Ask Juliette: Parenting, Ghosts, and Change

Ask Juliette is a somewhat regular Thursday feature at vampiremaman.com

I answer real questions from real readers. If you have a question feel free to leave it in the comment section or email me at juliettevampiremom at gmail dot com

Before we get to today’s questions I have an observation…

This morning while I was out in my neighborhood walking my dog… it was an attempt to train the dog, which is sort of working. Anyway we walked over to where the Bald Eagles are nesting. Due to the influx of asshat photographers who feel as if they are gods and have a right to pester the poor new parents, the park service has put us signs telling everyone to stay away from the eagles and not bother them. Yes, there was a woman hauling a ladder out to where the eagles are.  I was ready to go out and scream at her. I assume somebody already did because I haven’t seen her around in the past few weeks. There has also been people climbing the fence (which was put there to prevent idiots from falling off of the steep bluff.)

In the wee hours of the morning my dog and I were alone with the eagles. I watched as they flew from the lake to the nest with fish. The babies flapped their small brown wings and hopped about the nest. As I walked home up my own street, my husband was driving out. He stopped and told me one of the eagles was flying over our house, about twenty feet from the deck.

I thought about the eagle parents. No parent likes to be pestered or watched when they are with their kids. Seriously, no matter what species someone is just let them alone in peace. Don’t bug them or pester them with advice. Don’t invade their privacy in order to get your daily cute fix.

Dear Juliette,

Why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Why must they haunt the living?

As most of my regular readers know, there are a few ghosts who regularly visit me at my house – mainly Nigel and his girlfriend Mary.

So why are ghosts so grouchy and mean? Because they’re frustrated. They live in a world where they cannot participate. They’re reminded daily of what they are missing out on. For example Nigel’s 40th High School Reunion is coming up. He missed his ten-year reunion by a year. He is haunted by the thoughts of what could have been. He is angry because he never got to see his career progress, he never got to fall in love and get married, he never got to be a dad. He can’t even have a dog as a ghost, unless some dead dog attempts to latch onto him, but that rarely happens. What bugs Nigel the most is the fact that in the reunion program he’ll once more be listed with those who have also died since high school graduation. Only he can’t even see them because that isn’t how the ghost world works. Even the dead have left him behind.

Ghosts are trapped. They’re pissed off. They can’t communicate with most people. Nobody understands what it is like to be dead. So they hang out with Vampires, most of whom have died but are back in their bodies – so that even pisses ghosts off even more.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t be hating on ghosts. Sure they’re obnoxious but have some understanding and sympathy.

Dear Juliette,

If I became a Vampire would anyone be there to help me adjust? Would I have to be shown how to suck blood out of people or would it just come naturally? Is there training for new Vampires?

Yes, unless you end up being a soulless Shadow Creeper someone will be there to help. We have a wide ranging support system for those who have just become Vampires. A range of issues have to be taken into consideration when one becomes a Vampire. Did you become a Vampire of your own will, or was it thrust upon you? That makes a big difference on how you’re going to react to the change. You know, anytime someone makes a profound change, be if biologically, or mentally, there are going to be adjustments. It isn’t always easy.

One of the hardest things to deal with isn’t sucking blood, but keeping your existence as a Vampire secret. You can’t tell anyone, or at least those who will in turn tell others. We don’t have a lot of rules. We don’t have many consequences to our actions except maybe forcing someone to become a Vampire, or telling someone about us.

But sure, there are people here to help. I’m one of the go-to folks for helping newbees. Like with most profound changes, everyone is different.

 

Dear Juliette,

What’s up? What are your plans for the blog?

What?

Dear Juliette,

Why are Vampire men so damn sexy?

Sigh. Survival my dear. Survival.

 

Dear Juliette,

I just wrote a novel. I believe it is quite good, but none of my family and friends will read it. I need feedback. Now what?

If you want some feedback go online and reach out for beta readers. Most authors find that often family and friends aren’t interested in your work, especially if it a genera they don’t usually read.

Find a writing peer group either online, or with one of your local writing groups. Don’t get mad if someone reads your book and doesn’t fawn all over it. It is better you hear what you need to hear now – rather than getting a bad review or zillions of rejection letters later.

Also search blogs for like-minded individuals you think might enjoy your book, or have good, honest, educated input.

Another suggestion is to make a list of questions for your Beta Reader. Do they connect with the characters? Do the plot twists make sense? Ask what part they like best or least, and why.

Good luck.

That is all I have for today. If you can add to any of these answers please do. Everyone can always use a second opinion. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

What We’re Talking About Today On the Way to School Today

Every since the election in June we’ve been regularly seeing heads explode as we drive along the road, especially in the morning hours. It makes a mess, but our roads are so bad around here that everyone just pretends to assume someone must have hit a pothole, or maybe it is aliens, or turkey vultures attacking suburban drivers…

As always, we listen to the news in the morning. I’ve grown sick of it and turn it out. My children do not. As wee ones they asked cute questions. Now as young adults they make bone chilling comments that make me wish that seventeen year olds could run for President, Congress, and the Senate, because they seem to be the only ones making any sense these days.

LBGT rights. Is there a problem with that? Why should anyone care? Don’t we just want everyone to be happy? LBGT families are like any other family. Parents love their children. Period. Here’s the deal. Married people pay more taxes. Period. See where this is going?

My kids often wonder why some people are so obsessed with the sex lives of others. It is all in the name of religion and morality. If you’re so moral then why are you so obsessed with sex? Why is your attitude so unhealthy. This is out of the mouths of teens. Of course if we’re talking down and dirty gossip then it is all good fun. Who doesn’t like to see the fall of a hypocrite caught in an affair after condemning others for their unmoral behavior? Who is anyone to judge? Especially those who do not even try to understand.

Yes, folks, this is why Vampires, Werewolves, and others keep to themselves. Don’t ask me how you can become one of us, and where our private clubs are because you’re not going to get an answer from me (or any of my friends.) Don’t hate me because I’m cold as death. Just hate me if I’m an asshole (which I hope I am not.) Or just hate me for using too many parenthesis in my writing, but not for my biology.

We discussed how THE WALL will be an environmental disaster among other things. The only ones dealing with walls should be Pink Floyd. The kids also keep asking about the Berlin wall. We all remember how that worked out.

I’ve made a list of news items and ratings from the teens I know:

Ivanka: NO

Grumpy Cat: Yes (even when she says NO) Yes, Grumpy Cat is a girl cat.

Coffee: Yes

AP Tests: Yes, but they still suck

Disneyland: Yes

The Lost City of Z: Yes

13 Reasons Why: Yes to both the book and the TV show

Old Men in Political Positions: NO

Botox: No

Squirrels: Yes (see link below to know why)

Cats: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Fiona the Hippo Baby: YES YES YES

Classical Art Memes: Yes

Canadians: Yes

French Election: WTF?

North Korea: No. And a sad face emoji for the people who live there.

Dentist Pulling a Tooth While on a Hoverboard: NO NO NO

Wells Fargo: WTF? Kids when you start a job don’t do that kind of shit. Not for anyone.

Anything in Washington DC: WTF?

Graduation Class of 2017: YES

Dutch Brothers: YES, even when there is a long line at the one street down from the high school.

Lists: Yes, because I’m not feeling inspired right now.

 

The conversation moved on to the dog who, despite her sweet nature, refuses to cooperate with any kind of training. She can do it. But she doesn’t want to. It is a power thing. Know any kids like this? Adults? Vampires? I bet you do too.

I might not be the biggest dog at the park but I’m going to make damned sure I have the biggest stick.

After dropping off the almost adult child I headed on over to the dog park. The big dog run was closed. The other dog run was full of HUGE (over 100 pounds) aggressive dogs. My young 85 pound German Shepard was dwarfed by these dogs. Of course she went NUTS. Sure I’m in touch with my paranormal side but it was almost too much for me to handle. I almost lost it. I went 0-60 in half a second from loving dogs to hating dogs. All dogs. Even my own dogs. And yes, right now mine is sleeping with her head on my foot as sweet as ever.

Text messages are fling in about a roller skate show tonight. Not at our club but at our sister club that my daughter’s partner skates out of. She and her partner are doing a new routine to Pink and Nate Ruess singing Just Give Me A Reason. They’re so beautiful skating (think Ice Dancing except on quad wheels.) Yes, teens are great.

I always thought Nate Ruess should be doing Broadway musicals. He has THAT kind of voice. Pink too. She is just WOW to me. I usually don’t like female singers (too breathy and high and whiney and I could go on and on) but she sings it.

Yes, I’m just rambling on today. Every have one of those days. In the back of my mind are sick and twisted stories of dark places with brick walls and black velvet curtains. There are howling winds along with howling wolves, shadows that look like ghouls with long twisted claws, and growls that could pass for satisfied purrs of lovers. You know, it is just one of those days when I just had to turn off the radio and turn off most of everything. I’m not as crazy bad as Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul but getting there.

Now for the Squirrel Story (not to be confused with the Squirrel Nut Zippers)

http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2017/04/25/525363273/what-s-it-like-to-be-squirrel

 

Did someone say coffee? Blood?

Oh right, and remember to talk with your kids – about anything and everything. You’ll have fun. They’ll appreciate it. You’ll be the cool parent. And you’ll find out how cool your kids really are. And it is good for everyone. So do it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: School Night (and a poll)

This week I have an excerpt from a novel I started AND a poll. Would you read this book? Yes, this is a rough rough draft but if I polished it up…
By the way, this isn’t a Vampire story.

It is all just a bunch of strange physics!

School Night

Advanced Physics.

Dr. Jackson Bartello

Tom looked at the white board relieved he was in the right classroom. This was Back-to-School-Night at his kid’s new high school. Oh boy.

Parents wandered into the classroom, squeezing into small plastic and laminated wood desks. Tom’s 6’3” frame hardly fit. He swore the desks were never this small when he was in high school.

Intentionally avoiding conversation with other parents he studied the hand written schedule his son Declan had given him.

First Period: Advanced Physics – Dr. B (Bartello) – HIPSTER GEEK EXCEPTIONALLY COOL GUY. Say something good about me. Seriously.

A large woman pushed herself into the desk next to Tom, still wearing her nurses uniform with a cartoon cat print on the top. Her brown hair was short and practical, but her face was pretty in a sort of old time glamour girl kind of way. She smiled at Tom. He smiled back to be polite.

At the front of the class stood a blond haired girl wearing a school tee shirt, and the kind of self-assured plastered on smile of an experienced politician. Tom figured she was Dr. Bartello’s student assistant Katie Hunter.

According to his daughter Rowan, Katie Hunter had recently changed her name to Kat, because she was dating a boy named Hunter Katz. Kat Hunter and Hunter Katz. It was all incredibly cute. Declan had said Kat and Hunter were also the two smartest kids in the school. Tom thought if they were that smart they’d stay away from romance.

“Hi Roxy,” the girl said to the woman in the cat uniform.

“Hey, Katie, excuse me, Kat. Good to see you.”

Katie turned to Tom. “You’re Declan’s dad.”

Tom smiled. “Yes, I am. How’d you know?

“You look just like him.” Her voice was deeper than most girls her age and lacked the singsong upswings at the end of her sentences.

“Everyone loves Declan,” said the woman called Roxy. “I’m Roxy Taylor, Jordan’s mom.”

“Tom Mather. Good to meet you.” He had no idea who Jordan was.

“Your wife Sage is great. We’re all so happy she agreed to be the advisor for the Student Technology Team.”

That was news to Tom. “Technology Team, sure, Sage loves her technology.” He gave an uncomfortable laugh. Sage was always great. She couldn’t help it; even after their lives fell completely apart she continued to wear her mask of greatness.

He’d encouraged Sage to take her dream job on the other side of the country. The new job paid twice their combined income. He would sell his law practice and work from home. They’d make a new start. She wouldn’t sleep with other men anymore. Life would pretend to be good.

Tom glanced around the classroom again. The other dads were relaxed slobs in cargo shorts and Dockers. He couldn’t imagine Sage being attracted to any of them.

The bell rang for first period to start. Bartello still hadn’t show up. A phone on the desk vibrated and danced around for a second. Tom noticed that a set of keys and half finished iced coffee next to the phone.

Katie cleared her throat then made an announcement. “Sign in if you haven’t already. Your kid will get points for it. I um, know Dr. Bartello has some handouts. Just a sec and I’ll get them.”

She went to the tall cabinet on the wall next to where Tom was sitting.

Katie tried to open the door but it wouldn’t slide. Tom noticed a latch at the top. “I’ll get it “Here you go,” he said with a wink to Katie as he slid the door open.

From the inside of the cabinet a dead Jackson Bartello faced Tom. One eye was closed, the other a squint. In the fraction of a second Tom’s brain registered the blood and gaping cut across Bartello’s throat. Before Tom could step back the full dead weight of the man fell forward against him.

Tom could feel himself falling but couldn’t stop the momentum. He remembered hearing himself say oh fuck, when the back of his head slammed into a desk, then bounced on the floor. He saw sparks, and the pain nearly knocked him out. He caught his breath and found himself flat on the floor. Bartello’s head was twisted at an almost ninety degree angle unnaturally resting on the inside of Tom’s left thigh, with the rest of his body on Tom’s legs and feet.

Bartello’s throat had been cut from ear to ear, all the way to the bone. Tom could see what might have been bone, or the esophagus. The cut was clean with no ragged edges. Bartello’s hands were bound behind him with his own black and teal atomic age print tie. He was still warm.

Tom could hardly catch his breath. Roxy was already up out of the desk and by his side. “Roxy, help get him off of me.”

She held Tom’s arm and helped him slide out from under the dead man. He felt Roxy’s hand go to the back of his head.

“You’re bleeding.” Then she yelled, “Somebody get me some paper towels NOW.”

The parents looked on in shocked silence. Then the murmurs of “Oh my God,” and soft gasps began. It wasn’t like in the movies where everyone screams and runs when a body appears. One was calling 911, another the school front office.

“Tom, Mr. Mather,” Katie said, sounding as if she were being strangled.

“I’m OK,” said Tom. He reached to the back of his head and felt the blood. He tried to stand, but couldn’t get his body to work for him. “Katie, don’t panic. You can do that later. Right now let’s get everyone out of the room. Then find your parents. Roxy, Find my wife, please.”

Tom looked at Bartello again. He couldn’t imagine cutting into flesh with that kind of force. It was too intimate for him. He never touched his marks. He’d always used a gun with a silencer, with the goal to always keep things clean and anonymous. But this killing wasn’t business. It was personal.

 

_____

More to come…

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Keeping it Real (When you’re a Vampire and a Parent)

“You can hide yourself away. Wrap yourself in a cocoon of spider webs and blood, and let yourself fester and dry up for years and become a husk, or you can move forward. Hiding is easy. But Vampires who hide get lost, or never wake up, or, or, or, or, are so completely out of touch with what it is to be a real Vampire.” 

I could hear 2,200 year old (approximately, I’m not sure what his real age is. He isn’t even sure.) Tellias talking to my twenty-one year old son. Yes, Garrett turned twenty-one on April 1st. I didn’t have the heart to blog about it. My time as a mom of youngsters is quickly waning, and unlike the moon isn’t coming back.

I listen and wonder what it is like to be “real” anything.

Despite his age Tellias isn’t a dried up husk by any means. He looks like he is nineteen, or maybe twenty at the very most.

The two could be just best friends if one just looked at them. A dark haired young man with his perfect trendy hair (long on top, short on the sides), and one with his pale blonde hair brushing his shoulders, both wearing jeans and tee shirts.

I had to smile seeing them together. I look at Garrett with all the hope and wonder in his eyes and heart. Tellias looks at me and locks his eyes with mine for a fraction of a second. I see decades of joy and pain, love and loss that goes beyond any known grief, and unknown dark coordores, regrets, and a million songs, and memories of standing under the stars for a thousand years with the warm summer breeze on his face.

I know you Juliette he says without speaking. You’ve always taught them to fly, and now that they can fly on their own your heart is breaking. 

Luckily the 85 pound puppy came blasting through the room and demanded to go outside. I went out to the deck and stood in the drizzle of rain and took in the smell of orange blossoms and rosemary from my yard.

You have to raise your kids to be adults, but when they suddenly become adults… I had no idea it would be this hard. I can’t let them know how I feel. I just keep doing what I’ve been doing and smile and encourage them. I listen to their thoughts, dreams, monologues, and stories. I will forever be here for them. Even if for some reason I won’t be here physically, I will still always be with them.

I put my hands on the deck rail and looked down into the oak forest behind my house. There were no ghosts that night except my own. I felt an arm go around my shoulder. A cool finger wiped a tear from my cheek. Tellias stood with me, not saying a word. He didn’t have to.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Begging and Other Undesirable Actions

I have 72 thousand contact updates on Linkedin and other messages in my email inbox tonight. I don’t even know why I have a Linkedin account. More useless junk to throw at me, and then attempt get information off of me like a Kentucky strip mine.

Since before the election (you know which one) I’ve been bombarded with emails from all sorts of interesting groups. They all ask for my opinion THEN they ask for my MONEY. It is a constant pleading and begging for money that is so distasteful that I feel like turning against it all.

I’m unusually annoyed at our new Senator for sending out polls and asking an opinion, but I really feel like all she wants is my money. Nobody wants to listen, but everybody wants to get paid.

As a parent sometimes I don’t know what to say. One does not want to say we live in a society where our elected government never listens, but hey, we all know they don’t listen.

Who the young folks DO listen to are teachers. Yes, they DO listen to teachers. We’ve been discussing the two-party system and our two ineffective parties. We’ve been discussing all the assholery and shit-for-brains behavior on both sides. We’ve watched how that in spite of our government (both state and federal) that we will survive…or at least most of us.

In darkened corners, and in the light, we must teach our kids to fight ignorance. We must teach them not to be followers but to be free thinking citizens. We must teach them to question everything. We must teach them to follow the rule of law, but if that law is unjust they must use the system to change it. We have to start at an early age too. It is never too young to teach your child to question, and research, and form opinions.

One thing that makes our country, The United States of America, unique is that we’ve always questioned our parents, our elders, our government, and forged ahead. There are those who would take us back to the good-old-days of discrimination and sexism and inequality. Fuck them. Seriously, they can fuck themselves, but then again they’re already fucked because of the backlash that is guaranteed to come in good time.

Vampires don’t live in the dark because light burns their skin. They lived in the dark because it is the best place to find easy prey. Teach your children not to become prey. Teach yourself not to become prey.

And no matter what kind of relationship you’re in, be if political, romantic, or anything else – don’t beg. It is so unflattering and will leave you high, and dry, and alone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Another Rainy Day (or Night)

Maybe it is the gray weather, or just changes, or nothing, but the gray mood of Winter continues, way past the first day of Spring.

Anyway, my jeans and sweatshirt were still wet from going out in the rain, as I looked up #vampires on Twitter just out of curiosity. It was all fangs, dripping blood, sexy hot male Vampires, and a lot of violence. Seriously, I’m always up for the sexy hot male Vampires, but you know, after kids, and pets, and business, and taking care of stuff at home… I don’t have time for that. I don’t have time to drip blood all over my clothes, try to get the stains out, go shopping for new clothes, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and not to mention getting the damn stuff out from under my fingernails. I find a friendly neck or a wrist. I keep it clean and simple, I go on. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have a life. I don’t have time for the drama right now. And it is raining. Hard. Really hard.

I spent the day driving around in the car with an 85 pound German Shepard. She slept most of the time while I made all of my stops. It wasn’t interesting. No Vampire councils, no visits to any clairvoyants, no tight skirts and red heels (Vans today.) We went to the used book store, the post office, Trader Joe’s (yes, there is stuff there I need), to the high school, and then Dutch Brothers (where they can make anything sugar free for Vampires who as you well know love coffee.)

So I’m looking up different hash tags because I’m tired of political crap today and trying not to get sucked down the rabbit hole even more… don’t leave me because there is a story here…maybe.

My brother Andy called. Andy lives in San Francisco, in St. Francis Woods no less. I live near Sacramento. Andy is eight years my elder but who’s counting. We’re both over 15o years old so birth order doesn’t always matter at this point.

I hear Queensryche playing Another Rainy Night in the background. The band wasn’t there, Andy was playing it on an unknown device. I mention that because my brother Andrew is an insanely talented musician.

“Oh sweetie, did someone break your heart again?” I had to ask.

“No, it’s just the rain. I’m thinking about the loves I’ve lost over the years. Far far too many to count.”

“I know Andy,” I said.

“Maybe it isn’t even that. It is just a bad day. You know when it just hits you like a wave and every cell in your body feels like it is just going to stop.

“I know,” I said. Depression. It never makes sense. “You should call James. Tell him to bring the Unicorn over,” I said. I hate Andy’s friend James, but he always seems to snap Andy out of his moods. James is so sexist that he’d make the entire Trump administration look like members of the Pantsuit Nation. Jokes aside, he would. He also has a Unicorn. A real Unicorn. Nobody can resist the cheering charm of a Unicorn.

While I’m talking to Andy there is a knock on the front door. Then I hear our brother Val (almost a twin we’re so close in age) call out “Hey, Jewels.”

I put the phone on speaker and he talks to Andy. Val can always cheer up a room with his infectious laugh. You know, that sort of horse funny laugh that young men have (despite his 158 years.) Val is charming and soon we have Andy out of his gloom, at least we hope. In fact I invite Andy on our Spring Break adventure to the mountains and snow, but at least it will be beautiful and he won’t be alone.

We’ll have a weekend of quiet beauty and maybe even a bear sighting or two. They (the bears) are just coming out of hibernation, and for some unknown reason they always cross my path. These are black bears mind you, but I have had a grizzly cross my path before. That will scare even the most hardened Vampire, and even Werewolves. One does not mess with the one who is at the very top of the food chain.

I tried to think of another song to suggest to Andy, but by then he didn’t seem so depressed, but in an hour it might come back, but it might not. I tell him to resist, to tell it no, to not allow it in, not to embrace it, not to acknowledge it, or let it see him. It lurks around like a mean little demon who scuttles silently along the walls, waiting, watching, hungry to suck out as much as one’s soul as it can.

Then I think of the quiet woods, and know that we’ll find peace this week, along with laughter and love. No #scaryvampires. Just #lovedvampires.

Have a great weekend everyone. Find your peace.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman