Wrong Number

This is a story from 2014. On this cold rainy night I thought it was worth telling again.

This isn’t a tall tale or something from the mysterious paranormal or gothic side of life.

It is just a story of something sort of sad.

It isn’t even my story. It is the story of someone who is alone. We think this person is alone. We don’t know for sure. It is a mystery.

It is a story of missed connections.

I didn’t make this up.

Smart phones don’t always reflect the situation of the people who are calling them. When we get a new phone number more likely than not somebody else had that number before we did. Or our number is close to another more popular number. When I first go my cell phone number about 12 years ago I kept getting calls from people speaking Spanish and Chinese. I got calls for a bakery. I got calls for a tire store.

My daughter has been getting calls from a local mental hospital. They are looking for a man named Thomas. He needs to pick up a patient who is only called by a number. No name. Just a number. This has been going on for two weeks.

If we were in a movie or a novel Clara, Garrett her 17-year-old brother and their friend Randy would go to the mental hospital and get the mysterious patient only known by a number. Then they’d have a strange and wild adventure and it would all wrap up after a lot of violence and car chases. But this isn’t a movie or a book.

Unfortunately the mystery isn’t unfolding. It is just a sad situation. Somebody is at a mental hospital for teens and adults. Someone is alone. So alone. They need a ride and the only number the hospital has is the wrong number which belongs to the phone of a 14-year-old girl. Nobody seems interested in finding the correct number or perhaps a different contact. Isn’t anyone talking to the patient only known by a number? Clara has spoken to people at the hospital explaining the situation but she keeps getting calls for asking for the mysterious Thomas.

This mysterious phone number (with the prefix of 666) also receives calls for a young woman I’ll call M. These are also sad and weird. M missed a court date. The parole officer is pissed off to no end. M deals drugs.  M owes everyone money. M is a go between for drug deals. M has an ex-boyfriend who is looking for her. M is a train wreck. M gets a lot of phone calls. I’ve heard these phone messages too. It is not a life I’d want to be part of or want my children to be part of. I don’t even want M to be part of it. It is an unfortunate life full of bad choices that nobody should be part of.

It is strange and sad that by accident we have seen into sad lives of people we will never meet. We don’t know anyone like M. We don’t know who Thomas is. We don’t know who the person is who needs to be picked up. We never will know. Clara has told the callers that they have called the wrong number. That is all she can do.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Transition

Parenting is a job you never retire from but those little people grow up.

They grow up and, well, they’re grown. You’re still a parent but your children are adults. In theory they’re adults. They’re eighteen or older, but they’re not quite adults yet.

They’re not like the teens still in high school either.

And you’re still a parent.

I’m spending a lot more time with this girl now.

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Alice the GSD is two years old now. She is the new family dog. We lost our sweet Jasmine three years ago after twelve years. She was the dog the kids grew up with. She was the dog who grabbed our hearts and souls like no other.

But Alice is the personification of sweetness and love. Now she is my shadow. She is the one who now goes everywhere with me. She is my constant companion.

But back to non-dog creatures…

It is difficult to write about parenting now because everything changes. Some parents tell their kids to move out as soon as they turn eighteen (I think those kind of parents are assholes.) Some kids never leave and are content to live in their childhood bedroom with the single bed and posters on the walls and have mom make grilled cheese for them forever (in that case the kids are assholes.)

Most kids I know are somewhere in the middle. They’re going to college or trade schools, or working, or volunteering. Many are stressing out over how they’re going to pay for school or cars or rent.

A few are stupid and now are finding themselves with minimum wage jobs and babies on the way, but those aren’t the ones I’m writing about today. That is a subject I’m not even going to touch because I’d be mean, judgmental, and make people cry.

But for the most part most kids are growing up, and it is like learning to swim or ride a bicycle. They all do it on their own terms, in their own time, but they know they have to do it. Sink or swim. Fall off and get back on.

They’re having their first serious relationships. They’re falling in love. They’re angry because they are evaluating their childhoods and judging their parents. They’re discovering people who aren’t like them. They’re doing wonderful things and exploring their worlds. They plan trips without us. They working. They’re voting. They’re pulling away. They’re turning around and letting us (parents) know they still need us.

Since the beginning I’ve written about letting your little birds fly. Soon the only ones left in my nest will be a couple of cats, a dog, a husband, and empty bedrooms for when my babies come home for visits.

I miss my children so much. But I rejoice and treasure the adults I’ve raised. I’d never go back if given the choice to have them small again. I have one more year and another one will be miles away on the other end of a very large state.

So where does that leave us as parents?

You have to let go. At the same time you still need to be there 24/7 in case they still need you.

There will also be changes. They’ll pull away. Hopefully they’ll pull away some because that is part of growing up. But hopefully they’ll stay close.

Like I’ve been saying forever – just keep talking with them. Let them know their thoughts are important. Let them know you understand their fears, and if you don’t understand, then listen but don’t judge. Remember when you were young. I swear I don’t want mine to be like I was, but rather than jumping all over their young butts I encourage them, and again talk to them. And it isn’t like they’re never going to do something weird, but you just have to take it one thing at a time.

No matter what they’ll be, and who they want to be. They’ll be who they need to be. Learn from your mistakes when helping them learn not to make those same mistakes.

I’m just talking and musing today. The the best parent you can be so your kids will be the best they can be.

I know this is simplistic but it seems to work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Playing the Game – Can’t leave anything to Chance

Some say life is a game. I don’t believe that is a good message for teens but sometimes, on those stupid frustrating adult days when everything seems to go wrong it seems like some stupid horrible game. You know those days when you think “I must have been a really horrible person in a past life.” 

One of the frustrations about being young (in your teens and twenties) is that Chance and Fate are unfair forces that seem bound and determined to keep us down.

Chance isn’t logical or fair. He picks favorites. He excludes those who work hard. He surprises us with delights. He breaks our hearts and smashes our delicate egos. He devastates. He rescues. He is our best friend and our worst enemy. That said, try explaining that to your teen or college aged kid. Try explaining it to anyone?

And what about Chance’s fickle girlfriend Fate. Fate is lovely to behold but can be a real bitch. She likes to make us think she is on top of things, but in reality Fate has very little to do with anything. Fate is a poser. She is full of empty promises. Fate takes credit for things she did not do. Because in my opinion Fate does nothing if she can find someone else to do the work for her (and she is very good at getting Chance and others to do the work).

Then there is their friend Noel Reason. He is a secretive guy who has his hands into everything but doesn’t take credit for anything. In fact he shouldn’t take credit for anything. Sometimes things just happen for Noel Reason. But you never want to tell your teen THAT.

The unpopular kids are Logic and Reason. Nobody wants to listen to them. They are usually polite and never scream. They aren’t popular. But people who do get to know Logic and Reason love them. Their lives get better. The world makes sense. But it is so frustrating having Logic and Reason for friends because so many people hate and fear them (for no reason – chalk up one more for the gossip mill). You can depend on these two.

Ignorance seems to be the most popular guy around these days. He acts tough. He is the “bad boy”. He gets friends by spreading the message of fear and hate. His most famous saying is “We’ve always done things that way. If it was good enough for my dad it’s good enough for me.” Ignorance hates people who think freely and is glad to get his bullies to take care of it for him.

The perfect union

There is a rumor that Art and Science don’t like each other. In reality they are a couple – and a successful couple at that. Take my word on it. Plus they are two that your teens and twenty somethings need to get to know (and know well). As with Logic and Reason you can also depend on these two.

Hope stand by herself never knowing what to do. She has great power. She brings comfort but she also brings disappointment. Keep Hope as a friend but don’t make her your best friend (and she often is caught flirting with Chance which pisses Fate off to no end). Hope can do a lot for you and those you care about but she can’t solve the World’s problems.

Faith is Hope’s twin sister. You have to get to know Faith. She isn’t overly religious as some people believe. But she embodies all that is good and kind. She teaches us that all things are possible and to believe in ourselves and others. She teaches us to believe in what is good. She teaches us trust. But don’t keep her in the dark or cover her eyes or you’ll have blind Faith – and that combined with our pal Ignorance can be a very bad thing indeed.

Most of all teach your children that they should not depend on the friends above for what they  need or want. They need to depend on their own talents, drive and follow their own hearts. They must lead, not follow, not wait.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Cults – Real Monsters

There are real monsters in our world and you need to talk to your children about them. You need to tell them where the phrase “Drink the Kool Aid” came from.

I hate cults. Be it religious or some other sort of group who blindly follow a crazed charismatic leader, I loathe them.

They don’t fascinate me as much as I am appalled. I am appalled by the people who start and run them. Most of all I am applied by the people who join them. And of course there is a very special place in Hell for people who bring their children into them.

The same goes for con-artists, so called psychics and clairvoyants  who tell those who mourn that they can contact the dead. It isn’t going to happen. They’re nothing as horrible as predators   who prey on the emotions and desperation of others.

If you’ve read any of my other work you’ll find patterns where I bring up cults, and those who claim to speak to the dead, hear angels, and other bull shit. I have the same opinion for those who say they’re prophets, or have a direct line to God, or lead others on religious journey’s and enlightenment – which really means control of assets, power, sexual abuse, and assorted other bull crap.

When I think of anyone from Branch Davidians and David Koresh, to Bo and Peep of Heaven’s Gate, to Jim Jones, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, and those like them,  it makes me sick. And don’t think it is just religion. Many multi level marketing groups work on the cult model. Far too many political groups work on this model. They all break down potential members then bring them up in a sick and twisted feel good way – taking away the free will of the new member and replacing it with a perverted sense of belonging, awe, and fear of not belonging.

The leaders take away the member’s money, they isolate them from their families and friends, and they demand complete obedience.

Sex and sexual abuse seems to be a huge part of most cults and cult-like organizations.

It isn’t always on a grand scale. There are far too many small groups and organizations that we never hear about. They also prey on the innocent, lonely, and those looking for answers.

Often they use someone of the opposite sex to luer young people in, disguising their hunt as romance, or a connection with a kindred spirit.

When kids go off to college, or out into the world on their own for the first time it isn’t always easy. They will get lonely. They will have times when they feel like they don’t fit in. This is when the preditors go on the hunt after your children.

The preditors hunt the college campuses, often disguised as smiling peers just sharing information. My mind goes back to a girl I met in the late 70’s on a large college campus. She sat smiling like a bride on her wedding day, at a table, giving out information about “The Young Spartins.” This was back in the cold war days. She was from a communist group. I questioned her. She was all glassy eyed wonder. I didn’t have the heart to ask her if she’d ever heard the word “Gulag.”

Another story I’ll never forget is from a sweet young man who had his heart broken by one of the preditors. Fortunately he was smart enough to follow his head and heart, and not his dick. My young friend, a twenty one year old man in his forth year of college, had met a beautiful young woman at a party. They talked all night and watched the sun come up together. He was floating head over heels in love. He’d met his soul mate. Then two days later he was home early from his next date with her. She wasn’t intersted in him. She was only interested in him joining her “religion.” Her religion was something he (a Catholic) didn’t even consider a religion. He was horrified and heart broken. She didn’t give a crap about him, just about making her quota of converts and mindless followers.

Soon after that I was persued by several men of the same cult. They’d always ask me what I wanted to change about myself. I’d tell them “nothing.” They were total losers. I also met someone who had escaped from that same group that claims to be a religion, only after everything he loved had been taken from him – including his musical talent which he gave up for the cult. One is always expected to give something on loves up to prove their loyalty.

I’m not against religion or belonging to a group. I’m not against anyone having strong beliefs. What I am against is those who prey on the innocent and the young in the name of religion or political group, or other sick and twisted belief.

I tell my kids to question everything. I tell them to be skeptical. I tell them not to follow. Even when they don’t want to lead they should never follow, and never do anything blindly. Blind faith is a dangerous thing. Nieveity is a dangerous thing.

Cults are like abusive relationships. They will take everything from you until you are nothing. And they want to own you – both physically and mentally.

Discuss this with your young adult children. If anyone convinces them to stay away from their family and friends they need to RUN. If anyone tells them their family and friends don’t love them they need to RUN. Anyone who wants to break them down, then bring them up is BAD. They are evil.

Cults, con-artists, abusive assholes – it is all the same. They want your children.

I don’t know what else to say about this. Just continue to talk to your kids, even your older children about preditors. Your kids grow up but stranger danger is still an issue.

I speak from experience. A long long time ago I worked for someone who was trying to start a cult. It was scary. It was sick. It was sad. I saw first hand how the leader manipulated his followers to the point of blindness and deafness to reason and the outside world. I hate those people. I hate it when people are so weak that they follow such people.

That’s all. For now at least.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Three True Tales of Terror (with teens, rats and possums) – with illustrations

Three True Tales of Terror (with teens, rats and possums) – with illustrationshorror banner011

Tale #1: High School Horror

This morning as I dropped sixteen year old Clara off at school I saw a girl walking across the parking lot. I know I shouldn’t have, since I am the parent, I said, “She has that geek walk. You know, very fast and deliberate.”

Then Clara looked at me in a cold chilling manner. “She is sooooo weird. Her finger nails are really long.” Clara made a hand motion showing four to five inch long nails. Yikes.

My child proceeded to recount a short list of weirdness. Then she said, “She never shaves her legs. Her skin is super dry. And then she scratches her legs during class. It sounds like this.”

And my daughter scraped her nails against the woven upholstery of the car seat – a loud, heavy, scraping noise. To imagine that was a human leg made me wince.

Then Clara scraped her nails along the pebbled plastic dash board of the car. “Just like this.”

Then she got out of the car with her hundred pound pack full of text books (no lockers for these kids) and headed off to her first class.

On the way home I thought of The Tell Tale Heart.

I know, I’m a parenting blogger. I should have said, “it is ok for a girl to have hairy legs if that is her choice.” But I didn’t. Deal with it.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

 

Tale #2: The Rat

Once upon a time, back before the life I’m living now, for a short time I lived alone in a small shack of a house in the woods.

I was sleeping and awoke to the sound of crashing, and two sets of four feet running through the room.

My small long haired tabby cat Eureka was chasing a rat.

Eureka was named so because I found her. The name is on the seal of the great state of California. It means “I have found it.”

The rat and cat both ran into the storage room, and I closed the door.

There was more crashing and banging. Then it stopped.

Then mewing noises came from behind the door. I opened the door. The cat had the rat trapped between a wall and my sewing machine case.

Now what?

I kicked the sewing machine against the wall, once, twice, three times.

On the third kick the rat flew out and landed dead on the floor. This rat was huge – half the size of the cat.

Disgusted I went back to bed. I’d deal with the rat later.

About an hour later I was awakened by a sound.

“Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.”

Eureka the cat was by the side of my bed, eating her rat. Crunch, crunch, crunch.

I’d deal with it later. I pulled the covers over my head and went back to sleep.

When I woke up again there was no fur, no tail, no bones, no rat at all except one foot, something that looked like a kidney, and the head of the rat staring up at me with dark black beady eyes.

 

Tale #3: Not Dead Yet

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The last time my son was home from college he was going through some boxes in the attic looking for vintage vests and ties he could take back to school. He found something else, something I’d forgotten about. What a treat. It was almost like Christmas again.

I will never forget when he looked at me holding the box and asked, “Mom, what the hell?”

My parents traveled to California in 1849. It was the year the great California Gold Rush Started. Among their party were two young women, Martha and Leyna.

Unlike my father, and pregnant mother, Martha and Leyna were not Vampires. Martha had been a young slave who’d been purchased (at the age of thirteen) in 1848 by my mother, and immediately given her freedom. Martha was smart and sweet girl who liked baby blue ribbons and anything to do with roses. Leyna was a sturdy one eyed teen with a black eye patch, and a head full of long blonde curls and pale blue eyes. She was to marry a man in his 40’s but she’d have none of that. She ended up in the service of my mother who appreciated her common sense and sense of humor. The contrast between the small dark slender girl and the Amazon like pale girl was almost extreme, but the two became inseparable friends.

By 1866 my parents had produced five little Vampire children. My brother Andy’s Italian music master was falling in love with Martha. Leyna was happy to be her own woman and running the kitchen. Both were still working for my parents.

Yes, we had a kitchen, for Vampires do eat food from time to time, especially with growing children. Another reason (which has a lot to do with the whole point of this story) is that my parent’s entertained a lot. None of their fine Nineteenth Century friends had any idea that Jeremy and Samantha and their five darling children were Vampires. It was all about appearances.

So during the party season of 1866 strange things started to happen around town. Even the illustrious households like the Standfords and Crockers reported disturbances of the most disgusting manner.

Women reported they’d feel something pulling at their large skirts, only to hear running, and a hissing laugh, followed by a cloud of flies and fleas. Sometimes they’d smell horrible fart like gas, or feel the brush of soft fur against their legs.

From fine homes, to local bars, alcohol supplies started to run low. Someone or something was getting into the supply.

Even our house was not exempt from the strange bad smelling visitor. I could hear my mother talking to my father about it. She said she’d heard of such event near St. Louis.

All the while my brothers and I were watching for whatever being was causing the disturbance. There were rumors of a dwarf escaped from a circus, or Werewolves, or ghosts, or even trained devil dogs.

Then one day we saw them walking along the edge of our house. A large greasy possum, his fur slicked back, and wearing one of my father’s ties around his neck, crept along with his teeth showing, and his dark eyes darting around. He was followed by a small creature who staggered along like a drunk. It looked like a small armadillo. The possum was disgusting, like the drunken dandy Werewolves who thought they were God’s gift to women. The armadillo creature was small and sweet.

Soon all Hell broke loose. The possum was trying to “romance” our cats. Alright, he was trying to mount them. That led to a possum face full of bloody scratches. Our dogs barked but he just flipped him off. Next we chased him into the house where we lost him for a few hours. We found the armadillo creature in a corner curled up around a bottle of whiskey.

The sound of scratching claws could be heard against the hardwood floor. The rank smell, and trail of my mother’s lacy unmentionables, led us to the kitchen.

“Look what that demon spawn has stolen from Samantha’s room,” we heard Leyna yelling.

Martha ran down the hall telling us to help her pick up the mess.

Then my mother appeared in the doorway. She was not happy. “It is called Buster. Martha, Leyna, we must eliminate it. NOW.”

Of course my seven year old brother Val and I started to scream at them not to kill it. We wanted to put it in a cage and tame it. We wanted to have it as a pet. We’d wash it and train it. We’d teach it tricks. We’d be famous.

Mother said NO.

The creature put his head up and looked at my mother with his shining black eyes, then hissed out the words, “Want some tail between your legs beautiful?”

The was a collective gasp, even from the Vampires in the room.

Martha, in a whirl of blue ribbons and lace, grabbed a broom. Leyna grabbed a large cast iron frying pan.

The creature hissed again. “Love it when the bitches get all fired up.” Then a cloud of fleas, flies, and fur swirled around the room.

Martha, Leyna and the possum thing called Buster disappeared into the kitchen. My mother followed, slamming the door behind her.

We stood with our ears to the door listening to the carnage. It sounded like a bar brawl.  When the door opened my mother came out, her hair falling in messy curls down her back, her hands covered with scratches and blood. Martha and Leyna stood in shock.

A possum jaw was stuck in the back of the door, teeth sunk into the wood like nails. The rest of the animal was on the cutting board, a mash up of fur and a long rat like tail. Blood ran off of the surface onto the floor.

“Is it dead?” I asked.

My mother started to laugh. Then Martha and Leyna laughed too, until the three of them couldn’t stop.

“May I have the fur?” Asked my brother Val.

My mother smiled. “Whatever for my darling?”

“I’d like to make a doll out of it for Juliette.”

Val was a darling child.

Then Leyna spoke, “My sweetheart can do taxee-dermy. He’ll make you up a nice dolly for Juliette.”

Val and I jumped up and down clapping our cold little Vampire hands. We couldn’t have been more excited.

A week later Buster came back gutted and stuffed. His eyes had been replaced with shiny black buttons. His jaw and other loose parts had been sewn and wired back on. He was as good as new. And to make things even better Layna had made Buster a fine dress of green silk, with tiny yellow bows. Eventually my mother got tired of Buster’s stinking dressed up corpse and put him away.

As for the armadillo, he turned out to be a rare pigladillo. I would sit with him purring in my lap for hours. He lived to be almost forty years old. Such a sweet thing, even when he was drinking.

buster012

~ End

 

So what prompted me to write three such disgusting and random tales? It is part of the Evil Squirrel’s Third Annual Contest of Whatever.

Thanks Evil Squirrel.

I just won the 2017 Fourth Annual Contest of Whatever. Woo Hoo. Click here for that entry.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The Third Annual Contest Of Whatever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Believe

Beliefs that seemed so important to me when I was young don’t seem so important to me now.

I think that applies to most people. We are influenced by our small world of parents and school. Then we go out into the wide world and do stupid things based on our young narrow views. We reject experiences, including love, friendship, career opportunities, education, adventure, fashion, creativity, and so many other things because we’re only twenty years old and set in our ways.

As we get older we start to loosen up and realize that maybe those hard held beliefs don’t fit us. We realize there exceptions to the rules. We realize that we can change those rules and traditions and make them better.

I’ve written about this a lot on my blog, mostly though stories about my friends and family, and my own somewhat crazy experiences. Yes, we learn from our experiences, and from the experiences of others. Heaven help the person (and we all have “that person” in our lives) who never learns from experience and is doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

A lesson for children is to not let others squash their desire to question what they know. And others will try. As a parent you shouldn’t fear this – if you give your child a good foundation, and most of all TALK WITH YOUR CHILD. Discuss these things. Keep the lines of communication open.

Just from talking to my children I’ve changed my mind and beliefs about some things. Yes, we can, and do learn from our own kids if we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open. It is a wonderful thing.

We move away and retreat from the old ways. At the same time so often, too often, we wonder “what if?”

That said, life does not stop when one grows up. You can keep exploring and having those adventures. You’re grown, not dead. And until you’re dead you can keep living, and changing, and looking at your options.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

moth

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/retreat/