What We’re Talking About Today (with my kids)

I started writing this post a week ago while I was visiting my kids in Southern California. OK, just the title.

Since then, a long standing and troubling subject of these talks has resurfaced – shootings. Be it a grocery store or a school it seems that shootings are somehow normal. That is, at least a segment of our population who values clumps of cells in a woman’s body, and guns, over the lives of living breathing people – especially living breathing children. They use the term “founding fathers” to justify owning assault weapons that are made for killing humans (not animals for food.) The founding fathers would be horrified if they know their words and intent were used to justify parading around guns like fools and brushing off mass killings of innocent people.

Grocery store home deliveries will last much longer than the current pandemic because people will live in fear of being killed for the simple act of grocery shopping. They’ll fear going out for a massage because some asshole said he had issues with his own perverted sexual hang-ups brought on by religion, bigotry, and his own sick and twisted selfishness. The school shootings will start up again because young men will have access to guns in the homes of their family members, or guns they easily purchase when they turn eighteen.

My daughter was born in 1999 the year of the Columbine killings. It should have stopped then and there. It should have stopped. There is NO REASON this should be happening.

There are patterns. A few diverge but there are patterns. The patterns are ignored. The shootings continue.

With the advent of Covid-19 and various other changes in my life I’m not writing as many blog posts because I’ve sort of lost my sense of humor.

It also had to do with the suffocating political environment we were all living in.

On a good note, since this is a parenting blog of sorts, my daughter has been accepted into the Masters program at a major Southern California University for a double Masters in Public Policy and Urban Planning. I am over the moon happy that this funny, happy, positive kid has worked her ass off and worked smart to get where she wants to be.

Of course I’m freely joking that my daughter got in and I’m not going to jail for it.

Cheating in anything is bad. Cheating at parenting is absolutely the worst. If you cheat to get your child into a school you don’t only set them up for failure but you also take a place from a child who deserves it. Of course if you cheat to get your kid to the front of the line you aren’t the kind of person who gives a shit about kids who aren’t yours.

My husband got the dog a new bed and the cat sleeps on it. The Internet if full of photos of cats sleeping on the dog bed while the huge dog sleeps on the floor next to it.

While I was in Southern California my kids and I walked along the beach and talked about everything under the sun and moon. We talked about movies, books, my daughter’s school, my son’s work, the environment, how huge cargo ships are, gardening, and dogs.

I always tell my readers to talk with their kids. Now that they’re grown we are still talking.

Museums are opening back up.

Restaurants are opening back up.

Maybe even movie theaters will start opening.

Werewolves and Ghosts have done alright, but believe me, it will be a lot easier for Vampires right now.

What is left in my coffee cup from a few minutes ago is getting cold, so I’ll stop my ramblings soon.

I miss those days of driving to school in the car with my kids and talking about whatever was on the radio or on their minds. I feel like those talks helped make them the successful young adults they are today. At least it got them thinking about the big picture – the world outside of their own small circle of family, friends, and school.

Stay safe. Keep wearing your masks. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. Talk to your kids. Hug your dog, especially if a cat has taken it’s bed. Check in on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help. And kiss a Vampire – you’ll thank me for it later.

I’ll be back soon – hopefully with something fun.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Howling Wind

Tonight the wind is howling and blowing like a hurricane. Unfortunately it gave me a Scorpions ear worm.

This afternoon while I was taking out the garbage (tomorrow is garbage day) a ladder almost fell on me. I’m fine. My garbage can is fine despite a huge ladder falling on it.

I worry about the birds out there from eagles and hawks, down to the tiny little humming birds. I worry about the squirrels in the trees. The squirrels have been jumping all over the house trying to get up into the attic, Nooooooooo, They’re cute but not in my walls.

It seems like a night for demons to come out but even they’re staying in bundled up in thick plaid shirts and keeping their tails underneath fuzzy throw blankets. OK, not all of the demons. Just the ones who don’t like their jobs and are looking for something else to do. One no longer has to be defined by the family they were born into.

The howling sound of the wind is what makes it seem like a living breathing demonic thing outside of my windows. In the morning I’ll check for downed branches. The streets will be littered with twigs, leaves, branches, and maybe even bits and pieces of roofs, witches, and stuff from blown over garbage, green waste, and recycle cans. I mention witches because, well, sometimes they fly. I don’t like them or deal with them, or even mention them much, but I’d hate to see what this wind might do to them. You know how it is when you become a parent – you start to worry about everyone.

My kids are in Southern California, about 425 miles south of here. They have to deal with the Santa Ana winds. Thank goodness it is not fire season right now. The fields are green and a little muddy. I hope it lasts for a while. In fact I bet the wind hasn’t even bothered the frogs in the seasonal creeks and ponds in my neighborhood.

So before the Internet goes out again I need to say a few words. Stay safe. Stay warm. Wear a mask. Be kind. Talk to your kids. Keep your dogs and cats inside at night. Don’t be a dick. Check in on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help. And of course, no matter what the weather brings, kiss a Vampire. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Captain Asshole & The Character of a Cat

Due to a ongoing change in attitude my cat has taken on the title Captain Asshole.

Since March 2020 I’ve more or less been home. Yes, the world has changed for all of us. This means the world has changed for cats. It used to be that they, and by they I mean cats, used to spend a lot of time alone. Now that I’m around more my cat Oscar expects a lot more of me, and he is, well, basically an asshole.

Oscar goes by many names. Baby Boy. Boo Boo Kitty. Idiot Boy. Sweetie Pie. Captain Asshole.

There is also another asshole named Gloria the Calico Cat aka Itty Bitty Kitty. She is the reason why I can’t have nice things. Every bit of furniture in my house has to be covered or she’ll claw it up. We heard getting another cat would help. She’d have a buddy after her beloved Angus the Manx went over the Rainbow Bridge. We got her a buddy ten years ago and she still hates him. But this isn’t about her.

Oscar has always been a talker. Recently he talks non-stop about just about everything that pops into his head. He has also become extremely demanding. Come up stairs. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to come in. I want to go out. I want to go in. Give me treats. Give me treats NOW. Are you asleep? Are you asleep? I need to wake you up. I need to sing you the songs of my people.

A few weeks ago we got new hardwood floors in the downstairs of our home. That meant ripping up old carpet that smelled like every dog and cat that ever lived in our house. It also means that Oscar now has permission to take over the downstairs, previously the territory of Gloria, as his own.

Hardwood also means that Oscar and Alice the 90 pound German Shepard are playing slip and slide all over the place.

Oscar has also taken over the red couch, once the domain of Gloria and only Gloria, and he has taken over Alice’s dog bed.

By the way, when we were painting the walls Oscar peed on the drop cloths, the dog bed, and the dining room table. He might go a year without doing something like that. He won’t tell me why he does it. Maybe he is marking his territory, but maybe he is just being an asshole.

Sometimes I wonder if I should build Oscar his own fort.

I’m not really complaining. I love my pets. I adore them. They’re destructive and fill my house with fur but I can live with that.

A cat might be angry. A cat might be an asshole. What a cat will not be is someone who engulfs themselves in a contrived veil of negativity. A cat might lie to you, but you will always get an honest opinion from a cat.

Despite their contempt for each other Oscar and Gloria often hand out together on the front porch as they defend their property from other cats, and the unseen forces of the universe. They greet guests together with a shower of unabashed cuteness. Sometimes, shock of all shocks, they’ll even share a meal together.

Today it is raining so the cats have been inside all day. One habitually misses the litter box. The other is thinking about scratching up more furniture. Right now they’re both sleeping. Without children in the house I have my cats, and one solo dog who are missing the attention, even though they get more attention now than they ever did.

Stay safe.

Wear a mask.

Be kind.

Hug a cat (if it will let you)

And of course, kiss a Vampire. You’ll thank me for it later.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Special Kind of Magic – Parenting in the Pandemic – Empty Nest Version

When I started writing this blog in 2012 one of my kids was in high school, and the other was in middle school. This was more or less a middle school parenting blog. Then the rest of my family crept into it. The old folks, my brothers, and even my parents. Then friends started to slip in through the cracks. No matter what parenting was always at the core of it all.

On of my kids finished up graduate school at the beginning of the pandemic. Now in the middle of the pandemic my daughter sent in her graduate school applications today. I read some of the letters of recommendation from several esteemed professors and people in her field. I was blown over.

This is the child I took to Black Veil Brides concerts. This is the girl who shocked the horrible middle school PE Bitch teacher with her stylish outfits that DID NOT break the dress code rules. This is the kid who struggled with algebra and ended up taking a series of upper division statistics and economics classes at a top university and getting almost all A’s. Yes, this is the kid who never got below a B in college. This is the kid who inspired me to write about glitter, glue slugs, and Emo music, and growing pains.

These are the kids had tough conversations with about school shootings, and death, and losing, and caring, and unconditional love, and failure, and reputation, and about being an asshole.

My daughter hasn’t been in a classroom since last March. She’ll graduate and never meet most of her upper division professors or classmates in person. She has asked for and received letters of recommendation from professors, and a boss she has never met in person. She has impressed others with her presentations and discussion points but never in person.

Both of my young adults would love to live life in person. Wouldn’t we all. Sure we go to the post office, and the grocery store, but not to schools, or museums, or coffee houses with friends. I guess we could sit outside the coffee houses, sometimes, if there is seating and not too many people are there.

My dog misses the days we’d spend outside at the local coffee house. At our usual table I’d write or read. My giant do would stretch out over the walk way and thump her tail at anyone walking by. I’d have water and treats for her. I’d pretend she was as smart and well behaved as she looks.

Now Garrett, who is 24 is living in the Hollywood Hills, housesitting until the middle of next year, working from home, and working on starting his own business with his best buddy Randy. Neither one of them has a girlfriend right now which is weird but a nice break for Randy’s mom and me. We’ve seen a lot of broken hearts with our sons. I’ve found a lot of love letters in the laundry.

Clara and her boyfriend (both 21) will be getting their own place in January. They’re both seniors in college, but will never set foot in an undergraduate classroom as students again. Their roommates are getting weird. Everyone is getting weird. They’ll save money and time. It just makes sense. Yes, if you’d told me this would be what we’re talking about today in 2012 I would have said NO WAY.

I’m serious about parenting but I’m pretty chill too. It isn’t just a Vampire thing. It is a parenting thing. Seriously, you have to be chill. You have to listen. You have to change with the times as a parent. As parents we are leading the way and we can’t do it blindly using rules from the 1970’s.

My kids are stressed. I’m chill on the outside but going nuts inside.

Clara, her boyfriend of four years, and his orange kitten all came up this week. It was a surprise. It was a 450 mile drive. They’ll go back on Thursday and return before Christmas. They just needed a quiet safe place to finish their finals and graduate school applications. Their homes didn’t provide that right now. Maybe two years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem but right now it is. I just want them to be able to finish school without any additional stress.

Yesterday Clara and I went out. I had on a red jacket and a red mask with a cat print on it. She wore a black sweater with a black mask with a cat print on it. That wasn’t planned. We just do that – always dressing almost the same or in the same colors. It has been going on since before middle school. It just happens. It is a special kind of mother/daughter magic.

So yes, I write about Vampires, but it is really all about my kids and everyone else I love.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind. Hug your dogs and cats. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or those who are alone. And of course, if you get a chance, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Vampire Muses About Natural Disasters, 2020, Halloween, and New Discoveries. YES there is fun to be had in 2020.

What we’re talking about today.

I just found out about a tsunami warning issued following 7.5 magnitude earthquake off Alaska Peninsula today.

Along with living in fire country, I also live in earthquake country. I’m not so close that if the Big One hits San Francisco or Los Angeles I’ll be in any danger. If a big one hits San Francisco I will be able to feel it.

The tsunami warning signs at the coast are lovely graphics but they are a reminder that it can, and will, happen again. We don’t know when or exactly when but it will.

Almost everyone around where I live has a story about either the 1906 or 1986 San Francisco earthquakes, or ones in Northridge, San Fernando, and Long Beach, or Humboldt and Santa Cruz Counties.

Which brings us back to everything else in 2020…

Weird stuff always happens to me so I’m doing ok during all of the current weirdness. October usually brings it on for me with general death and distruction, but any month works for stupid shit and unusual nobody wants to deal with.

On the other hand October is usually the best month of the year. First of all it cools off. It isn’t cooling off this year. But hey, my kids are coming up to visit. Woo Hoo.

I don’t know if the leaves will even change this year or just stay green and everything will evolve into evergreens. At least the migrating birds are migrating and sticking to schedule.

Fire season isn’t over yet. I watch the skies and the dry grass and trees hoping that nothing around me, or anyone else will catch fire. We’re tired of fires. We’re tired of the BS that surrounds them with the lack of fire cruse or aid for those in the way of fires, and PG&E bull shit. Why the hell are all of the power lines still above ground? It know it is expensive to bury them but isn’t it more expensive to have the entire Western United States burn down every single summer and fall?

Alice my dog and I go on long hot dry walks. We’d like it to cool down.

There are two weeks left until the election. I don’t suspect that all of the political weirdness will end because no matter what the results there will be… let’s just hope whatever the reaction is to the outcome that it doesn’t rival a Stephen King novel.

I’m still not sure if I’ll carve the pumpkins on my front porch. If I do I might as well pull out my magic witch hat and dress up the dog. The kids will be here for Halloween too so no matter what it will be fun. Vampires always find ways to have fun.

What else is new.

My daughter sent me this video. I laughed and almost cried.

I also discovered Owlkitty this week. I love Owlkitty.

The Crocker Art Museum will now be open four days a week. I am so jazzed. I’ve made reservations for my birthday.

I’m just thinking out loud. What are you thinking about and talking about?

No matter what wear a mask, stay safe, talk to your kids, hug your cats and dogs or whatever critters you call family, don’t be a dick, be kind, and as always kiss a Vampire. xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

For the first eighteen years parenting is all consuming. Even if you’re not one of those helicopter parents, your job as a parent 24/7.

Then it happens. All your hard work pays off. You’ve raised responsible, well balanced, and lovely young adults.

Now what?

I’m still active but not hovering.

I’m still giving out advice.

I’m trying to be positive.

I’m still teaching them.

And I’m still learning from them.

An old friend recently asked me if I’d talked to my kids about drugs, sex, and other adult trouble. Of course. I started young on those talks. There is no reason to be shy about it. Would you be shy about the dangers of fire or picking up rattle snakes? Of course not, so there is no need to be shy about other potentially dangerous activities.

Excuse me… something just hit the window. I thought it was a bird, then I saw a ghost standing in my backyard flipping me off.

I hate ghosts.

But does he stay outside? No of course not. With a slight hint of sulphur and lavender he materialized next to me, then pulled up a chair and sat. He wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, with black 80’s Bon Jovi hair. He was as every bit good looking, maybe even more than Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t want him in my breakfast nook.

“What are you doing here Nigel? Ghosts haunt people at night, not mid-morning,” I said to him.

“You’re a Vampire so it is only fitting that I haunt you during the day. What bug crawled up your cold ass,” he said without even a hint of a smile.

I tried to ignore him. He flipped my computer around.

“Stop it,” I said pulling it back.

“So how are you doing in this heat wave? Has your body temperature reached 70 yet?”

“Go away.”

“No. I want to talk about your Vampire spawn. They’re all grown up. What are you doing? Getting all empty nest weepy?”

“Shut up Nigel. You never had kids.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do.”

He sat for a few seconds and pouted, then he stood up and walked around for a bit, then came back to me.

“I was young once. I even died young,” said Nigel The Ghost. “My 40th high school reunion is in a few weeks. I’ve been checking in on the reunion meetings. My middle-aged classmates have no idea I’m there but I am. I didn’t even make it to my ten-year reunion. Holy shit. The thing is, Juliette, is that I’ll be young forever, or at least I’ll appear young, when I choose to appear. The only photographs of me are when I was young. But I come by my eternal youth honestly. I died young. You on the other hand are young because of your parasitic nature as a Vampire. Ever think is that? You have no right to talk shit about ghosts when you suck blood out of living people in order to have eternal youth. How fucked up is that?”

“You can go now,” I said, tired of his insults.

“And now you’re all bent out of shape because your kids are leaving the crypt, and you can’t write about their perfect childhood, or your perfect child rearing advice, or your cold little perfect life, or whatever you call it. Are you alive?”

“Nigel,” I said to the ghost in a calm voice. “Don’t ever say I live in a crypt again. And get the fuck out of my house.”

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry,” he said with a mean-spirited grin. “I can imagine you with blood dripping down your chin.”

He knows I never have blood dripping down my chin.

With a flip of his glossy black hair, Nigel started to talk again. He never shuts up. “They were talking about me last night. It made me sad, and angry. You know I was murdered, and I have no idea who killed me. It could have been someone in that room. But it was taken away from me. I could have had a wife and kids. I could have… I could have had gray hair, I could have had a wedding, I could have had a dad bod, I could have sat around with my friends and talked about the good times we had, and people we lost, but they were talking about me and I couldn’t say anything because I’m dead, sure my art is still around but man, it just kills me, and I’m dead, and I will always be dead…and it just sucks. You, maybe not YOU, because you were born the dead way you are, but most Vampires have the choice to be dead. I didn’t have that choice.”

“Could they have seen you if you wanted them to?”

“No. That is the frustrating part. A few could feel a cold breath of air, or a lost memory.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything.”

Then he put his hand over mine. All I felt was an icy chill. Then he looked into my eyes, and in a wisp of blew smoke he vanished.

I always want to ask Nigel if he was that big of an asshole when he was alive but I never do. I have a feeling he wasn’t. Being a ghost can do that to a person.

A lot of kids are lucky enough to go through childhood without any loss, tragedy, or well, without any bad things happening. Once they turn into adults all bets are off. It seems to start with car accidents, then illness, other accidents, suicide, and even murder. Wrong roads are taken. Bad decisions are made. Bad relationships last too long. Then again, if we all look back we’ll find the good stuff is there. Sometimes it gets hidden, but it is there.   I’m not getting all Sunday School on you. The good stuff is there, even if it is the memory of laughing with old friends, a walk in the cool fall air, or finishing up the best book you ever read.

My kids are out of the crypt. Unfortunately for ghosts they never get out. Don’t be a ghost until you’re dead. Think about it. You couldn’t give better advice to your young adults.

That’s all.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: This was first posted in August 2017. I’m having computer issues so anything new is extremely difficult now. Wash you hands, wear a mask, hug your cat, talk to your kids, and stay out of trouble.

Vampire Maman