Thoughts on Summer Heat, Schools, and Dog Walks

I can’t wait until fall comes. I don’t mean that lingering September heat that is like a hot slap in the face with a blow torch. I mean real fall with cool air and where the temperature stays under 75°F.

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Every morning I take my dog out for a walk. One of our stops is the local school which is also a park during non-school hours, which is always right now. The highlight of the school trip is getting a drink out of the fountain. Not for me – for the dog.

If school ever starts again we’ll change our morning route. The school we walk in is an old much loved public school turned into a public Waldorf charter school. The gardens are still growing. Staff is keeping the school clean.

When school was in session I loved watching the kids, all wearing sun hats, go for walks to the trails by the lake we live near. The youngest would hold hands or hold a rope so that they’d stay together. It was precious. The school has such a sense of community like the public charter Montessori school my children went to. The Waldorf school is a community and part of our neighborhood community. The same goes for the newer and larger neighborhood public elementary school down the street.

My daughter will be taking the fall quarter, the first quarter of do fourth year of college, online. It sucks but it is what has to be online school. We can manage that. With all of the money government, both federal and local, they could have online schools and computers for every kid if they wanted to. If they really wanted to they could make it happen.

I can’t imagine teachers, school cafeteria workers, custodians, teaching assistants, administrative staff, and others who work for schools coming down with Covid-19. I can’t imagine the horrible nightmare of children getting the virus.

Too little too late can’t be the lament of our education systems. We need to adjust and to see this as a public health issue. The lives of our teachers, children, and school workers depend on it.

Cafeteria’s can still be open for take out meals for children, or social distancing while school is out. Other services can adjust to meet the needs of children and families.  It can be done.

In the meantime, to switch gears to something nice, here are some photos of one of my walks earlier this week.

  • Talk to with your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands
  • Don’t complain or whine too much in front of your children. They’re stressed out about this too.
  • Kiss a Vampire (it will be ok. Vampires don’t transmit this thing)
  • Check in on the elderly and those who might need extra help or love.
  • Stay in touch with zoom, blogs, and other social media – or just pick up the phone and CALL someone you care about.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Questions to ask as a writer in 2020: What about everything that is going on now? Will it change my story?

1918 nurses with dog and masks
1918 Nurses and their dog wearing masks.

These are strange times, as if you didn’t already know.

I’m working on a project. It is fiction. I have questions. My story/book/novel takes place in contemporary America, in California, with somewhat regular people. This isn’t an epic fantasy. I have questions and I can’t just make up the answers.

Writing Questions as of July 6, 2020:

How long will we be wearing masks?

How long will seniors be in danger?

Will there be relaspes of Covid-19? What will happen if that happens?

What about other diseases?

Who will win the election in November and what fall out will there be from that? No matter what happens it will be weird.

Will Melania Trump divorce her husband and go after my main character? She isn’t his type, but he is awfully attractive so she just might have to stalk him. Damn, that would make a weird story. You know I just put this one in for shits and grins.

Will we ever be able to go to live baseball games again?

Will people still be social distancing in 2025?

Will this become (heaven forbid I use this term) the new normal?

Will any of my character be survivors, or carriers, or know someone who have been sick from Covid-19 or died from it?

Should any of this matter?

What about younger characters who are in high school, college, or trade schools? What about kids wanting to join the military? What will happen when everyone starts going back to school?

Will working at home become more of the rule rather than the exception?

What else is going to happen? Aliens? Giant atomic reptiles? Natural disasters we can’t handle because our government is so fucked up? More strange illnesses? Doomsday cults gone amuck? Talking dogs? Big Foot comes out of the woods to help out? The possibilities are endless.

What about fire season? With prison lock downs are there going to be enough crews to work the fires? How will this impact my character’s lives, not to mention mine?

How will this impact relationships? I’m talking about marriages, parents and children, romantic partners, friends, relatives, siblings, work relationships, friends with benefits, and everyone else.

What about divorced parents who have children together, even if those children are grown? In my story they’re grown.

Did this impact your character’s jobs/careers?

What about the crazy election and politics? Did any of that impact your characters? Did it drive anyone apart?

How about diversity? Are you changing anything in your writing to reflect that? My own kids have a diverse group of friends of all colors, ethnic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. They are who they are. Do I need to mention details? One character is gender fluid but so are people I know in real life. How does one write about diversity without being overly contrived or stupid. I’ve done it on my blog, right here, in the past. It worked. Maybe I’m over thinking this.

When I used to work in advertising someone, usually a marketing director, always wanted to have a black male, a racially ambiguous lighter skinned brown (who could pass for white if he had to) male person, and an Asian female (because you could get a minority and a female for a two in one deal) in the ad. It was so trite. It was so false and just pissed me off.

Did your characters participate in demonstrations?

What are their political views? Have those views changed? How are they talking to their children about it? Do they agree with their kids, or can they even talk to them about it without yelling?

I am still sure I can and will call out racists, sexist assholes, anti-vaxxers, religious fanatics, those who don’t believe in science, flat Earthers, and people who like the books 50 Shades of Gray, The Twilight Series, and Bridges of Madison County. OK maybe not the readers. At least they read.

What about the environment? Again, what about the environment? WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?

Will J.K. Rolling ever shut up about trans people?

Will there still be cat memes?

What about music?

Netflix? You know.

Did your character stop smoking and get into shape, or did they gain the Covid 19?

What or who did they miss most? What were they glad to get back to the most? What or who were they glad NOT to be around during the stay-at-home orders?

Does everyone adopt more shelter animals? I’m at overload at my house but maybe my characters adopt a few dogs, cats, or other critters during the shut downs.

These questions go on and on.

From my own experience I know as a writer that some stories become outdated pretty quickly. When my kids were tiny I started writing an epic techno/fantasy/romance/adventure that is over 200,000 words. The point of telling you this is that I need to go back and change a few things in it, because things have changed over the past twenty years. Attitudes have changed, and even though the story is fantasy and in a place that isn’t really our Earth, some things still apply. The entire Southern Hemisphere of their planet is a toxic wasteland due to environment disasters. There are social issues dealing with people who are different. There are assholes and bigots. There is drug use. But anyway, it is still a damn fine story and after a few more years maybe I’ll edit it and throw it out to the wolves.

But I’m rambling…

As writers we must constantly be thinking about how our world changes. That is the beauty of blogging, that is you write constantly in smaller bites so everything is always fresh.

So, I have nothing else to say on this right now. I just need to get back to my book. Oh, and don’t forget that Camp NaNoWriMo 2020 is happening right now if you want to join in. Here is the link to get there: https://nanowrimo.org/what-is-camp-nanowrimo

Damn I feel bad for all of the kids who have to miss summer camp this year.

I’ll yack at you more later and bug Vlad for a new Vampire Diary post.

  • Wear your mask
  • Be nice
  • Wash your hands
  • Read blogs
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables
  • Love your cats
  • Do some stretching
  • Don’t be a dick
  • Turn up the radio in your car and sing really loud
  • Stay safe
  • Kiss a Vampire (that is still relatively safe and always fun)

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

family and cat with masks 1918
1918. Family with masks – even the cat.

Short Story Sunday: The Melting

“We have to think of ancient times. Slaves were more of a social class than what we think of slaves. They could live comfortable lives within a hierarchy. If they wished to stay where they were they’d be protected and always cared for. If they wanted to move up they could buy their freedom. With this kind of system we could rebuild with unlimited labor. We could have a society that we are proud of. No mistakes this time. It is Biblical and proven. Everyone would know their place.”

 As I listened to the cheering of the political influencers from my hiding place in the great hall I grew cold. I grew angry. Non-influencers were not allowed but I managed to get inside unnoticed. I was always unnoticed. It is both a skill and a talent.

I was born in 1999, the last year of the 20thCentury. I was on the tail end of the Millennials. We were supposed to save our planet but the damage had been done. The minds of millions had either been ignored to atrophied, or poisoned by fear, bigotry and the blind embracing of ignorance.

Things were bad, but slavery? I thought that same about so many things. I questioned everything.

Columbine happened the year I was born. I grew up in a world of tragic school shootings. When I was young my mother would pick me up from school with tears in her eyes. Later when I was in high school I’d hear about shootings before she’d get me.

So there I was, a recent college graduate, the class of 2021, with a degree in International Studies. It had been an honor to be invited to the World Solutions Conference in Washington DC. Unfortunately once I arrived nobody wanted to listen to my voice.

As I crouched behind a curtain listening to talk of slavery, male dominance, Biblical law, and the return to old antiquated values I found I was not alone. From seemingly nowhere a woman dressed in a white leather jacket, and black leather pants stood besides me. Her skin was while like an albino, her hair in glossy white bob, her eyes so black I couldn’t see her pupils.

She smiled at me and said, “The seal has been broken.” Then she put her hand on my shoulder. “Stay here. You aren’t among the chosen.” Then she laughed low under her breath and walked out into the chamber with the law makers.

“It is time,” she called out. “The seals have been broken.”

The law makers, mostly male, mostly old, looked upon her figure. Great wings came out from behind her back. The wings were huge. I have no idea where they came from.

She raised her hands and 90% of the people in the room liquified. The smell was beyond bad. I can’t even describe it except to say it was death.

I stood up, realizing that I’d just witnessed the Pale Rider. She was Death and the apocalypse was just beginning.

To make a long story short, I found three of my friends and we drove across country back to California. All I could think of was if my parents were alright and if I’d still get to go to graduate school. It’s weird what you think of when you’re in a panic, or after seeing things so strange and unbelievable.

A few weeks later, after most of the Earth’s human population was gone, the woman in white came back to see me.

“In the old texts, it is said that the good will rise and the bad will stay upon the Earth in their own Hell. When I met with my cohorts, the other horsemen and arc angels we decided that would be a logistical nightmare.”

“So you liquified the evil,” I said.

“More or less,” she told me. “It makes it easier for you to go forward.”

So forward I went. Now on the hundredth anniversary of The Melting things are good. We still have work to do, but we’re doing OK.

I still hear from the Pale Rider. Every few years or so she stops by to check in and make sure things are on track.

“You’re the first I’ve told of my relationship with the Pale Rider.” I smiled at my young great great grandchildren. “You know her as your great Aunt Emma. I bet you didn’t know that did you.”

Of course they didn’t.

“Well, darlings, I love you all but I have a country to run, and wonderful things to do today. Go out for a hike, or work on your college essays. I’ll see you back at dinner time.”

~ end

 

Note: This is just a sketch for a much more complex and detailed story. More to come soon. ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Rally

Andy stood in the dark on his back patio looking at the night sky.  He sang softly to himself, barely audible.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c’est bien in vain qu’on l’appelle
S’il lui convient de refuser.
Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière.
L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait.
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère.
Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait.

Turning around he found his brother Max standing by the French doors that lead to the patio. Andy in his jeans and white dress shirt was in stark contrast to Max’s all black, mostly leather ensemble.

Max smiled. “I’m still in awe of the beauty of your voice baby brother.”

Andy gave Max a bro hug. “Thanks. You worked tonight?”

“I’m keeping the world safe for Vampires everywhere.”

“And you’re greatly appreciated by all of us.”

Max was a hunter of Vampire Hunters. Andy was an opera singer. Both were Vampires. And they were brothers, with the same chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes that could go pitch black on demand.

“Tonight,” Max began, “I was off from work and looking for a bite to eat, and I ended up in an alleyway with an incredibly angry woman.”

“Were you going to…”

“No. I’d passed some sort of event, I think it was a rally of some sort. People were mingling outside and it looked like fun. Then one of them called me a faggot when I walked by.”

“What an asshole.”

“It doesn’t matter. At least it didn’t then. You know I’ve never cared what they think. I’m not one of them.”

“You’re the most standoffish Vampire I know.”

“Like I said I’m not one of them. But tonight was different. She got to me.”

Andy smiled. “She? Love?”

“No. Of course not. I turned the corner into an alley, and there stood a woman, alone. Someone yelled, “You’re a cunt Lila. You know that? Would you rather hang with a bunch of fucking rug munchers and queers?” She didn’t respond to him.

She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Have you ever known what it is like to be different? To be hated? Do you know what it is like to feel hated for not hating?”

Not a single warm blooded human has ever asked me that. “Why were you there?” I asked her. I wanted to know what would have convinced her to be at such an event.

“A couple of coworkers asked me along. One of them has a friend I kind of liked. I thought it would be interesting. I had no idea how interesting. It was like going back to 1930’s Germany. The guy, that asshole who yelled at me was dating the girl I liked. I didn’t know.” She looked at me in an odd way. “Why were you there?”

“I wasn’t there.” I told her. “I just got off from work. I was just passing by, on my way to get a bite to eat. There’s a wine bar a few blocks from here. Please join me. We can talk.” As we left the alley there were more jeers. I turned to the men and gave them the most awful visions. One fell on the ground clutching his stomach. Andy, you would have been proud of me.”

“So tell me about her,” said Andy. “What did you talk about? Did you talk?”

“We talked for about three hours. She asked me if I was gay.”

“Did you tell her your preferences?”

“That I am attracted to both, but mainly women? Yes. She didn’t blink and eye.”

“Then what?”

“We talked. Then we walked for a while. I drove her home. Then I kissed her cheek. She didn’t even mention that my lips were cold or my eyes had gone almost black in color. It wasn’t romantic, but I’m going to watch after her. She might not know it, but she’ll never be alone, or unsafe.”

“What about dinner? Was it her?”

“No, some guy in the bathroom of the bar. It was fast and easy.”

Andy didn’t ask the reason for the rally and Max didn’t mention it.

About an hour later, on the drive home, Max watched the sunrise through the rain. He tried not to think too much about the night. He could have killed the men who called him names and yelled at Lila, but he didn’t. There was a lot he could have done, but instead he decided to perform the rare act of listening. Just listening.

After dropping his clothes on a chair he texted a Vampire woman he was trying not to fall in love with and asked her to come over. Then he climbed into bed and closed his eyes to the new day.

 

~ End

 

Note: I wrote this a few years ago (so you might have read it before) after listening to my teenager talk about what is going on in the news and the bigotry and hate and sheer ignorance we hear coming out of so many public mouths. This is a quickly written sort story, and not great literature (or even a great story) but I hope you understand the meaning behind it. Haters are going to hate but wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t hate and didn’t spread that hate to others. It is something we all must think about if we value our freedoms and the future of our children (who are usually smarter than we are.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

Short Story Sunday: None of his concern

Senator Wallace “Wally” Baskin stood on the podium as his fans watched on. They knew he would cut funding to arts, which after all were only for high brow perverts and didn’t do anything for the economy. He had cut funds for National Parks which everyone knew were just glorified playgrounds used by retired folks and boy scouts. Bears and rock formations were not his concern. If he didn’t see it or like it then it wasn’t his concern.

He’d never seen a bear in the wild, an underaged prostitute, a Indian burial ground, the inside of an art museum, or a whale, so they were not his concerns. He had never personally known a soldier with PSTD, or one with missing limbs so that was none of his concern. Wally Baskin had never known a child with cancer, or anyone with AIDS, or an opera singer, so they were none of his concern.

Empathy, curiosity, and compassion were for the weak. They were none of his concern.

The Senator looked out over the crowd, a mix of white, brown, and a few darker folks picked out by his staff, mixed in with people who’d just come to the State Fair to see the hogs, goats, and a popular local metal band called Fire Pods. Wally wondered about the Fire Pods. He wondered if they worshiped the Devil, or ate exotic cheeses with California wine, or had sex with women who happily showed off their large breasts and snake tattoos. He thought about them with those women, legs wrapped around the skinny lead singer with the handsome face and long blonde hair.

Wally never liked Metal music. Wally never liked any music. His kids listened to music, but he never asked them about it. They were grown now and had been poisoned against him by his first wife. He didn’t see them but he still thought about it and it made him angry.

He’d told his son that majoring in English was a waste of time. He told his daughter that she’d never find a husband if she majored in Chemistry. When his ex-wife got remarried he’d called her a whore for not being faithful to the father of his children. It didn’t matter that he’d married a woman only ten years older than his son.

His new wife, a beauty named Desiree, was always by his side in her high heels and monochromatic suits. He didn’t see her much in his off time, but she was always there with a million watt smile, not a line on her face, and not an extra pound on her body. He wasn’t allowed to often touch that body, but he didn’t think she let anyone else touch it either. Today she stood by his side smiling and holding the hands of their extremely bored nine year old twin boys.

The boys had told their father they didn’t want to be there. Wally told him he’d whip their butts if they didn’t behave, so they behaved.

Maybe Wally should have whipped the butts of his older children more. That was one reason his wife left him and poisoned his unruly children against him. He thought of his daughter asking her stepfather to walk her down the isle when she got married. Wally was still trying to find dirt on the man. He refused to go to her wedding, but instead went to a church retreat with some of his political donors. He’d rather spend a weekend with God and other’s who appreciated him rather than his loser daughter.

Senator Wallace “Wally” Baskin stood on the podium and started to talk about family values, American values, God, and bringing back the goodness of yesterday. The crowd  gave a luke warm response by clapping politely and not walking away. As he walked to his limo, with his wife and whining boys behind him, he could hear the crowd roar with approval as Fire Pods started up their noise.

Wally would find the dirt on Fire Pods and have them ruined, especially the lead singer, the good looking blonde named Ryan Green. Fuck you Ryan Green thought Wally. Your career is OVER.

At home Wally said grace over the dinner table and told his wife that he was pleased with the outcome of the day. She smiled, but looked tired, even after changing into jeans and a tee shirt. He didn’t like it when she wore jeans, but he’d gotten tired of her bitching about it. He’d check her bank account in the morning and take out some money just to teach her a lesson. The twins ate chicken nuggets in another room while he and his wife had some sort of noodle dish. She called it pasta but it would always be noodles to him.

Life was good. Wally instructed his staff to post on all of his social media sites about his good life, his good wife, and his bright manly twin boys. He watched the news about floods, fires, quakes, tornadoes, murders, and all kinds of unpleasant things but that was none of his concern. If you don’t you’re house to shake don’t live in California is what he always said.

Later that night his wife was sitting on the back deck of their mansion sipping a glass of wine. She’d taken her make-up off. Wally told his wife she looked ugly without her make-up and he’d prefer to keep it on. She called him an asshole. He slapped her. She told him that she was unhappy. He said it was none of his concern and she’d better do her job as his wife and keep us her end of the deal.

The next morning Wally woke up to the sound of nothing. No breakfast cooking. No children with their annoying noise. No sound of their annoying dog. Not his wife singing some stupid songs he didn’t recognize.

On the kitchen table he’d found a note.

Wally,

Maria will be in tonight and make you dinner. She’ll organize the domestic staff from now on so you won’t have to see them. Remember Maria, our personal chef? She is the one you called a cow when she made stir-fry that night. If you call her names again she’ll leave you.

And speaking of leaving you… I have left you. I’ve gone off with Ryan Green. I’ve taken the twins, after all Ryan is their biological father. You were too stupid to guess that. Why do you think they look so much like him. 

If you wish to speak to me or send a message contact my lawyer. 

D.

Wally called his wife on the phone and left a long message. This would be the death of his political career. He called his ex-wife, he called his eldest son, he called his daughter. He even called his elderly mother.

None of them answered.

Two weeks later when his naked bloated body was found floating in his swimming pool the police asked his staff, his neighbors, and his family, why nobody had called to report him missing.

They all had the same reply.

It was none of my concern.

~ end

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Weirdness

Look at the babies. Even for a 159 year old Vampire this is weird. She picked on up by it’s little itty bitty arm. They’re flailing and crying on the ground. They’re naked. Poor babies.

And NO Vampires don’t steal or eat babies. Unlike our regular human counterparts we’ve evolved.

Right now we live in weird times. Let me back up a bit. It has always been weird but for some reason it seems especially weird now.

My 19 year old daughter  works in a smoothie and juice place. This morning a woman in her shop (blonde, white, dressed like what we call a crunchy hippie type) came in and accused a man of Indian descent (nice looking, dressed nicely like most guys in the many nearby high tech companies) of spying on her other covert activities. The poor guy was calling his wife on his phone to ask her if she wanted anything. He took the call outside and the blonde hippie woman followed him and started to yell at him. The staff of the smoothie shop was in shock. They apologized and gave the poor man free smoothie coupons. What the fuck is wrong with people. I feel so bad for the poor kids who work in the store, but especially for the poor guy just making a call to his wife. I was appalled.

Damn, I don’t even want to talk about the political scene. Shit like this keeps happening and politicians are enjoying every minute of it. They’re fanning the fire. I swear Vampires should start getting involved. There are so few of us but at least we have the history, and background, and education to make reasonable decisions. We can look back into the past and logically see what will happen and the consequences of certain actions. We are also passionate with a strong sense of values. We are experts in good and evil.

But alas I don’t think anyone is really ready for us. They aren’t read for a female president. I don’t think they’re ready for a gay president. I don’t think they’re ready for anything that isn’t spoon fed to them by a machine that resembles the worst kind of cult.

If we (Vampires) got involved we’d all be dead within a few years. They’d kill us. Nobody wants to understand us.

On the other hand…

Every year large beasts are being found in the ocean and vanishing jungles of the world. Even the term “vanishing jungles” should seem weird. I digress… back to my point. Do you think a Sasquatch or Bigfoot population will ever be found?

I don’t mean some fuzzy photos, a sound recording that sounds like coyotes howling or squirrel chatter, a weird footprint, or a tuft of what looks like German Shepard fur. I’m talking about a real physical being. Maybe a baby Squatch left at a campsite with a note saying, please take care of me. One can only imagine.

Don’t laugh at the note part. If they do exist they’ve managed to hide for a long time. The ability to read and know human language would aid in the ability to keep hidden. If you know where your enemies are and what they are doing you can make sure they never find you. Yes, maybe the hunt for Bigfoot is the ultimate hide-and-seek. Or maybe it is just a bull shit fairy tale. You never know.

Sometimes I still see guys with their pants down around their butt cheeks. I still don’t understand that. How can they walk. Plus it looks so unflattering. Dude, have some self respect. I don’t see it very often anymore but it still is so weird.

Urine. There are people who drink urine and even put it in their eyes. I’ll say no more on the subject.

Did you know that even NPR has a strange news page? It does. Here is the link: https://www.npr.org/sections/strange-news/

We’re all drawn to weird things on some level because it is something different that we don’t always see.

Then again there are those people in our lives we consider weird. There is Ramona who won’t talk to men and only drinks goat milk. There is Vance who dresses like a 1970’s British Horror movie Vampire, complete with red lined cape. We keep telling him to just wear jeans and a button down shirt. Vance wonders why he can’t get a date. Vance is a weird and lonely Vampire. Maybe I should introduce him to Ramona. I could go on and on but I know you have those weird people in your lives. Maybe you’re the weird person. That’s OK. It really is (sort of, sometimes, as long as you don’t bother me.)

I always told my kids that there is a find line between letting your freak flag fly, and being an asshole, or bully bait, or just an idiot. Like with all things, weirdness can often be transformed into a lovely sort of uniqueness. That is the goal.

Well, and finding Sasquatch. The goal is always to find Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, maybe a space alien, matching socks, plastic lids that fit, your keys, your sanity, and a good friend.

I’m outta stuff to say.

If you have anything weird to share feel free to put it in the comments. This is a hate free zone. Have at it.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman