Noir

45189857_2279839595362728_1732779137954742272_nI rarely show photos of my own family but this time I’ll bend my rules.

My daughter and her boyfriend decided to be Bogart and Bacall from The Big Sleep for Halloween. I think they did an extraordinary job of pulling off black and white, and of course the glamour. Yes, their makeup and all of their clothing is black/white/gray. Nice job kids.

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By the way, they’re both nineteen, and in their second year of college. If you want to disparage the youth of today then you must not know any young people. This is a creative and savvy generation.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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I guess we’re all going to Hell.

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My daughter just sent me this photo with the message “I guess we’re all going to hell.”

This guy was out in front of the Student Union building at the college.

Happy Halloween Sports Nuts!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Allegory of Art and Life and Whatever (and College Students and Vampires)

I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about art.

Yesterday I stopped by my brother Val’s office/house downtown. I’ve always loved this large stick style home. He purchased it around 1910 and has done a remarkable job of keeping it up over the years when so many Victorian and Craftsman style homes went into disrepair.

Val’s office is on the bottom floor. The second floor is a comfortable space where Val keeps his official home address. On the third floor is an apartment occupied by a couple of college students.

Neither one of the young men, now in their third year of college, would have been able to go to school away from home without the horrible nightmare of college loans had it not been for Val’s Home Away From Home (so they call it.)

I’m not completely sure where he found Colton and Luke. I think Val met Colton studying in the old cemetery or something along those lines and the other kid came along. Colton was worried he’d have to move home and transfer schools and majors, or maybe just drop out. In exchange for rent they watch the place when Val is gone, do yard work and house cleaning, and keep their grades up.

The boys aren’t Vampires either, and they have no idea about Val. All they know is that Val is exceptionally cool and a little different.

Anyway, I was at Val’s thinking about art. Luke showed me some sketches he’d done of some friends of his on his way out to classes at UC Davis (a short trip across the causeway.) The kid is good. I’m ready to beat the crap out of anyone who discourages him.

Val was at his big desk with his computer checking all kinds of financial stuff I know nothing about. I looked up on the wall at his Maynard Dixon painting. It was of a woman wrapped in a shawl looking in profile towards a gold and orange landscape.

“You should donate that to the museum,” I said. “It is a hidden uncatalogued gem.

“Maybe. I haven’t had it that long.”

“You bought it from the artist. How old can it be?”

“Sometime in the 30’s. A mere matter of days for the typical Vampire.” He smiled and gave me that amused look that makes the girls all melt. Well except me because I’m his sister and I know his tricks.

“Why don’t you donate some of your art Juliette? God knows you’ve got it coming out of your ears.”

“I can’t. Not yet. I’m too attached. And I need more. I always need more art.”

Val laughed. I continued. “I bid on something for the art auction, you know the one for public television. I’m spending at least one day a week at the museum. Clara is taking an art history class so we’re talking about a lot of art. That isn’t a bad thing mind you. I’m also working on my art again. I’m also reading a book about art. My house is full of art. I’m going to go into an art coma.”

“Is that a bad thing?” My brother looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.

“No Val, it isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing. I’m just kind of overwhelmed. And I don’t have a Burning Question for Saturday.”

He told me to make it about art. We thought about it and threw around a lot of really stupid ideas, which is par for my Burning Questions feature.

I’ll think of something, or use one of our ideas.

Around that time Luke came rambling downstairs to say hello to Val. He was a typical twenty year old male with that sort of cute and, always together, always smart, and always on the verge of some sort of disaster look. It was charming.

“The outside lightbulbs are out, on the front and back porches.” said Luke. “Do you have any extras?”

“Sure. In the second story hall closet, next to the laundry room.”

“Thanks. Hey, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead,” said my brother.

“You kind of like the dark don’t you. I know you aren’t cheap so it isn’t the electricity bill you’re worried about,” said Luke.

“Good observation,” said Val. “Glad you asked. My eyes are sensitive to the light and I just need to rest them.”

“Makes sense. OK I’ll change those bulbs, then I have to study.”

“On a Friday?” I asked.

“For a bit. I’m going out later. There’s a movie at the Tower, Sisters Brothers or something like that. I’m going with Madeline.” Then he gave a shy smile.

Val slipped him a couple of twenties. We talked for a little bit longer.

Val and I are very old. It is always good to be around the very young.

But now my old brain must think up a Burning Question for October 6. It will be something about art – that thing which has twisted up my heart and soul for as long as I can remember.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Allegory of Painting

Allegory of Painting, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

 

 

 

Transitions

When I started this blog I was working full time for an organization outside of my home. My brain and the rest of my time was filled with Middle School and High School activities. I spent more time with my brothers. The canine love of my life was in her prime.

I couldn’t imagine having grown children.

Now everyone is in college. We discuss school but I’m not that involved, except to be a cheerleader, a therapist when needed, an entertaining distraction, and the one who pays for everything. Jasmine the white sled dog has gone over the rainbow bridge – her ashes sit in a box among old photographs. My cats are still here. A new dog Alice, a large goofy GSD is now in my life. I work alone at home. I rarely see anyone, except ghosts, and my ancient family members who welcome my visits, which need to be more frequent.

The sports and the activities have trickled off to almost nothing. I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere. I am alone here with a house full of books and animals.

Then again new activities call me. There is the art museum. There is my art. There are books in the works. There are walls to be painted. There are funny stories to tell.

And if I muse into melancholy madness Nigel the ghost will show up and kick my ass so I’d better move on.

We all change and evolve. That is part of being on this strange, horrible, and wonderful planet. We are trapped here so we need to be fluid. We need to keep evolving no matter how old or young we are. Growth never ends.

I find myself telling my kids not to judge others for what they do or the choices they make. Not all young people have it as good as they do. They don’t have someone helping them pay for school and everything else. They don’t have someone who is there 24/7 to listen. They don’t have someone who doesn’t judge them or question their every move. They have a safety net. Not everyone has that so their choices can’t be judged. I urge everyone to understand the choices of others.

There is no clear path. Five year plans are wonderful until a tornado hits your house, or someone you love dies, or you get sick, or the economy crashes, or your heart gets broken. So you take another road, or climb out of another window, or up another tree, or make where you are a better place. You add more books to your shelves and make an effort to call your friends, and your mom.

Parenting adults is tricky because they don’t want to listen, they need you to listen more than anything in the world, and they start to parent their own parents.

Yes, they do all of that.

It is scary. More scary that a pack of zombies banging at your back door. You can deal with zombies. You don’t love them. They just make a mess. But dealing with your kids, no matter how easy and wonderful they are, is always a challenge.

Dealing with Zombies: Shot gun. Flame thrower. Pissed off Vampires.

Dealing with Adult Children: Listening. Worrying. Loving. Worrying. Listening. Loving. Laughing. Learning to let them be adults. Learning not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

Everything will be alright.

With your kids, and with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

 

 

Summer School Daze

My almost 19-year-old daughter Clara is taking a college English Class this summer. They’re reading and writing about poetry and literature. The exact name of the class isn’t important.

Clara: I can’t believe some of the other students.

Me: What happened.

Clara: Some girl bragged about being an English Major, then she said she hated to read. She actually said she hated to read. She just wants to write. She just gushes about how she loves to write. But she hates to read.

Me: But how can she be a good writer if she doesn’t read?

Clara: She LOVES to write. I bet she writes awful fan fiction. She’s that type.

Me:

Clara: shrugs shoulders

Me:

Clara: I feel sorry for the teacher.

Me: Wow. You have to wonder.

Clara: I know.

The moral of this true story is that if you love to read you don’t have to write. HOWEVER, if you love to write you have to read. That is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Live it. Teach it. Preach it.

And keep listening to those kids of yours. They’ll tell you all kinds of unbelievable things. Also, hug a teacher.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Why don’t you blog about me anymore? And other things my kids and I talked about including V-Steams.

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Garrett just turned 22 last month and is in his final year of college at the big university right on the ocean. Final year of undergraduate work that is. He is still living with his best buddy Randy.

When I spoke with him yesterday he said, “You never blog about me. I talk to you every day. Almost every day. I text you all the time.”

I’m learning how to transition from minor children to adult children.

So I said to my son, “You told me that what I wrote about you was embarrassing. Maybe I’ll just write about Randy.*”

*Garrett’s best friend Randy. Randy wears plaid pants and other creative vintage clothing. Randy looks like a cross between a young David Lee Roth and Chris Evans. Randy is pretty goofy. Girls like Randy a lot.

The last time I spoke with Randy, a couple of weeks ago, he was telling me about some discussions he’d been having in one of his classes about free will, choice, and what we choose to believe. Somehow the discussion of things we can’t prove like honest politicians, and other cryptozoological beings came up.

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He’d sent me a funny Sasquatch meme. I told him that it got that ass from doing squats. That is why it is really called a Sas-squat.

But seriously, for as long as I can remember there have been stories of Bigfoots aka Sasquatches and the likes. So often people claim to have seen a body of one. I was flipping through the TV channels the other night (Vampires and others are known to do that) and say some guy who’d claimed to have shot a Bigfoot. He said it looked at him before it died. It had whites in it’s eyes just like us. It was small so he could have carried it to his car, but he didn’t. The man claimed because he was on National Park land he was afraid he’d get in trouble.

Really? Dude you shot a BIGFOOT.  A BIGFOOT.

If I found a live Bigfoot (Sasquatch) or even a body or a body part, HELL YEAH I’d take it. Are you kidding? I wouldn’t think twice. I don’t care if I found it in the forest or on the steps of the California State Capitol building. The first thing I’d do it take it over to the UC Davis Vet School and say “HEY, take a look at this!”

I would not advise doing the same if you found a Vampire or Werewolf. I’d advise you back away slowly then RUN as fast as you can.

That night I was hanging out with my husband Teddy and Clara. Clara is 18, in college, and still at home until she transfers to a university by the ocean.

The subject of businesses near my husband’s came up, specifically spas.

My husband and child said they thought I should open a spa called V and next door have a spa for house cats called “The Pampered Pussy.” Then they almost laughed until they were practically falling off of their chairs.

What brought this up? There are spas where you can get your Yoni steamed. Yes, steamed. It will cure everything from unhappy crotch syndrome, tension, Scrophularia, and give you an elevated sense of well being among other things.

It is called a V-Steam. V stands for vagina, or Yoni, or cootch, or Vajayjay, but we prefer vagina in Vampire Land.

Why have women started to call their vagina Yoni? Because they’re cute and musical? Maybe. You never know.

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At these spas you sit on a chair that looks like an old fashioned potty seat, spread your legs and get your parts steamed. WTF?

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My husband suggested that someone would be in the background playing a harp. He hates harp music.

I said a saxophone. We all laughed then Clara suggested Kenny G. Then I thought of Yanni. Why not? Steam your Yoni to Yanni.

Holy shit. They have group parties too. Yes, you can get steamed with all of your friends, drink wine, and even paint a pretty picture at the same time.

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Invite all your friends. It will be fun.

Then the subject of the show Naked and Afraid came up. Bugs and bug bites. Say no more. Nobody, not even the most hardened Vampire wants bugs near their Yoni, not even Kenny G.

We tried to avoid politics. It is just so frustrating. However, I was called up to be a poll worker again for the next election. I show up and after my training know more about the voting system than 99% of people who are running for or currently in office.

Aside from my husband who is in a slightly different mindset than most of us I do not with good things upon a lot of people in Washington D.C.

You know who I’m thinking about. Nasty horrible people who lie, cheat, steal, embrace ignorance, celebrate bigotry, and use religion as a tool of hate and control. You know who I’m talking about. Bitter men born before 1976 who act like they were born before 1876. Rat bastards of the worst kind.

We heard rumor that the cast of What We Do In The Shadows might be having a show on FX. I love that movie. It is absolutely adorable. It is as cute as Vlad (Vampire Diary.)

I usually really don’t care for most Vampire movies. They tend to be seriously bad and boring and stupid. But it makes for great drinking games.  BUT there are exceptions. Don’t hate on me. Most Werewolf movies are even worse than Vampire or Ghost movies. I’m sorry Werewolves. We still love you out of the movies (sometimes, don’t let it go to your heads because you’re still assholes.)

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But back to Garrett…

We talked a lot about his girlfriend, and his classes, and how he wishes he had a dog but won’t get one until he is more settled down. He told me about surfing at night. He told me about finding red starfish in a tide pool. He told me about a book he’d read called “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

That is a thought that no parent wants to hear concerning their own child.

We also talked about The East Area Rapist, also known as the Golden State Killer. He was found maybe six miles from my home. Back in the 1970’s he raped women in their homes a few blocks from where I live now. I lived near there at the time. I’m glad they found him. He’ll rot in Hell for sure.

In Northern California we seem to have our share of serial killers. Sometimes it seems like more than our share. Then again I hear of all of the weird deaths in places like rural Nebraska and the swamps of Louisiana. Things are weird. There are horror stories and then there is real life. It is a fine line between the two. Truth is often stranger and more horrific than fiction.

Anyway, Garrett just texted me again and I have to go.

Love your children. Talk to them. And even when they’re grown they’re still your babies. They’ll always be yours. Listen, love, learn, and always be their heart and soul.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman