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

 

 

 

 

But that brings me back to understanding the person you’re with. Relationships, Music, and Silent Movies.

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This morning I listened to a wonderful Tiny Desk Concert from Jimmy Eat World, one of my favorite bands.

I went upstairs to get something and my husband said “Since when have you been a Jonas Brothers fan?”

I informed him it wasn’t the Jonas Brothers. I didn’t even bother telling him that it was one of my favorite bands playing one of my all time favorite songs.

A few days ago my now grown man child said, “I thought girls were hard to understand. Women are even harder to understand.”

He is in yet another break up before the relationship even started. Being exceptionally charming and good looking never guarantees anything in life. But that brings me back to understanding the person you’re with.

You are never going to understand the person you love all of the time. The person who loves you is never going to understand you all of the time, or even most of the time.

Just have more coffee and don’t worry about it.

On another note if you’re thinking about a date night or just a fun night out with friends and in the Sacramento area:

At the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Silent Film Series: Nosferatu (1922)

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Reel Tour 5:30 PM – Film 6:30 PM

Register Online

Before the screening, enjoy an in-depth, docent-led tour of select works in the Crocker’s permanent collection to help put the film in context with the art.

With its German Expressionist cinematography, harsh shadows, and elaborate gothic sets, this original horror film formed the genre’s template for decades to come.In an eerie story that brought director F.W. Murnau notoriety and gave Max Schreck his most notable role, Count Orlock lures the innocent Thomas Hutter to his home before revealing his thirst for blood. As the unauthorized retelling of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, Nosferatu was nearly destroyed but has survived the past century as an enduring gothic masterpiece that continues to unsettle viewers.

The movie is exceptionally fun and sort of goofy and quaint. I’m sure all of my Vampire friends will be there. I’m counting on it. I haven’t seen it in almost 40 years so it is about time to see it again.

This is the Tiny Desk Concert with Jimmy Eat World: https://www.npr.org/2020/01/29/800256839/jimmy-eat-world-tiny-desk-concert

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Empty Nest Brain Drain

Even without any children in the house I find myself in constant motion these days.

My time is like a hole in a low water table area. It is empty but fills up faster than I can dig.

There is work to do, and things to plan, and research to take care of, meeting to go to, other people to see, places to go, animals who are five times more demanding now, and I can’t even seem to think. I’ve spent more time in freeway traffic than I want to think about. On the other hand I can’t complain about the traffic – I could be living in Southern California.

I’m also in touch with my children, every single day. It could be a long conversation or a series of funny texts but I’m in touch.

And you thought Vampires just sleep all day and then rise in the night to go out and find blood. That is like saying everyone else sleeps all night then rise in the morning to find toast and coffee then go back to sleep.

It might be all about the coffee but it isn’t all about the toast or the blood.

Sorry, I’ve got major brain drain right now. Let me get more coffee, go meet with my editor, see some chickens (I’ll post photos) and get back to you, maybe this afternoon.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman