Vampire musings on a cool sunny day.

About every few years someone calls my brother Aaron’s law office because someone wants to exhume them.

Let me back up a bit. Someone who is a Vampire wants Aaron’s help to prevent their empty grave from being dug up by well meaning family members (future generations) who feared their ancestor was murdered.

Luckily for us normal DNA testing won’t pick up that fact that someone is a Vampire. What it will do is make the Vampire with the empty grave become the closest relative.

I don’t know why I was even thinking about this today. When you’re a Vampire you need to think about these things. My advice is just to stay away from having a grave altogether if you must move on. Vampires just don’t have graves anymore. It makes things a whole lot easier.

Today I’ll be digging in my yard, not graves, but the spring garden. The annual explosion of flowers is also starting with tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and bird of paradise flowers. The trees are also flowering. This flower explosion will continue through fall. This is not by chance, but a well planned effort. It is my well planned effort. I call it painting with flowers.

There are no bones in my yard, only river rocks and old roots. Sometimes the Ghosts Nigel and Mary will come out and visit with me while I work the dirt. The only thing I really have to worry about is the giant dog digging up everything. Thank goodness for tomato cages. All of the plants get tomato cages until they’re at full size.

From there I’ll clean off the decks with all of the mud and damage from the winter storms.

Sure, maybe Vampires should be living in crypts. It would be easy, but the quality of life is horrible. I can’t imagine anyone truly wanting to live that lifestyle.

So I’m off to dig under the trees, outside with the birds, and the dog, and whatever else comes my way before the next storm.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Inspire (it isn’t a dirty word)

In my home I have a wall of bookshelves. Don’t we all. There are also more books scattered all over the house on other shelves as well. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from film maker John Waters, ““If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!”

John Waters also said, “It wasn’t until I started reading and found books they wouldn’t let us read in school that I discovered you could be insane and happy and have a good life without being like everybody else.”

But back to what I was looking for. I was looking for a book about California art, but ended up on the other side of the wall looking at poetry and literature.

Then something in my mind just shattered. It was my current WIP (work in progress.) The structure is there but there had to be more. The characters need to care more about each other.

So there you have it.

Over the years, and I’ve been over quite a few, we adults find that things like work (jobs), school, judgmental friends and relatives, and society in general has totally beaten any inspiration and creativity out of us. Or at least they try damned hard to.

I never understood the disdain some people have for creativity, change, innovation, and inspiration. The artist is revered but damned if anyone wants to study art. The writer is mocked as a quaint hobbiest. The inventor is mocked with the mythical idea of the man who would rather spend his life inventing a better apple peeler, or mouse trap than feeding his children.

My advice to my children, and anyone else who finds everyone around them is trying to suck every bit of inspiration out of them, is don’t listen to them. Shut out those who say no. Shut out those who make condescending remarks. Shut out those who say your creativity, be in art, music, writing, or even science, is a waste of time. Shut them out. Make them more of a pariah than they want to make you.

Inspiration isn’t just some stupid workplace poster that usually insults rather than inspires.

Inspiration can come in any form. It can be love. It can be acorns that have fallen on your car. One idea inspires an entirely different idea out of nowhere. Just go with it. Don’t think about it too much. Just don’t listen to the assholes. They don’t want you to be inspired. Being inspired makes you dangerous. That is a good thing.

I also tell my kids that if they’re around those who are boorish and lack imagination, and lack empathy, and want to be jerks, to just keep their ideas to themselves. You don’t have to share your world with assholes.

Creativity doesn’t have to be monetized either. Don’t ever forget that. 

And when you’re young, and even if you’re not, it is OK to just move on.

Let yourself shine, even if it is just on the inside. Have satisfaction knowing that you aren’t like them.

Then share with those who care, and understand, and those who feel safe sharing their ideas with you as well. Yes, know you can always be inspired by listing to others. Your story is wonderful, but it isn’t the only story. Don’t shut others out.

In the meantime, since I’ve turned this post into a vent rather than what I was going to write (don’t mind me, I have other things to share so just move on to the items below.)

I recommend you check out the books below. These are four of the books that distracted me and got me thinking about other things. They are by two authors I admire and respect. I am honored to consider both friends.

They both have a reverence for words, and actually see the world around them. They’re observers of life, and love, and everything.

You might be inspired. You never know.

Sack Nasty
Prison Poetry by Ra Avis

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Dinosaur Hearted
By Ra Avis

dinosaurheartedcover

Centripetal Force and Other Stories
By Jon Obermeyer

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Wingspan
By John Obermeyer

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One last quote. This is something we don’t say often enough to each other.

You are loved.
~ Ra Avis

heart-kittens

For those looking more for the Vampire side of things, I understand Vlad will be back soon with mire diary entries.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts In The Attic

In the wee hours of the morning my brother Max came over and crashed at my place. We built a comfortable room for him in the attic where he can stay whenever he finishes a job in our neck of the woods and doesn’t want to drive all the way back to the city. Plus sometimes he just likes to hang out with us.

He staggered downstairs and joined me in the kitchen where I was making coffee.

“Put a shirt on,” I told him as he stood there in nothing but a pair of draw string pajama pants.

I know he’s my eldest brother but he still needs to put a shirt on. I have four older brothers. I insist they be on their best behavior around me. Usually they are.

“You have ghosts in the attic,” he tells me, as if I haven’t already discovered it on my own.

“I know. They’re all over the place. I can’t do anything about it.”

“I don’t remember this many ghosts when we were children.”

“We lived in a new city Gold Rush boy.” Max was born in 1849 in a ship somewhere in San Francisco Bay. Now he drives an SUV and still doesn’t like ghosts. Most Vampires don’t like ghosts. They don’t care for us much either. I pretty much don’t care either way anymore.

“Damn, every time I was just about to drift off they woke me up with their whispering and horrible music,” said Max

“I’ll see what I can do for the ghosts in the attic. We rarely go up there so, anyway, I’ll put something up there to repel them, or just yell at them. They hate it when I yell at them.”

Max pushed his sleeves up and poured a cup of coffee out of the French Press. I could see the ugly scars from Demon scratches and bites.

I worry about Max but he’s a survivor. He survived the Titanic. He survived more bat shit crazy girlfriends than I can count. He survived being shot twice by Vampire Hunters. He has survived demons, angels, fallen angels, ghosts, jealous boyfriends and husbands, and all kinds of weird stuff. He survived the drama of living in three different centuries. He survived having four younger siblings who aren’t exactly serious when it comes to being Vampires. OK maybe Aaron. Aaron is serious about everything but that is a different blog post.

I glanced out the window and could see about half a dozen ghosts sitting on my back fence with black umbrellas in the rain. They watched a lone coyote walk across the meadow underneath the oak canopy. Their sad eyes looked up at me in unison. I pulled the blinds closed.

Max sat down and started to talk about his girlfriend. They talked about where they’d live after they got married. They decided to keep both of their houses, at least for now. She lived in Monterey. He lived in San Francisco. Maybe they’d get married in July. Max had a lot of questions for me. He wanted my opinion.

I listened, but kept glancing over at a small transparent ghost of a child jumping on the couch in the next room. I mouthed the words, “go away.” It stuck out it’s tongue, turned it’s eyes black and vanished.

Max look at me funny. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing. Just thinking maybe you should have the wedding in one of the art museums. Are you getting married in San Francisco?”

“I was thinking Carmel, or Monterey,” said Max.

Out the kitchen window a ghostly bride with a slit throat and a bloody white dress floated past the window. I closed that blind and poured Max more coffee.

“Either one would be beautiful,” I said as a bloody hand came up out of the garbage disposal. I turned on the water and the garbage disposal switch. The hand vanished.

“I can’t believe I’m finally doing this. A hundred and sixty nine years old and I’m finally getting married.”

“I’m so happy for you Max,” I said as I heard the faint sound of an accordion coming from the formal dining room. “Excuse me Max. I’ll be right back.”

In my dining room I found a group of five musicians and a female singer in a dress with a huge bustle and low neckline. She carried her big blue eyes in a jar and held it up so she could see me.

“We’ll do his wedding for cheap,” she said with a gap toothed smile. The band started to play Ode to Joy.

“Go away,” I said. “All of you,” I yelled. “Go away. I swear to God you all know there are only two ghosts I allow in my house, and that is on a good day. ALL of you need to leave right now our I’m finding your graves and piling them with moth balls and dog poop.”

The ghosts looked at me with fading eyes then vanished, along with their music. A glance out the window showed no signs of ghosts. I didn’t feel their presence anywhere in the house.

“Moth balls and dog poop. That’s pretty harsh baby sister.” Max had come into the room.

“Sorry Max, sometimes when it rains they gather. There are a couple of cemeteries, actually three of them on the other side of the river. I think they just get water logged, or maybe come up from the clubs that used to be along the river banks. They know I can see them. It’s kind of like dogs. They want my attention even when they aren’t mine.”

“Weird.”

“I guess. If you say it’s weird it must be weird.”

Max excused himself and went back upstairs to sleep a bit. Apparently the accordion had kept interrupting his sleep.

Back in the kitchen another man, one with shaggy black hair and a smirk on his face waited for me. “You’re not going to throw dog poop and moth balls at me are you?”

“No Nigel,” I said. “I’m not going to throw anything at you.”

He got up and poured a cup of coffee and set it on the table then sat down to smell it. “You know I only come here for the coffee.”

“Sure, and the company.”

“I’m the only ghost you like. And Mary of course. Everyone loves Mary.”

“I don’t always like you Nigel,” I said. “But you’re my ghost.”

“And you’re my Vampire,” he said.

We didn’t talk about Max and his aversion to Ghosts.

I don’t live a double life. I’m a mom. I live a triple quadruple life. Husband, kids, siblings, elders, pets, ghosts, etc… I take care of everyone.

You know how it is. Don’t we all.

“At least your closets aren’t full of skeletons,” said Nigel.

“Not too many,” I said, and poured yet another cup of coffee.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Noise

I missed Short Story Sunday yesterday. I used to write a story each Sunday while I was at my daughter’s skating practice. Maybe it was the white noise of the organ music that allowed me to block out everything except my child and my writing.

Needless to say, I was not at skate practice yesterday since my daughter is in Southern California with her boyfriend this week. I rarely go to Sunday skate practices because she has her own car now. Next year she’ll be in Southern California full time as a college student.

This is part of the whole Empty Nest discussion. Our routine is so keyed into our children that when they grow up we have to find new white noise. Seriously folks, putting our children in sports is just an excuse to have quiet time to read or work on writing during their practice time, or travel to interesting places during their competitions. None of the parenting books will tell you that.

Sunday is now filled with other activities including that man I seldom speak of – my husband. He’s great. We do things together. We even dressed up for a party this weekend. Good times.

Today I’m taking about twenty minutes to finally get out that missed story. I’m not sure where this will lead us but here we go…

White Noise

The radio was on but Elise wasn’t really listening. It was just white noise. When it got to quiet she’d have to listen to her own thoughts and question her actions. If the radio was on she’d feel more connected and it made work more productive.

Today she wished she could have taken the day off to paint but she wasn’t too unhappy. The unsolved crime blog was waiting.

Sixteen years ago her husband had been murdered. Even though he was a police detective his killer was never found. She’d cashed in the insurance policy, sold the house, packed up her three small children, and moved to a coastal city where she fixed up her Aunt Blinkey’s ramshackle beach house. There she taught economics and political science at the high school. Eventually the true crime community contacted her, and she shared her own research and theories into her husband’s death. Soon her grief became the passion of others. She was glad to hand it off. She was glad to help others. Research had always come easy to her.

Today she wrote about murder, with coffee and the radio.

Sometimes she just wanted to be. Not alone, but not really with anyone. She’d smile as her sons talked with their uncles about sports, and yelled at the TV when the score or a call wasn’t to their liking. She wasn’t listening to anything they said. It was just background noise as she painted, or wrote letters of recommendation to former students.

So she wrote about murder while listening to the radio and the rain pouring down on her roof and yard. The storm was so loud couldn’t even hear the waves coming into the nearby beach.

Today’s murder happened three years ago when a couple of twelve year old boys rode out on their bicycles one summer day. They told their parents they were going to the park. Instead they went another two miles down to the river. There they found the body of a young woman face up on the rocks, her arms and legs spread like someone making a snow angel. Her clothing was torn and mostly missing. Her throat was tied with a rope.

As a mother her heart broke for the boys and their parents. A few days later they found out the young woman was a kindergarten teacher who’d walked a few blocks the night before to visit a friend. Nobody even knew she was missing when the boys found her. Her killer was never found.

Elise had gathered clues from the readers of her blog. Someone had seen a woman wearing the teacher’s hand knit red sweater. Someone else had seen her with a tall blonde man. Someone else said it was her high school boyfriend who had kept a bulletin board covered in her photos. Elise was searching her email when she heard a knock on the door.

Standing at her door was her friend Bryan.

“You should have just come in,” she said.

“It was locked,” he answered.

“Where’s your key?”

“Home,” he said, then kissed her lightly and came inside.

She’d known Bryan for ten years. They’d met when their children were going to school together. Their daughter’s had become best friends forever and even gone to college together. He been a good male role model and a friend to her sons. And eight years ago Elise started being more than friends to Bryan.

He was never a boyfriend. They just spent time in bed together, or on the couch, or in the shower. They never told anyone, but eventually everyone figured it out, including their children.

Over the years they’d both dated other people, then ended up back together, or just cheated on the people they were dating. They never considered it cheating, especially when the other relationships weren’t serious. Nothing every got serious for Elise. It did once for Bryan, and Elise accepted it. But she was glad when it wasn’t serious anymore.

Elise turned off the radio and led Bryan to her bedroom. They spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying each other’s company as only two middle aged old friends can. He still dazzled her with his smile, and the way he moved, and the way he laughed, and of course the way he touched her.

As they lay in bed listening to the rain, he fell asleep with his head on her shoulder, his arms around her. Elise closed her eyes and thought about how she loved her time with him. He never told her that he loved her, but she knew he was tied to her with a bond he couldn’t find words for. She always loved him but she’d never tell him. He never wanted that, or at least he’d told her that years ago. Eventually she just didn’t think about it.

Listening to his quiet breathing she stroked his hair and though about her feelings for Bryan.  White noise. White noise.

~ end

 

Have a good week everyone. I’ll have more thoughts later this week. And don’t forget to stop by on Saturday for the 45th Burning Question.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Reflections on 2018 and the Year to Come

The first installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary was on December 26, 2014.

Of course I distance myself from Vlad and his cohorts. It’s complicated. I hate that expression, it’s complicated, but in this case it is. Sort of.

I help a lot of new Vampires adjust. I also watch old ones adjust. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I leave that job to others.

2018 was a different kind of year. I have high hopes for 2019. New beginnings along with the ancient. Not being in the possession of a crystal ball I can’t tell the future. But like all of us I can make the future and/or at least influence it.

Outside of my small circle, out in the greater world there are mysteries I can’t predict. I can’t even find spoilers on the Internet. Like will the find if anything is in the Chapel Vault on Oak Island. Is anything on that island except a lot of really cool equipment? Will my dog start coming when I call her? She is now three years old and is the only dog I’ve ever met who ponders the meaning of the word come every time she hears it. Will anyone I know be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship? Will yet another person ask me to turn them into a Vampire? Will my daughter get into the school of her choice? Will my son and his friend Randy continue to be baffled by adulthood? Will people in politics get their heads out of their asses or their asses out of town and let someone else do the job? Will I speak anywhere for large groups of people? I can’t answer most of those questions and right now don’t have the energy to even speculate.

The next year WILL bring posts about art, empty nests, old cemeteries, old photos, Short Story Sunday, and of course Vampires and their complicated lives (which are complicated just like everyone else’s lives.)

The Burning Questions will come to a finish (at least for weekly questions.)

I will continue to work on training my dog. I will work on this blog. I will try not to drive my husband completely crazy. OK I can’t guarantee the last point here. I will no doubt drive him nuts but it is up to him on how to react to my eccentricities.

I’m just sort of pondering and musing here right now. That is all.

Baby New Year will soon come tumbling along, hopefully without projective vomiting, nasty butt rashes, or too many scraped knees. You know how kids are. And with any hope by next December old man 2019 won’t be so worn out that he can’t remember what the Hell just happened during the past twelve months.

I’ll write more resolutions later, maybe. Years ago I used to write predictions on New Year’s Eve and put them in an envelope and seal them up. The envelope would be opened a year later. It was always fun and funny to see what would happen. Of course it was all crazy stuff like who might meet the love of their life, or find a whale in their backyard, or see a space alien, or go to the South Pole. And I would always be surprised to see that a lot of those things would come true. Maybe I should start doing it again.

Christmas is over and the New Year is to come. And in-between we still have the holiday season. Let’s all enjoy it. Let’s all enjoy every season.

By the way, I had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. I never know how many people will be over but my door is always open with good cheer. Blood doesn’t always make family – good cheer and shared time does. Believe me when I say that. We are all family.

Thanks for dropping by. Now think about what you’ll write down to seal in that envelope.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman