Vampire Road Trips

No, I haven’t been away at some Vampire High Council meeting deciding what to do about nasty Vampires from another tribe, or discussing all of those flea bitten, tick covered Werewolves. Screw that. We don’t even DO THAT. All of the blood dripping lofty ceremony laced fiction out there gets people thinking we’re living in the 15th Century, or all dress like Victorians ALL THE TIME. I’ve been busy and we’re in a heat wave from Hell right now.

We’ll be on not one, not two, but three road trips this summer. The only place we’re not going where it is blazing and stupidly hot is Alaska.

Which brings me to a favorite subject: Vampire Road trips

Some suggest we bring freeze dried blood with us. Yes, that can be obtained by our usual sources but why? First of all we’ll just throw a cooler in the car and keep the fresh stuff on ice. We can also be guaranteed of a steady supply of truckers, hitch hikers, and Airbnb hosts.

The main thing we avoid are hookers in small desert towns (I kid you not.) It is seriously sad to see young women out trolling for truckers in the middle of the day wearing cuts offs, fishnet stockings, and heels. I look at them and wonder, “how the fuck did you end up here?”

We give a nod to the Vampires who live along those mysterious roads that seem to lead to nowhere. We give a nod to the lone Vampires in the small towns scattered across the highways. You know those towns where you wonder what people do there, and why they stay.

We will also stop to see friends along the way, both Vampires and regular folks we know.

All of my bitchiness aside, I love road trips. Driving across country with a kid (even if the kid will have just turned 18) is an amazing opportunity for both parent and child.

On our trips we’ve discussed (in-depth) music, history, art, social studies, geology, zombies, politics, cars, interesting people we’ve known, my own personal history, ways to murder someone when writing a novel, serial killers, movies, relationships, people we know, nature, dogs, cats, current events, and we wonder about things we see along the way.

We’ve seen two exceptionally handsome young men at a rest stop and wondered what two exceptionally handsome young men were doing out in the middle of the desert. We’ve stopped at a giant truck stop sort of place near the Colorado/Nebraska border and wondered where everyone was going. We’ve met a woman who said Lincoln, NE was the largest city she’d ever been to. We’ve seen roadside art, weird mysterious monuments, and a giant crater. We’ve gone to National Parks, and city parks. We’ve driven across Indian Reservations. We’ve driven through small depressed towns, and through some of the most expensive real estate in the country. We’ve been to Temple Square in Salt Lake City and stayed with a gay couple there. We’ve been to interesting little coffee houses that serve lavender scented lattes and vegan muffins. We’ve been on roads that seem to go on forever across the deserts and plains. It is hot because it is summer. It is dry because we’re driving through the West, only as far as Nebraska.

We’ll be in Nebraska this year as well. Then we’ll arrive home and a few days later head off for Alaska. But first we have to go to Fresno for an event. There is no other reason I’d go to Fresno. But in defense of Fresno, like all places, we will find interesting things to do.

So take a trip, even a day trip. You’ll learn something, and maybe even see some Vampires. We love road trips. Just don’t expose too much skin or you’ll get either sunburned or bitten.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This guy looks interesting. Let’s show him something REALLY scary!

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday: Being A Vampire

Down the dark alley they went, a father with one hand holding the smaller hand of a young child, and his other hand gently on the back of an older child.

They went into a door that led into a club, the old kind of club with leather furniture, cigars, and distinguished members.

“Gustaf,” said the father, who was named Duncan, “we need a table. Get the children some pie, apple if you have it. Ice cream with the pie would be even better.”

Gustaf, the old doorman nodded, then winked at the children before he trotted away.

Duncan took his children into a lounge area with a large bar at one end. They sat at a table by a window that looked out onto the lamp lit street.

He got himself a glass of wine at the bar, and lemon aid for the children.

“Are you having pie Daddy?” The younger child, a small boy named Justin, asked.

“Daddy doesn’t eat pie,” said the girl. She was sixteen and named Anna. “Daddy doesn’t eat much food. He drinks blood. You might do the same when you grow up.”

Justin looked sad. “No pie at all?”

“No pie,” said Duncan, “but that is fine because I had more than my share when I was your age.”

Gustaf brought out large pieces of pie to the hungry children, complete with ice cream. He also brought an elegant black glass goblet for Duncan. “I thought you’d like this sir. It is fresh, just caught tonight.”

Duncan thanked the old man and then turned to his children.

“When I was young, and when you were babies, I was like you. When I fell in love with your mother I was like you. Some who tell stories such as mine would have said then everything changed. A lot of things changed, but the one thing that did not change, or will not change is my love for you. I will always love you, with a fierce protective love that will never die, even after we are all dust and our sun burns out into a tiny piece of cold cosmic coal. I will always love you that much.

I will love you until you are old and ancient. I will ALWAYS be there for you. If one day, by chance, you decide to become a Vampire like me, I will help you into the life in the shadows and highlights, and I will support you, and always be there for you.

That is what a father does.

I will be there for your children, your grandchildren, and their children, and for all of have passed down our love over the generations.

Your mother and I didn’t plan on becoming Vampires, but it isn’t something we took lightly. It wasn’t exactly and accident. When you are older we’ll explain, but it is difficult.

What will never change is that we are your parents. You will always be safe and protected. You will always know both light and dark, day and night, life and the edge of humanity. We will do the same for those you love, and those you will one day love in the future.

Our fate is sealed. You have the choice to be whatever you want. We will back you up. We will cheer you on. We will never leave you. But there will also be times when you must make your own choices and decide which paths you will take. We won’t try to stop you unless we see you stepping off of a cliff or into the fires. Yes, I will pull you from the fires of Hell if I have to and smack the Devil himself across the face if I have to. And I will not be afraid. I will never be afraid of doing anything for you. Maybe afterwords, but never before.

Your mother and I died and came back as something else. Friends who loved us brought us back. We are so different, but our love is the same, and maybe even stronger. It isn’t easy, but it is who we are now.

So here we are, and we’ll have pie. The pie is always good here. And we’ll share stories, and I’ll even tell you joked that will make you groan, and stories that will amaze you.

I am not a monster. I am just a dad, like any other dad. I’m just a little different, but that’s ok. Life will never be boring.”

Anna took her father’s hand, “I love you Dad. You seriously didn’t think it mattered to us that you’re a Vampire did you?”

Justin laughed, “more pie for me. I love you Daddy.”

Duncan smiled. Life was good, even when you’re undead.

 

~ end

 

Short Story Sunday at Vampiremaman.com

 

 

 

 

Jury Duty

Friday was High School Graduation. Saturday was, well, Saturday. We spent Sunday with Wonder Woman (I wish they’d just call her Diana and forget the Wonder Woman title.)

Monday was jury duty.

I’ve been getting out of jury duty for years on the excuse that I had child care issues, which was true. Now it is summer. I work from home. My kids are out of school. They drive. No excuses.

Even as a Vampire I believe in my civic duty and in our justice system (I bet you didn’t think I’d bring up the Vampire thing did you?)

So yesterday morning came. I knew what I’d wear. Conservative but comfortable business wear. A royal blue blouse, black slack, black flats, a white sweater, shiny brown hair slightly flipped up, black marcasite jewelry, easy on the eyeliner. Once I got there I saw that most people had come in jeans and were more on the comfort scale than I was.

I first stopped for coffee at the corner donut shop. This was not one of the awful national chains (aka Dunkin Donuts which sells something called coffee that resembles dirty pond water and I wish had not opened in my neighborhood) but a small family run place with a funny name (Ducky’s Donuts) and friendly young owners. The coffee is in pump containers, and you have to get your half/half out of the fridge yourself. As always the coffee was excellent. No donut – just coffee, but I hear the donuts are great.

It took me a little over an hour to get to the court house. Morning traffic from my house to downtown was heavy but more than I expected. But hey, one has to see the bright side. I took a less traveled road through Midtown to Downtown and got a great morning view of the Capitol building (yes, Sacramento.)

And this was my day:

I arrive at the court house. Then I waited in a line to sign in. We were all told not to sit on the benches or tables outside of the court house because homeless people camped out there at night and the clean up crew couldn’t guarantee how clean anything would be. A judge explained the reason we go to jury duty and the history of it all. It was nice. He also said to send in any suggestions and thoughts to the court. I read about 100 pages in my book (John Sanford, Escape Clause. Extremely entertaining), then I pulled out my iPad and watched videos on YouTube about cats, deep sea creatures, deep sea mysteries, why dogs turn their heads when you talk to them, and a super lame high voiced silly British comedian I’ll never watch again (a lot of British humor seems so old fashioned to me these days.) We were excused for lunch and I almost stepped on a condom on the courthouse steps. Then I saw my husband at the lunch break and asked him how to quickly light a car on fire, what fuel to use, etc etc etc. He didn’t bat an eye because I’m always asking him stuff like that. No, I’m not going to really light a car on fire, I’m just writing about it. He doesn’t read what I write but is always willing to give technical advice. Went back to the court house. I dozed in my seat. Looked out the window and counted palm trees (about five from where I sat.) Read another chapter in my book.  Several people around me mentioned that they’d finished their books. Everyone started talking to each other. Sat for another hour, closed my eyes and figured out how to smash a guy in the head, get him to his car, drive him four or five miles away, light the car on fire, walk home, then have a horror writer in Canada tell an old friend of mine (under a full moon by a camp fire on a beach) how such a sweet woman could be such a cold hearted killer, but hey, the guy deserved it, and it fits into the novel I’m working on. Then at 2:00 my jury group was excused. Jury duty done for another 18 months.

Needless to say my experience was nothing like the movie/play Twelve Angry Men. It wasn’t even like Witness for the Prosecution. It wasn’t like a Vampire movie either. It was real but not gritty or dramatic. It just was.

Luckily there was no traffic on the way home, except right before my house in the never ending messy three miles of road construction. When I arrived home I helped the girl child find her shirt for the senior trip (high school graduates, not old folks) to Disneyland. They should have arrived at the Magic Kingdom about an hour ago (it is now 8:08 a.m. PST.)

All of this reminds me that despite all of the political assholery going on right now, we have a system that works. Juries are picked. People are allowed a fair trial. People participate. People gather peacefully. This isn’t about politics. It is about what is right.

So that is all I have this morning. I’ll need about another gallon of coffee and maybe even another hour of sleep before I get going on today’s agenda…

Have a great day everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

New horizons and dirty dogs (Musings on a Saturday)

They came in groups of four until their number reached almost 500. All in black robes. Some had blood red sashes. Some had medals. Victory was finally theirs. They will rule the world.

Why, no, this is not the start of some epic and lofty Vampire tale. It was GRADUATION DAY yesterday. My daughter Clara graduated from high school! Woo Hoo. It was a lovely ceremony. A lot of music by the kids. Good speeches. I can’t imagine nicer group of young adults. Yes, I got choked up a few times.

Now what? We’re done with K-12 education at my house. Done. Wow. It feels good. It was awesome. It was wonderful. OK. I’m still MOM.

Garrett flew up for the event and will go back down for the last week of college. In the fall he’ll be a Senior at the big university. Clara will be a Freshman at the small college the transfer to the same big university. Her brother might or might not be in Graduate school there when she gets there. We’ll see.

So now what? I have jury duty next week. When I’m asked what I do I will not say, “I write about Vampires and parenting.” I’ll tell them one of the many other “normal” things I do for a living.

I can hear my brother Andy and Clara with their guitars playing and singing Enter the Sandman. Out on the deck the dog and cat are scuttling around while the squirrels bark at them from the trees.

I’m thinking of symbiotic relationships like being a Vampire, or a parent, or a writer, or an artist, or… nothing and just letting my mind finally empty of everything.

And since no Vampire can abide a stinky dog I’ll be leaving in a few minutes to take my 85 pound stinky pup to the self dog wash. Dogs think their motto should be I stink therefore I am. I’m not in agreement. So time to slip on the flip flops and get going. No slinky tight Elvira dresses, and heaven forbid no Vampirella red thong things for me. I’m a little more practical. Most Vampires are. We have dogs to wash, and other regular things we need to deal with too.

I tell my kids that if you insist on being lurking in shadows, sleeping in coffins, and living in some creepy old ruin, you’re going to starve. Seriously, you can get closer to anyone if you smell nice, look nice, and act nice. That goes for anyone who isn’t a Vampire too.

That also goes for dogs, so I’m off. Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Saturday. I’ll be back next week with new adventures and rambling thoughts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Memories

As yet another graduation day approaches I thought about memories. So many memories are being made this week. So many will be made this summer.

Our memories of ourselves are rarely the same memories that others have about us. Others rarely remember us for what we think is important. They rarely remember us for anything that we’d ever think of. It isn’t that history isn’t unkind. Personal history is more a flash of emotion. It is a connection made. It is unexpected bits and pieces that are filed away.

I have memories of times that are like they happened today. I can run them in my head like movies. But if I share those with those who were there with me will they remember?

I run into those who knew me long ago. They don’t remember so many things and events, and even talents that I identify with my own self image of who I am.

What they do remember is my voice. My voice. They remember how I talked and how calm I was. They remember my sweet, calm, soothing voice. That is what everyone except my closest friends remember. I never knew that.

Even without our own families we remember things as if we weren’t related at all, and grew up miles apart.

As I write, a new tale based loosely on a brief time in my life, and those involved, I think of how we remember each other. My memories will be woven with fiction, but I seriously doubt if anyone would ever know they’re mine. Then again, isn’t a lot of what we write, feel, and how we react based on our own memories and experiences, even those locked away in secret places of our minds and hearts.

What I wish for the young adults in my life is that they have many wonderful shared memories that will continue to amaze and entertain, and bring joy for years to come. Even if that is just the memory of the sound of a voice, or the chance viewing of a falling star late at night. Your memories are yours and yours alone. To keep, or to share.

Wishing you good ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Parenting: What I’d Do Differently

On June 2, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. in the morning my daughter graduates from High School. That more or less ends my role as a parent of school aged children.

When I look back at things I’d do different 95% of it has to do with my reactions to situations we’ve encountered at school. Let me rephrase that in a more realistic way. When I was a parent I had no idea I’d have to deal with so many assholes who were dead set on doing the wrong thing for/with/around my children, and other kids who are in my life.

I raise my children not to be bully bait. We’re Vampires so self confidence and fitting in is always a first priority. That said, we’re not any different from any other parents and kids.

So let’s just go down the list.

Why do schools always do their best to protect bullies and brats? That includes children who are sexual predators. Sometimes (most of the time) sitting down and talking to the parents of these children does no good – because the parents are usually the root of the problem.

I’ve seen good teachers fired or driven out of schools by whack job parents and their horrible children. These are people who are constantly complaining, while their kids bully, act out, distract other children, and do horrible things to and around other children.

For example there was a child at our school who decided she wanted to be friends with my daughter. My daughter realized this was a mistake. So then the trouble started. This child would run screaming down the hall. She would take off her clothing in the bathroom and expose herself to other children. By third grade she was telling other children sexually explicit things about sex (like how Gay men perform anal sex.) She would tattle on kids who wouldn’t play with her. She would stalk other kids on the phone and online.

She would tell other children that she wanted to grow up and be in Playboy Magazine, and be a stripper. Since she was a pretty child she would use her big sad eyes and lie to the office staff. Her parents would threaten to sue the school, and they would lie. They lied about my husband agreeing our kids should play. They never talked to my husband. He went up to the school. It wasn’t pretty.

The only administrator who listened left the school for another job. It got worse. A fantastic teacher left the school. The problem child stayed at school. We complained and complained and complained. Nothing happened. We documented the problems. Nothing happened. We were told that the Devil Child wanted to be like my daughter and admired my daughter. What the fuck?

In Middle School the girl developed quickly but refused to wear a bra. It wasn’t as if her family could’t afford it. Some other girls put a bra in her backpack and were suspended. She braless girl screamed and yelled about it as if someone had left a severed head in her backpack.

Something was not right at home – obviously, but nothing was ever done about it. Nobody sent CPS to the home. The child demanded her own way and told other kids that if their parents threatened to sue the school, they too would get to do whatever they wanted to.

With the help of her father the girl learned more complex online stalking. Parents spoke to each other about it, and warned each other so we could all tell our children to ignore her. So they ignored her and she went away.

So much time and effort was spent on this child. Nobody knew who was being blackmailed in the front office. When the children got to High School the girl faded into the background. Nobody in the office would listen to the parents anymore. The girl and her father had physical fights in the parking lot. Then the girl vanished. Then she came back. Then she vanished for good.

Had I been able to do this all over I would have put my foot down harder for the school to do something.

There was also a P.E. teacher I would have had fired because she was horrible to any girl who didn’t act like a boy, or want to be friends with her bully daughter. Nobody liked her, yet she had so much power.

In high school I would have spoken up about the three bad teachers. Luckily there were only three bad teachers. One, a science teacher, had a drug problem. Kids smoked pot in her class and jumped out of windows. Mentally ill druggies should not be in charge of a classroom full of teenagers. The other was a math teacher who was an asshole but protected by the school administration despite parent complaints. Kids who were not allowed to transfer out got bad grades and ended up not getting into the colleges they applied for. The third was an English teacher who I wrote about a few years ago. She couldn’t see talent or desire to learn in children, including mine. She was a jerk. She rushed to judge kids. She was a turtle who hid her head in her shell. If I could go back I would have been up in the school, meeting with administrators in person, and being that parent that all school principals dread.

Other things I would have done include:

  • Learning how to roller skate so I could have skated with my kids.
  • Had a really nice aquarium.
  • Insisted my children learn to garden.
  • Written that best selling novel so my kids could have a parent they could brag about. On the other hand they do brag about us. We’re just not famous. There are advantages to not being famous.
  • Trained the dogs earlier.
  • Traveled more with them.

We’ve never had to deal with teenage angst. Our kids have never told us that they hate us. They always talk to us about everything.

If anyone ever asks me what I am the most proud of I would have to say it is the way I’ve raised my children. They were kids. They’re great young adults. They’ll do fine. They’ll do great. 

So I guess it doesn’t matter about the jerks and assholes. Now they know how to deal with those kinds of people. It is a lesson learned. 

For those who are new here I’ll tell you again how I approach parenting. This is from 2012 but it still applies.

Parenting – Why it is important and what I believe and practice.

This is a thinly veiled parenting blog and a Vampire blog, but most of all it is a blog about relationships. That can be a lot of things including how we relate to our families, or kids, our friends, weird people and our lovers.

The main message is for parents to talk not just at or to their kids but WITH their kids. Also to give your children the safety to be their own little personalities (or big personalities) and to be kids, but also give them the freedom to grow and fly. I am a strong advocate against over protecting children. I’m a mother wolf and yes, I’ll protect to the death, but I don’t want to be responsible for an immature, over sensitive, ignorant adult one of these days. Children, in my opinion, need their parents forever, but they also need to know about the world they’ll live most of their lives in, especially teens. They also need to know the harsh facts about sex, drugs and the company they keep. Our reputations and the choices we make as teens can stay with us our entire lives. Teens need to know this.

I absolutely love teens. They’re funny and wise and silly and so loving in ways that most people don’t even see. Just talk to one, or better yet, try to remember a million years ago in another time, another world, another planet, when you were a teen.

But I’m not going to preach those ideas in every single blog post. Through my tales about my kids, my husband, my brothers and my friends, I try to get across my messages about relationships, love, consequences, and just life. And if I can get someone to think or laugh I feel like I’ve done something. If I can get anyone to laugh I’m happy.

When you bring a baby or child home, whether you give birth to it or adopt it or foster or live with any child, you bring home the entire universe in a kid sized package. And something you’re never told…You NEVER know who you’re bringing home with you.

Your child is not your clone. Your child is someone with their own will and their own view – right from the start.

Throw out the baby and child care books because this little person is going to prove they’re ALL WRONG. And you’ll have more fun than you EVER imagined.

So what does a woman who muses on mom stuff teach the children in her life?

  • Teach your children, no matter who your children are, or will become, to treasure acts of kindness.
  • Teach them that if they speak rudely to another child, they will forget it in a minute, and the other child will remember it for a lifetime.
  • Teach them the value of life and the value of love.
  • Teach them not to lie. Lies are worse than snakes – they always come back and bite you in the butt and they contain poison.
  • Teach them to learn from their mistakes.
  • Teach them to learn from the mistakes of others (if more people did that there WOULD be world peace).
  • Teach them that they ARE going to make mistakes – big ones – and that you’re always there for them (you’d better be there for them).
  • Teach them to be tough. Tough mentally and physically. We’re not living in la la land folks.
  • Tech them to love learning. Learning is a lifelong process. Like my dad used to say “If you stop learning you might as well be dead.”
  • Teach them to play, and to keep playing even as adults.
  • Teach them to love and respect nature for it will always be a joy and they will always be amazed.
  • Teach them that it is their responsibility to take care of their environment.
  • Teach them that ignorance is a vice and knowledge is a virtue. Knowledge is power.
  • Teach them the value of friendship. Friendship is not a contest. Friendship is a lazy ride on a raft down the river. You laugh, you rescue each other, you talk until the stars come out, and you remember that trip forever, not expecting anything but to be able to be yourself, without judgement, and to not have the pressure of judging your friend.
  • Teach them life without a sense of humor is, well, a humorless life. Who needs that?
  • Teach them to tell someone else something good about themselves every single day and MEAN IT. While your at it don’t forget hugs.
  • Teach them to smile (but don’t show your fangs). Smile a lot.
  • Teach them to pay if forward.
  • Teach them that their opinions are valued.
  • Teach them to have an active imagination – especially as they grow older.
  • Teach them that READING will take them everywhere. People who read are interesting. People who don’t…well, we won’t talk about them.
  • Teach them that people who aren’t like them are interesting. If we were all the same the world would be a very boring place.
  • And last of all teach them that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions and the consequences. Period. No exceptions. None. That’s it.

Parenting doesn’t end when they’re grown. We all know that. We’ll still be close. We’ll still be learning. Now I just have to figure out what it means to be a parent of adult children. Of course that doesn’t mean I won’t still be calling them to the window to see the cute squirrel on the deck, or looking up to the sky to see bats, or to talk for hours, and laugh just because we can. We’ll still be doing all that and more.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman