Always the Romantic…

A few days ago my 22 year old son Garrett called me. I know, I don’t write much about him now that he is off on his on in graduate school and working and doing grown-up stuff.

As a teen he wrote love letters which I’d find folded up in the dryer. Tiny little squares would fold out to a full sheet of legal paper written with a find point Sharpie. I’d fold them up and stick them back in his pocket, then call him to come fold his clothes.

I was never the kind of parent who would search their children’s rooms or go through their stuff, but a verses of love found among the dryer sheets is fair game.

This is the kid who broke his harm when he turned at the top of some stairs at the high school to blow a kiss at a girl and then tumbled head over heels down to the bottom.

My son isn’t a player, but he is always a charmer and a flirt. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. And now that he is older he doesn’t seem to allow his heart to be broken every three months or so.

So a few days ago Garrett called me. We talk almost every day but this conversation sort of stuck with me.

He’d met a girl. He liked her a lot. It wasn’t serious but she was fun to hang out with. Then she started asking him all kinds of questions about Vampires and paranormal things. Most of it was just silly popular culture type of stuff.

Then one evening she asked him why his diet was so limited. Then she asked him why his skin was cool. She nagged him about his sensitivity to the sun. Then finally she asked him if he was a Vampire.

“Mom,” he said, “the only reason she wanted to be with me is because she heard from someone that I was a Vampire.”

“What did you tell her?” I asked.

“I told her she was fucking crazy, excuse the language, and told her there were no such thing as Vampires.”

“How’d she react?”

“She called me an asshole and a freak and left.”

“So she wasn’t taken in by your good looks and charm?”

“No. But she should have been.” Then he laughed a little.

I have to admit my son is charming and good looking. Then again, most guys his age are, or at least they need to be told that every once in a while, even if the person telling them that is their mom.

“Garrett, do you ever tell anyone that you’re a Vampire?”

“No Mom. Absolutely not. If they already know, then they know. But not regular people. No way.”

“Good.”

My kids are still young at 19 and 22. They haven’t achieved enough in life to have people wanting to be around them for their fame, fortune, or some other unknown status. Actually that isn’t true. People do like to be around them, but it is because they’re just nice kids. That and the fact they have cool parents (just kidding but kind of not.)

I’m glad my kids can and do talk to me about anything and everything. I will always answer my phone, my texts, and keep my heart ready for them.

February is almost here. It is that time of the year when the traffic on this blog gets clogged with people looking for love letters, advice, and answers to those mysterious matters of the heart.

In the meantime, no matter how old your kids are, they still need their mom and dad. So keep listening. Keep talking. Keep loving. And yes, keep laughing – preferably with them and not at them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

White Noise

I missed Short Story Sunday yesterday. I used to write a story each Sunday while I was at my daughter’s skating practice. Maybe it was the white noise of the organ music that allowed me to block out everything except my child and my writing.

Needless to say, I was not at skate practice yesterday since my daughter is in Southern California with her boyfriend this week. I rarely go to Sunday skate practices because she has her own car now. Next year she’ll be in Southern California full time as a college student.

This is part of the whole Empty Nest discussion. Our routine is so keyed into our children that when they grow up we have to find new white noise. Seriously folks, putting our children in sports is just an excuse to have quiet time to read or work on writing during their practice time, or travel to interesting places during their competitions. None of the parenting books will tell you that.

Sunday is now filled with other activities including that man I seldom speak of – my husband. He’s great. We do things together. We even dressed up for a party this weekend. Good times.

Today I’m taking about twenty minutes to finally get out that missed story. I’m not sure where this will lead us but here we go…

White Noise

The radio was on but Elise wasn’t really listening. It was just white noise. When it got to quiet she’d have to listen to her own thoughts and question her actions. If the radio was on she’d feel more connected and it made work more productive.

Today she wished she could have taken the day off to paint but she wasn’t too unhappy. The unsolved crime blog was waiting.

Sixteen years ago her husband had been murdered. Even though he was a police detective his killer was never found. She’d cashed in the insurance policy, sold the house, packed up her three small children, and moved to a coastal city where she fixed up her Aunt Blinkey’s ramshackle beach house. There she taught economics and political science at the high school. Eventually the true crime community contacted her, and she shared her own research and theories into her husband’s death. Soon her grief became the passion of others. She was glad to hand it off. She was glad to help others. Research had always come easy to her.

Today she wrote about murder, with coffee and the radio.

Sometimes she just wanted to be. Not alone, but not really with anyone. She’d smile as her sons talked with their uncles about sports, and yelled at the TV when the score or a call wasn’t to their liking. She wasn’t listening to anything they said. It was just background noise as she painted, or wrote letters of recommendation to former students.

So she wrote about murder while listening to the radio and the rain pouring down on her roof and yard. The storm was so loud couldn’t even hear the waves coming into the nearby beach.

Today’s murder happened three years ago when a couple of twelve year old boys rode out on their bicycles one summer day. They told their parents they were going to the park. Instead they went another two miles down to the river. There they found the body of a young woman face up on the rocks, her arms and legs spread like someone making a snow angel. Her clothing was torn and mostly missing. Her throat was tied with a rope.

As a mother her heart broke for the boys and their parents. A few days later they found out the young woman was a kindergarten teacher who’d walked a few blocks the night before to visit a friend. Nobody even knew she was missing when the boys found her. Her killer was never found.

Elise had gathered clues from the readers of her blog. Someone had seen a woman wearing the teacher’s hand knit red sweater. Someone else had seen her with a tall blonde man. Someone else said it was her high school boyfriend who had kept a bulletin board covered in her photos. Elise was searching her email when she heard a knock on the door.

Standing at her door was her friend Bryan.

“You should have just come in,” she said.

“It was locked,” he answered.

“Where’s your key?”

“Home,” he said, then kissed her lightly and came inside.

She’d known Bryan for ten years. They’d met when their children were going to school together. Their daughter’s had become best friends forever and even gone to college together. He been a good male role model and a friend to her sons. And eight years ago Elise started being more than friends to Bryan.

He was never a boyfriend. They just spent time in bed together, or on the couch, or in the shower. They never told anyone, but eventually everyone figured it out, including their children.

Over the years they’d both dated other people, then ended up back together, or just cheated on the people they were dating. They never considered it cheating, especially when the other relationships weren’t serious. Nothing every got serious for Elise. It did once for Bryan, and Elise accepted it. But she was glad when it wasn’t serious anymore.

Elise turned off the radio and led Bryan to her bedroom. They spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying each other’s company as only two middle aged old friends can. He still dazzled her with his smile, and the way he moved, and the way he laughed, and of course the way he touched her.

As they lay in bed listening to the rain, he fell asleep with his head on her shoulder, his arms around her. Elise closed her eyes and thought about how she loved her time with him. He never told her that he loved her, but she knew he was tied to her with a bond he couldn’t find words for. She always loved him but she’d never tell him. He never wanted that, or at least he’d told her that years ago. Eventually she just didn’t think about it.

Listening to his quiet breathing she stroked his hair and though about her feelings for Bryan.  White noise. White noise.

~ end

 

Have a good week everyone. I’ll have more thoughts later this week. And don’t forget to stop by on Saturday for the 45th Burning Question.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Let them fly

In the past I frequently blogged about teaching your children to be independent because one day they’d be like little birds and fly.

I discovered that my children are not like little birds. They’re like hawks and eagles. They’re raptors.

They are fierce and strong with the majesty of those who soar the sky, taking ownership of all they see.

On the other hand they’re like otters. They always make me laugh.

They’re like dogs who are always loyal, brave, and always there with a kiss.

Like cats they can keep a secret. And like cats they don’t put up with bullshit.

So they fly like the great birds of the sky but they know they always have a place to come home to. No matter where I am it will always be home. My nest will always be warm and safe.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

red shoulder hawk

The red shoulder hawk who lives behind my house.

Musings on Middle School, Empty Nests, Change, and Cryptozoologists

I used to write horror… I mean posts about Middle School. That seems like a long time ago. The mornings with angry mom’s before their coffee kicked in trying to get their kids out of the mini van door without death or dismemberment. There were those with hormonal rages and anger issues – and that was just the parents. The kids were going through puberty too.

After that we all blew through high school with little or no angst. Yes, parents of wee ones, don’t listen to the people who say in their best witches voices, “Just you wait until that child is in high school. You’ll hate them. They’ll hate you. They’ll be sexed up druggies and there is nothing you can do about it.” Seriously, I kid you not, people say things like that to pregnant women and women with babies. Ignore that shit storm of negativity. Ignore it. Don’t eat that poison apple. Don’t be around people like that.

Last week we were in Orange County taking yet another college tour I believe the child have found a home at UCI  (Zot! Zot! Zot!) aka University of California Irvine.

So in a year I will be living in a home without children. They will always been near. We will text. We will talk. We will send funny things over social media. They will call me and come home for holidays and just because. And I will visit them. You’ve read the blog. You know we’re close.

Aside from a childless house, I’m sure you already know, I’m going through other transitions. Major career changes have turned things in a different direction for me and it is perfect timing. So I’m kind of like an octopus with all of my arms going in different directions.

Oh, I have a joke. I made this one up. What do you call a cat who lives underwater? A quadrapuss. 

Now that I’m doing a do over I’ve made a list of ten things I need to do.

Empty Nest Transition List

  1. Change my job title on LinkedIn to Cryptozoologist.
  2. Paint with wild abandon. Note: I didn’t say whether this is my walls or art. This is a burning question and the answer is BOTH.
  3. Start a Vampire blog. Continue blogging about parenting and Vampires and everything else. I really should start a Werewolf blog or maybe help Nigel start his own blog. Yes, Nigel the Ghost. Or maybe not. 
  4. Learn advanced plumbing.
  5. Landscape my back yard.
  6. Make Vlad’s Vampire Diary into a Major Motion Picture.
  7. Win an Oscar.
  8. Write.
  9. Seek out strange new worlds.
  10. Finish. Anything. Just finish. FINISH.

What is on your list? Oh come on, we can be cryptozoologists together. It will be fun, especially if you become a Vampire too (or if you’re already one.)

My brain is empty. I’ll see you next time for Burning Question #23.

xoxox

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Unknown

Vlad and Gillian Make a Movie

And while we’re here… Can you believe the guys in Journey really dressed like this. Cryptozoology.

journey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories, Parenting, Shared Stories, and Growing Up

My daughter turned nineteen yesterday. That now means I’m officially a parent of those who are exclusively adults.

With the kids in my life getting older it beings back a flood of memories from the time I was a little bit older than two years, to my childhood, and somewhat embarrassing and adventure filled young adulthood.

I hope that all adults, especially those with children, and I mean children of any age, can remember way back when. I don’t mean like those memes you see on Facebook that say “When I was a kid we jumped off of cliffs, played with guns and live hand grenades, went swimming in snake infested rivers, stayed out until dark, exclusively dined on fried food and sugar, and put our hands into garbage disposals, used chain saws unattended, and we’re still alive. Kids these days are spoiled assholes.”

Having children brings up random memories. Sometimes these are fearful. Sometimes they bring a sigh of relief because your child is not doing the same thing as you did. Sometimes they are happy, or bittersweet because of a time you loved that will never be again.

Yesterday I thought about how I waited on the front porch of our house with my mother and my brother Valentine as we watched my three older brothers walking off to school. They were fourteen, thirteen, and nine. Val was almost five. I was almost four. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to go to school. Val was silent on the issue. He’d already started to read on his own and had no plans on going to school. Not ever. He never told my parents so he missed his opportunity to be an exclusive self learner. I didn’t learn to read until I was six and didn’t master it until I was about eight.

I thought about how much I like my daughter’s boyfriend, and my son’s girlfriend.

And the most random memory came into my head. I dated a guy named Orin once who was nice. He had a dog who was nice and a nice sense of humor. His home was nice. What wasn’t so nice was the fact that his sister lived with him. Gertrude seemed nice at first despite the fact that she was loud and exceptionally out spoken. But then it got weird.

Wherever I went with Orin Gertrude would be there. When Gertrude would talk Orin would stop whatever he was doing and give her a dreamy look. Gertrude was the expert in everything and he would defer to her on everything. She monopolized every conversation. Eventually everything we did was what Orin and Gertrude wanted to do. In fact that only reason I think I was around was because Orin didn’t want to have sex with his sister. She already had dibs on all of the other girlfriend functions. It was like dating married man who brought his wife along, only weirder. So the last time I saw him I invited him for cocktails. I said we could do something afterwords. A few nights before I told him that I was bothered that Gertrude, or Gertrude and her boyfriend were always along. I wanted some time with just him. He brought Gertrude along. As we sipped our drinks Gertrude talked and Owen gave her dreamy looks and said nothing out of his goofy love stuck smile. I left after I was finished with my drink and never saw him again.

I’ve told that story to my kids. They think it is exceptionally creepy. Siblings are great. Just not like Owen and Gertrude.

This morning my daughter Clara and her boyfriend left for a camping trip on the north coast. I thought of a camping trip long ago with my friend Amelia.

I was living in Sacramento. Amelia was living in Las Vegas. So we met half way in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, where the highest mountains in the lower 48 are. We were at Devil’s Post Pile, an amazing geological formation. As we set up our tents I heard seals. This was great. Last time I went camping on the beach we heard seals too.

I said to Amelia, “Do you hear the seals?”

She said, “Those are mules.”

Then I remembered we were three hundred miles from the ocean, and in the mountains.

I’ll attribute my memory fade to a four-hour drive in my sports car with the top down. Brain bake. Or maybe it was just me, because sometimes I’m like that.

Amelia is still in Las Vegas being fabulous. I’m still living near Sacramento.

Amelia and I are still having adventures. I heard the seals, aka mules, years before I ever had children. Now Amelia and I have grown daughters. I think our hearing is a lot better now. Parenthood will do that to you.

By the way, I haven’t heard seals in the mountains since then.

I was also with Amelia on my 19th birthday one hundred and forty years ago, but I won’t tell that story today.

In both storytelling and parenting use what you know. Use the truths from you experiences to teach your children. Entertain them with your stupid stories so maybe their stupid stories won’t be so stupid.

We all connect through our stories. Our stories make us who we are. They are something we can share at no cost, except maybe a little embarrassment.

I love to listen to stories and memories others have to share. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting around a campfire, strolling through a museum, or hanging out at home. What matters is that we listen with open minds, open hearts, and a sense of humor. And add in some love.

Yes, even Vampires, despite the misinformation out there about us, know about love. We know a lot about love – and stories. So be like a Vampire and tell your story and collect stories from others. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vm darling girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Days, Ghosts, and Inspiration

coffee

Coffee with Vampires, Ghosts and Poe

I’ve been having a bad case of Empty Nest Blues lately. Yes, even without any kids in the house, or kids almost out of the house, I can do anything. Right? Yes, but like everything else it is always complicated with me. As I brooded about my lack of brood and lack of inspiration my brother Val stopped by for coffee.

As I filled the French Press with hot water, Val grabbed cups and poured in a shot of blood and half/half in each cup. He put two packages of Equal in his, one in mine.

“Dark day?” He asked.

“I feel frozen. But I’ll be fine. Tell me about your sorry existence.” That was a joke. Val has a lovely existence, especially for a Vampire.

We sat and talked about a lot of things. I thought about being inspired to be inspired.

I poured more coffee into my cup and posed a question to my brother. “What if Edgar Allen Poe had lived. He died in 1849, so he might have heard of the gold find in California. What if he’d live and come to California? What if he’d continued to write and eventually met Bret Harte and Mark Twain? What if he’d met Lotta Crabtree? What if he’d met us?”

“Imagine him on the ship with our parents. That would have been fun.”

“Poe would have loved them.”

“He would have ended up becoming a Vampire. Mom would have made sure of that.”

“Maybe,” I said. “He was so odd and broken, but he shouldn’t have died. I think he was murdered.”

“That’s the rumor.”

One idea leads to another, and I make mental notes for stories, books, and artwork that I think a lot about and might someday create, or finish, or forget. The thought is depressing, or exciting depending on who is thinking it. If I’m thinking it right now it seems vague and somewhat depressing, and impossible, and overwhelming. Tomorrow it might be another answer.

As we talked, and my mood brightened and became more hopeful, Val and I looked out the window into my back yard. We could see the ghosts, Nigel and Mary by the fence. They were dancing to music we couldn’t hear. Being ghosts, dealing with their own deaths, and murders, had taken a toll on both, but they pulled themselves out of their own broken fog and made a life after death for themselves. Love will do that. Don’t get me wrong, Nigel is still a major asshole, but sometimes I see that light I know he had when he was alive. Like with Poe, I wonder what he would have achieved had he lived. He’d be fifty-eight now, had he not died in 1986.

Nigel looked up at us and waved at Val. Then he looked at me. Our eyes locked, and he flipped me off. Then Nigel and Mary vanished, as she continued to dance, and he glared at me.

I can relate to the songs and dances of the broken. These are not all sad songs. They’re just songs of those who have maybe had more complex paths to wander along.

Val had always been along my path with me, but we’ve taken side trails alone.

But like with my brother’s visit, I always circle around and return to the joy and love of my family, my friends, and of my imagination.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

don't be a ghost

 

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