Musings on Inspiration, Change, and Art

Oscar the cat enjoying my art

Oscar the cat enjoying my art. He says I need to start drawing again.

The other night my husband and I were watching something about the Lost Neck, I mean, Loch Ness Monster. A guy came on who was a cryptozoologist. I told Teddy I wanted to be a cryptozoologist. He said he wanted to be a luxury lifestyle consultant like David Bromstad on “My Lottery Dream Home.”  Seriously you have to love David Bromstad.

Then we laughed. Our kids could tell their friends, “my parents are a cryptozoologist, and a luxury lifestyle consult.”

Then we realized that they already say, “my dad is an antiques dealer and my mom blogs about Vampires.”

I used to be an artist but I forgot how to draw. I think I’m forgetting how to write most of the time too. I’m forgetting a lot of things. My world is getting smaller, yet it is more complex, and growing, and changing.

As life changes our inspiration changes. It is kind of like the moon, waxing and waning. In that way Werewolves are lucky. They have a degree of certainty in their lives.

Anyway, until I can learn to get my passion back for drawing (it was beaten out of me, long story you don’t want to hear) I’ll be inspired by other artists. I will also try to inspire those who do art or want to create.

Hey, please don’t send me “you can do it” messages about this. I appreciate it but I’m fine, really.

I’m going to be an art museum docent. I guess I already am, as I plan my final tour before I graduate and become an official docent. This is super exciting.

Now that my children are grown I’ll be teaching a new crop of children all about art, and history, and all manner of related things. I hope to inspire the young hearts and minds so that they might one day take on the world with wild abandon.

Wild abandon is something we all need. I watch my children, as grown as they are, and hope that they learn the fine line between control, and passion.

I hope they learn not to listen to assholes. I hope they know that deep down inside that in the long run their opinion about their own lives, talents, and passions is all that matters.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Just DON’T: To those who discourage, stereotype and otherwise pigeon hole young people.

Pigeon Hole: Definition of put (someone) in a pigeonhole. : to unfairly think of or describe (someone or something) as belonging to a particular group, having only a particular skill, etc.

If you continue to Pigeon Hole young people I will consider you an Ass Hole.

I was out the other night with friends, who do not have children, and the subject came up of how my children are doing.

My daughter is waiting to hear from the four colleges she has applied for as a transfer student from the local community college. I’m doing the happy dance because she was accepted into U.C. Santa Barbara. Woot Woot.

So, for the 357th time my dear friend tells me, “you know that is where my niece got into drugs.”

My standard answer is usually, “kids get into drugs at every school, even schools like BYU.”

This time I said, “My children were not brought up in a hyper controlling, over protective, helicopter parenting home. Their father and I talked to them frankly about drugs, alcohol and what happened to friends of ours who were abusers.”

We (my husband and I) have always talked not just to or at our kids, but WITH our kids. We’ve had two sided discussions about all issues that will come up with our now adult children. Sex, drugs, and Rock N Roll (they know the difference between Led Zeppelin and lead paint.)

If someone tells you their child is going to a school, be it UCLA or Monterey Bay State (big or small) congratulate your friend. They have a child going to college. The same goes for the child who goes into the Navy, goes to a trade school, gets into a apprentice program, or does anything that will help them on that journey of life.

Don’t say how shitty their choice is.

The subject also came up about job choices and training. Family members LOVE to push younger family members into career paths they will HATE. Heaven forbid someone go into something strange like graphic design and illustration (my profession of many many many many years), or anything remotely involved in the arts or creativity. Heaven forbid someone go into a trade like being a mechanic. Hey if you love cars work with them. Any job you love is a good job. If you love cleaning toilets then do it. One day you’ll run your own multimillion dollar janitorial company.

My friends asked what another young person in my life wanted to do. I said he wanted to go into film or TV. Then I was asked what his real job was going to be aka back-up job.

I live in California. There are a lot of jobs in film and TV is you have passion, talent, and a drive. I’m not going to stomp on the dreams of any young people.

If you want to go into art – DO IT. If you want to work in a museum – DO IT. If you want to sing or act – DO IT. Yes a back up plan is ok, but think of all of the middle-aged people you know who have said “I wish I had…”

Don’t hate on the dreams of youth. A lot of young people have a plan for those dreams. Now they have access to the internet and other resources we (parents) could never dream of when we were young.

I’m not saying don’t have a back-up plan. Having a large set of skills is a good thing but…

I know we don’t want to see young people hurt, but killing dreams will do more damage in the long run.

Encourage our youth. Celebrate our hard-working youth. Say “GOOD JOB” to the kids who are studying, planning, researching, discussing, and doing.

My final words are for those of you who are not so young. You have dreams. You can also follow your passions. Nobody is there to stop you. Maybe you can’t do it on a grand scale, but do it small.

You can do it too. You’re never too old for most things. Don’t ever forget it. And don’t let the assholes pigeon hole you. Don’t.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

phole

What we’re talking about this morning over coffee.

My children and I used to talk about everything from laundry to politics on the way to school in the mornings. Now that one is out of the house, and the other has her own car and doesn’t need a ride to school or work, we talk over coffee, or over the phone, or just text each other.

School admissions. My daughter and many of her friends are transfer students. A transfer student is one who goes to a community college and then transfers to a four year university.

The graduation rate in the California State University system is less than 50%. For some schools it is less than 20% for students to finish in four years. Most students drop out before they ever graduate (from what we’ve read and heard.)

So WHY do transfer students who make great grades, do everything right, and work hard get rejected or put on wait lists while students who have no intention of ever graduating get places? I don’t mean to be judgmental but a lot of students go to college without a clue of what they want to do with that education. They go because they don’t have anything else to do or because someone else tells them to. After a year or two they drop out. In the meantime students who have a plan and want to graduate don’t in?

I knew someone who once worked in college admissions. She worked part-time to go over applications. Her attitude was so flippant about who did or did not get accepted. It absolutely disgusted me. I wanted to yell at her and explain that she was fucking with the lives of these potential students. She didn’t give a shit. She was just in it for the extra cash. Wow, sound familiar?

We need more

For the past few years we’ve been talking about politics but now we’re weary. The young folks are politically active. They’re not protesting in the streets, but they’re planning, and volunteering, and voting. They aren’t going to let a lot of backwards old men decide their future (who aren’t all really old, but act like they’re ass backwards in all respects.)

Sweaters. There is still a chill in the air. Everyone loves sweaters. We’ll wear sweaters as long as we can. My kids wear them all year. That is why they decided to go to colleges near the ocean.

Most Vampires can eat avocados. Don’t shame us for it and call us insufferable hipster assholes. Avacados grow here (California.) Avacados are good. Nuff said.

US. They said mom and dad need to go see US.

We talk about art a lot. We just do.

Our dog barks. Let me go back a bit…our three year old German Shepard is now getting protective and barks a lot of things, including, but not exclusively, other dogs, coyotes, deer, turkeys, the neighbor’s gardeners, and anything she sees as a threat or especially interesting. It seems like a lot because we’ve never had a dog who barks. It is kind of different. I think she (the dog) enjoys barking. I’d enjoy barking if I could bark like a dog.

I’ve been told that I drink shitty coffee. That is an overstatement. I drink OK coffee most of the time, and good coffee a lot. I grind my own beans. I use my own reusable coffee pods, or a French Press. My children are coffee snobs. That is OK. One even goes to coffee classes and seminars. That is OK too. I am committed to support small local coffee roasters and local coffee shops.

Spring is here. We’re enjoying the flowers, and the green fields and hills. My son said it means fewer sweaters which means an easier time for Vampires. I guess, as a Vampire, talking about what we do with donors is kind of like talking about what we do in the bathroom. Some people love to talk about it. Some don’t.

We talk a lot about everything. My mantra to everyone is to talk with your children. Not at them – but with them. Listen to them too. Have lively discussions. Have quiet thoughtful talks. Have silly talks that make you laugh out loud. Share what you did during the day, or what you’re planning, or what you saw. Sure they might be technically adults but they’re still your children. They’re still your heart and soul.

So that is kind of it for today. Hugs.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Wild Coffee

Adventure in a Cup

 

 

 

Surprise! They’re Adults! More Parenting Fun.

Vampire Maman

Why is there so much paperwork?

Oh the joys of being an adult.

And the joys of being a parent. You still need to answer their questions.

Adult child: Why is there so much paperwork?

Parent of adult child: Fuck, I don’t know.

For the parent of the rare Vampire child there are even more questions. My children continue to have questions. Clara who is 19, is pretty good about accepting whatever comes her way, taking charge of it, and rolling with it. Garrett, who is 22, tends to over think, but that’s ok.

A few days ago Garrett called me and asked, “When am I going to age out?”

Me: Age out?

Garrett: Mom, you know what I’m talking about. When am I going to stop aging? How old am I going to look for the rest of my life?”

Me: I don’t know. I suppose between 25 and 40. The average seems to be early to mid 30’s.

Garrett: I don’t want to age out before I’m 25. What if I always look like a college student.

Me: That depends on how you dress. You’ll be fine. Don’t worry about it.

Then he asked: What’s up with all these creepy older Vampires hitting on me?

Me: What do you mean by older?

Garrett: Like your age or older.

Me: Tell them no. It’s the same as with people who aren’t Vampires. Don’t let them bother you. They’re older and maybe have a lot of power, but they don’t have power over your body or your emotions. Tell them to stop. If someone won’t leave you alone call me. I’m still your mom. I’ll deal with them.

I told him that some old Vampires have been reading too much fiction. Also, creepers come in all forms. Why are we still even dealing with that issue? You’d think that everyone would have evolved by now.

Speaking of evolving…

High School and a person’s early 20’s are a fun time. It is a time to explore who you are and what you want to become. It is a time when the popular culture such as music and fashion sticks with you and becomes part of who you identify as. You’ll always identify with that time. That isn’t a bad thing.

The bad thing is when someone sticks with that time and those experiences as who they are forever. Just listen to Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” or “1985” by SR-71. You can love or hate either or both songs, but the message is clear. Don’t be that person who is stuck in a time warp. Vampires tend to do that and become ridiculous parodies of their own lack of vision. Yes, I had a great time in 1885 but I’m living in the 21st Century. Stay relevant.

Yes, stay relevant. That is one message you can’t say enough to your adult Vampire child.

My brother Aaron was always resisted technology. Sure Aaron, you were born in the 1850’s but you don’t still have to act like you are living in the 1950’s. Finally our dad who was born in the 1650’s pulled him aside and told him to get with it and stay relevant.

Sure I loved bustle dresses, but I don’t wear them anymore than I still wear huge shoulder pads.

Garrett: Why is everything so expensive?

Me: I don’t know.

I try to explain fluctuations in fuel prices, international politics, weather changes, and other factors that go into inflation. Sometimes things are just expensive for no reason. I never took any economics classes and those things make my head spin. That is when I say, “go ask your dad.”

Garrett: Why do they take so much out of my paycheck?

Me: Hell, I don’t know. Vote.

The paycheck message is brutal. Unfortunately our representatives in government believe they are leaders. They are not leaders. They were elected to represent us. They’re doing a piss poor job of it (all parties, all sides.) They always have done a piss poor job. Vote. Get involved. Vote.

Garrett: Do you think there will ever be a time when we, you know Vampires, can come out in the open about who we are?

Me: No.

Garrett: Why?

Me: Because they’ll kill us?

Garrett: Why?

Me: Because we drink their blood.

Garrett: I get it but…it isn’t right.

Me: People are always afraid of what they don’t understand or can’t comprehend.

This conversation has been going on for years. We went on in-depth about Vampire Hunters and all sorts of assholes out there who are going to try to knock us down. You just have to be true to yourself, do what is right, and move on.

Just imagine being a Werewolf. They have no control over what happens on a full moon night.

Anyway, I guess the whole point of this chat over my first morning cup of coffee is that no matter how old your kids are you have to be there for them. They will have those burning questions. They’ll always have questions, even after they’re grown. You won’t always have the answers but that is ok. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. And sometimes you just need to listen.

If you don’t have an answer you can look for it together.

Featured Image -- 18965

A bit of business: This is week 51. The 50 Burning Questions ended last week. Yes, for 50 weeks I posted Burning Questions for YOU to answer and discuss. It was super fun. Thank you everyone for participating. I’ll have more fun in the future along those lines. In the meantime I need a break. I also need to get back to writing more parenting and Vampireing posts. Click here to see all of the Burning Questions.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

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

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman