A Light That No Band of Old Men Can Dim

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I usually blog about parenting and Vampires with posts that are funny, and weird, and entertaining. I’ll get back to that soon. Lately I’m thinking about other things. I’m thinking about real horrors that our kids face.

Parenting isn’t always easy, especially when the world seems to have gone insane and you don’t have the answers. You’re the parent. You’re supposed to know everything, even when your kids think you know nothing – they still want you to know everything.

I’ve been writing about parenting on this blog since 2012. I take parenting seriously. I think about it a lot. I practice what I preach. My kids are amazing. Their friends are amazing.

So what’s the problem?

My daughter was born in 1999, the same year as the Columbine High School shootings. The first time I heard the elementary school was having lock down drills in case a bad man with a gun came to the school I never imagined how sad that would make me. Lock down drills where little children have to learn how to hide from bad men with guns. We don’t live in a war zone. Our children shouldn’t have to live in fear of men with guns.

There were more shootings. Some were at schools, movie theaters, on military bases, at colleges, and at work.

I was in tears the day I picked up my children and told them about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. All of those beautiful little children, all of the adults who cared of them gone. Just gone. For no reason. No parent wants to discuss something like THAT with their own children. But we have to. It is the world they live in.

Then there were more shootings. People said to wait until we’d mourned. But we didn’t have time to stop mourning – we’d been mourning since 1999.

In 2016 everyone was shocked at the shooting at a club in Orlando, Florida. Forty nine people were murdered. It was senseless. It was unbelievable. All of those beautiful people killed.

We all know what happened in Las Vegas in 2017. We’re still not over that one. That was one of the biggest WTF moments in American history. It was so unbelievably tragic.

That is the world our kids live in.

So when we heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida it was almost too much. It was too much.

Still there are those who choose to troll the teens from Parkland who speak out. There are politicians who criticize them and their parents and teachers for mobilizing, organizing, and saying ENOUGH.

2016 was an educational year for teens. Their parents, teachers, and every adult they knew had never seen an election year like that. Our children were exposed to hate, bigotry, and ignorance the likes of which we thought we’d never have to deal with.

Yes, I had hoped that by 2016 kids wouldn’t be dealing with hate, bigotry, ignorant anti-science dim-witted idiots, misogynist religious zealots, people who spoke of the good-old-days that were not great but horrible.

I took teens to see Bernie Sanders so they could experience a political rally. The kids had fun. There were quite a few bands and other singers. It was a good experience. The Trump rally wasn’t safe. The Clinton Rally was at a bad time and not at a great location. We heard it was disorganized and the speaker, Bill Clinton, showed up a couple of hours late.

I volunteered to work in a polling place along with my daughter. All went well, except at the end of the night the woman who had the keys to the clubhouse that was used for the polling place started to spew racists remarks. She was NOT a poll worker. The club house was part of her community association. Anyway, she made crude racists remarks about those who were black and hispanic. She was white. She said it was ok for her to talk like a bigot (my words not hers) because her husband was Asian. All of us poll workers just listened almost in shock. Because we were all sworn in at the time we couldn’t make any comments. By the time my daughter and I got to my car to go home (after a 16 hour day) I was so upset by that horrible women’s remarks. My daughter told me not to let it bother me, but it did.

I didn’t like anyone who ran for office during that election. What I hated the most was that by the time we got to vote in California we had NO CHOICES. I didn’t want to vote for Trump or Clinton. Why had our political parties let us down. Money. It is all about who has the most money. It is never about the American people. That is not the lesson I want my kids to learn but unfortunately that is the only lesson I can teach them right now.

All of the hate and embracing of ignorance on all sides since the election has been horrible. This is not the world I want my kids to know.

So we need to change it. Our children need to know that THEY can change it.

I remember when I was a small girl and asked my father, “is there always a war going on?” I don’t even remember his answer. I just remember the I don’t have an answer look on his face. Now that I’m a parent I find myself without answers.

Do not disparage today’s youth. They are going to stand up and fight. Not with guns. Not with knives. Not with poison. They will fight with truth. They will fight with facts. They will fight with passion. They will fight with their vote.

Their light will shine bright. It is a light that no band of old men can dim.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/dim/

The Road More Or Less Traveled

I often hear the expression “the road less traveled.”

I’ve taken that road. I’ve taken side roads off of that road. I’ve wondered in the woods off of what look like animal paths, or the steps of long-lost tribes. I’ve come to dead ends in box canyons and watched the flash floods come in.

Behind me are things that I choose not to think of because they are things that no longer concern me, or need my emotional energy.

With me I have taken the good things that are near and dear to me. I have taken the things that bring me joy, or make me laugh, or that are actually useful. I have taken the love. I have left the hate behind. Forgiveness? Not so much but since I don’t think about it I don’t care.

When we have kids we need to look hard at our own experiences. Yes, we want our kids to explore and learn that life isn’t always easy, but we don’t want to send them off floundering in a stormy sea without a life jacket.

Sometimes we’re all alone, and sometimes we are with those we love. Sometimes we’re with people we don’t love. And with any luck we’ll be on that road with dogs, and others who aren’t exactly like us, but help us keep our calm and sense of meaning.

Over protecting them will only make life more difficult for them. On the other hand, throwing them out to the wolves as soon as they turn eighteen won’t make the strong. It will make them resentful and abandoned.

From the time they are born, until the day you die, you need to learn from your mistakes, so that you might teach them not to make the same mistakes. Don’t let them believe that what was good enough for you is good enough for them.

They are your children. They are your future. They are the future of all of us.

Let them take the road they choose, but at least give them a car that runs, and tell them to change the oil occasionally. They might drive fast, but hopefully not recklessly.

Learn from your own mistakes. Don’t dwell on those mistakes, but teach your children so that they don’t do the same. It isn’t that difficult. All you have to do is talk to them. All you have to do is teach them to be smart. Teach them caution. Teach them to be skeptics. Teach them to do research. And even if your child is not a born leader, teach your child not to be a follower.

The road less traveled is filled with pot holes, but so are all roads. Nothing is smooth. Everyone who has fallen on asphalt knows that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Desert Sky

Martha put a lawn chair in front of the motor home and looked into the night sky. Sometimes the desert would get freezing at night, but tonight it was almost warm. A million stars showed in the sky above her. She’d heard stories of alien sightings in the desert. It was always the desert where they were sighted in the sky, or crashed. When they crashed nobody ever saw them again.

She wondered about the odd pale skinned creatures with long fingers, tiny mouths, and huge eyes. Maybe the huge eyes came from living on a dark planet, or living underground for eons.

It was weird how they never wore clothes. It was weird how they were shown as naked when in every science fiction movie and series, from Star Trek, to X-files, to Firefly, to Star Wars, to Gardians of the Galaxy, everyone always wore clothes.

The only time she remembered seeing a naked man in a movie in the desert was in The Hangover. It was in the desert, in Las Vegas. A naked guy jumped out of the trunk of a car. He wasn’t an alien.

Sam and Ian came out of the motor home with chairs and a small cooler. Sam handed Martha a beer. The thanked him, then they all sat and looked at the stars.

“Do you think there is anyone else out there? There has to be. We can’t be here all alone,” said Martha.

“I think we’re alone here. But I don’t think we’re alone in the universe or even this galaxy,” said Sam.

Martha glanced at her companions. Sam was tall, blonde and handsome as a man could be. Sam fit into any group with his tan skin, dark hair, and dazzling smile. Martha was typical of women in her hometown. She was pretty but not too pretty with plain brown hair that hung to her shoulders in a slight flip.

“I’m kind of homesick, but the people around here are nice. I think we should move back to the house in San Francisco in a few days, or maybe by that place we were looking at in Santa Cruze, you know by the beach. I could hang out there for a while.”

“We could start a family,” said Sam. Ian looked at Martha with a hopeful, and sort of sad smile.

“There is an Air Force base near Las Vegas. Maybe we should go over there and just give ourselves up.”

“Or maybe we should move to Santa Cruz,” said Ian.

“We’re never going home,” said Martha wiping a tear from her eyes.

“No love, we’re stuck on this planet. It’s not a bad place. We fit in. Let’s just make the best of it.”

Martha looked into the faces of her companions. I guess with their combined love they could pull through on this strange planet called Earth. She got another beer out of the cooler, popped the top, and too a long drink out of it.

“Sure guys, Santa Cruz sounds great,” she said. The she looked back to the sky and watched for something, anything familiar.

~ end

 

 

 

Coffee and Swine: A weird tale of romance (and it is ALL TRUE)

For the past hundred years, maybe a bit longer, my brother Val has owned a beautiful Victorian in downtown Sacramento. Occasionally I use it as a meeting place, or working space. Occasionally he lives there. For the past few months he has lived there.

Most of the 4,000 square feet is beautifully restored but most of it isn’t used. The kitchen is in working order, he has an office, a spectacular bedroom taking up a good portion of the top floor, a bathroom, and a small sitting room with a huge TV. The rest is empty.

So anyway, I met him there for coffee this morning. Yes, Vampires drink coffee. Yes, my brother and I are Vampires. Most of our family and friends are too.

I got to his house and he was playing some Mario Brothers on the Wii. Oh man, I hadn’t played that for years. I was Princess Peach. He was Yoshi. We’re always Princess Peach and Yoshi.  We played a racing game with steering wheels. Val won two games. I won three. Not bad considering I’m the little sister.

After we played for a while then Val gave me a serious look. “There’s something I want to tell you about. I’ll make coffee,” he said.

As we stood in his kitchen, coffee cups in our hands he told me about something really weird.

“You know that woman I was seeing, Madison?”

“Sure,” I said, “she’s the one who teaches Animal Science classes at U.C. Davis. Right?”

“Right. Animal Science. She works with swine.”

“Swine. Like Pigs?”

“Pigs are her speciality. I was over at her place last night. She lives in the country, on kind of a farm. Her house is really nice, comfortable, clean. She, um, has a couple of Black Lab mix sort of dogs, some chickens, and pigs. She has some pigs she said she’d rescued. She isn’t going to eat them. They’re huge, maybe six hundred pounds each.

We had a couple glasses of wine, and she suggests we go out to her hot tub. Juliette, she wasn’t kidding when she said hot tub. It was a large old fashioned bath tub that she’d converted into a hot tub.  We stripped down, got in the water, started to fool around, then she told me to turn around. She said she wanted to give me a back rub. She started to scratch my back. I though she was scratching my back with her fingernails. I could feel her hot breath on the nape of my neck. Then she snorted. I turned around and, Juliette, I couldn’t believe what I saw.”

“What Val?” I asked.

“I was sitting in the tub with a pig. Madison had turned into a pig. She is a shape shifter. I already knew that but I thought she was a Werewolf.”

“You thought you were sleeping with a Werewolf and you knew it? Oh my God Val. You thought she was… does she know you’re a Vampire?”

“Yes, we both went into this knowing we were, you know, different, not regular humans. Madison is smart and funny. You know, I thought I’d take a chance. I knew it would never get serious. But I thought she was a Werewolf, not a Shape Shifting Swine.”

“Your girlfriend is a pig.”

“When I saw her she squealed. It was like the voice of death. Then jumped out and ran away. I got out, dried off and went into the house. She was standing in her bedroom in a robe, still transforming. It was horrible. I can’t even describe it. Now I know why she had so many weird stretch marks along her sides.”

“Oh Val. What are you going to do now?”

“I’m not sleeping with her again. That’s for sure. She told me that she’d dated a guy who was a Werewolf in the past but when the moon was full she was always afraid he’d eat her. Then she told me that she is still seeing him.”

“Wow, that is brutal.”

“It got me off the hook. Weird. I never drank her blood… just sex. It got me thinking. I have to be more careful.”

We had more coffee and talked more about relationships and other things, but it always came back to Madison, the Shape Shifting Swine Woman.

Val put his hand up to my neck and touched my necklace. “Cute. I’ve never seen it before.”

I was wearing a necklace made of puffy Victorian heart charms my husband Teddy and the kids had given me for Mother’s Day about ten years ago. My children had crawled into bed with me. The had a pretty pink box all tied with a bow. I still treasure the memory.

Maybe one day Val will find someone. Hopefully someone who isn’t a pig.

We made more coffee and watched the squirrels from the kitchen window as they ate all of the food out of the bird feeder. We didn’t stop them. You never know, they could have been someone we knew.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Wake up!

Thank you for reading my entry for  The 2018 Evil Squirrel’s Nest Contest of Whatever.
For contest information and rules (check it out for a laugh and for this thing to make more sense) https://evilsquirrelsnest.com/2018/01/28/the-fifth-annual-contest-of-whatever/

Last year I was the WINNER of the Contest of Whatever with an installment of Shelf Critter Theater. Click here to see it.

Or check out all of my past Contest of Whatever entries below:

Vampire Diary: Shelf Critter Theater

Yes it is complicated (almost as much as a unicorn, a squirrel and a possum going into a bar…)

Vampire Diary: Game Day

Three True Tales of Terror (with teens, rats and possums) – with illustrations

 

 

 

Teens

Half a dozen teens ate Tide Pods.

About half a million people tweeted about it.

Twenty million believed that half a million kids were eating Tide Pods.

Thirty Million posted memes on Facebook about kids eating Tide Pods.

Those same people are now criticizing kids for speaking out against school violence because they believe that all teens eat Tide Pods.

This is what is wrong.

Everyone WANTS to judge.

Nobody THINKS about these things.

Nobody asks the teens they actually know about this shit.

People are stupid.

I’m sick and tired of it.

STOP EMBRACING IGNORANCE.

THIS is why Vampires sleep during the day. It has NOTHING to do with sensitivity to light. It is because people are stupid and they rush to embrace ignorance.

How do we change this?

Listen to young people for a change. They are our future. Listen to old people. Sometimes they have good ideas and nobody listens to them anymore.

Or maybe just shut the fuck up for a change and THINK before you post. Listen before you post. Have an original idea.

Go back to bed. Clean out your garage. Take a deep breath. And realize that there are different ideas and opinions out there to every problem.

This is for ALL issues.

In June all of the kids I had watched grow up will now be voting.

ALL OF THEM.

I wish them the best. 

They are our future.

We’ve let them down.

Let’s hope they won’t let us down.

 

Talk to your kids. Listen to them. Don’t talk AT them. Talk with them. Engage them. Force the conversations. Spend time with them. Hug them. Love them.

Don’t parent by accident. Your children deserve more than that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Just another normal paranormal day

I had to go. I had a lunch date. I was looking for my keys. I was running late. I’d spent extra time talking to my daughter before she left for school (never too much time, but anyway), and my son called me so I talked to him for a while. The dog was out with food and water. The cats had food and water. All I had to do was put on my shoes and find my keys. Where were my keys????? I looked in every chair, under cushions, in every room, on every counter, in my purse, in my coat pockets, in my husband’s coat pockets, in my car, in my purse again.

Then I heard a jingle of keys. Standing behind me was The Ghost. Not just any ghost but Nigel, The Ghost.

“Give me my keys,” I said.

He just smiled, then said, “catch.” Then tossed the keys to me. I missed. The keys vanished.

“Nigel, I have to go NOW.”

“Lunch date I assume,” he said.

“Yes. I don’t have time for this.”

His eyes turned black and he smiled. “You can turn you eyes black can’t you?”

“Of course I can,” I said.

“Do it.”

I couldn’t believe him. I just stood there and stared. He stood before me, his eyes now blue again, surrounded by his usual mess of black hair. He was in a white shirt, skinny black tie, and dress pants. No shoes, just socks today.

“Give me my keys Nigel,” I said again.

“Find,” and he dropped the keys in front of me.

I put the keys in my pocket and went to put on my shoes. Of course my shoes were gone.

“Is this a lunch date where you have lunch with somebody, or is your date your lunch?” He asked this with a smirk on his face.

“My date is my lunch. Listen Nigel, I’m hungry, I’m grouchy, and I’m not in the mood for this.”

“Your shoes are by the couch, where I assume you kicked them off sometime during the past twenty-four hours.”

I put my shoes on and got in the car. I could brush my hair with my fingers at the next red light.

“So are you going to bite his neck or his wrist? You are going to bite the guy aren’t you? I assume you’re going to your lawyer friends office? Now THAT is funny, a blood sucker sucking the blood out of a blood sucker.”

I glanced over to the passenger seat. “Get out of my car Nigel.”

“Did you see the ice dancing? Oh MY GOD. Seriously I don’t even know if there is a god just all kinds of weirdness and demons and things that call themselves angels. They’re nasty and mean spirited. All of them. Us ghosts, we’re on our own. Anyway, the ice dancing was amazing. Do you dance Juliette?”

“No.”

“Never?”

“I like to but I’m not good at it. You know Nigel, you can leave now.”

“You’re a Vampire and you don’t dance. That is just sad. That is pathetic.”

He kept talking on stop about the existence of heaven and hell, ice dancing, downhill skiing, and how most politicians were going to Hell and that he knew that for a fact because he is a ghost and ghosts know a lot of things, but they just don’t talk about it.

As I pulled into the parking lot he smiled, and said, “Don’t choke on anything.”

When I arrived home I thought I’d find a little peace and quiet, but my brother Aaron called.

“Juliette, I need your help. There’s a house with a couple of shadow creepers lodged up in the attic. Looks like they’ve been there for at least eighty years, maybe more,” said Aaron.

“Can’t you call the Vampire Hunter?”

“He has a class.”

“Oh,” I said. Austin Durant the local Vampire Hunter is also a history professor at the local State University.  “Can it wait until tonight?”

“I guess, but he isn’t small enough to get into the space to check them out. They’re pretty dried out so I don’t think they’ll be coming alive anytime soon.”

“How about around 9:00. Text me the address. Meet me there. I’m not going in alone.”

“I wouldn’t think of you going alone. Durant will be there too. I’ll make sure of it,” he said.

We talked a little bit more about our kids and spouses. Aaron is a lawyer, but he is also the Vampire who is called when Shadow Creepers and other rogue and soulless Vampires are lurking around, or in this case, sleeping where they shouldn’t be.

After I got off the phone I changed into jeans and a sweat shirt. I had to get some citrus trees and succulent plants covered before the big freezing storm came in and made everything turn black and curled.

I stood in the middle of my family room, a large space which is great for entertaining, playing with the dog, or just thinking. Looking out the window I made a list in my head of everything I needed to get done.

A cold blast of air hit my face. I turned. Nigel was there again. He held out his hand.

I stared at him, ready to show my fangs, but that would have been a waste of time. “What do you want Nigel,” I asked.

“How was lunch Juliette?”

“Fine,” I answered. “What do you want?”

He smiled and took a step closer. “Dance with me. Take my hand.”

I put out my hand and took his, now with a form, as cold as ice. He put his hand around my waist, pulled me close and led me into a waltz, three times around the room. Then he stepped away.

“You can dance. You just don’t want to,” he said.

“When you were alive…” I started.

“I will always be alive. I’m a ghost. I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

“You were warm when you were alive,” I said.

He laughed, then said, “you don’t know that.” Then he bowed, smiled again, and vanished.

I covered my trees. Later I visited with my daughter and husband. We watched the Olympics and then took the dog for a walk in the park. Later I helped Aaron. My husband Teddy came along for shits and grins – at least that is how he describes things when we’re dealing with weird stuff like Vampire Hunters and Shadow Creepers. He also reminded me to bring spare clothes and heavy leather gloves.

And we took care of the problem. But that is another story.

Tomorrow I might get something done, or at least more done. Until then I’ll appreciate the small things like my purring cats, coffee with my daughter, or a waltz around the floor with a ghost.

Have a good night everyone, and remember…

Talk with your kids. Listen to your kids. Hug your kids. If you love someone – tell them. If you have creepy dried up Vampires in your attic or crawlspaces call my brother. And don’t take anything for granted.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman