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.

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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?

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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

 

Delivered To Your Door

Delivered to your door…

I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.

Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.

I was busy on my deck and getting nothing done, as usual, when I heard my son’s voice.

“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.

My brother Valentine, thirteen months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.

I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.

I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”

“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.

“No. What is going on?”

My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”

I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”

Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.

Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.

They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.

Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.

“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.

“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.

I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.

“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.

“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.

“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.

“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.

“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.

“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.

“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.

“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”

Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”

Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”

“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”

“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.

“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.

Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”

“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.

Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”

“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.

I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.

“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.

They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.

In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.

Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.

I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”

“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”

I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.

In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.

Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”

Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”

We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.

Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”

“I just worry about you two,” I told him.

“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”

“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.

Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”

I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…

“Mom?”

I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.

I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

“Delivered To Your Door” was first posted here in March 2014. The kids are in college and the elderly Vampires are still sending out for delivery, much to my chagrin.