). What a butthead. I kept apologizing to the little boy as Abby ran back to me wagging her tail. He kept saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay.” But not so much. When will she act like an old lady and be all uninterested in sweet little puppers? I told her she was rotten. And that she was going to get the silent treatment tonight. I think she prefers this.

3. I was eating vegan or maybe I should say partially vegan for a while. I kind of still am for breakfast/lunch, at least. This started when my rheumatologist suggested I was allergic to milk and egg whites. Do you know what has egg and milk in it? Everything. Everything has eggs and milk. I dumped tons of staples like the nectar of the gods that is mayo (that’s a joke, relax). I bought vegan mayo, vegan butter, coconut or almond milk yogurt, vegan cheese (my fav is cashew cheese from Trader Joe’s by the way), cashew ice “cream”, etc. I’ve added some egg and milk products back into the diet. But a product I probably will continue to use, is plant butter. It does have less fat & calories. But here’s the best thing about it – it melts super fast. Take a stick out of the refrigerator before dinner and by the time I’m ready to eat, it’s melty. If you’re a fine connoisseur of unhealthy foods, as I am – this is tops in my book. In related news, my favorite vegan finds include: Tattooed Chef Buddha Bowls, Daiya “burritos,” and Sonoma Flatbreads veggie pizza. In case you’re wondering why I felt the need to share this tonight, it’s because I had some on gluten free pasta tonight. Hey, I said random.

4. Did you know I love all things mid-century? Mid-century modern and mid-century ranch home architecture, (much of it anyway) is a true love (see photo above) of mine. I adore it primarily because of its incredible use of light, their enormous windows, and the way the inside and outside combine. As a lover of the outdoors (I sometimes think I could live off the grid in the wilderness), this is the main thing that draws me to it.

I could do without shag carpet. And some other weirdness from the era. Like racism. And fake plants in atriums. And rampant sexism. But yeah, much of it I adore. I love the movies, the barware & glassware (which I collect), and the cheerful colors or the way the decor matches nature. They really knew how to entertain, which is one of my absolute favorite things to find in thrift or antique stores (mid-century stuff used for entertaining).

Growing up in SoCal during the 70s & 80s, we were no strangers to this kind of architecture (combined with what is called Tiki Architecture in Mid Century Modern terms). In the town I grew up in, we even had an Eichler neighborhood. Palm Springs, where I would later shop – every weekend while living in the desert – was always fun with its mid-century modern style, literally EVERYWHERE. Eichler would be super disappointed at the cost of his homes today. He built them to be affordable and accessible. Now they’re anything but (almost 2 MILLION dollars in my home town). This is an Eichler-inspired home in Orange (where I grew up), that’s currently for sale.

So what’s the point? I don’t know. I guess I need to become a millionaire. You think I can do it? I have expensive taste. Expensive that doesn’t look expensive – which is the absolute worst. Can I become a millionaire whilst writing novels and working in the wine industry? If so, sign me up.

Alright, I think that concludes the random portion of my post. Or not. The music is probably random too. Whatever. There’s little chance you’re still reading so . . .

Things a Man Oughta Know – Top of the playlist heap, this week. This line, “If you really love a woman, you don’t let her go/Yeah, I know a few things a man oughta know”

An oldie (so old), but goodie. I’d forgotten how much I loved this song (You and I Both by Jason Mraz)

Kicking it way back to summers on Newport or Huntington Beach (1988) . . .

Man, the 80s were weird and wonderful. Lol.

Speaking of the 80s, I’m on a kick. Partly because of my new novel, waiting in the wings (Sea Glass Hearts). The novel, written about an abandoned 80s kid – who grew up on the beaches of SoCal – well, that’s where the music reminiscing comes from. I was born in the 70s so I have a healthy love of all things 70 music. But the 80s…that was when I was really falling in love with music (of all kinds).

I grew up in a very Christian household – like church on Wednesday, church twice on Sunday – we only listen to Christian music – kind of Christian household. No offense, Mom – but I’m so glad my Dad and my friends didn’t abide by mom’s rules (hahaha). I truly love music of all kinds. Imagine a life without memories like cleaning to “Thriller” in my Grandma Avalos’s house, and listening to Belinda Carlisle, KROQ, Depeche Mode, U2 (greatest album of all the times is Joshua Tree, by the way), on the beach all summer? Well, I can’t dudes.

So Depeche Mode has been high on the list lately.

Another favorite of Depeche Mode is Personal Jesus. This caused much scandal in Christian circles, back in the day. This article talks about the song and about what Martin Gore was going for when he wrote it. As the article mentions, some thought he was talking about the “commercialisation of religion.” What Gore was actually writing about was, oddly enough, the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla Presley (based on her autobiography).

“He explained: ‘It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”’ Deep, dude.

In related news, the best cover of Personal Jesus goes to Johnny Cash. I mean, I don’t know if anyone else covered it but he’s Johnny Cash. Unrelated, Hurt by Cash – so good. “What have I become, my sweetest friend?” P.S. June Cash in this video, oh my heart!

Also on the Sea Glass Hearts soundtrack & reminding me of the olden days (this time just after high school in 1995) is Everclear’s Santa Monica (and a few other songs of theirs). Loved their music.

They were always saying something emotional and angry:

I am still living with your ghost
Lonely and dreaming of the west coast
I don’t wanna be your downtime
I don’t wanna be your stupid game
With my big black boots and an old suitcase
I do believe I’ll find myself a new place

Like . . .

Father of mine
Tell me where have you been?
You know I just closed by eyes
My whole world disappeared

Man, The Black Crowes. They were so good. In later years, believe it or not – their one-time guitarist/vocalist, Marc Ford, would eventually become part of my church’s worship band. By the way, he happens to be married to one of my favorite singers ever (Kirsten Ford). Oh my! I just went down a rabbit hole and found Kirsten Ford on Spotify.

I can’t remember the name, but at one point, Kirsten and a few others from my church, had a band. My friends & I saw them multiple times at places like The Roxy, and Whisky a Go Go on Sunset in West Hollywood. Yeah, serious rabbit hole there. But fun to see that Kirsten & Marc were still part of Vineyard/Vineyard worship at least not too long ago. Anyways…

I’m about done. But while I’m reminiscing, here’s a “newer” song that is super melancholy and a California favorite. El Cerrito Place – either the Kenny Chesney (I never liked him until I heard this) or Charlie Robison’s version.

“Somehow I wound up in the desert
Just after daylight
There’s a Joshua Tree
Grows that little place you always liked
These pioneer town people
They ain’t got too much to say
And if they might have seen you
They ain’t givin’ you away
Now it’s been two days”

On that note, I’ve been random enough for the evening. But somehow, it has a little bit of the writing mojo churning. Music, as always, inspires me. I hope it’s enough to keep me going through the wild week I have next week. Counting down the days until I can vacay…