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/

 

 

 

Get Out of Your Crypt

Businessmen, Handsome Gen X

This weekend I saw my first love (who is not the guy in my famous meme above, that would be Pleasant Van Duesen, someone with a lasting impact, but not my first), spilled coffee on my iPhone and destroyed it, went to WORDCAMP Sacramento, and went to a Chicken Festival.

Most of all I had helped coordinate (a four month project) a gathering of Vampires who’d been born near the Gold Rush and come into adulthood in the 1870’s. Now STOP your visuals of a lot of women in bustle dresses, and men in tall hats with lamp chop whiskers. We first gathered at a local sports bar looking just like everyone else, in jeans and shirts, maybe drinking a bit more than normal warm blooded folks, but it was a blast. The next night was the big reunion at a local country club (not a castle or haunted house.) On Saturday my friend Amelia (from Las Vegas) went to the Fair Oaks Chicken Festival. There we had saw bands on the Chicken Stock stage, and then visited Dave Hill at BBQ Pro (everybody loves Dave and BBQ Pro.) We ran into old friends we hadn’t seen in over 100 years and had a brew at the Fair Oaks Brew Pub (always excellent.) On Sunday I went to WORDCAMP in Sacramento. Yes, that is when I spilled coffee on my phone and my book (a real paper book.) The book survived, the phone did not.

If you’re a WordPress blogger and have not been to a WORDCAMP event in your area you need to check it out. It is a great way to learn a little bit, or a lot, and get a look at all of the other bloggers in your area. A lot of it was review for me (I might even volunteer to give a talk, or help next year) but worth it. Seriously I missed a day of wine tasting for it. And the Happiness Bar is well manned for anyone who needs help. Woo Hoo. I have to admit that I was the only Vampire/Parenting blogger there. I also didn’t see a lot of writers, poets, squirrel bloggers, pet bloggers, movie and music bloggers, or other more unique points of view. We have to get out there and make our voices and blogs heard.

So now I’m at Peet’s Coffee in Fair Oaks waiting for my new phone to be set up at the Sprint store next door. Nobody knows I’m a Vampire. Nobody cares. OK maybe they would, but I don’t look or smell dead. Seriously folks this is the 21st Century. That said, I have been known to bring the dead back to life, but not phones.

And I watched LaLa Land again. That movie hits me right in the center of my cold unbeating Vampire heart. A lot of things hit me right in the center of my cold Vampire heart this weekend. I’m still in sort of an overwhelmed and numb, and joyful place.

Seeing all of my old friends was amazing. New connections were made, old connections were made better, and then there was that meeting I can’t get out of my mind.

I have a lot of material for blog posts, books, and stories. And I have a lot of things I won’t share, ever.

When I write these posts I try to give some words of wisdom, or something along those lines. Today it would be to reconnect, recharge, look back, look forward, keep in touch, and keep your heart in a good place. GET OUT OF YOUR CRYPT and dance. Get some fresh blood into your life.

Colma Crypt

Your crypt is lovely but you can’t stay in there all the time. Get out. Get a real house. Get a real bed. Put on some sunscreen, glasses. a hat, and go out into the real world. Don’t be a shadow creeper. GET OUT OF YOUR CRYPT.

This is definitely a turning point for me right now.

Now that I’m almost an empty nester, with one child off at college, and the other going to college at home until she transfers to a college far away, my message will be changing a bit. It will always be “TALK WITH YOUR KIDS. LISTEN TO THEM.” But there is also a new message. GET OUT OF YOUR CRYPT. Not just physically but mentally as well.

I’ll be blogging at you later this week about an assortment of subjects. And there is a rumor that Vlad is writing in his diary again.

xoxoxoxobxoxoxo (the “b” is for bite, cute)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Fair Oaks Chicken Festival (Fair Oaks, CA)

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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

don't be a ghost

 

 

 

 

New horizons and dirty dogs (Musings on a Saturday)

They came in groups of four until their number reached almost 500. All in black robes. Some had blood red sashes. Some had medals. Victory was finally theirs. They will rule the world.

Why, no, this is not the start of some epic and lofty Vampire tale. It was GRADUATION DAY yesterday. My daughter Clara graduated from high school! Woo Hoo. It was a lovely ceremony. A lot of music by the kids. Good speeches. I can’t imagine nicer group of young adults. Yes, I got choked up a few times.

Now what? We’re done with K-12 education at my house. Done. Wow. It feels good. It was awesome. It was wonderful. OK. I’m still MOM.

Garrett flew up for the event and will go back down for the last week of college. In the fall he’ll be a Senior at the big university. Clara will be a Freshman at the small college the transfer to the same big university. Her brother might or might not be in Graduate school there when she gets there. We’ll see.

So now what? I have jury duty next week. When I’m asked what I do I will not say, “I write about Vampires and parenting.” I’ll tell them one of the many other “normal” things I do for a living.

I can hear my brother Andy and Clara with their guitars playing and singing Enter the Sandman. Out on the deck the dog and cat are scuttling around while the squirrels bark at them from the trees.

I’m thinking of symbiotic relationships like being a Vampire, or a parent, or a writer, or an artist, or… nothing and just letting my mind finally empty of everything.

And since no Vampire can abide a stinky dog I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to take my 85 pound stinky pup to the self dog wash. Dogs think their motto should be I stink therefore I am. I’m not in agreement. So time to slip on the flip flops and get going. No slinky tight Elvira dresses, and heaven forbid no Vampirella red thong things for me. I’m a little more practical. Most Vampires are. We have dogs to wash, and other regular things we need to deal with too.

I tell my kids that if you insist on being lurking in shadows, sleeping in coffins, and living in some creepy old ruin, you’re going to starve. Seriously, you can get closer to anyone if you smell nice, look nice, and act nice. That goes for anyone who isn’t a Vampire too.

That also goes for dogs, so I’m off. Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Saturday. I’ll be back next week with new adventures and rambling thoughts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

I’m gonna run to you, but maybe later after I take care of some mom stuff

Why do we like songs that nobody understands?

Blinded by the light, revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night

I know you thought it was wrapped up like a douche another rumor in the night.

For years (I might have mentioned this one before) I thought Bryan Adams was singing

I’m going to write to you.

It made sense to me. There was no email or internet back then. There were no cell phones. One would be lucky to have an answering machine on their home phone. I wrote a lot of letters. I send a lot of cards and post cards. And I had no idea what the title of the song is “I’m going to run to you.”

I’m gonna run to you
I’m gonna run to you
‘Cause when the feelin’s right I’m gonna run all night
I’m gonna run to you

About two years ago my husband told me the truth about the song 1984 song.

By the way Bryan Adams was born in 1959 so that would have made him ten years old in the Summer of 69. That would make him the same age as Nigel the Ghost, that is if Nigel was alive. I guess it would still make Nigel the same age even as a ghost. So do you age a ghost from the day it becomes a ghost or from the day it is born as a physical person? Anyway, I’m glad to hear that our Canadian friend Mr. Adams is still alive and well and singing, even if his lyrics are different than mine.

People like a lot of things that nobody understands, or at least I don’t understand.

Some things I don’t understand:

  • Zac Efron Movies
  • Bob Dylan
  • Small yapping dogs
  • Most currently popular female singers.
  • Sometimes my husband
  • Badly written fantasy novels
  • Mystery/Crime stories told by cats and barnyard animals
  • Crime/Mystery novels written by older men where all women get their crotches waxed and like to have sex 15 times a day.

My kids, who are almost adults, or more or less adults, think they understand everything, but are still willing to admit things they don’t understand. Yes, there are stupid questions, but I’ve tried to teach them to ask questions. I never asked questions when I was a child. I lived in a clueless world of my own ignorance. I still do.

But let’s put that aside. I was going to write about EMPTY NEST, or give it another attempt again, today, but I keep getting distracted, or don’t want to write about it.

Knowing your kids are going to be GROWN UP SOON is more frightening that any horror movie. It is also exciting. It is like jumping off of a cliff into a dark canyon without a light. There is that logistical panic of figuring out how far away they’ll be living. There is that panic about new friends who are also young adults and having no control over it. No control. Maybe not control, but it is no control.

And you wonder if they’ll get the lyrics right or if they’ll start singing the wrong words for years before they know the right words. And sometimes it doesn’t matter if the words are wrong because their lyrics are more fun, or make more sense.

And sometimes you have to smile because you know they’ll go out into the world and tell everyone, “my mom writes about Vampires.”

That’s it for today. Now I have to go see my mom who sometimes wonders how all of her children turned out so weird, and odd, and interesting, and… honestly I have no idea what she thinks.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman