Keeping positive even when things are weird

K-Pop vampire

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought about writing a post called “Things You Should Never Do After You Become a Vampire.” I’m having a hard time feeling that one right now.

  • Eat copious amounts of sugar
  • Become a vegan
  • Volunteer to go to Mars
  • Become a serial killer
  • Wear white shoes with black stockings

Huh. Even one of my famous bulleted lists doesn’t bring out the wit in me.

When you live with kids, especially teens, there is always talk about what to do and what not to do.

My daughter is fifteen. Most of her friends are in the 15-16 year old range. This is high school. Things get weird.

One of my daughter’s best friends wants to be a Korean Pop Star. I think it is called K-Pop. These starts are young men with a lot of pretty plastic surgery, trendy clothes and a fun formula for slick music and imagery. Her friend, Ben, is a freckled boy with pale red skin and brown hair. He is handsome. I’m sure his ancestors came from Ireland. He is on the fence about being gay or straight. That is fine with everyone, but Korean? Really Ben? We love our Korean friends but Ben… I’m glad you’re into K-Pop but… this is obsession. You’re creeping your friends out.

His obsession has sent him into a weird fantasy world that has made his friends shrink away as if he was a Zombie. In fact he has become a Zombie except he shuffles along wishing he was a small pretty Korean boy. I wonder how many small pretty Korean boys wish they were tall handsome white guys with freckles?

Most of us have known what it is like to feel a little lost or uncomfortable in our own skin. That is part of growing up. Only a few of us are sure of ourselves all of the time. That said, we can live to accept and even love who we are. Why not love the person you spend the most time with?

So rather than make DON’T lists I should be making DO lists.

Things to do when you’re a teen

  • Explore options.
  • Take advantage of school – it is free and there for you.
  • Laugh.
  • Try something new at least once a week.
  • Ask your parents how they are doing. That will shock the crap out of them but do it anyway.
  • Ask your parents about their high school friends and teachers. That will shock the crap out of them too.
  • Talk to your teachers. They like it when you talk to them. You’ll thank me later for telling you that. Yes, teachers ARE interested in YOU.
  • Talk to your parents. Really. Do it. That is what they are there for.
  • Think forward – high school isn’t forever.
  • Enjoy different points of view.
  • Have fun and be silly – that should be your goal for the next hundred years.
  • Be yourself!

So anyway… more ramblings on Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves and the teens in my life later. For today your assignment is to just be yourself, even if yourself is weird. Remember, if you are comfortable with yourself then you aren’t weird at all, everyone else is.

Have fun,

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Rat Girl

I remember one morning my mother was out with all of us – her entire brood. Max was fifteen at the time, followed by Andrew aged thirteen, Aaron at nine, Valentine aged six and I was only five.

My brother Aaron was squeezing my hand too tight so I started to pull at my mother’s huge skirts. She lifted me up so I could settle on her hip. Max put Val up on his shoulders. My mother’s helper Grace walked with Max and Andrew. My teenage brothers were already turning heads and Grace kept the owners of those heads from making any suggestions or passing messages of any kind.

I remember looking over my mother’s shoulder at Grace and smiling. She smiled back in her funny closed mouth way so she wouldn’t show her teeth. A man outside of the bank hissed, “Rat girl,” under her breath as Grace passed by. My mother whipped around, ribbons flying on her hat and took  the man by his shoulder.

“Never do that again,” she said low and deliberate. “Apologize to the lady.”

The man wanted to resist but I suppose the increasing pain in his head and chest and the tightening of his throat made him take my mother’s suggestion serious.

“I beg your pardon Miss. I didn’t mean to offend you,” the man gasped out.

“But you DID mean of offend her,” said my mother. Then an odd thing happened. The man staggered back a few steps and fell onto the ground, blood coming from his nose.

“Max, Andrew, Aaron, Valentine, walk ahead,” she ordered my brothers. Max tried to protest but he received the dreaded icy dagger look.

With me still on her hip and Grace’s hand in hers, Mother stepped aside into the doorway of a leather goods shop. I craned my neck to see the commotion in front of the bank. An icy hand turned my small face back away from the scene. “Juliette, do not stare. Look away child.”

At that point I was looking straight at Grace. I liked her odd face and quiet ways. Grace was the perfect name for the girl.

My mother told her, “Forget men like him. He is nothing but dirt under your feet. Stand proud girl. Stand proud.”

I’ll always remember the first night Grace came into our lives. My father brought her home from a trip in San Francisco. It was 1865 so of course everything was right in them middle of everything. Anyway, he brought a young woman home. There was some sort of story about how he couldn’t leave her. I heard the words disgrace and sad and unfortunate whispered between my parents and our head housekeeper Mrs. Morgan.

I’d been playing with my dolls under a table and froze as quiet as death to see who this slight figure my father brought home was.

Her face was long and narrow, almost weasel like with a tiny mouth, long teeth, a little nose and small dark eyes. Even her hair was a mousey ash color. A slight flush of pink on her nose was the only color on her pale white face.  The ashen hair was scraped back into a tight bun on the back of her neck. Cracked spectacles sat on the bridge of her nose. The dress she wore was nothing more than a long sack with a belt high on her waist. What an odd creature she was, especially for a girl. I’d seen plain women without decoration or charm but she was beyond that. She was like a dust rag or a fur ball the cat had choked up.

“You can’t be called Ratty or Rat. That is a degradation of both your character as a woman and a Vampire. What is your given name?”

“Given name?”

“The name your parents gave you.”

“Rat. I’ve always been called Rat.”

Rat didn’t have a last name either. So my mother told her that she’d answer to Grace.

“Is Grace like us?” I whispered that loudly in my mother’s ear.

“Yes Juliette, Grace is like us.”

I found out later that the former Rat had been abandoned as a small child and passed around, bought and sold, worked too hard and hardly educated. Still she kept her wits and spirit all the while pretending to be an idiot. When she was barely in her teens she became like us – a Vampire. Unfortunately she wasn’t with Vampires like us, at least not until about six months before my mother renamed her.

Grace stayed with us for several years. The girl who looked like a rat leaned how to fix her mousey hair and how to make magic with the right color and the cut of a gown.

“All women are beautiful,” my mother said. “It is just a matter of knowing what to do to make it happen.”

Once I heard Grace say, “Nobody loved me because I was ugly.” That was the saddest thing I’d ever heard. Later that night I curled up next to her and said, “I love you Grace.”

And I really did.

Today she is considered one of the most unique and fashionable women in the country. I won’t divulge her name. To me she’ll always be Grace.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

rat girl

Musings on the Space, Writing, Vampires and Spring

amazing stories guy with 2 girls

 

 

 

Yesterday I found myself inspired to write science fiction.

 

Red Planet: Chapter One

Sure we all volunteered with a capital V but we didn’t know we’d be stuck a billion miles from home with a bunch of assholes.

 

Alright, so much for that.

But it makes me think about SPACE and traveling there.

If you’re a Werewolf and you go to another planet, say Mars, will you turn into a wolf when there is a full moon or Mars or will you keep to our own Earthly full moon cycle? Or will you turn into a wolf with green fur? Or will you not turn into a wolf at all? Or will you just die alone on a barren red rock with a bunch of people who don’t understand you?

Space travel for Vampires is impractical to say the least. If you go to Mars, from what I’ve heard, you can’t come back. Maybe after a while, but right now there is not technology to come back. There isn’t technology to get there either but… anyway…

Say you’re a Vampire and you go to Mars. There is a limited food source, maybe a dozen other people at most to start. I’m going to assume that nobody has children up there. So your food supply ages and dies, or just dies without aging. But they die. You’re left cold, alone and hungry forever.

Yes, more people could be sent up to the Red Planet but that is providing the budget holds. While you’re up on Mars all sorts of things can happen down on Earth including budget cuts. Nobody in SciFi movies talk about budgets. I bet Capt. Kirk had a budget. Budgets aren’t sexy or violent (usually) so nobody thinks about them. But budgets are real.

So meanwhile down on Earth the budgets are cut and everybody is left on Mars high and dry. If you’re a Vampire don’t go to Mars. Space exploration budgets are in a sorry state. It is unfortunate but true.

On the other hand if you find yourself on a luxury starship with five hundred others I’d say go for it. There will be big budgets and plenty to eat.

Again, this is why I don’t write Science Fiction because I can’t keep my mind on the science part. I understand and respect the science, but I’m more of a paranormal romance kind of gal when it comes to making up stories.

I suppose Ghosts could go up into space if they wanted to. Witches in space? Maybe. Oh I’m sure there are hundreds of Space Witch stories out there. I think Lush may have a Space Witch bath bomb.

Amazing Stories Naked people oh no

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was looking at the stars last night. The ambient light seemed dimmer than usual so the stars seemed to shine brighter. When I look at the stars they are so far off but at the same time the night sky is so familiar. It is always there and always ours. It is whatever dream and vision we want it to be. It is proof that we aren’t alone.

I know the constellations that I was taught as a child – the same ones that the Greeks and others thought up centuries ago. My brother Aaron knows all of them.

We are so excited to visit a dusty gray ball and a huge red rock in the sky, but nobody, that we know of, wants to visit us on our beautiful blue ball that teems with variety and life. That might be because most of the planet is occupied by the assholes I mentioned earlier.

Then I look out my window at my yard full of citrus trees in full bloom with sweet orange and lemon blossoms. I can hear the bees and humming birds going about their business. The larger oak trees grown around as if protecting their smaller cousins. A calico cat sits in the doorway listening to the song birds and thinking about lunch. Who wouldn’t want to be here? I’ll make coffee.

Adventure in a Cup

Adventure in a Cup

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

FLASH UPDATE: About two hours after I posted this Science Friday featured, what else but, MARS and people traveling to Mars and the budget. I kid you not, I had no idea, but I proved my point. It was pretty interesting. They also discussed water on other planets/moons. CLICK HERE for the Science Friday story.

Southern Mars

Southern Mars

 

 

Submission

We (my 15-year-old Clara and I) were on our way to the skate rink yesterday talking away about SAT tests and AP History when a story on the radio caught my ear. I turned up the volume. It was an interview with a writer who’d written a short story anthology.

I wrote a short story anthology. Hey, I need to be on NPR. I have been on NPR in the distant past but that is another time/place/life.

Anyway…to make a short story that seemed really funny to us even shorter…

The author we were listening to read a few paragraphs from her story. Clara grabbed for the tuner knob saying, “No, I hate this sort of stuff.”

My child has a low tolerance for “mommy” stories – so do I for that matter. But back to the story.. The bit read was about a child’s birthday party and well, not what we usually read. I’m sure it was quite good, if you like that sort of stuff.

I stopped my dear child from her knob turning and said, “Wait, I want to hear this. I like to hear what other authors do.” It was a great story. I liked this woman. She sounded like someone I’d like to have a glass of wine with and talk about kids and husbands and writing.

Then she said something that made Clara and I both perk up our ears. She said she’d submitted a story to thirty different publishers/publications and received thirty rejections. Then someone suggested she submit a story to The New Yorker. The suggestion surprised her. She’d never thought of that. So she submitted her story and 48 hours later she received a call saying her story would be published.

We thought this was great. Then we discussed another option. What if I submitted the same story thirty times to The New Yorker under thirty different names?

This was one of those moments when we both laughed and laughed and laughed. We were at that moment the most brilliant comedy team ever. Then again, Clara and I are the most brilliant comedy team ever 24/7.

Yes, this was funny to us. Thirty submissions of the same story under thirty different names.

My husband Teddy did not think this was funny. He just gave me one of those looks. It was more of a half look. He doesn’t appreciate our humor or that fact that we’re always laughing at something stupid. I just want to tell him, “you can run but you can not hide.”

Maybe I will submit a story to The New Yorker, but under my own name and just once.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Morning at the Vineyard now available on amazon.com (and tell the folks at NPR and the LA Times that this is the best book you've ever read and that they should interview Juliette Kings NOW. Any other media outlet would work as well. Yes, this is shameless but what do you expect? I'm a Vampire. We have no shame.

Morning at the Vineyard now available on amazon.com (and tell the folks at NPR and the LA Times and The New Yorker  that this is the best book you’ve ever read and that they should interview Juliette Kings NOW. Any other media outlet would work as well. Yes, this is shameless but what do you expect? I’m a Vampire. We have no shame.

 

An Irish Vampire Blessing

May your fangs be sharp

And your friends sharper.

 

My the necks you cross

Be soft and sweet

Like clover and cream

Warm like a lover

Who waits for your return.

 

May the angels spread their dark wings

And hide their faces

So that you may go on your way

Alone and unbothered

To dance in the shadows

With your lovers and friends.

 

May your friends be thicker than blood

And may their blood flow in your veins

And in your heart.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

IrishGreenFairy

Short Story: The Interview

Sometimes life takes you in places you don’t want to be and when you think you’re done it spits you out to where you’ve always wanted to be. Maybe.

When you drive through Marin County you can’t help but think it is a beautiful place, especially this time of year when everything is green. Then you hit the tunnel toward San Francisco and find yourself almost breathless crossing the most beautiful bridge in the world.

I was on the Golden Gate Bridge, both excited and a little queasy thinking about what was to come last Friday morning. I had an interview for a job.

About a month ago, after fifteen years at my job, after almost thirty years of no unemployment, I was laid off from my job. It was called a firing but that is what it felt like. There were ten other as well – all good people – all loyal workers. I left without tears or harsh words. There was nothing I could do about it. For the first forty eight hours I thought I could take on the world. Then I found all of the creative cells in my brain drying up. I lost confidence as I thought about all of the times I’d been slapped down for trying to be creative and innovative. One can get bitter being an art director in a position full of people who exude negativity out of each and every cell of their bodies. You learn not to care when everyone has an uneducated opinion about your work and about you. I got tired of all of the unkept promises and carrots held out to me to follow like the stupid ass I was. But, that was behind me. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.

Every job posting I saw was painful to read. I didn’t want to do that anymore. I tried to get my brain around it all. I couldn’t get my brain or my heart around anything. I was the woman who had it all, career, family, marriage, and that other life that was my creative soul. I had my wonderful family and my wonderful marriage. I was struggling to bring out my creative soul which had become timid. I hadn’t lived up to my potential and I knew it more than anyone. That was painful – even physically painful.

Over the past month I spent a lot of time at the gym and bird watching to get my mind clear. I spent more time with the dog than I ever had. The world was wide open and I froze.

The fog was lifting over the bridge and the sun started to come through. There is nothing more beautiful than a sunny day in San Francisco. Now my only thoughts were on the voice on the GPS telling me where to go. I’d switched it to the British man, who isn’t as bitchy and rude sounding as the American woman GPS voice.

Turn left in two miles miles…

On Wednesday as I was planting a nectarine tree in my front yard (for no reason other than something to do) my phone rang. I put down the pick ax and grabbed the phone with a dirty hand. I didn’t recognize the number or the area code but I answered it anyway.

The voice on the other end was a happy male voice, like a radio announcer or trained stage actor. He introduced himself then said, “A friend of a friend of a friend gave me your number. He said you’re a talented designer. He said you could draw with pencil and ink. He showed me your work. I might have a job for you.”

I wondered how he had seen my work or what it was. It had been years since I’d done the type of illustrations he’d spoken of. None were done for my regular employers. All were in private collections. He said I could work from my home and come into San Francisco once or twice a month. We could trade ideas over the phone and I could send him pdf file. He was working on a series of books and posters about opera and art and history. Could I see him.

Of course I was excited. Then it seemed odd with all of the young talent near him that he’d call on an unknown middle-aged women who lived a hundred miles away. He didn’t give me many details and I didn’t ask. I should have, but I didn’t.

I parked in front of a beautiful home in a residential neighborhood. It wasn’t one of the famous Victorians, but a large home built in the 1930’s. I checked my make-up in the mirror and noticed how old I looked. Before I’d left home my wearing a gray skirt and matching cashmere sweater set with well-chosen vintage jewelry and black heels. I looked good with a little bit of edge. Now I wondered if I’d worn the right thing. I had peep toes pumps. Should I have worn closed toed shoes? Should I have worn a suit? I didn’t realize this would be at a private home – so had I over dressed?

A large lilac point Siamese cat trotted up to the front door to greet me. He immediately started to talk, the was Siamese cats do. I reached down to scratch his ears, something he seemed to greatly appreciate. Just as I was about the ring the doorbell, the door opened.

“I seem James has come to greet you. He lives next door.” James the cat ran inside. “Come in, please, come in.”

A cool hand took mine and led me through the threshold. Before me was a man who could have been in his late twenties or in his forties. I couldn’t tell. The first thing I noticed was that same mesmerizing voice, then it was the hair and eyes. The hazel eyes and chestnut colored hair was the exact same as mine. Even his hair was like mine, almost at least. He wore it just above his shoulders, with a slight wave. I was sure his color was real. My hair color, was once like his but now it came out of a bottle. In fact I’d colored it again the day I first talked to him so there would be no gray roots.

We passed through a large main living room with a grand piano and a wall of windows overlooking a yard full of flowers. Everything about the house was calm and elegant, mixing modern and old elements in a way I hadn’t quite managed at my old house (I’m working on it.) We settled into an office with the same calm feeling and sense of beauty and refinement.

He wore black slacks, a white shirt and a patterned vest, plus a black tie that was a little loose. We sat at a table where I spread my portfolio out.

As I spoke he asked a few questions, more about my philosophy on art and science and the emotions that visual arts elicit. I spoke at first reserved, then with passion. I didn’t care at this point about what he thought or how corporate I sounded. He wanted to create find publications and blog about art and music. I wanted to create. I knew printing, I knew blogging, I knew passion for my work and for what he wanted to do…

Then he help up his hand, as if telling me to stop. Then he leaned forward in his chair and smiled. “I want to hire you.”

At that point I thought my heart was going to stop. I know I smiled. He produced a folder containing a contract and paperwork for benefits and taxes and all of those items one must sign when taking on a new job. My name was already on them.

“Who told you about me?” I had to ask.

He gave me a slight smile then said, “Nobody important.” Before I could say anything he took out a leather folder. “Take a look. This is the book. Everything is on a flash drive.”

As I sat looking over his manuscript and notes he left the room. I could hear piano music and his soft singing. I stopped and listened then after a few minutes went to the doorway to watch.

He looked up. “Come sit next to me.”

I thought to myself, I need to go.

My new employer motioned to me. “Come sit down. You can call your husband in a bit. He won’t mind picking up your children.”

Of course my husband wouldn’t mind picking up the kids. How did he know I had a husband or kids or was it that obvious? I sat next to him on the piano bench.

“Are you warm enough,” he asked.

“Yes.” It was cold but I was fine.

“I know this is all weird to you but this is what you’ve always wanted. Listen, I picked you because I knew you’d have both the expertise and the passion for the project. I knew I could work with you. I knew… I know you are more accepting of those who are different. By different I don’t mean like you, because you know you’re different. You are different, not just because you’re an artistic. You’ve always been different. But I’m really different.”

I didn’t even know what to say.

“I know about you,” he said.

“What do you know?” I was almost afraid for the answer.

He laughed. “It isn’t bad. Everyone says good things about you. People know who you are. And I know you want this more than anyone else I could have interviewed for the job.”

Putting his hands on the keys he started to play then said, “I’m different in ways you can’t even imagine, but in a lot of ways we’re just alike. You have darkness in your eyes.”

“My eyes are the same color as yours.”

“I mean depth.” Then he laughed.

That could have been enough to freak anyone out and make them leave, but the way he said it. Then again I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with this guy.

We went to lunch at a local vegetarian place and talked about the project and my past work for about two hours. He had he kind of depth and the kind of peace of mind that one usually doesn’t find in late GenXers and early Millennials. Actually that could include all Baby Boomers too and … just about everyone I’d ever worked with.

As we arrived back to his house smiled and said, “you seem so ageless.”

Against my better judgment I told him, “I’m old enough to be your mother.” It was just one of those silly jokes we tell ourselves when no matter how fashionable and unique and insanely talented we are – we suddenly realize that we’re no longer young or hip or valued.

“You just haven’t worked with the right people. Let me tell you a secret. I was born in 1851, not 1951 but 1851. I know what old is. It has nothing to do with age. I know that is easy for me to say, but you’re far better than you know. Far better than stupid people know. Far better than… You know, I can’t wait to work with you.”

I must have looked at him like he was crazy. I did look at him like he was crazy. Then he just smiled again and took my hands in his.

“We both have secrets. I’m a Vampire. You’re the person I want to illustrate my story. You and only you.”

“Really?” I had to ask him. “You’re a real Vampire?” You know, I thought back on my week. A thousand dollars in vet bills from both the dog and the cat, I didn’t have a job, three deaths including two that were close, and I think something is wrong with the transmission in my car. Now I have a job offer with a hefty paycheck doing what I love for someone who seemed want to hire me. “So,” I asked him, “are you going to drink my blood or anything like that?”

“Absolutely not. I need you for my books.”

I left around 10:00 that night after he’d told me his story and I’d told him mine. There were surprises for both of us. It took me about two hours to get home. There wasn’t much traffic by the time I left his big city to go to my medium-sized city.

HA! I guess this was a different kind of interview with a Vampire.

Sometimes life gets weird, but sometimes it gets wonderful. Sometimes it gets interesting. Sometimes it gets just the way it should be. I can’t believe how excited I am.

 

 

 

 

 

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Note: I know I’ve been lack on Short Story Sunday. For more (and better) stories CLICK HERE or HERE. 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman