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

Reality

If my husband took off his glasses and then put on tights and a cape, and changed the part in his hair I would still know it was him.

If while doing a late night walk-of-shame I lost my shoe, I wouldn’t want the guy who can’t seem to remember my face to go looking for me. Dude you need to sober up and face reality.

It is exceptionally creepy if you’re asleep and a stranger stumbles by and kisses you.

If you try to kill a 60 foot long animal while sitting in a small wooden boat accept the consequences.

Politicians are not allowed in my house, especially at the dining table.

Having an affair with a brooding photographer while your husband and kids are out of town is not cool or romantic.

Vampires who let blood drip down their chins are the same as regular people with exceptionally bad table manners.

Baby goats will always be cute.

Characters who don’t talk to each other and are constantly confused by the obvious don’t make for a good story.

njgv is what the cat just wrote while walking over the keyboard.


Stay safe. Stay warm. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated if you are able to. Talk to your kids. Be kind. Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Phantom Thoughts and Rogue Memories

Phantom Thoughts and Rogue Memories.

My brother Max is having not dreams, but memories of places and events that aren’t his.

At the same time he can feel others thinking about him. He is a receiver. So am I.

It is one of those odd things that we don’t tell anyone else about.

The memories are a mystery. We’ve compared notes and we can’t figure it out. Who sends us memories from places we’ve never been or memories of things we’ve never done.

The other types of thoughts are straight from a known source.

Max and I stood out on the deck the other night looking into the fog. “She is thinking about me right now. I haven’t seen her in years but she has been thinking about me a lot lately.”

I didn’t tell him to call her or drop by her house. It wasn’t the right time. It wasn’t his call to make. But when she thinks of him he knows it. He never wonders if she loves him or really even cares. It just is what it is. He is flattered and charmed if nothing else. That is it.

I told him about the bridge again. It was a large bridge that fell during rush hour 50 years ago. I wasn’t there but I remember it from the eyes of a young man who was in a blue car. He was in the water. A woman helped him out. His wife was frantically calling on the phone to see if anyone knew where he was. That is all I remember. I thought it might have been from a book or a movie, but the memory was like my own.

Max dreams of maps and lying as still as death on the bottom of the ocean. I dream of cars falling off of narrow mountain roads and big ugly fish.

We don’t talk much to others about our dreams and phantom thoughts and rogue memories.

I’m sure you have things like that too – another life built on fog and emotion and strange things that fly by like ghost ships or long forgotten songs.

No matter what it is always good to have someone to talk to, who doesn’t think you’re nuts.

Max left this morning before the sun came up. I will miss him, but he’ll know when I’m thinking about him.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published here January 2015

Indelible spirit

indelible spirit

I used those words today to describe an amazing friend who despite all odds, all, well everything shitty that can be put in front of someone, sees all of the beauty and joy that surrounds her.

We should all strive to go through our journey with such courtesy and grace.

My daughter sent me photos today of her lithop plants. Lithops are succulants. Some people call them living stones, or baby toes. When they bloom we are graced with daisy like flowers. When they reproduce they split, like boulders in a slow moving glacier, and new babies form from the middle.

We should all try to be like lithops. When we feel like we’re being split in too many directions. Just start something new and bloom. It sounds easy, but ask a lithop and I’m sure you’ll get a different answer. It isn’t easy but it is worth that huge breath of fresh air and peace of mind you’ll eventually get.

Never give up. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Be kind. Check your temper. Talk to your kids. Stay in touch with friends, especially those who might be alone or need extra help. And of course, kiss a Vampire. Seriously, you need to kiss a Vampire.

~ 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

Cold Morning Coffee And A Ghost

My husband is rebuilding our lower deck.

That isn’t remarkable except for the fact that he is doing a beautiful job, and that the lower deck is where the Ghosts hang out.

On any given day I can see one of two of them standing out there looking out over the oak trees behind the house no doubt with hearts heavy with ghostly thoughts of what might have been. Or maybe they’re just enjoying the view in a spot where they know demons and excorcist alike are not welcome.

Most of them came to California during the California Gold Rush where they died along with their dreams of wealth and glory. Some of them just dreamed of getting away from the poverty, social restrictions, and other constraints of their former lives. They broke free from their own society only to die a few years later on the banks of the river a block from my home.

“I didn’t die here.”

Sitting across from me was Nigel, The Ghost. He takes my coffee cup in his semi transparent hand and slides it across the table, then takes in the aroma.

“There isn’t any blood in this cup is there?” Nigel asks me.

“No,” I say. “You would have smelled it. Why are you such an asshole?”

“I was just asking.”

“No you were being snarky because that is what Ghosts do.”

“Fine.” He put his face back in the cup, then looked up at me with his black eyes that suddenly turned to a bright hazel blue. He pushed his shaggy black hair out of his eyes and took a deep breath.

“My life was good before I died. It wasn’t always that way up until my foster family adopted me. Before then I didn’t know that you could put a turkey in the oven at home and cook it. I didn’t know that people could be nice to each other all the time. I didn’t know that some parents never went to prison, or passed out on the floor, or brought home boyfriends who’d try to… well, I just didn’t know. I suspected that there were other ways of living but it just seemed like fiction.”

He looked out the window then stood up and put his face close to the glass. “The deck looks good. Teddy is doing a great job. The Gold Rush Ghosts like to go up there and look at all of the tools. They’re kind of odd but I’ve gotten used to them. There is a big difference between someone who died in 1866 and someone who died in 1986. Did you realize that I would have been sixty one years old now? Sixty one. Six one. I bet my hair would be gray, or at least the temples might be white. A few weeks before I died I met a woman in an art gallery in San Francisco. We exchanged numbers. Had I lived we might be married now with a couple of kids going to college over Zoom. I left her a message, and she left me one. It was phone tag. Then it was Thanksgiving. Then I was murdered and I never saw her again. I don’t even know if she knew I died. I’m sure she must have if she followed the art world. She must have known.”

“What was her name,” I asked.

“I don’t remember. I was hit in the head so I don’t remember a lot of things. Or maybe it is just this ghost thing that scrambles my brain. I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Do Vampires forget their former lives?”

“Some do,” I answered, “but it is usually intentional.”

“I understand,” said Nigel. “You need to warm the coffee up. It’s cold.”

“I’ll warm it up and make another cup for me,” I told him.

I made coffee. The cats circled Nigel’s feet. I watched him as he sat thinking about his former life and the woman he’d met back in 1986. Before the water even got to a boil he faded away and vanished back into his Ghost world, or wherever he goes when he fades away.

I made more coffee and looked out on the deck. My kids are still here from Thanksgiving. We’re going to help Teddy put up the stairs today.

The morning is still cold, clear, and everyone is asleep.

Right now I’m looking out over the deck and there are no Ghosts. Only a lone squirrel sitting on the edge where a rail will eventually go.

December is almost here. I guess if you’re a Ghost it never changes, but then again, I’m not a Ghost, and they aren’t too open about giving answers.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman