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

 

 

Ask Juliette: Parenting, Ghosts, and Change

Ask Juliette is a somewhat regular Thursday feature at vampiremaman.com

I answer real questions from real readers. If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me at juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com

Before we get to today’s questions I have an observation…

This morning while I was out in my neighborhood walking my dog… it was an attempt to train the dog, which is sort of working. Anyway we walked over to where the Bald Eagles are nesting. Due to the influx of asshat photographers who feel as if they are gods and have a right to pester the poor new parents, the park service has put us signs telling everyone to stay away from the eagles and not bother them. Yes, there was a woman hauling a ladder out to where the eagles are.  I was ready to go out and scream at her. I assume somebody already did because I haven’t seen her around in the past few weeks. There has also been people climbing the fence (which was put there to prevent idiots from falling off of the steep bluff.)

In the wee hours of the morning my dog and I were alone with the eagles. I watched as they flew from the lake to the nest with fish. The babies flapped their small brown wings and hopped about the nest. As I walked home up my own street, my husband was driving out. He stopped and told me one of the eagles was flying over our house, about twenty feet from the deck.

I thought about the eagle parents. No parent likes to be pestered or watched when they are with their kids. Seriously, no matter what species someone is just let them alone in peace. Don’t bug them or pester them with advice. Don’t invade their privacy in order to get your daily cute fix.

Dear Juliette,

Why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Why must they haunt the living?

As most of my regular readers know, there are a few ghosts who regularly visit me at my house – mainly Nigel and his girlfriend Mary.

So why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Because they’re frustrated. They live in a world where they cannot participate. They’re reminded daily of what they are missing out on. For example Nigel’s 40th High School Reunion is coming up. He missed his ten-year reunion by a year. He is haunted by the thoughts of what could have been. He is angry because he never got to see his career progress, he never got to fall in love and get married, he never got to be a dad. He can’t even have a dog as a ghost, unless some dead dog attempts to latch onto him, but that rarely happens. What bugs Nigel the most is the fact that in the reunion program he’ll once more be listed with those who have also died since high school graduation. Only he can’t even see them because that isn’t how the ghost world works. Even the dead have left him behind.

Ghosts are trapped. They’re pissed off. They can’t communicate with most people. Nobody understands what it is like to be dead. So they hang out with Vampires, most of whom have died but are back in their bodies – so that even pisses ghosts off even more.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t be hating on ghosts. Sure they’re obnoxious but have some understanding and sympathy.

Dear Juliette,

If I became a Vampire would anyone be there to help me adjust? Would I have to be shown how to suck blood out of people or would it just come naturally? Is there training for new Vampires?

Yes, unless you end up being a soulless Shadow Creeper someone will be there to help. We have a wide ranging support system for those who have just become Vampires. A range of issues have to be taken into consideration when one becomes a Vampire. Did you become a Vampire of your own will, or was it thrust upon you? That makes a big difference on how you’re going to react to the change. You know, anytime someone makes a profound change, be if biologically, or mentally, there are going to be adjustments. It isn’t always easy.

One of the hardest things to deal with isn’t sucking blood, but keeping your existence as a Vampire secret. You can’t tell anyone, or at least those who will in turn tell others. We don’t have a lot of rules. We don’t have many consequences to our actions except maybe forcing someone to become a Vampire, or telling someone about us.

But sure, there are people here to help. I’m one of the go-to folks for helping newbees. Like with most profound changes, everyone is different.

 

Dear Juliette,

What’s up? What are your plans for the blog?

What?

Dear Juliette,

Why are Vampire men so damn sexy?

Sigh. Survival my dear. Survival.

 

Dear Juliette,

I just wrote a novel. I believe it is quite good, but none of my family and friends will read it. I need feedback. Now what?

If you want some feedback go online and reach out for beta readers. Most authors find that often family and friends aren’t interested in your work, especially if it a genera they don’t usually read.

Find a writing peer group either online, or with one of your local writing groups. Don’t get mad if someone reads your book and doesn’t fawn all over it. It is better you hear what you need to hear now – rather than getting a bad review or zillions of rejection letters later.

Also search blogs for like-minded individuals you think might enjoy your book, or have good, honest, educated input.

Another suggestion is to make a list of questions for your Beta Reader. Do they connect with the characters? Do the plot twists make sense? Ask what part they like best or least, and why.

Good luck.

That is all I have for today. If you can add to any of these answers please do. Everyone can always use a second opinion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Rejection Quota

 

It seems that all Hell has broken loose lately and damned if I’m doing my best to try to get it all back to normal. If not normal at least I want something that isn’t a never-ending roller coaster ride (roller coasters make me puke) or just quiet. I’d even go with boring. I’d embrace boring right now.

I had to attend one of those annual meetings yesterday. You know the kind where you sit for hours while others talk just to hear their own voices.

I picked Tellias up at his house on the far end of the city limits. I’m glad he and Eleora are still on the farm but sometimes the drive seems so long.

When I arrived he was in a grouchy mood. On the good side he was dressed decently thanks to my brother Val for helping with that. On his own who knows what the ancient Vampire Tellias would be wearing. It could be anything from old farmer overalls, to a vintage polyester fast food uniform, to a tuxedo with a Hawaiian shirt. Today he wore a black suit with a deep purple shirt and a silk tie with a very cool atomic age print on it. One his feet were yellow flip flops but I could deal with that. He’d pulled his white blond hair back with a black ribbon. Despite his age Tellias looks about nineteen or twenty years old – so the suit was charming on him.

“You look handsome today,” I said to him kissing his cold cheek. He did look handsome. He is one of those guys who is both handsome and beautiful at the same time.

“And you my dear are a vision of beauty unlike the world has ever known,” he said to me then he sang me a verse:

Exit: light
Enter: night
Take my hand
We’re off to never never land

He always sings me a song and I never know what it will be. I had to smile.

“I don’t want to go to this meeting. Nobody there cares what I have to say. Nobody ever listens to me anymore. I’m not relevant,” Tellias said to me.

“Tellias,” I said, “everyone there respects you. They value your opinion.”

He gave me a nasty look. “Nobody ever calls. They never come to see me. They treat me like I’m an idiot.”

“That isn’t true.”

“Is too.”

To some point it is true. Tellias and Eleora are old and alone, like so many other elderly and ancient folks of all kind. Thank goodness I enlisted my brother to help me out with them. They’ll go for weeks without help and never ask for help until the situation is grave. They are more or less a pain in the ass but I love them and help them and do what I can no matter how frustrating they are.

“Nobody values what I say either,” I told him and we went out to the car.

I don’t know if nobody values what we say but it feels like that a lot.

At the meeting we sat with the others and listened. After the speaker had spoken (it was just Vampire business, you wouldn’t be interested in) we gathered for a simple reception.

Everyone wanted to talk to Tellias. I held his arm and made sure he didn’t say something uncalled for or hijack the conversation to something trivial and uncomfortable. Who knows what was on his agenda on any given day.

It was true that nobody cared what I had to say. They knew what I was doing and the fact that I have things under control (so they think.)

My mother was there, collected, confident and elegant. Tellias gave her a hug and said, “You never come to see me.”

She shrugged him off and gave me a shit load of unwanted advice. Then she took Tellias by the arm and sweet talked him for a while. They had things to talk about, or so it seemed. I was just glad she was paying attention to him.

I made nice with everyone. It was all lovely in a weird sort of way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an introvert (though my daughter says otherwise). I just wasn’t feeling social. All I could think of was all the other things I needed to get done. Thank goodness for the many bottles of Poet’s Blood they had on hand. Someone had put a paper-thin orange slice in each glass – a very nice touch.

I made my way over to the window and looked at the view over the city. So many trees. So much going on with so many people. I turned at the sound of my name.

It was Mehitabel. It was one of the few times she was out of her usual work garb of black leather and dark glasses. She was lovely in a black lace skirt and cream colored sweater. Let me back track on this one. She is a hunter and alpha Vampire in every single way possible. Her job is to seek out Vampire Hunters and Rogue Vampires and other nasty creatures and eliminate them. That is part of her job. And she works with my brother Max. She also sleeps with my brother Max… sometimes. Sometimes it is him, sometimes it is her – meaning who wants to do what. I think right now she is just pissed off at him. Then again he pisses off a lot of folks, but that is another blog post.

Anyway, this quiet and thoughtful Vampire is standing before me and I didn’t even know what to say. I never know what to say around her.

So I ask, “How are you?”

She gives me a half smile, “Fine.”

“I liked what you said,” I told her.

“Good. I didn’t think anyone cared. Nobody listens to me, but I’ve learned to listen to others. It makes things easier because… I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better. It makes others feel better.” She shrugged. “I think I’ve hit my rejection quota. I’m done with it. I don’t even care anymore. Speaking of rejection, I heard you’re looking for a new mission.”

“Um, yes. I am.” I told her about some changes lately. I was still helping others in transition but other things had changed. I have been a bit distracted and unsure lately about what is next. No, right now crawling into a crypt is not an option.

“You’re the most creative person I know,” she told me.

So everyone keeps telling me. Sigh.

We talked for a while about other things, like clothes and the drought and cats. I think both of us needed a casual conversation where we didn’t need to prove or justify anything. In fact we did talk about this season of Justified. That was interesting.

Later I dropped Tellias off and promised I’d stop by more often. I’d also promised my mother I’d see her more. I did not ask Mehitabel about Max. I will let them work that out on their own. In fact, I almost don’t want to know.

I always tell my readers to listen to their kids, but we need to listen to everyone. Sometimes we need to listen really hard because sometime it is hard for people to say what they need to say out loud.

And sometimes we just need to be there for no reason.

And sometimes we need to stop whining and get to work.

Have a good weekend everyone… I’ll have more on, well, you know, more stuff, later.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Rejection Quota
First posted March 27, 2015

 

Friendships Change with Children (Even for Vampires)

Precious child 1850's

Precious child 1850’s

“There were friends I was always there for. I was there for them. I was there for their kids. Then a century later when I had my children they were gone. Just gone. We were too much trouble. Don’t even get me started on my childless friends. I know the whole Vampire mystique thing but they didn’t have to be rude about it.”

I listened to my sister-in-law Verity vent. Her children are grown, more or less. My nephew graduated from Law School in 2016, and my niece is in her last year of Graduate School. Verity and my brother Aaron had been together for over a hundred years when they started their family.

I know how she feels. We’ve all had friendships change in unexpected ways when we suddenly get married, or have children.

Felicity continued. “If I’d converted someone, no problem. They would have all been there helping and giving advice. But having my own baby is cause for them to all disown me. Or they adore other people’s kids but treat me as if we’re trolls. My kids were darling and always well behaved.”

She was right. Her kids were darling and well behaved. As adults they are still darling and well behaved. She went on some more about absent friends and family. I don’t have an answer for her. I just listen. I can speculate on the behavior of others but that is all – just speculate. Sometimes it is just the wrong time or place. You now live far apart. Your friends have more demanding jobs and nobody sees them. Sometimes it is jealousy. Sometimes it is just the fact that they don’t want to be around our rare Vampire children for reasons they aren’t going to share. They don’t want to hear about babies, or school, or all the things kids do. They don’t feel comfortable being around small new people who do strange and sometimes annoying things. Sometimes there is no reason. The way it is all uneven sometimes makes no sense to us, but it might make sense to someone else. Or sometimes it just is what it is, and like a lot of things there is no reason.

“But I was always there for them,” Verity said again.

One would think Vampires would have it all figured out but in a lot of ways we’re just like the rest. Then again, when we have kids we change too. I don’t care if you’re a Vampire, a Werewolf, or just a Regular Human – all of your priorities change when children come into your life.

Verity is always so calm and cool, like my brother Aaron, so I was kind of surprised. It is kind of something most parents never talk about.

And that’s it for today. I have no answers this morning. Just reports of rain, and coffee. I have a lot of coffee. All you want.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

And THIS is what happens when you give your kids a five pound bag of sugar and a spoon.

And THIS is what happens when you give your kids a five pound bag of sugar and a spoon.

 

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

What You Believe

Beliefs that seemed so important to me when I was young don’t seem so important to me now.

I think that applies to most people. We are influenced by our small world of parents and school. Then we go out into the wide world and do stupid things based on our young narrow views. We reject experiences, including love, friendship, career opportunities, education, adventure, fashion, creativity, and so many other things because we’re only twenty years old and set in our ways.

As we get older we start to loosen up and realize that maybe those hard held beliefs don’t fit us. We realize there exceptions to the rules. We realize that we can change those rules and traditions and make them better.

I’ve written about this a lot on my blog, mostly though stories about my friends and family, and my own somewhat crazy experiences. Yes, we learn from our experiences, and from the experiences of others. Heaven help the person (and we all have “that person” in our lives) who never learns from experience and is doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

A lesson for children is to not let others squash their desire to question what they know. And others will try. As a parent you shouldn’t fear this – if you give your child a good foundation, and most of all TALK WITH YOUR CHILD. Discuss these things. Keep the lines of communication open.

Just from talking to my children I’ve changed my mind and beliefs about some things. Yes, we can, and do learn from our own kids if we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open. It is a wonderful thing.

We move away and retreat from the old ways. At the same time so often, too often, we wonder “what if?”

That said, life does not stop when one grows up. You can keep exploring and having those adventures. You’re grown, not dead. And until you’re dead you can keep living, and changing, and looking at your options.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

moth

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

Musings on a Change for Today

There is a certain amount of guilt one feels when you realize that your children are much better people than you will ever be. Then you realize that your parents are much better people than you are, but that is alright because you don’t have to agree with them on anything, ever, because they aren’t you.

This evening I rescued one of my cats from the evils of the basement where he’d been locked all day long. He seemed a bit frantic and crazy, but I knew he wasn’t under the house drinking up all the wine, so at least that was good news.

He’d gone under the house when the painters had come to put up scaffolding. They closed the basement door, underneath the deck, when they did the power washing. Oscar the cat of course, had hidden himself behind the door.

My house is tall, at least three stories. It is a two story home built on a hill. The walls are tall. The roof is extreme. Right now my house looks haunted, which it is not. Sure I have regular visits from ghosts but my house is not haunted. Anyway, it is being painted for the first time in twenty nine years.

I look up at the tall walls and it seems overwhelming, but less so than the walls I keep trying to climb and falling off of. Or the walls that are in my way, topped with razor wire, mad dogs, fiery hoops, and buckets of acid.

Today I finished the last page of a novel.

Today I embarrassed my child. But I was right. But I was wrong. I was being the mother wolf, when I should have been the mother Vampire and just quietly vanished.

Today the sun went down early. I went out to the deck and watched the bats fly overhead in a rare show. Since the drought they don’t come around as often. Maybe the recent rain has made them want to stretch their newly hydrated wings.

Tonight I’ll plan for tomorrow. I will watch the mist come over the lake as the occasional bird wakes and cries out in the night.

Tonight I will embrace the cold darkness. I will celebrate the coming of the cool air and the damp mornings. I will feel and ache in my bones and savor the taste of whatever I make come my way.

It is time for something new.

Something better.

A change of season.

And a change of heart.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman