Shared Memories and New Adventures – Savoring the Moment

This week I’m in Southern California visiting my kids.

When your kids are grown shopping trips are different. Today we went out to get gardening supplies, ant bait, a cork screw, an air mattress someone can actually sleep on, sheets, drinking glasses, a lamp, and a front door mat.

Last night we, went for a long walk and saw tiny wild cottontail bunnies in the park near my daughter’s apartment complex. The wonder and cuteness overload was still there, maybe even more so.

Tuesday night my kids Clara, Garret and I, went to the beach. Only a few locals were out. The smoke in the air gave off a strange pink glow. Beach fires glowed in the distance.

We talked about how their father is handling the 21st Century. We spoke of the fires. We talked about the insane political situation of our country and the pandemic. We talked about our favorite beaches and trips we’ve made together in the past. We updated each other on friends and family. We laughed about a lot of things. That was the best part. We just let go and laughed at stories old and new.

It is amazing that when we are with those we love, and I mean real love, we just fall into a comfortable pattern no matter how long we are apart.

That can be with family or friends. We just take up from where we left off.

Forget romance and falling in love. That is fine and well, but it is those long term relationships with kids, dear friends, and hopefully family, that keep the soul alive. Those shared memories, and the ability to make new ones is something that we take for granted. Those positive relationships are precious and to be treasured and savored.

  • So dear reader, you know what to do:
  • Stay safe
  • Be kind
  • Wear a mask
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Pet a dog or cat
  • Keep your bird feeders full
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • Check in on those who might be alone or need extra help
  • Talk to your kids.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

Raised but not out of the crypt yet…

For the first eighteen years parenting is all consuming. Even if you’re not one of those helicopter parents, your job as a parent 24/7.

Then it happens. All your hard work pays off. You’ve raised responsible, well balanced, and lovely young adults.

Now what?

I’m still active but not hovering.

I’m still giving out advice.

I’m trying to be positive.

I’m still teaching them.

And I’m still learning from them.

An old friend recently asked me if I’d talked to my kids about drugs, sex, and other adult trouble. Of course. I started young on those talks. There is no reason to be shy about it. Would you be shy about the dangers of fire or picking up rattle snakes? Of course not, so there is no need to be shy about other potentially dangerous activities.

Excuse me… something just hit the window. I thought it was a bird, then I saw a ghost standing in my backyard flipping me off.

I hate ghosts.

But does he stay outside? No of course not. With a slight hint of sulphur and lavender he materialized next to me, then pulled up a chair and sat. He wore a black suit, white shirt, black tie, with black 80’s Bon Jovi hair. He was as every bit good looking, maybe even more than Jon Bon Jovi, but I didn’t want him in my breakfast nook.

“What are you doing here Nigel? Ghosts haunt people at night, not mid-morning,” I said to him.

“You’re a Vampire so it is only fitting that I haunt you during the day. What bug crawled up your cold ass,” he said without even a hint of a smile.

I tried to ignore him. He flipped my computer around.

“Stop it,” I said pulling it back.

“So how are you doing in this heat wave? Has your body temperature reached 70 yet?”

“Go away.”

“No. I want to talk about your Vampire spawn. They’re all grown up. What are you doing? Getting all empty nest weepy?”

“Shut up Nigel. You never had kids.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Yes I do.”

He sat for a few seconds and pouted, then he stood up and walked around for a bit, then came back to me.

“I was young once. I even died young,” said Nigel The Ghost. “My 40th high school reunion is in a few weeks. I’ve been checking in on the reunion meetings. My middle-aged classmates have no idea I’m there but I am. I didn’t even make it to my ten-year reunion. Holy shit. The thing is, Juliette, is that I’ll be young forever, or at least I’ll appear young, when I choose to appear. The only photographs of me are when I was young. But I come by my eternal youth honestly. I died young. You on the other hand are young because of your parasitic nature as a Vampire. Ever think is that? You have no right to talk shit about ghosts when you suck blood out of living people in order to have eternal youth. How fucked up is that?”

“You can go now,” I said, tired of his insults.

“And now you’re all bent out of shape because your kids are leaving the crypt, and you can’t write about their perfect childhood, or your perfect child rearing advice, or your cold little perfect life, or whatever you call it. Are you alive?”

“Nigel,” I said to the ghost in a calm voice. “Don’t ever say I live in a crypt again. And get the fuck out of my house.”

“You’re beautiful when you’re angry,” he said with a mean-spirited grin. “I can imagine you with blood dripping down your chin.”

He knows I never have blood dripping down my chin.

With a flip of his glossy black hair, Nigel started to talk again. He never shuts up. “They were talking about me last night. It made me sad, and angry. You know I was murdered, and I have no idea who killed me. It could have been someone in that room. But it was taken away from me. I could have had a wife and kids. I could have… I could have had gray hair, I could have had a wedding, I could have had a dad bod, I could have sat around with my friends and talked about the good times we had, and people we lost, but they were talking about me and I couldn’t say anything because I’m dead, sure my art is still around but man, it just kills me, and I’m dead, and I will always be dead…and it just sucks. You, maybe not YOU, because you were born the dead way you are, but most Vampires have the choice to be dead. I didn’t have that choice.”

“Could they have seen you if you wanted them to?”

“No. That is the frustrating part. A few could feel a cold breath of air, or a lost memory.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Don’t be. You don’t owe me anything.”

Then he put his hand over mine. All I felt was an icy chill. Then he looked into my eyes, and in a wisp of blew smoke he vanished.

I always want to ask Nigel if he was that big of an asshole when he was alive but I never do. I have a feeling he wasn’t. Being a ghost can do that to a person.

A lot of kids are lucky enough to go through childhood without any loss, tragedy, or well, without any bad things happening. Once they turn into adults all bets are off. It seems to start with car accidents, then illness, other accidents, suicide, and even murder. Wrong roads are taken. Bad decisions are made. Bad relationships last too long. Then again, if we all look back we’ll find the good stuff is there. Sometimes it gets hidden, but it is there.   I’m not getting all Sunday School on you. The good stuff is there, even if it is the memory of laughing with old friends, a walk in the cool fall air, or finishing up the best book you ever read.

My kids are out of the crypt. Unfortunately for ghosts they never get out. Don’t be a ghost until you’re dead. Think about it. You couldn’t give better advice to your young adults.

That’s all.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: This was first posted in August 2017. I’m having computer issues so anything new is extremely difficult now. Wash you hands, wear a mask, hug your cat, talk to your kids, and stay out of trouble.

Vampire Maman

Normal, or Whatever

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I’m trying to appear to be normal and appear to be a normal parent.

Considering I’m a Vampire that is always the the case, you know, appearing to be normal.

Normal: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Of course I’m more than normal. I want to shout off of the roof tops what a proud parent I am but I don’t want to brag or sound crass. OK, I DO want to brag in a big way.

So often we hear the tern the new normal. What does that even mean? Or worse we hear back to normal.

How about new beginnings. Or the new better way. Or the new challenges. Or something positive. Positive might not be a word that most people expect from Vampires but we’ve survived thousands of years because we’re positive about the future. We look back on the past but there is too much to dwell upon. Looking upon the future is what keeps us fresh and young. It isn’t just all about blood you know.

We also live with a certain amount of fear which is good and bad. It is usually bad.

When I started this blog in 2012 my son Garret was in high school. He was playing his guitar, flirting with girls, painting pictures, writing poems, and being a normal Vampire teen. Now he is grown, finished with college, starting a career and thinking about getting his own place.

After living with his best friend Randy through college and grad school he is now ready to be completely on his own. Randy will still be in the picture but an hour away with his own job and interesting (to say the least) relationships.

While I am still adjusting to having an empty nest, Garret will be getting his own first nest.

His sister Clara, now at almost 21 and completely the adult of the family, is going to go looking for places with Garret. They’ll be living closer together, something they look forward to.

I don’t need to warn them about the dangers of not being careful as in who they let into their homes, or share their secrets with. They’re fully aware of keeping their night life separate from their day life, so to speak.

Some things never change. Some things change continuously.

Our goal should be to not let any of it throw us off and keep a balance. Right now, in this strange year, it is easy to be thrown off. Yet, at home it is easy to keep things the same.

Dogs still wait at the door for their owners to return. Children still need to go out on their own. Sometimes they need to come back, then out again. Sort of like cats.

So that’s all. I’m just thinking out loud today and avoiding a painting project, and staying out of the summer heat. I got the car smog checked, did some research, made some calls, and payed bills. Yes, Vampires need to do those things as well.

As for normal…

Try not to be too normal. While normal is easy, it isn’t always the most interesting thing to do. It is safe, but not always.

Things are still going to go bump in the night. Then again that might not always be a bad thing.

And if you need something to read remember that the newest WPaD Anthology Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A Go-Go is now available in digital format. The paperback will be available in July 2020.

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  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Talk to your kids.
  • Hug your dogs and cats.
  • Don’t yell at your significant other too much. They’re getting tired of all of this too.

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

What we’re taking about today: Things we find stupid, frustrating, or maybe good.

Even my kids are weary of people asking Star Wars or Star Trek, or what Hogwarts house do you belong to, or anything about super heroes and their powers.

My kids were home for a while. Garrett left yesterday. Clara leaves tomorrow. They were here for three weeks.

We talk like we always have, about everything and anything. We discuss the news, but try to avoid it. They talk with me. They talk with their dad. We go for walks and talk in the car, and just hang out at home. We’re like everyone else. Maybe we talk a little bit more than everyone else.

Garrett, his friend Randy, and their other temporary roommate Alexis are all graduating from Grad School with no graduation. I plan on doing something for them all but don’t know what yet.

We’ve done drive by graduations and birthdays during the lock down for high school students.

The whole shut down has stopped Garret’s usual romantic head spinning. Seriously, his head is in the clouds when it comes to girls, but there has been a turn in my son lately. Maybe it is Randy’s more casual approach to girls. It could be strange Alexis and her tendency to just shrug off absolutely everything that is thrown her way, but always with sort of a smile and a let it roll attitude.

Garret is waiting for a new job to start. It might start in June. It might start in August. Nobody knows at this time.

Clara is still studying for finals and writing her last papers of the quarter. She is looking at internships. Her boyfriend has plans for the summer that will advance his goals. They’ll drive home in the morning.

My husband Teddy is over the top anxious about both of the kids. I keep telling him that we raised them right. Then again when Teddy was just a few years older than Garrett his entire world was turned upside down in an extremely jarring and unimaginable way. He worries about bad influences, bad directions, bad people, bad career paths. I remind him of house stupid we were at that age. Or at least I used to remind him about how stupid we were but stopped doing that this week. It didn’t seem to matter.

We’re all tense. We’ve been at home. Teddy boarded up his business and will start back later than expected. College is still online with no word of what will happen in the fall. I don’t know what is going on with my work. Everything is up in the air.

We talk about all of the issues that 2020 have brought. Any planning for the future seems strange. We try, but it still seems strange. We’ve had to put off or cancel almost everything.

We don’t talk politics. That is beyond frustrating. OK we do a little bit because it can’t be helped.

We garden. We read. We sit together. We pick out paint colors, pet the cats, walk the dog, and putter around.

The world is never a calm place but lately it seems there is little calm. So within our walls, our neighborhood, and our own souls we try to find that cam place. We do yoga. We laugh at stupid jokes. We tell funny stories.

No matter what our kids are growing up to be their own people with their own lives.

It seems odd that when I started this blog that they were in middle school and high school. We talked about middle school issues, summer camp, school shootings, and dress codes.

Now we talk about the environment, human rights, and the state of the laundry rooms at their apartment complexes. They talk about beach closures, park closures, and where to get the best vintage clothes in Southern California.

My husband and I tell them to be extra careful when they go out at night. I know they will be careful, but we have to tell them anyway.

I raised my birds to fly. Now they’re soaring off in different directions and I can’t see or follow them all the time. I have my own directions to go in.

I will miss my children. My husband will miss them as well in his own way. Then we’ll miss them together as we talk about how proud we are of them. We’ll also talk about how proud we are of ourselves for doing such a fine job of raising them.

The house is quiet now, and for a rare hour I am alone. Even the cats are off sleeping in their corners, or under a bed.

I should be writing new stories, Vampire lore, or complaining about ghosts.

But I’m not. Just waiting till 4:30 when I take the dog to the pet place to get her nails trimmed. Don’t tell me to do it myself. I have a 90 pound drama queen of a German Shepard. I can’t do it.

So that’s it.

  • Stay safe.
  • Feel love.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Call someone you love and talk.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Just Listen…

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This morning it was quiet aside from the sounds of the birds and the occasional car in the distance.

Right before dawn, when the sky was between light and dark, my grown children, brother Max and I went for a long walk.

My husband Teddy was sleeping after spending a day boarding up buildings and helping other businesses and friends do the same.

The kids are frustrated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the shut downs, the loss of opportunities, online college, the social injustices in their world, and by their current roommates. Max and I listen to them while we walk and try to control three large exuberant dogs. We just listen. I had to tell Max to listen and refrain from giving too much advice at this time. Just listen.

Yesterday I told my now grown daughter that I understand her frustrations. I’ve spent the past quarter of a century talking to my kids about school shootings, social justice, random acts of violence, war, racism, sexism, the environment, and how to stay smart in a world that is sometimes absolutely insane.

I’ve mentioned before how proud I am of their diverse group of friends of every color, ethnic background, and sexual orientation. They don’t think in terms of “us” and “them.” If they do the “them” means people who would rather hold people back, or destroy our planet rather than move forward in a positive and meaningful way. I know that sounds awkward but I don’t know how else to put it. Their tolerance for assholes is extremely low, at least for my daughter. My son is more forgiving.

Gone are the days when I can just kiss them and make it all better.

I told them that I can’t help them with a lot of things they’re going through right now, but if the space aliens show up in July I’ll be the one to take care of that.

Max smiled and said nothing. He makes an attempt to take care of Demons and other dark forces but sometimes things get even too insane for him.

For me, everything has become amplified since I became a parent. Everything. That includes the good things.

Now more than ever we need to treasure the good things and work towards our goals of all things that are good.

With our guidance, and by that I mean by our encouragement and love, our children will change the world of ours for the better. They want it. They need it. Even without us I believe they’ll do it.

In the meantime I’ll watch the night sky for flying saucers, and watch the cold spaces under my house for goblins and rattle snakes.

If the aliens do come all I can say is that they’d better bring snacks and beer. If they land at my house they’d better bring cat treats too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Vampire 101: Removing Blood and Red Wine Stains (file this under ADULTING)

Now that both of my kids are out of the house I am not longer there for them when they get stains on their clothes. Dirt is easy.

I’m not going to believe the Tide Ad (The Super Bowl Ad) where the woman keeps saying “It can wait.” It kind of can’t. The faster you get something on that stain the better.

A good item to give your college bound kid (or yourself) is a laundry stain pen. Most major brands make them and they can be found in any grocery story. These handy little stain removers can easily be kept in a backpack, purse, pocket or binder.

But if you DO get a blood stain follow these follow these steps:

Don’t wait. Don’t scrub. Don’t put heat on it (heat will set the stain in forever unless you’re getting out grease and oil.)

To remove blood stains from washable fabrics.

  • Spray with a stain solution such as Simple Green or any laundry pre-treatment and wash immediately in cold water.
  • Check before you put the shirt (or other whatever is stained) in the dryer. You don’t want to set a stain in that you can still remove.
  • If any stain remains, I usually soak the hell out of it overnight with OxyClean or Goof Off spray. If you don’t want to do that then soak it in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1­/2 teaspoon dishwashing or liquid laundry detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 15 minutes.
  • For excess solid or caked-on stains, scrape off what you can, scrub gently with a soft brush or clean sponge, blotting occasionally until the stain is gone.
  • This works for most organic stains, not just blood.

To remove blood stains from leather or suede:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Dish soap works well. You want a lot of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge and gently rub the stained area, taking care not to spread the stain. Q-tips work great for this.
  • Wipe dry with a clean soft cloth. If all else fails take it in to get it professionally cleaned.

Blood stains on Silver

It may seem romantic and daring to the younger Vampires to use silver goblets to drink blood from but DON’T DO IT. Not only is it hard to clean but it is TACKY. Use glass or ceramic. Or even a red cup is better than ruining a nice goblet. But what if your college aged child gets carried away with the moment. Wash the silver right after use. Dried blood will cause some nasty tarnish. Better yet, tell your kids NOT to use silver with blood – especially not YOUR silver. If the stains are difficult get out the polish and elbow grease and MAKE YOUR KID DO THE WORK and polish those stains out.

Red Wine

I spill red wine a lot more than I spill blood. My secret is to get Simple Green on it ASAP. If you don’t have Simple Green just put it in the wash ASAP, or in a sink with whatever dish washing liquid (like Dawn) or any organic spray cleaner, or OxyClean.

If you’ve got a red wine stained carpet and on furniture take care of it ASAP. You’re taking care of it right now, and you didn’t start scrubbing away like a mad man (or woman).

Apply a dry material that will “lift” the red wine out.

Like any liquid, red wine will move toward anything dry that it comes into contact with. Your best move right after you get a red wine stain is to grab a dry, powdery material and apply it generously on the red wine stain. These include:

Table salt
Baking soda
Sodium percarbonate, a.k.a. a granulated form of hydrogen peroxide
Dry soap powder
Talcum powder, which is used for baby powder
Clay Kitty litter

These dry materials will “pull” the red wine out of the carpet, but don’t just start rubbing them in. Remember, you never want to rub (or scrub) the stain, regardless of what you’ve applied to it. Always apply the blotting method, even when it comes to cleaning up the salt or powder.

This works on oil stains too. I have a friend who used this on her car seats (the baby powder) and it worked wonders.

Let the salt (your best option), or any other dry, powdery material you use, settle for a few minutes. In some cases, this may be enough to actually remove the stain completely, especially if you acted fast enough. Otherwise, you may need to apply additional methods.

Coffee stains

If you get water on it right away most coffee stains will come right out. Most soap will get it out too. But use the same steps as above for blood stains and don’t let it sit too long.

If you’re prone to stains I suggest getting a small Green Machine or other mini type carpet spot cleaner. You’ll thank me for it later. This is a great tool for your adult children who are renters and concerned about getting their security deposits back (and just having nice looking carpets.)

Another life hack, or Vampire hack, is to always have a spare shirt in your car or backpack. You never know when you’re going to slop something on your shirt. It is good to be prepared.

My children were fortunate to go to an elementary school where life skills were threaded through the curriculum. They learned to do laundry, cook and plan meals, money, and interior design. This wasn’t some high end private school. It was a public school (Montessori). They learned the skills, wrote about them, did math problems about them, and compared notes. I will all kids learned this stuff in school. It is fun for them and they learn how reading, writing, and math fit in with the real world. If your child doesn’t get this in school take the time to teach them. When they move out they’ll call you about things that aren’t laundry or how not to overdraw their bank and Vemo accounts.

I’ve got an empty nest now but I will text my kids, share daily dog pictures with them, and maybe even talk to them today. But one thing I won’t worry about is stain removal – ok, maybe I will. They know it but they still always ask because, well, I’m the mom.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Mamam