Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – but please no yoga pants

Odds and Ends – Musings on my state of mind.

This morning as I was leaving the self-serve dog wash with a clean old dog and a fifteen pound bag of dog food under my arm I saw road rage. Yes, right there in the Trader Joe’s parking lot between the organic bakery and the dog wash.

Fresh from getting her Zen and Zang aligned with the universe at her Friday morning yoga class, a woman in an expensive SUV started screaming “BITCH you can’t have my spot.” She was screaming at another woman who was also in an SUV (woman number two was not wearing yoga pants.) It was one of those WTF moments for me. After helping my old dog with the bad leg into my car I could only hope that nobody would scream at me. If they did there might be hell to pay later, much later, but maybe not. It just isn’t worth my time. Karma will get the screamer much more effectively than any Vampire could.

As a rule, aside from swimwear and underwear I never wear anything with an elastic waist band. I do not have road rage. Yes, of course I swear in the my car and curse enough to make the Devil himself blush – I’m a mom. All mom’s swear in the car, just as any child. BUT I do not have road rage.

I’ve been out and about during the day a lot more lately. Things are different in the light of day. At night people are predictable. They are usually tired or drunk or happy to be where they are. During the day the world if full of women who are full of rage. Raging women with well manicured hands and yoga pants. There are also the moms with a baby in one hand and a dog pulling the other with a leash. Yes, it looks good on paper, but in reality the dog and the baby rarely want to go in the right direction. The three I saw today were so cute. I remembered those days except I had two exceptionally large hairy girl dogs (90 and 125 lbs) and babies in tow. Auto pilot time!

When my children were small I always knew a lot of the well-kept raging women with their aligned Zen were blissfully ignorant of their husband’s girlfriends or of their market value going down in the workplace. I was never Zenfully aligned in any way shape or form. The universe has never been an aligned or straight forward place for me. That makes things difficult at times but you know, it just the way things are.

Disclaimer: Not everyone who does yoga is one of those women so don’t get all pissed off.

Then I saw two guys with a lot of hair and backpacks. I don’t know if they were homeless or just traveling through. At the light a Lumbersexual (you know, the long hipster beard, boots and red plaid jacket or shirt) talked to the hairy guys. It was cool.

I saw the old guy with the purple mohawk who rides his bicycle along the streets. I saw the tiny kindergarteners in their cute sun hats all holding on to a rope and walking to the park with their teachers. With a rope no kids can complain of holding hands with blisters or a hand of someone they don’t like or being paired up with a hand squeezer. Ropes rock when it comes to controlling children. And it is sooooooo cute.

As I’m driving home with the now clean dog, I realized that now I smell like dirty dog. When you wash a dog it is just a matter of you transferring the vile smells to your own body. I turned on my music because the dog can’t use the car stereo system like the rest of my family. Nobody was there to change it. I played my own soundtrack for my own movie.

I keep adding songs and pushing some off of the playlist. Some are on the list forever while others only last a week or two. And I am still pissed off at Apple their asshattery when they slapped the U2 album on my iPhone. More mom swearing. But back to my yen and yang…

We all have to find our own soundtracks. We all have to find what route we want to take on any given day. Even when we’re forced to take another road to another place, even if that place is unknown, it isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it is usually a good thing.

Then there are those rings that are old and new like my fifteen year old and her sixteen year old partner skating to “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” In two hours he’ll be listening to Metallica and she’ll be listening to Night Riots or some sort of smooth jazz but for now, they dance like Fred and Ginger on eight wheels. Today it is International (nor organ music like American dance, just orchestral.) They’re really beautiful out there on the floor.

Other things run through my mind like calls from my brothers about getting out blood stains, dealing with females, and dealing with the ends and outs of living in world that is just a little bit different. Not bad, not wrong, not strange to us, just different.

I thought about the time, a long time ago, when my brother Val and I were kids. We were walking along the edge of the river and found a giant dead sturgeon on the beach. We swore it was at least twenty feet long. Looking back I think it was about six feet long – still a large beast. It was just one of those random thoughts that I’ll call him about tonight or maybe tomorrow. I thought about a lot of things today with my only company being the dog.

Rummaging through the dusty files in my brain I pulled out cracked faded folders on old lovers, images of places I can’t remember and things I remember as if it had happened this morning. Closing my mind I could feel the warm summer breeze on my bare skin as I walked along the beach, hoping it would stay warm, if only for another few hours.

Next I sent Garrett (who is off at college) about a dozen photos of the dogs and cats playing in the tall winter grass. I also sent him pathetic photos of the dog being washed. Fun stuff. A lot of xoxoxoxo sort of stuff followed and came back. He sent selfies and some included friends. I thought again of the mom with the tiny baby and the dog. She has no idea how much fun she will have or how much love.

So reach into your brain, take out your files and throw them into the air, with all of the brittle paper that might fly into bits along with dust and old love letters and bits of this and that. Holy crap, what a mess that would make.

I’m looking forward to a calm evening for tomorrow… who knows what it will bring but it is always something.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Jasmine

First posted in February 2015

That was the last time I took Jasmine to the dog wash before she passed away. She wasn’t feeling well for a few months, then had a stroke before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I still watch people in parking lots and know they live in another universe than I do. And the kids are doing great. I still miss Jasmine. 

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Vampire House Warming

Note: My brain is full so I’m re-running this today from 2013. A lot has changed since then – especially with Max and Andy. I’ll catch you up later or you can look for it yourself.  So have fun. I’ll have new thoughts on parenting young adults, having an empty nest, Vlad’s Vampire Diary, Short Story Sunday (Tangled Tales), random surveys, bad poetry, and other assorted Vampires, Ghosts, and my usual jaded opinions. If you’re new here read Dancing on the Beach, Gasoline and Tiger Maple, Perfection, and Morning at the Vineyard. 

 

Vampire House Warming

We all have those turning points in our life. Some we choose and some we don’t. Some we’re nudged in the right or more often wrong direction.

And there are those times when we try to read between the lines too much about the lives of others. It is usually far more complicated or else far less complicated than we think it is.

My brother Andrew (second of 5 siblings) recently moved back to California after several years in London and other parts of the globe and purchased a home in San Francisco. I hear he paid a million and a half for the place in St. Francis Woods, but he could afford it. I hold my breath to think what my brother Max’s home or my parent’s homes with views of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge would go for. Anyway…this isn’t about real estate.

It is about a lovely housewarming party my brother Andrew hosted. The place was packed with both Vampires and Regular Humans. There were of course musicians (Andy is a singer) and dancers. There were artists and college professors and writers and high tech geeks and all sorts of interesting people with every profession and opinion imaginable. What made this remarkable, as parties and gatherings go, was that Andy’s Regular Human friends know about Vampire. They’re friends with us and don’t have a problem with it.

OK there was one exception. Andy invited his “girlfriend.” Shawna had come up from Southern California where she is a university professor. She is not a Vampire. She is still in that state of wonder and a little bit of disbelief about Vampires and our world (which isn’t all that different than hers, usually.)

Andy is head over heels in love with this divorced mother of two college kids. The story is that she came home from a research trip to find her husband had put her things in storage and moved a new trophy wife into their home. Their youngest child had just gone off to college so it was his opportunity to also make a change. Shocked, she found a small house on a quiet tree lined street and made a new life with her cats and dogs (she wouldn’t leave them behind.)

Shawna was strong and smart and I had no idea what she was doing with my scatter-brained brother. But it was ok. They were cute together and, well, you know all that sort of early romance cute stuff.

I looked out the window to the backyard to see my brother Max kissing his “friend.” This was more than just a friend. I’d heard rumors but this was proof that there was something more than he’d admit to. Funny that she backed out of his arms and went inside alone leaving him to pace a bit then follow her back inside.

In the kitchen I found Shawna. She was cutting up limes.

“I told Andy to have this catered.” I said this trying to be friendly. I could sense a tiny bit of discomfort behind her warm friendly fang-less smile.

“It’s ok, this will just take a second.” She cut into a lime then her hand slipped, of course, in a house full of Vampires, and cut a deep gash in her thumb.

I grabbed her hand and put it in my mouth to stop the bleeding and sealed the wound. I could have left it but it would have required stitches, not to mention drawn a lot of unwanted attention.

I let go and she pulled away with a little bit of horror and disbelief.

“It’s OK Shawna. I sealed the cut. It will heal now without stitches. You’re A positive.” I smiled. “Don’t worry.  I’m not going to drink your blood or bite you or anything. Just basic first aid. We don’t want anyone else smelling blood.”

I suddenly realized that Andy had never bitten her or exposed her to his natural Vampire ways. He was such a gentleman.  He was also a dick when it came to women. He was always falling for anything that wasn’t a Vampire and when it was a Vampire it was usually always someone who was totally wrong for him. He always had to have everything in life more complicated than it had to be.

“Isn’t this sweet,” I heard a smooth male voice say behind me. I turned to see James, one of Andy’s best friends. James who had always watched out for Andrew but who was also one of the most absolutely annoying Vampires in the known universe.

“You know, Juliette and her brother Valentine are two of the best when it comes to Human to Vampire conversions. Almost a 100% success rate, mot to mention a great follow up and support system.”

“Shut up James,” I snapped. Poor Shawna looked horrified. Why was it that everything James said sounded vulgar? Oh right, I know, because he is a flipping pig.

Shawna looked horrified. I was about say something else nasty to James when a very angry Vampire (showing her fangs no less) suddenly slammed him into the wall. “You’re making me sick James. Get out of here before I rip your throat out.”

He held up his hands and backed off. With a smile he said, “Later ladies, I’ll leave you to your tea party.”

Max’s friend Mehitabel  (the one he kissed in the backyard) stood there in a sleek black dress and some great sky high patent leather Mary Janes. She washed her hands saying something under her breath about getting the stink left by James off of them.

Mehitabel was the pretty woman who could either stand out in a crowd, or more likely not be noticed by anyone. That worked well in her professional life. She could stand unnoticed and watch and wait. As for her personal life, I have no idea. I don’t know her that well. I really don’t

I found her entertaining and funny. Sure she was a little distant as well, an odd combination.

Earlier I’d asked her what she was doing for Memorial Day. She was going to spend it with close friends. They always spent holidays together.  Why did I assume she wouldn’t have anyplace to go? Gossip and rumors can build into false biographies that paint a harsh sad picture of someone who is anything but harsh or sad.

She didn’t ask questions about my brother Max, the object of her affections – not like most women do.  She wasn’t talking to anyone about Max. She’d come to the party because they had mutual friends – nothing more. She was staying at Max’s house but no details of fluttery “wink wink” was forthcoming.

She had known Max for a long long time.  Over the years they’d been in and out of dangerous situations together, even saved each other’s lives. They were considered Vampire elite, thought she didn’t act like it.

So, anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen with two women who for better or worse were involved with two of my brothers. At this point I doubted if anyone was going to come in and rescue me.

“Don’t bother with James,” I said to Shawna.  “I think he was snorting too much dragon dust or something.”

“More likely out feeding on meth heads and heroine junkies,” said Mehitabel in disgust. The she softened her look and approached Shawna.

“I’m sorry you had to see that.  We’re not like that. Andy isn’t like that. He is one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever met, Regular Human or Vampire, and he adores you. He’d never ever let anyone harm you. The same goes for Juliette and me, and everyone here. Even James, even thought he is an asshole.”

I knew there were those would harm Shawna, but then again, I suppose nobody could have hurt her more than her ex-husband, the one who traded her in for a younger model.

After a few minutes and a few cocktails, we forgot about the party and my brothers. We talked of other things, things we all could relate to. We talked about movies and books and shoes and our work.

I suppose there is no point or moral to this story. No usual twist. It is always just odd and I’m glad my kids were in another part of the house, I’m sure being exposed to all sorts of other weirdness.

Just random thoughts about last weekend…

But all in all, I like both of these women my brothers have brought around. Now if my brothers could just behave… And if they don’t behave, I might still just keep these two around.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

(this post first published here 11/13)

_____________________________

and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity

 

but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself”

Don Marquis, archy and mehitabel

____________________________________

More on Shawna and Andy (click here.)

More on Max and Mehitabel (click here.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Thought so…

I was my mail box and overheard two men walking by.

Guy 1: Look at all those chickens.

About a second passes.

Guy 2: Did I hear you say chickens?

Guy 1: Oh. I meant turkeys.

Guy 2: Thought so.

Laughing.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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College Life – What I learn from my child

One thing I LOVE about having a child in college is that I learn almost everything my child learns (except the math.)

Ever since Clara, was a preschooler she has always told her dad and I all about what she learned in school. Even when she went on field trips she’d repeat to us what the park rangers, or museum docent said.

Yesterday afternoon she told me about her new political science class (second semester of college started this week.) I learned about the instructor (he used to be a spy, and has two kids.) I learned about how he runs a classroom (no immaturity allowed – he will drop kids who don’t act mature.) I learned what the students will be learning. My child and I talked for about an hour about the two-hour class she’d just finished.

Like I said, this isn’t something new. During the fall semester I learned all about religion, our environment, weird fellow students, art, history, philosophy, and everything except math and Spanish. I did learn all about the math and Spanish classes – the teachers and the fellow students.

I learned who put out tables on campus – mostly political and religious groups. I learned about blood drives, especially after the Las Vegas shooting.

Now the second semester is starting. I’m looking forward to learning about the US Government and Marine Biology.

I’m looking forward to hearing my child’s nightly observations and insights.

I’m looking forward to hearing the passion in her voice.

She knows her parents will actively listen too.

Clara told me that if she tells someone else what she learns it will help her retain the information. True.

My child isn’t one of those brainiacs who always got straight A’s and was wooed by Stanford University or Ivy League schools. But she is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

It isn’t advanced math that will make her go far. She has passion. She has communication skills. Yes, people skills. She listens. She observes. She evaluates. She relates. She sees learning as an active life long skill.

She is my child and I am amazed every single day.

She is also hilariously funny.

Over the years I’ve posted “What we talked about this morning on the way to school” posts. I’ll have to start doing that again. She has her own car now, but we still talk before and after school.

When she leaves for the big university we’ll still talk.

If you get one thing out of this parenting blog THIS is it: Talk with your kids. Listen to your kids. LISTEN. Encourage them to talk to you and with you. Hear their thoughts and ideas. The more you listen the more they’ll want to talk to you.

And you’ll say, “Life is good.”

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

By the way we also talk about pets, music, people we know, fashion, beauty products, the weather, movies, Netflix, cat and possum memes, and other daily stuff… but that is another blog post.

 

 

 

 

Rosemary and Lemon…and Vampires

A lot of Vampires love the smell of rosemary and lemons because it reminds them of being warm and in the light.

In fits of melancholy they are drawn to the past. Alone they fill bowls with herbs and fruit, then sleep until someone texts them or until the night calls.

I bet you didn’t know that.

Just like with regular humans the people of the shadows have days where they can’t seem to bring it all together.

Then the stars come out, it starts to rain, a song comes on the radio that brings up the spirit. A friend reaches out a cold long fingered hand and pulls you into an embrace and you know you aren’t alone.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Conversations on art, love and little things…

Last night I had the surprise of having three of my four brothers over for a visit. It was one of those unexpected pleasures that I never seem to get enough of. We sat on the deck in the cool night air and talked all night, as siblings do. Mostly about little things – for it is the little things that make up most of our lives.

In the cool evenings I don’t want to talk of issues or strife or try to solve the problems of the World. My brain is full and my head will explode. I’m tired and just don’t want to put in the effort.

The working part of my brain has turned off all work and now are only concentrating on family and fun. Of course art. My brain is always working on art.

I think of art I will never create or I think about just art and how everything looks. I think of shapes and colors and patterns. I think of shadows. I think of the path of the eye and proportions of nature.  I don’t think hard on it because it is always there.

Art is always there like my brothers.

They, my brothers are like different paintings, collaborative efforts from my parents but while they all have the same style they are all very different. The tone and subject are different. The tone is definitely different.

Over the years we’ve lived close and far apart, both physically and emotionally. Now four of us have migrated close both physically and emotionally. Within a hundred miles physically and within understanding range emotionally.

Our brother Andrew (the 2nd of 5 siblings) is in Patagonia right now, brooding over yet another woman and trying to sort out his heart with endless nights listening to the relentless howling of the wind and writing music that will never be heard. Andy is like that. Brooding. I miss him and so do my kids.

Men like my brothers (Vampires), tend to brood, except for Val. Valentine, the youngest of my brothers is almost completely devoid of the brooding gene.  He is like the moon that shines bright and glows in our nocturnal world.

In 10 years our parents produced a good sized brood of 4 boys and a girl. Max, Andrew, Aaron, Valentine and Juliette. We thrived in ways my parents could never imagine, children of the first generation of the Modern Vampire Movement. We blended into several worlds happily and naturally.

So now, like any other modern family, we sit in the evening on my deck, enjoying our time together.

I looked at Max and Aaron as they spoke of what they were reading, both with their dark hair and eyes rimmed with lashes that would make any woman swoon (and feel envy).

Val and I, who have slightly lighter brown hair and hazel eyes (unfortunately not the lashes) talked about mutual friends and made plans for our next night out hunting.

My husband Teddy, who is Max’s best friend since childhood, was off on a field trip with our daughter Clara (almost 14). Our 17 year old son Garrett was inside with Verity (Aaron’s wife) doing something on the computer.

Aaron and I wondered if Max or Andrew or Val would ever find true love. My brothers wondered how I’d turned out at all. And of course we always joke with Aaron for being the most conservative and human-like of the bunch.  And so we talked into the night with bottles of wine and shots of blood and a nice place of cheese and oranges.  We spoke of things old and new. We talked about our parents and others we love.

We always wonder about our parents to never faltered and seemed to take on the universe for us. They still would if we needed them to.

Tiny bats flew above us and we could hear the raccoons and coyotes walking the fields behind the house. A cool delta breeze kept us cool. Tonight there would be no hunts, at least for us.

And like art, the love is always there as well.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

My brothers