Burning Question #23: Brain Drain

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Today’s burning question is sure to boggle your mind. 

We often (by we I mean the general we, not you and me) speak of how smart humans are, or more often than not, how stupid individuals are.

We also speak about how some groups of people run seemingly blind to all reason and some do not. Don’t even get me started on politics. Seriously, don’t. Don’t you start either.

I try to talk to my children about the reasoning behind some groups and the dangerous notion of group think. We wonder if they will ever change. This is of course on the negative side of humanity. Why do people join cults? Why do people join extremist or destructive hateful organizations? Why do people embrace ignorance rather than look for answers? Why are some people curious and some aren’t? Is it society? Are we just stupid by nature? Have we reached our limits?

Do you ever wish you were smarter? Maybe just a bit?

Of course we know there are no limits on how smart Vampires are. LOL. Just kidding. I know plenty of Vampires who are willing to prove to everyone what jack asses they are.

Yes, I know you were expecting something funny. Here you go.

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Burning Question #23: Is there a limit to how smart individuals and communities can be?

 

I hope with all of my heart that the answer is NO. If you’re a parent or have children in your lives please tell them the answer is NO. There is no limits to how smart one can be. The same goes with compassion, humor, and love. No limits.

But feel free to answer how YOU want to answer.

Feel free to share any thoughts, strong opinions, puns, childhood stories, or poetry in the comments section.

Thank you for dropping by and answering this Burning Question.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Transitions

When I started this blog I was working full time for an organization outside of my home. My brain and the rest of my time was filled with Middle School and High School activities. I spent more time with my brothers. The canine love of my life was in her prime.

I couldn’t imagine having grown children.

Now everyone is in college. We discuss school but I’m not that involved, except to be a cheerleader, a therapist when needed, an entertaining distraction, and the one who pays for everything. Jasmine the white sled dog has gone over the rainbow bridge – her ashes sit in a box among old photographs. My cats are still here. A new dog Alice, a large goofy GSD is now in my life. I work alone at home. I rarely see anyone, except ghosts, and my ancient family members who welcome my visits, which need to be more frequent.

The sports and the activities have trickled off to almost nothing. I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere. I am alone here with a house full of books and animals.

Then again new activities call me. There is the art museum. There is my art. There are books in the works. There are walls to be painted. There are funny stories to tell.

And if I muse into melancholy madness Nigel the ghost will show up and kick my ass so I’d better move on.

We all change and evolve. That is part of being on this strange, horrible, and wonderful planet. We are trapped here so we need to be fluid. We need to keep evolving no matter how old or young we are. Growth never ends.

I find myself telling my kids not to judge others for what they do or the choices they make. Not all young people have it as good as they do. They don’t have someone helping them pay for school and everything else. They don’t have someone who is there 24/7 to listen. They don’t have someone who doesn’t judge them or question their every move. They have a safety net. Not everyone has that so their choices can’t be judged. I urge everyone to understand the choices of others.

There is no clear path. Five year plans are wonderful until a tornado hits your house, or someone you love dies, or you get sick, or the economy crashes, or your heart gets broken. So you take another road, or climb out of another window, or up another tree, or make where you are a better place. You add more books to your shelves and make an effort to call your friends, and your mom.

Parenting adults is tricky because they don’t want to listen, they need you to listen more than anything in the world, and they start to parent their own parents.

Yes, they do all of that.

It is scary. More scary that a pack of zombies banging at your back door. You can deal with zombies. You don’t love them. They just make a mess. But dealing with your kids, no matter how easy and wonderful they are, is always a challenge.

Dealing with Zombies: Shot gun. Flame thrower. Pissed off Vampires.

Dealing with Adult Children: Listening. Worrying. Loving. Worrying. Listening. Loving. Laughing. Learning to let them be adults. Learning not to be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

Everything will be alright.

With your kids, and with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

 

 

Everything Will Be Alright

I’m on the road for the next few weeks. This post was first published in 2014, but the message still rings true.

~ Juliette

Everything Will Be Alright

My life is absolutely jam-packed full. But there were times when I was alone in almost every sense of the word. There were times that might have been hailed as opportunities and all I could see was a bottomless pit. There were times when I took opportunities and so the saying goes, ran with it. I ran as far as I could go. Everything eventually changes. Nothing stays the same except maybe our love and I hope our humor.

As a rule I’m reserved around my new clients, that is new Vampires. Yes, just turned a few months ago. She was doing well. Rather pragmatic and accepting about it. As with most of them it wasn’t what they expected. Then again, most of life isn’t what we expect until we’ve been around for a while and gathered that old moss of experience and wisdom.

Willow had family here and there. Her parents had divorced and started new families when she was about ten. She never saw them much or kept track of them. She had lived with an uncle who’d since passed away. None the less Willow made it through high school and college then on to a career. Then life and love imploded around her. It happens to all of us. She thought of jumping off a bridge but didn’t do it. She was thinking of a lot of things one night when she was seduced by a man who turned out not to be like her. And well, her life changed a lot more dramatically than she could have ever imagined, for Willow had been turned into a Vampire.

It was more complicated than that, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point is that I am in charge of helping Willow finally make the adjustment of living on her own, in a new world. A new life if you want to call it that.

I’d introduce her to the community of the night and teach her to know who is safe and who is not. I’d continue to give her instructions and watch over her until she was ready to be completely on her own.

She was surprised that we (Vampires) were for the most part not the creatures of dark brooding novels and movies. OK we can be dark and brooding and we’re pretty good at it, but the point is that we, like everyone else, just want to be happy. We want to fit in. We need to care and know we’re cared for. That is the Modern Vampire way, and the way for most people, no matter what exactly they might be.

That morning we stopped by a small cottage like house I’d found for her to live in.

As we entered the front door she a look about in a cautious sort of way, kind of like a cat after all the furniture has been moved around.

“Nobody will miss me. Not really. I mean after I died.” She looked out the window into the mid-morning fog.

I put my hand on her shoulder. “This is the beginning Willow.”

“I…” she started to say, but I cut in.

“This isn’t suicide. It is just being here in a different way. You’ll make it positive. You’ll find success. You’ll find love.”

WIllow looked around some more inside then out back at the small garden. She smiled, careful not to show any fangs.”

We then took my truck in search of furniture and other household items she needed to get started with her new life.

She asked if she could get a cat. Of course. On the way home we stopped by the shelter, the city pound, where she picked out a three-year old tabby with white paws named Jeeves. She said she’d help someone else make a new start too – that they’d do it together – Willow and Jeeves.

I turned on some music in the car and intentionally played “The Middle” by the band Jimmy Eat World. It is one of my son’s favorite songs. It seemed like the right song to play for Willow.

In most cases, no matter how melancholy things seem, it will get better. The stars will continue to shine, cats will purr and new friends will make bonds that last for years.

I try to teach that to my own children who will all too soon be leaving home to go off to college, alone, that there will be times when they’ll feel lost. But they have a good navigation system and they’ll always find their way. Maybe not where they thought they would be going but with any luck they’ll always end up where they are supposed to be.

As I watched Willow unload Jeeves the cat and hold him in her arms, I had a feeling that she was exactly where she was supposed to be too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

The Middle

Jimmy Eats World – Songwriters: ADKINS, JAMES CHRISTOPHER/BURCH, RICHARD E/LIND, ZACHARY MICHEL/LINTON, THOMAS DARRELL

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just TRY your best, TRY everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
You just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what their bitter hearts (bitter hearts) are gonna say.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright.

 

Fear and Change

Most Vampires get paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Oh forget the blood taking and seductive ways that helped romanticize us.

You know what I’m talking about. Even the most confident of us feels that way more than we would like.

We jealously guard our own versions of our memories.

Something taken away.

Something given.

Something found.

Something lost.

It is that sense of loss and identity that finds so many climbing into crypts or under floorboards to sleep forever.

It is that inability to know there are others and that there is something to look forward to. Things change but not for better or worse – just different. Hell, things usually change for the better if you want them to be better. If you make them better. I didn’t say it was easy. It isn’t anything you’ll find in a self-help book. There aren’t self-help books for Vampires. There aren’t self-help books for most things that really matter.

Reaching inside where your old soul used to be and pulling up your new self isn’t easy. Your old self is still there – you will never lose that. You will always be yourself – like it or not. But you can change. You can become better. You can refurbish your old self.

You can shine like the full moon on a clear winter night.

Where you miss the warmth of your skin you will find coolness of nerves.

Where you miss those who grew old you will treasure the memories.

Where you miss the innocence of your existence you will find something else.

You aren’t a monster or an outcast – you are just different. Everyone is different. Accept it.

You’ll taste blood, but you’ll give back contentment in your donors – or give nightmares – it is your choice. Nice. You never had that choice before.

You’ll learn how to get blood stains out of anything.

Change or lack of change are both things we want and something that we fear.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy. Then again, nobody said it wasn’t going to be exciting and wonderful.

Contentment isn’t just something for a few. It is something we can all strive for. Content but still moving forward, never forgetting where we have been or where we are going.

The other day I spoke to my friend Cody who has been a Vampire for almost four years. He never asked for it but he accepted the changes in his life. There will be hardships ahead along with triumphs. He didn’t struggle like some do. He has had a lot of questions and questioned a lot of things. He has learned.

But he told me, “You know that old expression about a door closing and a window opening? The roof came off for me. I can see the whole world of possibilities now. Anything is possible as long as I keep reminding myself of that.”

Yes, Cody, anything is possible.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Diary: Pumpkin Spice

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Dear Diary,

I do not understand these large vegetables called pumpkins.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Tonight I went out for a bite to eat. It was night. Late night. I had gone to the usual night spots and had, what do people call it these days, oh yes, I had a snack or two. Small bites. Wanting more, and wanting something good I went to a tavern owned by a woman called Cassie.

I walked her home, nearly crazy with her warmth and the sweet smell of her blood. The night was cool with the change of the seasons. It was the autumn solstice. I was hungry.

Once inside of her house she grabbed my shirt and kissed me. I shared her embrace, hardly able to contain myself. Then she smiled and said she had to go to the bathroom. I waited, and decided to remove my shirt thus showing of my well chiseled muscular male form that few women can resist. I believe I have what people call a six pack. I do not understand it but I will accept it is a good thing.

Cassie appeared, still with a smile, completely naked, and completely beautiful. She approached me and put her hand on my chest.

“You’re cold Vlad,” she said.  Then she pressed her body next to mine. I kissed her. She sighed and pressed closer. Then just as I was ready to sink my fangs into her neck she stepped back away from me. I did not understand. Why did she step back from me?

The woman smiled and said, “Do you know what I want Vlad?”

“I assume it is me,” I said.

“I do want you Vlad, but first I want a Pumpkin Spice Latte.”

I did not know what to say. I, Vlad, King of Vampires, was speechless.

“Vlad,” said the beautiful naked Cassie, with a laugh, “you look so cute when you’re surprised. Damn, you always look cute.”

Cute. I do not understand this cute anymore than I understand this pumpkin spice. Kittens are cute. Babies are cute. I am not a baby or a kitten.

And now I find myself resistible. That is not a good thing. No woman should be able to resist me. I am after all Vlad the Vampire King. I ran my hand through my golden hair, and glared at her with my hypnotic blue Vampire eyes.

“What is this Pumpkin Spice Latte you desire?” I asked.

“Coffee flavored like Pumpkin Spice,” said Cassie.

“Vegetable flavored coffee? Why would you rather have that when you can have me? Would you rather I be a vegetable?”

She laughed again and called me cute again. I walked a few blocks to an all night coffee shop and obtained two Pumpkin Spice Lattes. All the while I was thinking that I should have stayed locked in the crypt in which I was imprisoned for three hundred years. On the walk to Cassie’s house I tasted one of the lattes. Stepping into an alley I vomited blood and Pumpkin Spice for ten minutes. Vampires should not drink Pumpkin Spice.

When I returned Cassie was wearing a robe over her naked body. She thanked me for the concoction from Hell. I debated whether to stay or go. She said the drink was good. Then she said I would be good too. I decided to stay.

I was exceptionally good.

I still feel ill

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

I could not sleep today. Dreams of my home being overtaken by vines heavy with pumpkins, pounding on the windows, with tendrils clawing at my doors, filled my head.

Looking out my window I saw no pumpkins yet my thoughts were still troubled. Knowing my friend Randolpho would be awake I drove to his house to find solace.

My dear friend greeted me at the door and welcomed me in. His home was cool and dark. The experience made me feel relaxed. Then suddenly I was overcome with nausea.

I looked towards Randolpho who was lighting candles.

“What madness is this?” I cried.

“Pumpkin Spice candles. Bath and Body Works is having a sale. I love their fall scents. There is nothing like blood and a little Pumpkin Spice to make one feel positively warm with Vampire comforts,” said Randolpho.

“Are you out of your mind my friend?” I said. I glared at the candles and made the flames go dead.

“What crawled up your ass?” said Randolpho.

“You do not need to be crude Randolpho. That smell makes me sick,” I told him. Then I related the story of the night before.

“Vlad, my friend,” said Randolpho, “it was not the flavor that made you sick, it was the milk in the latte. You know Vampires can’t drink lattes. Now if the coffee had been black…”

“Stop. I want no more talk of this,” I said.

“Fine,” said Randolpho, giving me that look he gives me when he thinks I am being unreasonable. “I am going to the plant nursery on the hill to buy bulbs.”

“Bulbs. Pray tell why would a plant nursery sell bulbs unless you are growing marijuana…” I said.

“No, TULIP bulbs,” said Randolpho. “Fall bulbs, like tulips, daffodils and crocus. Those small fall wonders that when put in the ground explode into a riot of color and true beauty.”

Tulips. Oh how this modern world amazes me. I remember  when tulips were rare and as valuable as the rarest jewels.

Once as a ransom for his idiot son, who wanted to become a Vampire, a Dutch merchant gave me four rare tulip bulbs. It was the year 1635. I remember it well.

I planted the bulbs in pots and nurtured them. In the spring the small brown eggs of earth (as I liked to call them) produced magnificent blooms of purple and white stripes, red, and yellow. I invited all in my castle to come see the flowers. Then out of nowhere came Baskall Kirflint, a Vampire with great wealth, good looks and an ugly temper. He demanded that I give him the hand of my sister, or he would steal her away and have his way with her.

I told him, “Baskall Kirflint, my sister does not love you, nor will she ever love you. Your unpleasant ways and foul temperament reminds her of a spoiled child. She will not have you, and I will not force her to be with you.”

Baskall Kirflint snarled at me showing his fangs. Then he knocked the tulip pot to the floor and ground the bulbs and blooms with the heel of his boot into my Persian carpet.

“Be gone from my sight,” I said. Then I told my guards to send him on his way knowing there was a full moon that night. The Werewolves ate him, all except his head which was still alive. I put his head on a pole on my castle wall so he could watch the world without being able to be in it. That was a mistake for Baskall Kirflint yelled insults from his bodiless lead to all who passed. I threw his head into the fire pit in the castle court yard that night and ended Baskall Kirflint.

“Remember Baskall Kirflint?” I said to Randolpho.

“What an asshole,” said Randolpho. “In the five hundred years I’ve known you I don’t think I’ve ever seen you go angry.”

“Seven hundred,” I said, “but who is counting.”

Then we both laughed.

After putting on sunscreen and donning our dark glasses we went to the plant nursery on the hill to obtain tulip bulbs.

I have no words, or almost no words for my joy when I walked into the plant nursery building. Bin upon bin was filled with tulip bulbs in every color imaginable. Along with tulips were daffodils, narcissus, crocus, and freesia bulbs. I imagined the fortune I would spend in this place, then saw that the bulbs were inexpensive. Six bulbs were the price of a pair of socks.

I filled my cart with bulbs of all colors, but mostly red. Then Randolpho said we must look at more things. As we walked along rows of trees, blooming shrubs and flowers, two women looked at us. One whispered to her friend, “they make a cute couple.”

Randolpho just laughed. I was not amused, but wondered at the ignorance of these women. If two men look at flowers why do modern people assume they are a couple. I am still trying to figure out the modern world but make an attempt to not fall into branding people with stereotypes (my new word for this month.) Randolpho told me to get over it. That is another expression I refuse to use. I told him so.

As we continued to walk through the beautiful rows of flowers, herbs, and shrubs we came upon a sign that said, “Pumpkins Are Here.” What madness was this?

In front of us were piles and rows and mounds of pumpkins in every shape, size and color. There were gourds that looked like small monsters. There were pots shaped like pumpkins with grinning faces.

Randolpho picked out a few of the unusual pumpkins to bring to his house.

“What are you going to do with those Randolpho? You are not going to eat them, I know that to be true,” I said to my friend.

“I am going to decorate with these pumpkins. Then when the fall is over and Yule Time comes I will cut up the pumpkins and feed them to the squirrels and deer,” said Randolpho.

Now I am at home with two large bags containing over one hundred flower bulbs. It cost me less than one hundred dollars for all of them. I did not, would not, bring home any pumpkins.

I went back to sleep and had dreams of red flowers and Cassie’s hot red blood.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

It is now snowing in the mountains which I can see from my home. I think of the winters long ago when I lived in a castle. I think of standing on the high tower lookout with the cold wind in my hair, and soft flakes of cold snow falling on my face.

People in my neighborhood are starting to celebrate the cool air by putting scarecrows, wreaths of gold and orange leaves, and pumpkins on their porches.

Everything is different now. Different than it was centuries ago when I was King of the Vampires.

I sent my sister a text on my phone. I have learned to do that. It is a valuable tool. I send her a photo of the tulip bulbs. She sent back a message with three red hearts. Do I dare say that was cute? I told her that I would save some for her. I told her how excited I was about the bulbs.

Then she texted, “Do not lose your head over it.”

And I texted back, “LOL.”

I am feeling as if I belong to the modern world, even if I do not appreciate the cult of Pumpkin Spice.

~ Vlad

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This is #33 of the Vlad’s Vampire Diary series. For the entire series, from the beginning, CLICK HERE. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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