Musings on a Winter Afternoon

The weather today is cold and crisp and clear. It is a good day to work in the yard. We can see snow far away in the mountains, but we don’t get snow. We get squirrels and birds. Today I’ve heard eagles, gulls, songbirds, humming birds, crows, hawks, and jays. I’ve seen buzzards. I have no idea what they sound like. The turkey vultures tend to be quiet as they spread their wings and soar overhead with great beauty, in contrast to their homely faces. There are also wild turkeys but I haven’t seen any of them today.

Even in the daytime I see the shadows of ghosts trying to figure out where they ought to be. I wonder why some people won’t let go go the Civil War and realize that the South lost. It isn’t just the Civil War – it is a lot of wars that were lost years, even centuries ago and nobody has the heart to say “move on,” except the ghosts, who would like nothing better.

Because we know that people (especially politicians and religious leaders) don’t read history, or learn from the mistakes in history. They don’t even learn from their own mistakes. If they do they are more rare than a California Condor, or an alien from space.

As I look across the room the 1876 Seth Thomas clock strikes 1:00. It still runs. Things always keep running when they are made well, with pride. Remember that when you raise your children. Teach them to run well with pride. Life will be easier that way (figure it out.)

Anyway, there are patches of color where we’re trying out different paint colors. No rain is predicted for next week so I figure it is a good time to start painting. I fully expect the dog and cats to turn golden yellow, white, and green as their curiosity and sense of territory kicks in.

There is a lot to do before night, when I’ll get to relax with friends, with wine, and a movie, and some fresh blood, and fresh conversation. Fresh conversation is always good.

Have fun. I’ll have a new story tomorrow for Short Story Sunday. And don’t forget the free science fiction poster deal. CLICK HERE to find out more.

And tell your kids you love them. If you don’t have kids, tell someone else.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

50s-cocktail-party1

If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind of like worms in that weird old kid’s song

As I sit pondering… the cat walks over to the dog bowl and check it out. There is nothing there she desires.

It is odd how random thoughts go in and out. Kind of like worms in that weird old kid’s song.

 

The worms go in

The worms go out

The worms play pinochle on your snout.

 

Anyway, on the way home this morning, after dropping Clara off for a Mock SAT test, I was thinking about what I’d write today. Junior year in high school is busy. All week long she has been seeing college recruiters and now tests. Mock SAT today (the new test), PSAT next week during school, then the real SAT and ACT. Then the AP tests. Then my mind goes off in other directions. What songs would I include on a play list for old boyfriends? It has been a while since we played wii Just Dance. Garret’s vintage clothing collection that he swiped from his father’s closet is making waves at college. I thought about a blog about wearing vintage clothing and jewelry – should I write it? What would happen if we (Vampires) told the world what we really are? How would that change the presidential debates. Holy crap, now THERE is an idea. I’ll write about that next week for sure. I thought of love letters and graveyards and the drought and coffee and about putting up my Halloween decorations.

Wait… just a second… I will be right back.

I felt a presence outside but refused to lift the shades. And like my bad cat who scratches the walls to wake me up, a ghost, THE GHOST, materialized in front of me. He sat at my table, in the round turret breakfast nook, right across from me.

He did not look happy. In fact he was glaring at me. His black hair hung over his forehead and covered one eyes. Today he wore his black suit, the one he was buried in (in 1986).

Before he could say one mean nasty comment I spoke first.

“Nigel, did you know The Cars have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”

He brushed his hair out of his face, uncovering a bloody gash in his forehead. The gash vanished. He looked perplexed. I know he’d planned on saying something vile or rude. I know he’d planned on using the word fuck, as in “fuck you Vampire.” He is such a lovely and thoughtful ghost (said no Vampire ever.)

After we sat for a while as I sipped my coffee Nigel finally spoke up. “Too bad they didn’t get nominated when Benjamin Orr was alive.”

“Coffee?” I had to ask. Nigel nodded.

I put a cup of coffee in front of the ghost. He inhaled and closed his eyes with a slight satisfied smile.

“Los Lobos was nominated,” I told him.

“Local boys. Good choice. Who else?”

“Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Yes, the Smiths, Steve Miller, Chicago, Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson. There were a few others.”

“Janet Jackson? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“I kid you not.”

“Fucking Janet Jackson?”

“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir.”

He took in another breath of coffee. His form wavered in and out of transparency and opacity.

“So the Giants won’t be going to the World Series this year?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“I don’t know what happened to my record collection.”

“Did you leave a will?”

“Sure, but not specifics like that. I was only 26 when I died.”

“Do you want me to check it out for you.”

“No, it would just piss me off.”

“Nigel dear, everything pisses you off.”

“Pretty much.”

“Is that a ghost thing?”

“No. It is a Nigel thing.”

His eyes grew black and he glared at me. I knew the rage was building up. Ghosts are such tormented souls, not to mention major assholes most of the time.

“Hey Nigel,” I said. “I’m going to put up the Halloween decorations while Clara is at her mock SAT test. Do you want to help?”

His eyes went back to normal and the rage vanished from his pretty face. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”

“What are you doing for Halloween this year?”

He smiled. “I’m going to be a ghost. How about you?”

“I don’t know. I thought about being Little Hagrid, or maybe a Vampire.”

We both smiled and finished our coffee.

I have to go pick up my child now. Have a good weekend everyone and thanks for dropping by.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teenage Jungle

Hey baby, let me finish my cigarette and we’ll take the SAT test together. I hope your score is smokin hot high because stupid boys never get lucky with me.

Where’d you hear I was dead?

I was sitting (and still am) at my dining room table with my laptop and overheard my husband on the phone.

“This is Theodore Kings…yes, it’s me Teddy….well I suppose, but no I’m not dead…I haven’t been dead for a long time. Where’d you hear I was dead?….Really?…I married Juliette…Yes, that Juliette… You and Juliette? My wife? Really. No I didn’t know… I wanted to ask you about…”

From there is was all business. I hadn’t thought about him for years. I hadn’t talked to him for at least eighty years if not longer. We’d spent a year on and off, more on, traveling around Europe and ended up in New England. Then we just sort of drifted apart and pst touch, as Vampires tend to do. I had no idea that Teddy knew him.

Anyway, what was I writing about? Huh.

Oh right, we were looking at vacation spots and thinking of either Iceland or Bermuda. Seriously. But we have to go to New Mexico and school and skate schedules have us booked up.

The cat is on the table next to me purring, then I hear a voice asking, “So are you dead?”

I look up to see The Ghost sitting across from me. Yes, that ghost.

“I’m very much alive,” I tell him.

He smiled that nasty shit eating grin of his, “Sort of like those parasites that go dormant for years on end then come to life when they smell blood.”

“Do you need something Nigel?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Not really.”

Tonight his eyes were almost black under his long lashes. He smiled and started to fade out, then reappeared in the chair next to me. He is so annoying.

“Juliette, my dear, you were never a real person were you?”

“No, I was never a real person. I’m one of the lucky 10% of Vampires born this way.”

“Then how can you be undead? I mean you’re a Vampire so you’re supposed to be undead. But you were born alive as a Vampire, so you didn’t die first did you? That wouldn’t make any sense. Then again, I’m a ghost and that never made any sense to me. I was alive and then I was a ghost. And my body is in a box marked with a stone. People still come by and visit there. I’m hardly ever around when they visit. And here we are talking. Fancy that. So what exactly is undead? Isn’t it weird to be a monster? Do you ever feel like a freak of nature?”

“We’re done talking Nigel.”

“You’re done Juliette. I’m just going to hang out for a while. Go back to what you were doing.”

I tried to ignore him and started to look up stuff, you know research on the book I haven’t finished yet.

“Hey, Juliette, mind if I take your car?”

“You’re a ghost. You can’t drive.”

“Just checking to see if you were listening.”

I reached out and touched where his hand was. My palm rested on the table but it made him smile. “I’m listening. It must be difficult to be real and then not real. Teddy had a Hell of a time adjusting. How are you doing with it Nigel?”

“Alright I guess. I need to get out and haunt more but it gets old after a while. Not quite 30 years and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Just kidding. It’s fucking great.” He almost spat that out with a ghostly snarl. Not as good as a Vampire would snarl it out but almost.

We sat for a while and listened in to Teddy’s phone call. They were talking about diamonds.

Nigel stood up and straightened his cufflinks. “It was fun. I gotta go.”

“Haunting?”

He smiled. “No, hot date.” Then he vanished with a thin bit of blue smoke like an exotic cigarette, but without the smell.

You can’t always define friendship or connections or old loves or old pals. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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What I’m taking about with my teens: badly behaved people, teenage boys, music, dogs, and other odds and ends… and Vampires

I live in a world populated a lot of teenagers, including my own. As those of you who frequent my blog know is that we all talk a lot. My mantra is “talk to your kids.”

This week we’ve been talking a lot, about a lot of different things…

The band All Time Low has come out with a new song called Something’s Gotta Give and will have a new album out soon. Cute. We watched the video on You tube. There were both French fries and Zombies in it. Click on the song title above for the YouTube link.

Why do people complain rather than make their things/society/country/home/school better? Let me know when you find out the answer to that one, and then actually convince people to change things for the better and I’ll give you a million dollars and a box of possums.

Why are there still internet trolls and bullies? Keep your eyes open kids.

Fleas. This was a rude shock to all of us when the horrible little creatures invaded our home last week. OK I’ll admit that back in the old days fleas and other nasty vermin were everywhere, but it still grosses me out. We defleaed the pets, the carpets, the beds, the yard… and everywhere else around our house. Our poor dog has chewed herself raw in just a matter of days. She chews up her backside so fast we can’t catch her until she is a disgusting mess.

Our 11-year-old dog is getting noticeably different (not just the fleas). She isn’t listening. She doesn’t hear things. She doesn’t want to do anything most of the time. She has figured it all out. I’ve noticed that sled type dogs like her like to do their own thing anyway. I’ve had them over the years. I love them, they’re the best, but boy can they be stubborn.

Cats are afraid of popcorn makers. What does that mean? Don’t hold the cat up to the popcorn maker when popcorn is popping. End of story. There is nothing more to say. No, I don’t want to see you do it again.

Teenage girls universally hate it when boys wear basketball shorts all the time. Boys wonder why girls don’t pay any attention to them. Boys call boys who wear nice clothes fags. OK guys, wouldn’t you rather be called a fag and get the attention of ALL the girls then wear basketball shorts 24/7. Save the shorts for PE and when you’re at home. Boys don’t call gay boys who wear nice clothes fags. They leave them alone because most of them are smart and popular.

Someone sent a message to Clara’s friend asking him if he was gay.

By this time next year gay marriage will be legal everywhere in the USA. I know it will. I live in Northern California so being gay or straight shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t. So why do boys still call each other fags? Most kids don’t care. Plus it makes you sound stupid. That said… don’t wear basketball shorts every single day.

I also got to hear all about thongs. Not flip-flops but the butt floss type of panties so many girls wear. Um, girls, don’t do it. Even the firmest most athletic butt looks sort of iffy in leggings. If you show a whale tale the boys at your school will NEVER forget. Boys are like that. They’ve always been like that. Even before there were thongs they were like that. Believe me – boys are like that. Thongs are not a good idea. Plus other girls in the PE locker room don’t want to see it.

And speaking of thongs… turn the Thong Song OFF when your mother is driving or in the car or within 20 miles of any radio or electronic device playing that song. It is what is WRONG and encourages stupidity and bad taste in ALL THINGS. And NO it isn’t funny to fight with your mom over the radio buttons and laugh out loud just to annoy her. End of story. If you want a list of songs that annoy your mother I’d be happy to make you one. Old songs are included along with new ones. My annoyance levels go back for years.

Cheese is good.

The dog will now only eat cat food and Gravy Train. Everyone thinks we’re cruel and bad dog owners – BUT our dog won’t eat expensive dog food. She will only eat treats if you throw them in the air first so she can catch them. My husband discovered if you drop dog food all over the floor,  like you accidentally dropped people food, the dog will sneak into the kitchen and eat it. When she does eat food she takes a mouth full, brings it over to the white carpet and drops it before eating it. No amount of yelling or praise will make her eat over the tile. The same goes for the cats when they want to barf. Thank God we’re getting rid of the white carpet soon. Unfortunately we’re keeping the pets.

We can change our minds. I heard an interview on NPR this morning of the group The Decembrists. I always thought they were, well let’s just say they were not my cup of tea. But this morning I listened to their new music and the interview. It was charming. I might even become a fan. Maybe not a big fan, but hey it was fun. Click here for the story.

Also if you like 3 songs a band plays it does not mean you have to like everything they do. The same goes for books/authors and just about everything else. By the way there are exclusions to that rule and the guys who wrote the Thong Song is included. Those are bands and songs I will NEVER like. The Thong Song is on the same list as that Jimmy Webb and Richard Harris for bringing us that horrible song McArthur Park which likens love to leaving a cake out in the rain. That has got to be one of the worst songs ever written outside of anything by Justin Bieber and Melanie Safka.   Also on the list is Dr. Hook for writing Sylvia’s Mother. I was always glad with the knowledge that Sylvia’s mother kicked Dennis Locorriere’s (the singer) whiney ass half way across the state of Illinois. I hate whiney boy songs. Oh please spare me your over sensitive wounded boy shit and grow the fuck up. And to make matters worse Shel Silverstein was the one who wrote the lyrics to Sylvia’s mother. I kid you not. It had to be a joke.

After forcing themselves uninvited onto my phone U2 is off of my list forever. I don’t care if Bono believes he is more interesting than the Dos Equis man – I’m done with you Bono. Get off my phone.

The one thing about music that I want to burn into the minds of my children is to make what they like their own. They should listen to what they want and refine their own tastes. My play list is so gosh awful but at the same time weirdly wonderful and extremely private. I’d almost rather sleep with a good looking stranger rather than show him my playlist (no of course I’m not going to tell that to my children.)

But what I mean by all of that is that one should not listen to music because a boyfriend or girlfriend likes it, or that someone else says it is good. Listen to it because YOU love it.

My brother Max just looked over my shoulder and said, “Christ Juliette, you’re not publishing that are you?”

I glanced up at my eldest brother who is now sporting a short beard. “I haven’t seen you in a beard since the 80’s. 1980’s and 1880’s. It looks good. Just keep it short. Don’t try to do the urban lumberjack look.”

He gave me sort of a snarl and a smile and went back into the other room with my husband Teddy (who is also Max’s best friend.)

Max was recently up in Northern Nevada taking care of some sort of horrible nasty clutch of God-knows-what sort of creatures. They could be humans or Vampires or I don’t know what, I just know that when Max doesn’t want to talk about his work we don’t talk about it.

He’ll go back to San Francisco tomorrow then in a few weeks go down south to visit my son Garrett who is in college. It will be fun. Garrett and I talk almost everyday and text everyday but I still miss him so. At the same time I’m excited for him, off on his own for the first time. No, I’m not one of those helicopter parents. We talk, I don’t hover or get into his business.

He tells me about people he has met – mostly other students and teachers.

A few days ago he asked me again if there would ever come a time when we could tell the world who and what we really are. I told him no, again. People, human people are for the most part reasonable. In some cultures we can be accepting of anyone. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the normal mode of operation. Anything different is bad. And if you’re extremely different or successful or threatening to others they find you scary. Or worse they use you as a scapegoat for all of their problems. Humans have a great capacity for love, creativity and innovation –  but they also have a great capacity for stupidity and ignorance and hate.

I can hear Teddy and Max laughing. It is always good to hear them laugh. Clara has come down to join them after reading an essay to me she is writing for her English class. I didn’t write this in one swoop – I have people come in and out with questions, comments and to tell me jokes. My cat jumped on the table next to my computer and is grooming himself. I hear a frog croaking (sounds like creaking) under my front porch.

So we’re talking and laughing about everything, all things, most things, and even good things. That is what we do. I hope that is what everyone does. I’d like to think that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

New Games and Other Random Thoughts

We’re still in the throes of the holiday season and my kids are still excited.  Don’t take offense to what I say – but sometimes living with my teenage daughter is like living with Robin Williams. She is FUNNY and she NEVER stops. I’ve been saying that since she was a toddler. It is constant in my face. Around most people she is lovely, well spoken and extremely polite. Around me… that is another story. I have to admit we feed off of each other in the humor department. At least once a day we laugh so hard I almost lose my breath completely.

Yesterday she told me about a couple of favorite high school games.

Get Down Mr. President

One group is designated to be the president. Someone yells “Get Down Mr. President.” The “President” gets down on the ground while everyone else acts like they are protecting him/her. And yes, they do this in school hallways and other public spaces. I told her it was in poor taste. Of course I had to laugh.

3 2 1 Infomercial

Someone yells (in public of course) “THREE TWO ONE Infomercial,” then everyone involved has to act super excited about whatever they are doing. Think about it.

Laugh About Mom

This is a game my family plays. I don’t participate and usually tell them to shut the F up. Yes, my lovely loving family can be… well, loud and slightly annoying. I know by reading my blog you might think we’re all perfect. We are almost there… almost.

__________________________

 

All I have right now is snippets of thoughts. I fell off a chair on Christmas Day. Yes, I was standing on it reaching for a Champagne glass on a top shelf. I fell on my back and now I feel as if I’ve been hit by a truck. Please, do not follow my example.

After over three years, and over 1,000 posts I’m not sure where I’m going with this blog. The creative process is an odd thing indeed, as is my life. Things seems to move along with sort of a pattern, but with a lot of random… a lot of random everything.

I look out the window and can see The Ghost outside on my deck in the frozen morning air pounding out something on an old manual typewriter. He looked up at me with a snarky glare then vanished.

It is too dark and too cold and too early for any of the smaller woodland creatures to be showing themselves. It has been weeks since I’ve heard any coyotes or seen deer. They’re out there. I haven’t seen a raccoon in 6 months at least.

Today will bring a trip to the mountains (up to Tahoe) and maybe an adventure to share.

In the meantime your assignment for today is to laugh. And be random. Or maybe write some poetry, or paint a picture or take a walk in the cold winter woods holding the hand of someone you love.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman