It turns us numb

Our children go off into the world,

We’ve given them the tools,

They know about good,

And evil,

They know that they need to beware

Be smart

Be aware

Be alert

And yet,

Even in the light of day,

Away from the familiar shadows,

A bright day

Brings unexpected

Tragedy.

It turns us numb

And feeling helpless

Because we can’t live in fear

But we can’t stop it.

 

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My heart breaks today for everyone near UCSB. Wishing peace and healing.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Ghosts and new beginnings

 

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Spring is the time of year for new beginnings or Fall when school starts or even January 1st… so they say. I think it is the beginning of summer. That is when school is out and we all take a deep great and regroup.

It is also the time when kids graduate from high school. Then they aren’t kids anymore. They suddenly become adults.

Last night we gathered for my son Garrett’s graduation from High School. I was so proud and at the same time choked up. I’d known so many of these kids since they were teeny tiny little things. I knew them before they knew how to read or that the world was anything but a wonderful happy place. Now they were moving on to college and other adventures. I was so proud but at the same time uneasy knowing what is ahead for them. I know that sounds weird, but I love so many of those kids so much.

After the celebrations we (our entire family, uncles, grandparents and assorted others plus friends) went out to the farm belonging to the Elders. They’d agreed to host a party for the Vampire kids in their barn. The rest of us “adults” gathered in the house.

In the old days parties might have included some Regular Humans to provide refreshment (come on you know what I’m talking about) but tonight we provided blood from bottles. This was a celebration for our own kids, the 16 of them from the area who graduated this year plus a few friends who’d graduated last year or would graduate in the next few years.

I left my teenage son and his younger sister to their own friends and took my brother Val for a walk in the pear orchard.

We’d run through these orchards as teens, trying to get as far away from our older brothers and parents as possible. Our conversation centered on Garrett and his friends and college. We compared notes on summer plans and what the future would bring for the new graduates. Small bats fluttered around our heads and crickets chirped in the grass, just like when we were young so long ago. So much for musings, Then we started to talk about things we’d done when we were young.

That was in 1877. I was 18 and Val was 19. We were young Vampires ready to take on the world. Our parents found a college that would accept the both of us (not because we were Vampires but because I was female.) It would be a continuation of our childhood adventures. We spent a lot of our time and energy hiding what we did. We smiled at the fact that my kids and our brother Aaron’s kids (now in college and law school) tell us everything. How times have changed.

The girls in the barn at the party were all in shorts. Back then I was in a long dress with a corset and on special occasions a train on that dress. It was all ruffles and bows for me and I loved it. Val laughed at how I’d always be tripping when my heels would get caught in my skirts.

As we laughed and giggled, walking along like two drunks bumping into each other, a figure appeared in front of us. Transparent with a slight glow she stopped in front of us and held out her arms to us as if pleading.

“Holy crap. Damn ghosts,” whispered my brother in an almost harsh growl. His fangs came out.

“Hush,” I hissed. Then I realized this was not just any ghost. It was a childhood friend. Suddenly guilt grabbed me and I froze.

It was Ada, the first girl Val ever kissed. She was also the first girl he bit on the neck. He’d been in love with her as only a teenage boy can fall in love.

Ada was a lovely flirt and a beautiful silly girl. Her dance card was always filled and her future was bright. Later she was seduced by a charming man who married another woman. Then pregnant, she married another man. He was handsome and rich – it was all good on paper. The child died and her marriage turned abusive. Our brother Aaron offered to turn her into a Vampire. He thought it would help her escape. Valentine offered to take her away to start a new life. In the end she sewed rocks into the hem of her skirt and walked into the river.

My parents were livid about what my brothers had done. At the time I didn’t think they did anything wrong, but now I know they shouldn’t have interfered. They should have been a friend but not exposed themselves for what they really were.

Val also realized who this beautiful and sad apparition was. “Ada,” he said to her. “Why are you here?”

She just look at us and said nothing.

“Darling Ada, it is time to move on.”

Ada moved a little closer. We could feel the air get cold, like someone had opened a freezer. “I did everything wrong.”

“No,” I said, “you loved your child. You loved. Ada, please, it is time to move on. Stop torturing yourself.”

She shook her head. “I had the chance to become one of you, the undead. Now I’m in a ghostly Hell of my own making. I’m damned forever.”

We stood, not knowing what to say. Then behind us came a voice. A very familiar voice. It was another ghost – a ghost I know very well. A ghost, dear readers, you know well.

Val and I turned around to find The Ghost, Nigel standing behind us. He wore his black suit as usual but tonight he had a white rose in his lapel. He wasn’t taking to us. Nigel was here for Ada.

For those who don’t know, Nigel is a big pain in the neck. He lives at my house, or more so at my neighbor’s house but hangs out with me most of the time. Between insulting me, flipping me off and hiding my keys, we’ve sort of become friends. When I’ve had to deal with loss he has been there for me. In turn I’ve been there for him, as much as one can be there for a ghost. He died 100 years after Ada and was obviously dealing the ghost thing a lot better than she had been. Anyway…

Nigel spoke to Ada in a calm loving voice. “It is time to move on my love. You are innocent of all wrong. Your time here is done. You’re free to go and be with your child.”

He moved close to the other ghost and embraced her. In a flash of blue and pink light there was only one ghost left.

Nigel turned and looked at us. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the two most irresponsible Vampires of the 19th Century.”

I could have been insulted but he sort of had a point.

“Is she gone?” My brother asked as he took my hand.

“Yes.” Nigel didn’t elaborate. He just stood there and glared at us.

“Thank you,” said Val.

Then Nigel came close and looked me in the eye. He blasted me with an ice cold wind. “Don’t even think of asking me why I can move poor Ada on and still be stuck here myself. You Vampires think you rule the world but you don’t know the half of it. You don’t know anything.”

We stood eyes locked. My mind went blank. I had no idea what to say.

Then he smiled a wicked smile and said, “I have to congratulate you on what a good job you’ve done raising your own children. Too bad they’re Vampires.” Then he vanished.

Valentine and I walked back to the house. We decided not to tell anyone else, except maybe Aaron, about Ada.

I suppose I could say we’re all haunted by the ghosts of our pasts, but come on, this was weird and sad even for Val and me.

Back at the party everyone was having a good time. I was greeted at the back door by my husband Teddy who had a kiss waiting and a glass of wine. I could hear the music blaring from the barn. Everyone was happy and getting along. Life is good, even if you’re undead. And I plan on keeping it that way.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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A Vampire Gives a Commencement Speech (times three)

I graduated from a somewhat prestigious university but did not attend the graduation ceremony. Nobody seemed interested in attending. In fact nobody seemed that interested in the fact I’d graduated. I don’t even know who spoke at the ceremony.

Now I wish I’d gone, even if I’d been alone. I had dreams that quickly faded. I’m not sure if any commencement speaker could have said anything I wanted to hear, but I’ll never know.

But now, light years away from those days, thinking about college and the future for the next generation. All of these young people I’ve watched grow up and loved are now graduating from high school and going away to universities.

I would have given a different talk to my younger self than I would for my own children. My kids – they’re different than I was. I raised them differently from how I was raised, I believe they’re smarter and more aware at than I ever was at that age (or ever was when I was in my 20’s for that matter.) Mind you, my parents did a great job, but times were different – really different.

The other night while we (husband, teens and I) were out walking the dog under the moon my 14-year-old daughter mentioned she’d read the first few chapters of Fifty Shades of Gray. I should have been shocked but ALL the kids have read parts of it. They’re kids. That’s what they do. Anyway she said it read like bad fan fiction that girls write about their favorite band members. Then she and her older brother started to talk about stuff they’ve read on Tumblr mostly on their Smart Phones.

My phone is just like theirs but we call it the not-so-smart phone because like all electronic devices it doesn’t work for me.

Then they started to talk about birthmarks and body hair on their classmates. Excuse me? Then I remembered they see everyone in swimming (PE or on the swim team). Yes, it was swimming.

From there they talked about college. I dared not panic knowing that one would be leaving soon for a university on the coast – a new beginning for all of us.

But aside from technology, or maybe with the help of technology, society has changed. So many people say we (living creatures) never talk anymore. I was we talk a lot more. Nobody spoke of feeling or hopes or dreams or desires or ideas when I was young. Everything was shut inside in fear of being proper. Everyone was too afraid of what others would think. They were too afraid to speak up.

And in that fear chances of a lifetime were missed. Being proper worked to some extent but … nobody except artists and outsiders expressed their true feelings about anything. This wasn’t that long ago. Up until the last quarter of the 20th Century everyone was tight lipped and afraid.

Of course it was great for Vampires. It just allowed us to be freer among our food sources because nobody dared speculate on why they were feeling so different after a visit from one of us.

On the other hand I should just quote what one of the seniors put down for her quote in the high school year book. “This was nothing like High School Musical.”

And now a little advice and wisdom for my son who is graduating from high school and his friends:

To the Graduating Class of 2014

This is not the time to be naive or confused. It is not the time for drama. It is not the time to play innocent. It is not the time to put your head in the sand. It is not a time to wonder what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. Your children have graduated. Be proud of the job you’ve done as parents and never stop letting your children know how proud you are of them.

Dear graduates.

I don’t come to you with advice on what you should or should not do. I’m not going to tell you that you will change the world or be a success. I won’t tell you that you are the future of America. I won’t tell you that your generation will be the greatest – that is up to you. And I know you’re up to it.

Congratulations. Have fun. Watch the stars. Don’t forget to take time to play, time to read and time to love. And never forget to take time to learn. If you stop learning you might as well be dead.

 

Graduation Commencement Speech #2 – Think Like A Mom

You’ll be leaving home soon to make your way in the big wide world. One thing to remember is your mom. Never forget your mom. All of my advice to you comes from mom. So here we go…

Think like a mom. It could be your mom, or the mom you wished you had. Moms know everything, or at least the good ones do.

Love like a mom, because nobody can love like that.

Trouble shoot like a mom. With a butter knife and a roll of duct tape the average mom can fix anything. With a kiss she can fix everything.

Multitask like a mom. Your mom is the ultimate in management. Think about it – she has 1 or more children, a husband and maybe other relatives to deal with. Mix in work, feeding everyone, managing the house, pets (they take up a lot of time), volunteer work, driving everyone to hell and back… and add about 34,000 other things to this list. If you can multitask like your mom you can do anything.

Laugh like a mom. I laugh so hard I cry and my sides hurt. That is what moms do.

Find joy in small things like a mom. Every wonder why your mom takes time to point out bats in the night sky or worms in the ground? And you thought it was for you…

Fight like a mom. No Army General can defend his fort like a mom will defend her children.

Your mom always tells you “Don’t give up.” Well she was right. She will always be right. Never give up. Don’t give up hope or trust or peace of mind. Don’t give up your will to survive. Don’t give up your desires or your dreams. Don’t give up when doors slam in your face. Don’t give up when everything around you caves in, because it will and you’ll have to deal with it. And you can deal with it. Your mom gave you the tools you need to survive and thrive.

So don’t forget mom. One day your own kids will thank you for it.

 

To the Graduating Vampire Teens of 2014

You’d be amazed at the things your mom finds in the laundry.

One day we’ll part,

In different worlds,

Not so different,

Not the same,

You’ll have change,

I will stay the same,

You’ll have wonder,

I will stay the same,

You’ll have wisdom,

I will see the wonders of the ages,

Except that I will miss you,

My heart a broken mess.

 

My son wrote that about a year ago. I found it in the dryer. I knew where it was going. Friends mean everything to a teen. Your friends are the center of your universe. You think through your heart. The bonds of friendship will last forever.

Even for us, even when they’re gone those bonds will always be there, keeping you strong.

It never seems fair that they will go before you. It isn’t fair that they can’t stay with you forever.

There are those rare few who might stay – those few you can change.

You will find that over the years there will be holes in your heart that can never be filled, even when you know that your heart doesn’t beat as theirs does. It stills as their hearts do.

I have loved and cherished my regular human friends over the years. I feel honored to have known them. Their path isn’t the same as ours. Their loves are full and rich and wonderful. They have options we can’t even imagine. Be happy for them and cherish your time with them.

I could tell you that it our time to rule the Earth but we’re not like that. We live in the comfort of the shadows, between worlds that they’ll never know.

But that doesn’t rule out anything for you. You’re a Vampire, which means you are human, but just a little bit more.

Dream your dreams of sunlight even when you seek comfort in the dark.

The world is yours. The future is yours. Your heart is yours to love with and heal with.

You are the guardians and the truth seekers.

Cherish your history and your uniqueness, but also know that you can be whoever you want to be.

Yes, you do live in the shadows but remember you are never alone and never need to be afraid.

Congratulations and may every night be a good night.

_____________________________________________________

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I was half minded to not post this because I feel like anything a commencement speaker could say I’ve already told my kids. The key point is that they might say it with more wit and impact. Plus sometimes words from someone else will stick more than words from “good old mom and dad.” Oh well.

If I were asked to give a commencement speech it wouldn’t be any of the talks above. I don’t know what it would be, but it would be funny and the graduates would never forget it. Given the opportunity I’d shine because I’d want them, the graduates to shine. Anyway…

There should be commencement speeches for parents. That was a lot of work – raising kids and doing it right. So parents, toss up YOUR hats and cheer.

When they’re grown you don’t stop being a parent, you just stop driving them around all over the place.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Musings on Moving On

I’m not special. I’m busy. I’m different. I’m impatient and frazzled more than usual these days. I’m a mom.

So don’t sweet talk me or give me hollow compliments. You never had to prove anything to me. I’m a Vampire. You never have to prove yourself to a Vampire.

That is what I said to the creature who stood before me the other night. I was out with my 18 year old son and we met some people for dinner. Our dinner. You know, we’re Vampires. It’s OK. When we were done with our tummies full and our “friends” empty of a few pints of blood and full of sweet dreams, we quietly headed for the car. Halfway down the alley we were stopped by a stranger, or someone I thought was a stranger.

His face was in the dark as he asked if we were having a nice evening. I took my son’s arm and gave a nod, ready to move on when the man stopped in front of us.

“You don’t know who I am.”

I looked at him in the face and I knew. It had been at least 80 years but I knew him. I can’t even start to tell you how annoying it is when someone from my past shows up when I’m with my kids.

“I know Vampires never forget. And I’d never forget you Juliette. You’re still just as beautiful as the last time I saw you.”

We made a little bit of small talk. He complimented me several more times. Then we went our ways like ships that pass in the night. Just signals of those who might or might not meet in port one day.

“Who was that mom?” Garrett was naturally curious about the person we’d just me.

“He’s a Warlock. We used to run in the same circles, kind of sort of. There was always something about him that made my skin crawl.”

“He seemed nice enough.”

“He is, but…”

“He’s a Warlock?”

“He was such an asshole. It has nothing to do with him being a Warlock. We had a lot of the same friends. That is all. It is what it is.”

We talked a bit more. Just another night of a week full of annoying things that fortunately are separated by really nice things, like evening with my son.

Garrett and I talked for the next hour about people we know and our plans for the summer and his graduation from high school. We talked of college and the people he’ll meet. There will be new friends. Some will last for a year. Some will last forever. Some will come and go from our lives like shadows.

We came home to find my husband Teddy and daughter Clara watching Lizard Lick Towing. I know, we’re Vampires who have sunk to the lowest of low, but at least it was good to see some daddy/daughter bonding. They watch Bar Rescue together too. So much for Gothic Vampire stereotypes.

I told Teddy about my old Warlock acquaintance. He used to be among my circle of friends a long time ago but we grew up and all moved on. It wasn’t the wrong time wrong place situation. It was just time to move on.

Just like with my children and the end of the school year, it is time to move on.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Always

He’d always been around, my brother’s best friend. His face was one of the first in my memories. His human soul was one of the first in my heart.

Our families were linked together. Our fathers were business partners and friends. Our mothers raised their children together. Yet we were different. We were so very very different.

Every time I saw Teddy I had to smile. I couldn’t help it.

Over the years, after his engagement, after he died, after he wasn’t really dead, and after he went off into the world I kept seeing him. Each time it was always like the first time.

We were cursed with bad timing. He was always with someone or I was with someone. We should have just admitted our feelings.

Though we’d had remarkable adventures together as young Vampires we didn’t have a remarkable romance, except for the fact that it was ours. It was completely ours.

So each time we see each other it is love at first sight all over again. The feeling hasn’t changed. And when we look at our children we get the same reaction.

Love at first sight happens but the key is to act on it. Don’t wait 100 years like we did.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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More on Juliette and Teddy

 

Stand Alone Unrelated Story (without Vampires)

 

Vampire Love

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/first-sight/

The answer is still no

I’ve frequently posted answers to questions about Vampires on this blog. The answer is usually “no” or “I won’t tell you.”

I’ve also commented on things NOT to say to Vampires. Well, I’m in hot water because some readers want to know what the CAN say to a Vampire.

So what CAN and SHOULD you say to a Vampire?

Of course my brain immediately went blank. I suppose you could say anything polite and witty to a Vampire and you’d be OK…. maybe.

The general rule is that if you know someone is a Vampire, and you’re not, it isn’t always going to go well.

So in musing about this subject I asked Tellias, one of the ancient Vampires in my life about conversations with regular people.

We were sitting on his front porch a few nights ago sipping cold goblets of Poets Blood (from a new shipment at Dave’s Dark Wine Emporium) pondering the meaning of life.

He told me story about how he handled questions from regular humans who find through various means that we’re Vampires.

“Juliette, my dear girl,” he started as he took my hand. “They’re naturally curious about us, as you well know. Back in my Roman days they considered me a minor demigod. They knew I was different with certain powers but they didn’t know what a Vampire was. I went along with it and used it to my advantage, rather innocently I dare say. But sometimes I’d just be annoyed by not being with my own kind, like a foreigner in my own land.

Every once in a while someone would ask me if they’d suddenly have the ability to see the Gods or see the future if I’d drink their blood or something ridiculous like that. I brushed off most questions. I mean, it was a good life, I can’t say it wasn’t. I lived in luxury, the pretty blonde boy who couldn’t be killed and could read minds and keep everyone feeling calm. But after a while I wanted my own kind. I wanted to be with a woman who liked a cold touch and understood what I was. Converting someone wasn’t an option. Roman culture wasn’t right for Vampires. I needed a real Vampire woman. I found her in Britain. Right, but back to your question. Their questions. As long as someone isn’t rude or exceptionally stupid I’ll answer anything. Of course I’d rather they not even know I’m a Vampire in the first place. But if someone does know, like those rare people who DO know just because they know, or those who find out accidentally…what were we talking about? Oh yes, as long as they don’t ask to be converted into a Vampire or ask stupid personal questions I’m not going to be offended. It still doesn’t mean I’ll answer them.”

He ran his hand though his white blond hair and gave me a smile. “Of course I always taught you kids that no matter how friendly or comfortable regular people are with Vampires, you always have to keep that thin line of fear between you and them. We can’t let them get too comfortable or we might as well end up becoming Vegans and turn to dust.”

Tellias always had a way of making things make sense even when he wasn’t completely at his wits. The 2,000 year old Vampire looks all of age 20 but spent centuries nurturing and mentoring the Vampire community.

As for my friends, my few friends who know I’m not like them, I let them know there are limits on what I will and won’t tell them. It all boils down to good manners and respect.

Tellias started to hum a tune I didn’t recognize, something ancient and strange. I sipped from my goblet and listened to the sounds of the night thinking of how odd it is of us to be so different, yet to us it was so normal. Then again, maybe we’re the normal ones.

And the answer is still no.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman