Where’d you hear I was dead?

I was sitting (and still am) at my dining room table with my laptop and overheard my husband on the phone.

“This is Theodore Kings…yes, it’s me Teddy….well I suppose, but no I’m not dead…I haven’t been dead for a long time. Where’d you hear I was dead?….Really?…I married Juliette…Yes, that Juliette… You and Juliette? My wife? Really. No I didn’t know… I wanted to ask you about…”

From there is was all business. I hadn’t thought about him for years. I hadn’t talked to him for at least eighty years if not longer. We’d spent a year on and off, more on, traveling around Europe and ended up in New England. Then we just sort of drifted apart and pst touch, as Vampires tend to do. I had no idea that Teddy knew him.

Anyway, what was I writing about? Huh.

Oh right, we were looking at vacation spots and thinking of either Iceland or Bermuda. Seriously. But we have to go to New Mexico and school and skate schedules have us booked up.

The cat is on the table next to me purring, then I hear a voice asking, “So are you dead?”

I look up to see The Ghost sitting across from me. Yes, that ghost.

“I’m very much alive,” I tell him.

He smiled that nasty shit eating grin of his, “Sort of like those parasites that go dormant for years on end then come to life when they smell blood.”

“Do you need something Nigel?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Not really.”

Tonight his eyes were almost black under his long lashes. He smiled and started to fade out, then reappeared in the chair next to me. He is so annoying.

“Juliette, my dear, you were never a real person were you?”

“No, I was never a real person. I’m one of the lucky 10% of Vampires born this way.”

“Then how can you be undead? I mean you’re a Vampire so you’re supposed to be undead. But you were born alive as a Vampire, so you didn’t die first did you? That wouldn’t make any sense. Then again, I’m a ghost and that never made any sense to me. I was alive and then I was a ghost. And my body is in a box marked with a stone. People still come by and visit there. I’m hardly ever around when they visit. And here we are talking. Fancy that. So what exactly is undead? Isn’t it weird to be a monster? Do you ever feel like a freak of nature?”

“We’re done talking Nigel.”

“You’re done Juliette. I’m just going to hang out for a while. Go back to what you were doing.”

I tried to ignore him and started to look up stuff, you know research on the book I haven’t finished yet.

“Hey, Juliette, mind if I take your car?”

“You’re a ghost. You can’t drive.”

“Just checking to see if you were listening.”

I reached out and touched where his hand was. My palm rested on the table but it made him smile. “I’m listening. It must be difficult to be real and then not real. Teddy had a Hell of a time adjusting. How are you doing with it Nigel?”

“Alright I guess. I need to get out and haunt more but it gets old after a while. Not quite 30 years and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Just kidding. It’s fucking great.” He almost spat that out with a ghostly snarl. Not as good as a Vampire would snarl it out but almost.

We sat for a while and listened in to Teddy’s phone call. They were talking about diamonds.

Nigel stood up and straightened his cufflinks. “It was fun. I gotta go.”

“Haunting?”

He smiled. “No, hot date.” Then he vanished with a thin bit of blue smoke like an exotic cigarette, but without the smell.

You can’t always define friendship or connections or old loves or old pals. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published January 2015

Creative Spirit

Articles abound about how schools stifle creativity by forcing children to conform to certain ways of thinking and doing things. Fortunately that isn’t always true.

Unfortunately what happens when kids get out of school, either high school, or college is devastating.

Doors are slammed in the faces of those who put themselves out there into the world where all things are subjective. The real world, especially the workplace, is set up to stifle creative thinking, the individual, and anyone with new ideas. Employees are hired for their creativity and drive, then that creative is beaten out of them, only to be replaced with the acceptable mediocracy of the prevailing management.

We’ve all seen how our government works with old men asking fear filled questions about the dangers of social media and other subjects they will not even attempt to understand. They are the same people who cut off funds for our arts and sciences because they do not trust what they do not understand. Unfortunately they do not want to understand – that would mean opening their eyes to new and different ideas. That would mean letting go of ignorance and opening up their minds and maybe even their hearts.

Friends and relatives can be the worst at killing the creative spirit in a child or young adult. They all have loud and negative opinions about hopes and dreams of the young people they know. They say things like, “only communists and socialists get Political Science degrees,” or “you can’t make a living as an artist (or a historian, a marine biologist, a fashion designer, a musician, a bed and breakfast owner, a baker, a vintage motorcycle mechanic, a poet, a writer, an art historian, a speciality crop farmer, or anything else where someone has new ideas, or ideas on making old ideas better.)

Dreams are easy to kill, especially in those who have had doors slammed in their faces  time after time after time. Even if you go around back there isn’t always another door or even a window to crawl into.

Don’t tell a young person that they are a failure before they have even tried.

I feel that individual sports and activities such as music and acting can help prepare a child for the negativity and judgments of adult life.

For example, my daughter roller skates. That is Artistic Roller Skating. It is like figure skating on ice, except on roller skates. When the skaters do their events, be it Figures, Team Dance, Solo Dance, or Freestyle, they are out there on the floor alone. They skate in front of a panel of judges. The skaters have specific requirements, but they are all judged individually on their own merits. That is a tough lesson for kids, and a good one. My daughter skated for years without winning. Finally she did win Gold at the National Championships – Twice. She got Bronze once. She also went to the National Championships and didn’t win. But she went. She went out of love for her sport. She did it because she wanted to do her personal best.

We should all strive to do our personal best even if there is no Gold Medal at the end. Even if there is no cash reward. Even if there is no fame.

Creativity in any endeavor is an act of love. Don’t stifle that love in the young people you know.

I have been writing this odd little blog since 2012. I haven’t received a MacArthur Fellowship. I haven’t received a penny off of my efforts. I has not made me famous (maybe a little bit.) But I continue to write this blog anyway. My thoughts on parenting, Vlad, Eleora and Tellias, Nigel the Ghost, and the rest of it are all stories that must be told. It is mine. I encourage you all to find what is YOURS and hold it close and keep doing whatever it is that makes you happy and creative.

Today the 2019 MacArthur Fellows were announced. Sometime this is know as the MacArthur Genius Grants.

Twenty six people from a variety of fields were awarded a $625,000 stipend that they can do whatever they want with.

From the foundations president John Palfrey: From addressing the consequences of climate change to furthering our understanding of human behavior to fusing forms of artistic expression, this year’s 26 extraordinary MacArthur Fellows demonstrate the power of individual creativity to reframe old problems, spur reflection, create new knowledge, and better the world for everyone. They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.”

They give us reason for hope, and they inspire us all to follow our own creative instincts.

I was so happy to see one of my favorite artist Lynda Barry on the list. I love her work so much.  Lynda Barry, 63, graphic novelist, cartoonist and educator
“Inspiring creative engagement through original graphic works and a teaching practice centered on the role of image making in communication.”

For years I had her Poodle With A Mohawk poster on my wall. I still have the poster. I’m going to put it back up.

f5f83042023f2db5eb423a8f7f303be9

Congratulations to all of the recipients and to your creative spirit, and thank you for inspiring generations now and in the future.

So now, your assignment for today is:

  1. Encourage.
  2. Inspire.
  3. Support.
  4. Discuss.
  5. Hug.
  6. Read.
  7. Learn.
  8. Love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Burning Question #55: Cleaning House

A while back I decided to post 50 Burning Questions. When that ended I couldn’t figure out what to do next. I tried Cat-ur-day posts. That was fun. Everybody likes cats. I also tried a few other random things. Unfortunately nothing stuck with me. Nothing seemed right, or fun, or funny. Then my dear readers started telling me that they missed the intellectual challenges and brain acrobatics of a new Burning Question each Saturday.

Welcome to An Infinite Amount of Burning Questions.

Well, this kind of sucks… really… keep reading.

My neighbors run their leaf blowers so much that I thought about turning on my shop vac next time I leave the house and just letting it run for the noise. My husband suggested I also run a leaf blower, a chain saw, and a belt sander. Just put them on the deck and turn them on – for hours and hours and hours.

It is Saturday and I’ll be out sweeping (what a novel idea) up leaves, and all of the bark in my yard the deer and turkeys have spread all over the place. Mind you, this is landscaping bark that I put down around plants to make my lawnless front yard look nice. The turkeys have a field day digging in it and throwing it around like so many frat boy topless girl pillow fight fantasy sequences.

Inside the house is another story. About a year ago I got a new vacuum cleaner. It was supposed to be made especially for animal fur. I think it was made for hairless cats, not my  constantly shedding dog and cats. I have to vacuum a minimum every other day to keep it under control, and even then it isn’t quite enough. And don’t tell me that YOU vacuum every single day. I know you don’t. If you do there is something wrong with you.

By the way, my 87 pound German Shepard is deathly afraid of vacuum cleaners. Whenever she sees anyone even move our vacuum cleaner she hides. So much for having a large dog to protect our home. I think the noise hurts her ears – kind of like leaf blowers hurt my soul.

Burning Question #55: If a vacuum cleaner really sucks, is that good?

By the way, I always wear heels when I vacuum (said no woman EVER.)

I’ll be happier with a gin and tonic, sweat pants, and no shoes.

I’ll see you next Saturday for another BURNING QUESTION.

Leave a comment, or a question, or just say hello in the comment section below.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Screen Shots

Back when my daughter (who turns 20 next month) was in Middle School she would change the screen image on my phone every chance she got. I’d have a lovely photo of one of my cats or something else nice and calming.

Then I’d pick up my phone and see a photo of a HUGE naked man. I’m talking 500+ pounds in a birthday suit.

This went on for about a month.

Fast forward.

Now she sends my best buddy Amelia (the famous Las Vegas Vampire) snap chat photos of me as a man.

Amelia, due to beautiful blue eyes, high cheek bones and general nice bones looks like Fabio or some other gorgeous male model when she gets the male filter.

I, on the other hand, look like the scruffy guy always asks if there is any beer left and goes out in pubic in pajama pants and a tee shirt that isn’t quite long enough to cover his belly. Thank you SnapChat filters.

That’s all. I’m on vacation with spotty Internet access, but just wanted to share this delightful little parenting story.

I love my child. I’m glad she has a sense of humor. I love my friend. I’m glad she has a sense of humor.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Burning Question #51: What makes you scream?

2429

Right now I really don’t have time to create cute little sketches (just stupid, messy, lame ones that nobody wants to see) for Saturday, so this week I have another BURNING QUESTION for you.

Yes, the Burning Questions are BACK.

In movies people scream a lot. It just seems weird to me. So being the scientific kind of Vampire I am, I thought I’d take a scientific poll. You may select as many answers as apply.

Burning Question #51: Would you scream if…

Feel free to add your special and personal answer to the comments section below. Are you a screamer? Does everything scare you? Does nothing scare you? Do you scream when you’re happy? Does this make any sense at all? Or do you have something else you want to share with the world. Share it here. Tell a joke. Ask a question. Make a comment.

Have fun. By the way, I am NOT a screamer. Not even when, you know…

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman