Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

I first published this post in 2013. My children are now older, but Uncle Max still has the same effect on, well, just read the post.

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

I was taking Clara to school this morning and traffic was backup up for about a mile and there was no place to go. All the side streets were backed up with people trying to get out of the backup.

We speculated on the cause of the backup. I assumed it was an accident. Clara looked over and saw one of her teachers in the traffic with us. And much to her shock he was smoking. She said three of her teachers smoked.

I guess I could have acted shocked but let’s be real. I bet he was having one of his two cigarettes of the day. The first is on the way to school to take the edge off and calm his nerves before he faces two hundred students over a course of six periods. The second is after school to take off the edge and face whatever is at home. My husband is convinced that all high school teachers must drink a lot too.

After a conversation about smoking various tobacco products and other things we saw the blinking red lights up ahead. The traffic light was out. Ugh. Kids and teachers were going to be late. A 10 minute drive to school took about 35 minutes. I found out later that the faulty light was no excuse and a lot of kids were marked down as tardy. That is just plain stupid in my opinion but I don’t make the school rules.

I dropped Clara off and made it to my morning conference call but a few hours, mid-morning, I was back at school. They’d call to tell me that Garrett had almost passed out due to his sunlight sensitivity issues. This happens two or three times a year. I can lecture him forever on this but he still doesn’t always use precautions. The school wanted to send him to the hospital due to his cold skin and low heartbeat, not to mention a nasty looking rash, but I always take him home.

Anyway, he was fine, poor baby. But, my brother Max is still hanging out at my house until Friday, so I brought him with me to pick up Garrett’s car.

As Max and I walked into the school office I could hear the hush of female voices. Vampire men have that effect. Max smiled (minus fangs) then put on a serious look. I wanted to roll my eyes but was worried about my own young Vampire man, my seventeen year old Garrett.

Knees were going weak…not mine or Garrett’s, but those of the women in the school office. I had to get my son, and my brother out of there.

About four hours later school was out so I sent Max back up to school to get Clara.

Did my brother wait at the curb in the car like everyone else there to pick up kids? Of course not. He had to get out of the car and wait. The mothers at the school would never be the same. A tall man dressed in jeans and a tight black tee-shirt and dark glasses, cold to the touch but so smoking hot that it would take weeks for them to cool down.

Fourteen year old Clara told me all about it when they got home. She found it both amusing and annoying.

Clara said school was stupid as usual but admitted that science was good. They learned about how many planets might be able to support life. This was something all the kids seemed interested in, which is good since according to my daughter most of the kids don’t seem interested in anything during school.

For about twenty minutes she told us about the planets and theories and speculations about life. She talked of telescopes and exploration and the makeup of planets. It is good to hear the passion that is passed from teacher to student and then on to others.

Then the subject of Pluto came up again. Most kids are still upset that it is not a planet anymore (it even has moons.)

One of the reasons Pluto isn’t a planet is because it has an irregular orbit. But so does Uranus. (Click here for more on thoughts about Pluto)

Clara said that nobody even mentioned Uranus today but the boys in the class still had to snort and laugh about it. Yes, Uranus is a large gassy planet. Uranus has an irregular orbit. Uranus is huge. Pretty soon Clara and I were both laughing. Even Max had to laugh. I mean, you have to laugh.

Garrett was still asleep but the rash was gone. His friends Randy and Ione stopped by to see how he was doing and sat on the edge of his bed in the dark quietly talking with him. They’ve gone through this too, the sun sickness. We all have.

So that’s it… just musings on my day and a little bit of fun to take the edge off.

I’m still thinking about Max waiting on the curb. Oh my goodness.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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For more about Max and his friends do a search. You’ll find a lot about him, including the stories “Lighthouse” and “Perfection.”

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

 

 

 

 

California Afternoon, Vampire Guys (again), Parenting and Modern Life

Yellow Flip Flops

Yellow Flip Flops

Michinori waited for his teenage twins in the school parking lot. I waited with him. We also had loads of books to donate for the library book sale (our tax dollars not at work.)

I welcomed the company of an old friend on a Friday afternoon as I waited but… as you know, anytime a male Vampire goes into a public place, especially in the middle of the day he’ll get a lot of looks. They just reek of a certain “you want me now.” I just hoped the librarian’s knees wouldn’t turn to jelly when we brought the books in. I could already hear the women in the office and the female teachers saying, “Michinori is here.” It was worse than someone bringing a box full of 6 week old Lab puppies or cake or anything that pulls you and makes you giddy for absolutely no known reason. You know the feeling.

It was almost as bad as when my brother Max would go up to the school, except Max would intentionally flaunt it. He is so bad that way. He is horrible. When my husband Teddy shows up parent information meetings are packed with mothers of teenagers. It is good for the school but almost embarrassing for me. I should keep smelling salts in my purse for all the swooning.

Even years ago (a long long time ago) when people didn’t mingle the way they do now, women would look at my friend Michinori, feeling shocked that they’d be so attracted to such an exotic gorgeous creature. It was so wrong. No matter what color or background they were drawn to him. Then again he wasn’t just Japanese, he was also a Vampire.

He’d come to California years ago as a teenager, about the same age as our kids are now, to build the railroad and maybe escape his life as a less favored son. He met the 8th daughter of a San Francisco merchant. She was just one of 14 children (split between several dead wives.) They’d seen each other by the edge of the river, a place they both went to get away from the world. It was a world they didn’t feel like they belonged.

And when they met they found that they belonged with each other. It wouldn’t be easy for the dark eyed Japanese boy and the blue eyed American girl of Welsh descent.

They would live in the few places where they might be marginally accepted. Proper men and women shunned them.

Fernando and his friend Michael didn’t shun them. They were also a couple of mixed cultures and of the same sex. They lived a dangerous life with a love that wasn’t accepted by anyone. Both couples were outside of the law and outside of common decency.

Yet, in the circle of friends and family Fernando and Michal had made all were accepted. So they accepted Michinori and Rosalie, who in 1875 became Vampires. And they became my friends.

This was around the time my husband Teddy joined our ranks (another story.)

By 1999 Michinori and Rosalie were no longer seen as an oddity, especially where we lived, they were just another normal couple. That was the year their twins were born. That was the same year my own daughter Clara was born.

So we’re waiting at the school when we start to laugh about some stuff our kids had been talking about…

You know you’re from California when…

  • You know YOLO is a county.
  • You live on a fault line and your house is still worth a million dollars.
  • 65F is considered freezing.
  • Everyone gets excited when it rains.
  • You have flip flop tan lines on your feet year around.
  • You always know where the closest Certified Organic Farmer’s Market is and the price of strawberries.
  • You have a stash of old sheets to throw over your citrus trees in the winter.
  • You’ve never experienced a snow day.
  • You get tired of people from out of state asking you how many times a year you go to Disneyland.
  • Every high school has someone famous on it’s alumni list.
  • You NEVER say “Cali” when you talk about where you live.
  • You’re always within a two hour drive of anything you could ever want to do.

We went on for another 10 or 12 items then heard the final bell. School was out. Word was also out about Michinori being at the school.

Our children have a tight circle of friends at school.  The Vampire kids stick together because they like to be with their own kind. But they had friends of all different kinds. They accept that. Despite all the stupid things going on at their school, I hear there is tolerance that isn’t found at most schools. That is a tolerance for people who are different. You know I don’t even like to use the word different. Lets just call it an acceptance of everyone no matter who or what they are. You like the people you like and love the people you love for who they are inside. We teach our kids to see people for how they act and how they treat others – that is what matters.

That said, those Vampire guys… sigh. They’ll always take advantage of their unique charms but as long as they keep everyone happy I guess that’s ok.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Click here for “Why Vampires Wear Yellow Flip Flops.”

Musings on Gassy Planets, High School and Uncle Max

Cat on Mars

Cat on Mars

I was taking Clara to school this morning and traffic was backup up for about a mile and there was no place to go. All the side streets were backed up with people trying to get out of the backup.

We speculated on the cause of the backup. I assumed it was an accident. Clara looked over and saw one of her teachers in the traffic with us. And much to her shock he was smoking. She said three of her teachers smoked.

I guess I could have acted shocked but let’s be real. I bet he was having one of his two cigarettes of the day. The first is on the way to school to take the edge off and calm his nerves before he faces 200 students over a course of 6 periods. The second is after school to take off the edge and face whatever is at home. My husband is convinced that all high school teachers must drink a lot too.

After a conversation about smoking various tobacco products and other things we saw the blinking red lights up ahead. The traffic light was out. Ugh. Kids and teachers were going to be late. A 10 minute drive to school took about 35 minutes. I found out later that the faulty light was no excuse and a lot of kids were marked down as tardy. That is just plain stupid in my opinion but I don’t make the school rules.

I dropped Clara off and made it to my morning conference call but a few hours, mid-morning, I was back at school. They’d call to tell me that Garrett had almost passed out due to his sunlight sensitivity issues. This happens two or three times a year. I can lecture him forever on this but he still doesn’t always use precautions. The school wanted to send him to the hospital due to his cold skin and low heartbeat, not to mention a nasty looking rash, but I always take him home.

Anyway, he was fine, poor baby. But, my brother Max is still hanging out at my house until Friday, so I brought him with me to pick up Garrett’s car.

As Max and I walked into the school office I could hear the hush of female voices. Vampire men have that effect. Max smiled (minus fangs) then put on a serious look. I wanted to roll my eyes but was worried about my own young Vampire man, my 17 year old Garrett.

Knees were going weak…I had to get my son, and my brother out of there.

About 4 hours later school was out so I sent Max back up to school to get Clara.

Did my brother wait at the curb in the car like everyone else there to pick up kids? Of course not. He had to get out of the car and wait. The mothers at the school would never be the same. A tall man dressed in jeans and a tight black tee-shirt and dark glasses, cold to the touch but so smoking hot that it would take weeks for them to cool down.

14 year old Clara told me all about it when they got home. She found it both amusing and annoying.

Clara said school was stupid as usual but admitted that science was good. They learned about how many planets might be able to support life. This was something all the kids seemed interested in, which is good since according to my daughter most of the kids don’t seem interested in anything during school.

For about 20 minutes she told us about the planets and theories and speculations about life. She talked of telescopes and exploration and the makeup of planets. It is good to hear the passion that is passed from teacher to student and then on to others.

Then the subject of Pluto came up again. Most kids are still upset that it is not a planet anymore (it even has moons.)

One of the reasons Pluto isn’t a planet is because it has an irregular orbit. But so does Uranus. (Click here for more on thoughts about Pluto)

Clara said that nobody even mentioned Uranus today but the boys in the class still had to snort and laugh about it. Yes, Uranus is a large gassy planet. Uranus has an irregular orbit. Uranus is huge. Pretty soon  Clara and I were both laughing. Even Max had to laugh. I mean, you have to laugh.

Garrett was still asleep but the rash was gone. His friends Randy and Ione stopped by to see how he was doing and sat on the edge of his bed in the dark quietly talking with him. They’ve gone through this too, the sun sickness. We all have.

So that’s it… just musings on my day and a little bit of fun to take the edge off.

I’m still thinking about Max waiting on the curb. Oh my goodness.

And don’t forget to check out the night sky. The past few nights Venus has been HUGE and super bright and beautiful!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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Love her for who she is, not what you want her to be…

eveningOver the long weekend I packed up the family and took them out to the farm on the Delta where the Elders, Eleora and Tellias live.  My brothers were to meet us there for a night of family fun – as much fun as a family of Modern Vampires can have (which is pretty darned fun). Teddy, my husband, looked forward to sharing some new wines. Garrett and Clara, our teens, looked forward to visiting with their uncles and the Elders who never seemed to run out of tall tales. As the only sister it is my job to make sure my brothers are happy and not being stupid.

Upon arrival I noticed my brother Andy had cut his waist long chestnut colored hair to just a few inches below his shoulders. It short of flipped up on the ends but still looked like guy hair. Smart, artistic and sexy guy hair.

“Looks good Andrew. Did you cut it for her?” I asked running my fingers though my brother’s hair.

“Of course not. I wouldn’t change my hair for any woman. I just like this length better.” He gave me a twitchy look, like he does when he is annoyed. “I haven’t seen her for a month. She doesn’t know what to think of me. I can’t change who I am.”

“Did she ask you to change?”

“She hasn’t asked me to do anything. I think I confused her so much that… I know she likes me, and she might be in love with me, but she isn’t like us. She isn’t a Vampire.”

“Then if she loves you she’ll love you for who you are. She’d be crazy not to.”

“She’d be crazy if she did fall in love with me.”

I gave him a hug and sent him off to the back room where the rest of my brothers were.

It was one of those rare nights when all five of us, my four brothers and I, were together.

My husband and my sister in law Verity (my brother Aaron’s wife) were sitting out front on the veranda with the Elders, avoiding the potential drama.

Garrett, my 17 year old came up and put his arm around my shoulder. “What’s up with Uncle Max?”

“A girl rejected him so he can’t stop thinking about her.”

“What about Uncle Andy?”

“A girl he is in love with doesn’t know what to think of him.”

Garrett gave a slight laugh and a snort. “Those guys are so weird. Why don’t they just go with the flow and talk to these women? You know mom, they aren’t talking.”

I knew he was right. Teens sometimes get relationships because they aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for someone to go to the next dance or football game with. They’re looking for a study partner who might also like to flirt and hold hands. Sure they make mistakes and get their hearts broken but they don’t brood for 50 years and get all bent out of shape forever due to their own predisposition to jerkdom.

Sure teen love is complex. OK it is simple. But if given the opportunity they can look at a situation and make better sense out of it than a lot of grown ups I know.

I just keep thinking of what my husband Teddy tells all the teenage girls, including his own daughter. “Boys are stupid.” That pretty much says it all.

He didn’t ask about his other two uncles. Aaron is happily married (and I mean that in the most real way) and the other, Val, is happy and always well adjusted enjoying his single state with every woman he meets.

 Teens don’t see adult romance the same way they see their own romances and crushes.

Adult romance is based on a lot of things that don’t make sense, due to the fact that adults seem so bad at it.

Max told me the woman he knows, who has frustrated the crap out of him, would be perfect if she just changed. He always expects them to change, but they end up wanting him to change. It never makes any sense to me. I always resented anyone who wanted me to change. I hated it.

If you want someone to change, if that is a qualifying factor for your love then it isn’t love. It is ownership and control. If you need to change someone you might as well find someone else. If someone wants you to change you need to run. That is the world of romance according to Juliette, Modern Vampire, Modern Woman.

We all change and we change together. But if only one is required to change then the relationship will always be off balance.

My 14 year old Clara came in and joined her brother, taking my arm. I hugged them both.

“I have important relationship information,” I told my darlings. “Repeat after me darling children of mine:

1.     I will not change who I am for you.

2.     I will not wear the ugly shirt you don’t like but I will not change my morals, values or core beliefs for you.

3.     I will wear the shirt you gave me because it looks good on me but I will not change my hair for you.

4.     I will hang out with you but I will not drop my friends for you.

5.     I will not do anything for you that degrades me or makes me feel like I am not a whole person.

6.     I will be open to educated change, agree to disagree and discuss differences but I will not be forced to change in exchange for your love.

7.     If you force me into an ultimatum to change, your life will change because I will no longer be in it.

8.     If I change for you it is not love, it is fear that you will not love me.

9.     Love me for who I am, not what you want me to be. “

“We know that mom,” said Garrett. “You’ve already brainwashed us.”

“We love you mom,” added Clara.

I went out to the back porch where my eldest brother Max, the great brooding Vampire was standing. Maxwell the hunter, the fighter, the legend among Vampires, the idiot when it came to women.

Max was thinking about the girl. The woman. The strong smart amusing Vampire woman. The woman he couldn’t figure out. The woman he thought was just a friend. A friend he slept with when he wanted to. And easy friend. Easy. Easy. Easy.

Then he realized that his thoughts went from woman to girl and he suddenly realized that he had never taken her seriously. Why would he?

Now she was gone and he missed her.  Was it her or his ego?  Or was it just the fact that she was always available to scratch his itch in places nobody else could scratch. Or was it the fact that she let him bite her and take her in ways that his other Vampire bitches would not?  I think it was just for the face that she’d pissed him off.  It was the fact that good or bad, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

“You should call her.” I said to my brother putting a cautious hand on his shoulder.

He glared at me showing his fangs. “To Hell with her.”

“She never played games with you Max. You used her and dumped on her feelings. That’s sick Max.”

“I don’t know why she is so pissed off. I told her I’d never love her. She isn’t the kind of woman I fall in love with.”

“None of the women you ever get involved with mean anything to you unless they use you before you use them.”

I sat down on the porch swing and let him brood in the dark. He knew I was right. Or at least he knew he’d have to change and admit that I’m right.  I wondered if I smacked him hard enough with a 2 x 4 if it would knock any sense into his head.

Tellias sat next to me and put his hand in mine. “Don’t be so hard on your brother. Boys are stupid.”

“What makes you so smart Tellias?” I asked the ancient Vampire.

“One doesn’t change their partner, they grow and change together.”

“How long have you and Eleora been together? Do you remember?”

“Since they started planning Hadrian’s Wall. That was a long time ago. I remember the first time I saw her. She was standing on the edge of a cliff singing some God awful song wearing the ugliest dress I’d ever seen. It was so odd. I just stood there and stared for the longest time until she turned and looked at me with eyes ablaze with fury. I thought she was going to kill me. It was love at first sight.”

“You’re still in love.” I gave his cold hand a gentle squeeze.

“I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”

Rose

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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