Have Some Cake (and Parenting of Course)

In honor of the Grammy’s I was planning on doing a post of the WORST songs ever (Rhiannon, McArthur Park, Spill the Wine, Sylvia’s Mother, Seventeen, That horrible roller skate/key song, The Thong Song, Free Bird, anything featuring Barbara Streisand, Ariana Grande, St. Vincent, or The Doobie Brothers.) I decided to skip it for something not so negative. Musical taste is so subjective.

But it was fun this summer driving across the endless Utah desert with my child, after the air conditioner had failed, listening to the worst songs ever. Let me explain…when a song on the “worst songs of all time” list came on I’d turn it up as part of my daughter’s cultural education. She listened to the entire performance of McArthur Park. I had to explain that the cake out in the rain and finding the recipe was a metaphor for lost love or some bull shit like that, while my seventeen year old child laughed out loud. We both laughed out loud in our 400 degree F car driving along about two hundred miles from the nearest town.

Everything in life isn’t good, no matter how hard you try to put that twist on your child rearing philosophy. At least there are times, like with music, when you can use humor to teach your kid about bad taste, bad judgement, bad fashion, bad friends, bad politics, and all of those weird things that come across our pathway.

Music, like art, literature, and cats, is something you can share with your kids. It brings people together. Stay with me on this because I know a lot of people hate their kids music. At least you can make an effort to understand what they like, and why they like it. Or maybe you can find something new together. Expand your horizons. Take a leap of faith and turn to a different number on the radio dial together. You might hate it. You might love it. But you did it together – with your kid.

Now for the real reason I brought up music. Yesterday I posted a story about a couple of Vampire kids in college called “Why I Hate Valentine’s Day.” Blog traffic was through the roof (because I am the Queen of Love Letters). But NOBODY, not a single person mentioned the reference to a song in the story. Oh come on guys, humor me a little.

And yes, I do love each and every one of you who reads and follows this blog.

OK, here it is. Listen and look for it.

Listen to the next songs too. Have fun even if you don’t like it. Or as your mom would say, “Don’t complain, it’s good for you.” Here are a couple of the best covers ever. Yes, listen to the Vampire – it’s good for you. Don’t complain.

By the way, the band CAKE is from Sacramento, my hometown. We’re a creative kind of place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Perhaps

 

 

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble (Parenting, Teens and a Little Romance)

The sixteen year old boy in this post is now twenty, but this still applies for all parents, teens, and true romantics. First published 02/2013.

red heart

Bed Bug, Bedbug, Freeze Out, Hardscrabble,

Nereid

Sea Maiden

Poseidon’s loyal helper

Sailor’s guardian angel

Violet beauty

I looked at the note on yellow lined paper written in black Sharpie that I found in the dryer. Fragments of the musings of a 16-year-old boy.

The first line is names of a town not far from where we live, founded during the California gold rush. The rest of it is taken from Greek Mythology. I knew what it was.

It is Ione. His long time friend Ione. Once a funny little fair haired girl, now a leggy and shapely blonde of 16. She is also, like my son, a Vampire.

I unfolded the note more, crisp from the dryer and still warm.

I have known you forever

Since our time began

As babies

Then children of the night

As teens

Now growing into adulthood

Our hearts

Our minds

Our future

Am I to be with you?

My mythical love

My desire

My chance

A kiss from you

And I would be

Happy forever

Ione.

So far, aside from the occasional glances at Vampire girls and life long friendships, he has never set his heart on one, especially not one in his tight-knit social circle of “The Vs” as they call themselves.

Ione is quiet and funny and smart. But don’t piss her off because she isn’t one to forgive or forget anything. She also sees herself in some mythical role as avenging angel, taking on the cause of the bullied, down trodden and anyone in her opinion who has been treated unjustly.

Most people see her sort of an exceptionally smart, brilliant dumb-blonde. Smart and goofy. Sort of like my son’s best friend Randy.

I was ready to pocket the note when Garrett came into the laundry room and said “Give me that.”

“I didn’t know you liked her that way,” I said.

“It isn’t what you think.”

“Did you write it for Randy?”

“No. Don’t’ say anything Mom. It isn’t anything.”

“OK.” I smiled.

And then he smiled the shy way 16-year-old boys do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Ione

Ione

 

And yes, Ione is the name of a real town that used to be called by some interesting names back in the day.

Hey Mom, have you ever converted anyone into a Vampire?

As of this month I’ve been blogging for five years, in April it will be five years for Vampiremaman.com (West Coast Review came first.) To celebrate, if you wish to call it that, I’m going to bring you a few of my classic posts from the early days. This one is for all of the Vampire parents out there. And for everyone else out there, do me a favor and do not ask me to convert you to a Vampire because the answer will AWAYS be NO. 

 

readbyvampires

 

Vampire Maman

Hey Mom, have you ever converted anyone into a vampire?

Well, um, as a matter a fact…

As a vampire parent, that question is almost as bad as your kids asking you about sex, or more YOUR past sex life. Or worse, asking if you killed a regular human or anyone else before. With vampires the whole conversion thing is a touchy subject.

Unlike popular movies and books, we rarely convert anyone.

Like I’ve told my son before…

“Here are the facts. 80 percent of vampire conversions end in death. Of those 80 percent who die, about 20 percent are immediate deaths.  Those are the lucky ones. The remaining die insanely painful deaths within two weeks.

Of the remaining 20 percent who live, let’s say we started with a sample of 100. So 20 who are converted survive the first two weeks. They have survived Hell. It isn’t about sucking…

View original post 864 more words

The Very Sight of You

This morning I spoke with my son Garrett (age 20, in college, six-hour dive from here.) I’m always so proud at how confident he is. In fact I’m proud of all of his friends, and my nephew Logan, for being so confident, especially when it comes to interacting with women. Straight or Gay they all are so grounded.

Maybe it is the rain, and warnings about high water, but it made me think of a less fortunate man I once knew, when I was about Garrett’s age.

His name was Bernard. He was a family friend, and like us, he was a Vampire.

When he was a young man of astounding business success. At the age of twenty-five he was already wealthy. Despite the fact that he was a personable, and somewhat attractive man, Bernard was alone. This is because when he would have interactions with young women, or even older women, he would start to tremble. Many women found this trembling endearing, like they found trembling in small lap dogs endearing. To Bernard this was mortifying, so he stayed away from what he considered the fairer sex.

Eventually he went to a successful college friend, who was a bit more worldly than Bernard and asked for advice. What Bernard didn’t know what that his friend, whom we shall call William, was a Vampire.

William knew exactly how to cure Bernard. He turned Bernard into a Vampire.

Bernard would still tremble at the sight of a woman, but he learned if he put the woman into a trance, then drank about a half pint of her blood that he would stop shaking. Then he found that if he snapped her out of the trance, then made love to her, that he wouldn’t tremble for at least three days. All the women would remember was the most amazing experience they’d ever had with a man. Married or single, they all wanted to be with dear, sweet, trembling Bernard.

Soon Bernard grew tired of the friends-with-benefits and he found himself a wife. Estella was a lovely girl from a good family. She was quiet with very little personality, but Bernard loved her with all of his heart. She never knew he was a Vampire, and he never planned on telling her.

On the morning of their wedding day he went to visit all of his former female friends of good standing so that he would not tremble when he saw his bride. It was enough activity to keep him calm for a week. That night he was married and off to a glorious wedding night and honeymoon with his darling Estella.

Every other day he would take some blood from Estella and make love to her. She was happy and passionate in response, but soon her health began to fail. After a few years of constant blood taking Bernard realized that he was killing the woman he loved.

He purchased an elaborate crypt in the local cemetery for finer folks, then stopped his heart and turned cold (all Vampires can do this.) Estella thought he was dead. The doctors thought he was dead. Hundreds showed up at the funeral. Estella eventually regained her health, remarried another fine man, and had four lovely children and led a long and happy life.

Bernard escaped from the crypt (he had a key) and headed out West to seek his fortune.

Upon arriving in California he introduced himself to the Vampire community in Sacramento. It was February 1879. I’d turn twenty that October.

Bernard was successful in his new home, but he would still tremble when he was in the company of a woman. Swearing that he would never marry again, he quickly knew he’d have to find a network of women he could take blood from, and then seduce in order to keep himself calm.

My brother Aaron became good friends with Bernard. Whenever Bernard would be invited to visit Aaron and his wife Verity, he would ALWAYS make sure he would go to one of the local ladies of the night first so he wouldn’t kill himself in the presence of Verity. You see, Verity, who is like all of us, a Vampire, looks almost exactly like Botticelli’s Venus, in the Birth of Venus painting. The first time Bernard ever saw her he almost passed out from trembling. It was so bad that the floor shook and a vase of flowers fell over onto the table and spilled out on the floor.

One night before a party Bernard arrived early. He came upstairs looking for Aaron. Verity and I were upstairs getting ready, and not expecting anyone.

When Bernard entered the room he found me standing in just a petticoat and corset. His mouth opened and he started to shake. Then Verity stepped out from behind a screen completely naked, like Venus in the painting. Bernard trembled so violently that I thought he’d pass out, but then…THEN he trembled so hard that something amazing and quite disturbing happened as he turned gray starting at the top of his head and slowly went all the way down to his toes. He turned to dust and fell into a gray pile of powder on the floor. Verity grabbed her robe and got Aaron. The three of us stood and stared at the pile of what was once Bernard for at least five minutes. Then Aaron got the dust pan and swept poor Bernard into a Chinese vase and that was the last I ever saw of Bernard.

I called Aaron this morning and asked him what became of Bernard. My brother said he put the vase on the mantel in his office, but it would start to shake whenever Verity would walk into the room. After a few months it became too distracting so he took the vase to the river and shook the contents out into the current. When he told me the exact location I wasn’t surprised. The water constantly trembles at that spot, no matter what the level of the river is.

Now there are drugs, and other things like music, and therapy for those with social anxiety. For Bernard it was blood and sex, but unfortunately that isn’t always available when one accidentally runs into an extreme situation. Yes, poor Bernard, we knew him well.

By the way, this is a true story.

Have a good night everyone, and stay safe out in the winter weather.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

venus-verity

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

You never know about anything, not really.

“Nothing is certain aside from the fact that we are Vampires, and we are not like the rest of everybody else.”

So my father used to tell us when we were children.

He gave his brood of five (four boys and me) this advice, but also tried to keep us from being clannish, and prevent us from being closed minded when it came to everybody else, be they Vampires, or others. There were more “others” than I ever imagined.

I remember as a child watching in fascination and disgust at the Werewolves who’d walk along the river front in their garish but expensive clothing. They’d smirk and look as if they were going to eat everyone they saw. That was far from the truth. Despite their arrogance they rarely killed anyone while in their wolf form. I later learned that they were sort of pathetic, and sad creatures.

But enough of that. A lot has changed since the 1860’s. Most Werewolves blend in to the point where nobody notices that they’re never around on full moon nights. I mean, really, who would notice?

I’m full of busy today, but I thought I’d take a few moments to re-share a story (first shared her in 2014) of my childhood, about strangers, those who aren’t like us, and Werewolves.

 

Strange Strangers on a Full Moon Night

Mars was exceptionally bright in the sky last night. The moon was less than full but still exceptionally bright.

This morning I dropped the kids off to school. Garret’s car is in the shop so mom gets to drive. Anyway, I drop them off behind some temporary classrooms (that have been there for 45 years) because Clara doesn’t want to have to walk by the large group of “Stoners” who hang out every morning at the logical drop off point. So this morning she tells me she over heard one of the Stoners saying “That woman stops and turns around every morning. Weird. I guess she doesn’t want to stay here.” They had no idea I was dropping off kids. Sigh.

So the moon, teens, clueless thoughts… what does that all lead to? It made me think of a distant memory of when my brothers Val, Aaron and I were teens.

Go back to 1873. We lived in a city that had regulairly flooded, burned down, flooded again and survived illness and lawlessness and all sorts of disasters (Sacramento of course.) It was enough to make anyone want to leave, but instead people thrived and it grew. Railroads made kings. Agriculture was starting to boom. It was a city with growing art and culture and the new capitol building was almost finished. But to us it was home and our concerns were not those of adults or even most people. We were teens, comfortable in our own skin, a little less Victorian than most our age, a little more independent than most. My brothers and I lived in a tight knit community of Vampires, part of the Modern Vampire Movement. But you already know that.

One night, under a full moon, my brothers Aaron (age 17), Valentine (age 14) and I (age 13) were taking a stroll along the Sacramento River. We were always out looking for vagrants and activity from any riverboats. We were on the prowl, three well heeled Vampire kids who could use our innocence and charm to get in and out of any situation before our prey ever knew we were there.

With our stomachs full and our dark little souls throughly amused we walked home through a grove of trees on the edge of the riverbank. There we came upon a camp. Two figures were hunched over half a dozen large fish, I believe stripers or maybe steelhead. They grunted and tore at the fish. At first glance we thought they were coyotes or large dogs, but then we realized they were something else.

“Werewolves,” whispered Aaron holding his hand out to signal us to stay still.

We watched in fascination, with a bit of disgust, as the two turned back into their human form – a young man and a young woman. They were about our age and completely naked. He was skinny, unlike my muscular brothers. His skin was pale under the moonlight like the bellies of the fish he’d just devoured. She was also thin with ribs sticking out and knobby joints. Her grayish unhealthy looking skin was covered with red welts. Long dark hair hung below her waist. But what surprised us most was the hairless tail that hung down about 6 inches on the end of her spine.

I elbowed Aaron and he gave me a quick look that said “don’t move.”

“She has a tail,” Val whispered a little too loud. Aaron put his hand over his younger brother’s mouth.

The Werewolves put on their clothes, plain and worn compared to our fashionable togs. We had a home and parents. These two were obviously strays just trying to survive their miserable condition.

Val and I wanted to approach the Werewolves but Aaron was against it. He said we should just let them be and they’d be dead more sooner than later. There was a prominent pack of well-heeled Werewolves in town but we had little to do with them and it was obvious that these strays were not part of their pack.

Occasionally my parents would deal with the Werewolves, but always held them at a distance and with considerable contempt. One thing that stood out about the well to do Werewolves was their fondness for velvet. No kidding. Those Werewolves loved their velvet.

This isn’t going to be a moral story where we went back and helped the young Werewolves. We went back and they were gone. None of our friends had ever seen them. We told our parents about them. In turn they mentioned the strays to the pack leader in town and he had never heard of the young Werewolves.

It was just one of those weird things. Ships that pass in the night.

I asked my friend Adam, who is a Werewolf, about the pair when I stopped by his studio this morning (he is a photographer by trade.) He’d never heard of them. The tail on the girl turned out to be something extremely rare, just like a tail on anyone who is remotely human like.

“Why didn’t you help them?” Of course he had to ask.

“I don’t know. We were just kids. We thought they were dangerous. Beside that, maybe they didn’t need or want help. My parents asked around. Nobody knew anything, or if they did they weren’t telling us about it. I’m talking both Werewolves and Vampires. Nobody knew anything.”

I knew there would be nothing online about them but I after I left Adam I checked anyway. There was nothing.

This story has no moral or reason behind it. Just a story of something that happened a long time ago that I’ll tell my kids about and maybe they can find a moral in it.

It might be a mystery forever. But I have a knack for finding people and things so you never know. You never know about anything, not really.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Anger, Inspiration, Parenting, and Those WTF Days.

I write about parenting. I write about positive parenting. I write about how parents, through their choices, can raise well-rounded, grounded, smart, ready-for-adulthood, open-eyed, kind, and lovely children.

I have not been feeling like one of those people I want my children to be. I’ve more angry and out of sorts than anything lately. Sad too. As we said in the Victorian days, I’ve had a bit of melancholia. Fuck that.

Forget “nice songs”, I’ve got my radio tuned to the heavy metal and punk stations. I’m wearing black. I’m angry. About everything. OK almost everything. I’m also sad.

Which I guess some people think is normal for Vampires, but I’m not one of THOSE Vampires. But we’re not going there in this post.

On June 2 my daughter will graduate from high school. On July 5 she turns 18. In the fall she will go to college. On April 1 my son will turn 21. I’m done. No more kids. My heart is breaking.

I’ve been a wonderful, successful parent. All has gone well. We survived Middle School (no small task), and high school (without angst.) Now I’m done. I realize they’ll be around after they’re grown, but… it breaks my heart. Good job, now… it breaks my heart.

And as children leave, so do old ones. I worry that I’ll go visit the ancient ones, Eleora and Tellias, or my Great great great great grandmama Lola and find piles of dust. It is all happening so fast.

I’m also in a personal transition – which is rocky at best. My husband is cool. The cats are cool. The dog is silly, but cool.

This morning I forced myself to go to a dance class, which isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Nobody ever said all Vampires can dance. I can be stealth but I can’t dance. But I went anyway. It got my mind off of shit.

When I arrived home I was still angry so I took the 85 pound puppy for a walk out in the park, along the muddy trails that run through the oak forest and down the cliffs to the lake. The bald eagles sat in the tree by their nest (which won’t be empty for long). Hawks flew over the water. Buzzards circled in the distance. I closed my eyes for a second to reflect on whatever, then the dog pulled at the leash. I opened my eyes. Coming towards me where two middle-aged men, all fit and in their fancy bike gear coming towards me.

You know, I’m usually not the normal angry Vampire type, but I held out my hand, palm towards them and told them to stop. Of course they stopped. How dangerous could a five foot four woman in yoga pants and a sweat shirt be? Very dangerous if she happens to be a Vampire.

I locked eyes, put them in a trance, and hauled them off into the woods. When I’d had my fill, I stood on the edge of the bluff overlooking the water and tried to clear my head. The men, who didn’t remember anything of our encounter, came along walking their bikes along the trail. Blood loss will tire out even the most fit of men. I noticed a large bruise forming on the neck of one of them. Oh well.

I walked the dog back home in the rain, still thinking, and over thinking.

I’ve done a great job at being a parent. I have a great marriage. My kids are great. Yet, I close my eyes and the world spins out of control.

I have inspired others, many times over the years, over the centuries. Now I need to inspire myself.

I open my eyes again and a calico cat is sitting next to my computer on the table purring loudly for no other reason than she is happy that I’m here.

So forget my pity party and worm song…

My thought for today is to inspire yourself. It isn’t easy but try. Even if it hurts you have to try. But more than anything, even if they’re old, even if they’re grown, even if they have their own kids – inspire your children. Your job as a parent is NEVER over. It isn’t about babies, it is about the long haul – it is about forever.

I posted a photo of the park on one of my social media sites and titled it “Cloudy with a chance of beauty and wonder.” I try to believe.

Cloudy with a chance of beauty and wonder.

Cloudy with a chance of beauty and wonder.

Excuse me, I’m done. I have to go chase squirrels out of my bird feeders, and see what the dog is chewing up on my back deck.

Oh shit. This is why the bird feeder is always empty.

Oh shit. This is why the bird feeder is always empty.

Have a good rest of your week. And remember TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Stay positive. Don’t use as many bad words as I do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.