On Christmas morning I found my stocking hung by the chimney with care with a copy of Ernest Callenbach‘sEcotopia.
The back cover description: Ecotopia was founded when northern California, Oregon, and Washington seceded from the Union to create a “stable-state” ecosystem: the perfect balance between human beings and the environment. Now, twenty years later, this isolated, mysterious nation is welcoming its first officially sanctioned American visitor: New York Times-Post reporter Will Weston.
Skeptical yet curious about this green new world, Weston is determined to report his findings objectively. But from the start, he’s alternately impressed and unsettled by the laws governing Ecotopia’s earth-friendly agenda: energy-efficient “mini-cities” to eliminate urban sprawl, zero-tolerance pollution control, tree worship, ritual war games, and a woman-dominated government that has instituted such peaceful revolutions as the twenty-hour workweek and employee ownership of farms and businesses. His old beliefs challenged, his cynicism replaced by hope, Weston meets a sexually forthright Ecotopian woman and undertakes a relationship whose intensity will lead him to a critical choice between two worlds.
Written in 1975 this novel is still relevant, especially today.
I haven’t read Ecotopia, but I’ll start today.
As a life long resident of California, and explorer of the West Coast and American West I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of California and maybe a few other states breaking off and seceding from the Union. I’m not one of those State of Jefferson folks, but the idea is fascinating (especially in today’s toxic political environment.)
So read along with me. Let me know what you think. My daughter told me that when she found the book at the used bookstore near the University she thought of me.
So happy reading, and wishing you a wonderful 2020 and many, many, many books well worth reading.
For some reason graduate students seemed to be decades ahead of undergraduate students, especially freshmen and sophomores. At the ripe old age of twenty three Randy had discovered that the first day of school.
He’d also discovered a small following of younger Vampires who looked up to him like they would their favorite ancient Vampire Uncle.
They also liked Randy because he was unique and exceptionally hip and trendy in his vintage clothing and wavy longish blonde hair.
Before he left home after Christmas break, wearing his favorite Levi big bells, a Heart concert shirt from 1979, and a vintage fringed leather jacket, his dad called him “Fucking Flowers.”
Randy asked what that was all about. His dad laughed and told him that now he was an adult he needed to read John Sanford books starting from the beginning and work his way up to the Virgil Flower books. Randy made a note of it and a plan to stop by the bookstore when he got home.
Being the nice guy he was, Randy had volunteered to give three young Vampire students a ride from Sacramento back to Long Beach. Two, Josh and Winslow were Freshmen. Katie was a sophomore. They’d all packed their clothes, Christmas stash, care packages from their moms, and other gear in the back of Randy’s 2012 Range Rover and headed south an hour before the sun came up.
Randy decided to impart a bit of his wisdom upon the younger minds. “Being a good Vampire is like being a good parent. You must stay relivant. You can’t get behind or you’ll be left behind.”
“I think we need to be like superheroes,” said Winslow, a dark haired young Vampire with bright blue eyes and friendly round face.
“Superheroes? Whys that?” asked Randy.
“You know, because we can do things other people can’t do. Like see in the dark, and make people forget shit, and we’re super quiet, and shit,” said Winslow.
Randy turned down the radio. “The only super hero Vampire that I can think of is Morbius. He was kind of an asshole and not even a real Vampire. Come on guys, you can do better than that. You don’t need a superhero. You just need to be yourself. You already rock at being Vampires. Come on leave the tights to Katie. Girl you rock the tights with those boots.”
“Thanks,” said Katie. She was a small girl with brown hair and freckles. Nobody would ever pick her out for being a Vampire. “I got the tights for Christmas from my grandma. Just like what you said about being relevant. My grandma is relevant. She knows what I like.”
Randy smiled. “If I was a girl I’d wear tights all the time but it has nothing to do with being a superhero.”
“We were thinking about getting some costumes made,” said Josh, a tall kid who spent a lot of time at the gym.
“Dude, you don’t need costumes. Just wear black and jeans that fit. You’re already rocking it. I know you. You don’t need to pretend. You’re already living the secret life. You don’t need to make it more complicated with daytime cosplay. You’re already superheroes.”
As they drove on the subject changed to music, favorite podcasts, dog beach stories, and spilling the tea.
Being a Vampire in the modern world carried certain responsibilities including the usual truth, justice and all of that good stuff. They didn’t need tights or capes. They just needed to keep their mouths shut and do the right thing. That was all anyone could do.
Yes, being a graduate student included being a role model, especially if you were a role model for young Vampires, or anyone else who was just a little bit different, or a little bit confused about growing up and finding their place in the world.
Maybe a trip to the vintage clothing store was in order when they got home. Randy would take all of them. They could find costumes that they could live with. The thought made Randy smile. Fashion was his superpower. That was cool with him.
It is cold outside with a slight touch of frost starting to melt off of the new green stuff growing behind my house.
My cats, Gloria and Oscar are warm and cozy inside of the house.
The kids are home for the holidays and we are spending our time together just being together. The new year will start after they go back to those big universities hundreds of miles south of here. My brain is in the mood for dog walks in the cold woods, and then coming home to a couple of nice warm purring cats.
Yes, such is the life of a Vampire in this modern world.
A few nights ago we had friends for dinner. Let me reword that. We dined with good friends of ours. It was two couples we’re friends with (they’re regular humans who don’t know we’re Vampires). It is a dress up affair. We have cocktails; take in the theater or a concert, then have dinner and more drinks. And my darling husband Teddy and I get a little blood donation and leave our hosts feeling warm and fuzzy and full of holiday cheer.
I wore a black dress with red heels. It was set off with a gold necklace of delicate flowers with red garnets, enameled holly leaves and seed pearls.
One of my friends commented “You wear that beautiful necklace every year. There must be a story behind it.”
“Teddy gave me this on our first Christmas together. It was his mother’s.” I told everyone the truth, but didn’t tell them the entire story behind it.
It was in the 1880’s. My brother Val and I were young Vampires in London, which was the place to be. It was a golden age for us.
Of course being the young American Vampires we were…we got into a lot of trouble and had way too many adventures of the wrong kind.
So to make a long story short, it was Christmas Eve when Val and I found ourselves trapped in a crypt. Yes, a crypt full of rotting human bodies, not a fit place for any self respecting Vampire of a certain social level. We were of a higher social level. We had class, culture, good looks and money. Most of all we had connections. What Val and I lacked was common sense and experience.
So we’re in this crypt, chased by Vampire Hunters, Rogue Vampires who were pissed off at us, AND the local police.
We were also trapped. Yes, being the super strong creatures that we are, we could have busted down the door, but that would have done three things. It would have shown a lack of respect for those who were interned in the crypt. It would have made a lot of noise and attracted too much attention. But most of all, we were wearing rather expensive clothing if that clothing were to be ripped it would have drawn too much attention.
So we waited to figure out a plan B or to be rescued. Plan B was our only real option.
Just as we were about to sit on the ground and wait until the next night to break our way out the door started to slide open. We waited, fangs barred, holding on to each other for dear life, yet ready to kill whatever came through to us.
We saw a lone figure shadowed in the doorway.
I could hear a slight hiss under Val’s breath as he readied himself for an attack. Then a voice with a definite American accent said “Valentine? Juliette? Oh my heavens! Is that really you?”
And out of the shadows came Teddy. I hadn’t seen him for 10 years, not since he’d become a Vampire.
We said quick greetings and I asked “What are you doing here?”
He lifted the lid from one of the stone caskets. “This woman couldn’t steal my father’s heart so she stole my mother’s jewelry. I’m here to get it back. I never expected in a hundred years to find you two here.” And with one swift movement he took the necklace from around the neck of a slightly un-fresh corpse and then removed her bracelet and ring.
Suddenly we heard footsteps and saw torches across the lawn. I recognized the voices. “Let’s go. They’re back.” And they were in full force, come to kill the Vampires, who just happened to be us.
We ran down the road as fast as we could. I help my skirt up around my knees and cursed the day I was born a girl. Damn it trousers would have been nice right then.
A cathedral lay ahead, lit up for the Christmas Eve service.
“We can’t go in there,” said Teddy in a panic.
“Why not?” Asked Val.
“Because,” said Teddy “We’re undead. We’re Vampires. We’ll die.”
“We’re not undead. Your heart beats. You have not one but two souls. You are a creature of the night, and this is a midnight service. We will be welcome and blessed for we do harm to no one.”
I grabbed Teddy by one hand and Val by the other and took them into the church. We sat in the back and quietly sang along with our angelic Vampire voices, savoring the candle light and peace of the moment.
After it was over we headed for home, a fashionable and safe house not far away.
“I thought it wasn’t safe for our kind in churches,” said Teddy.
“It usually isn’t.” Val said, brushing off his coat. “But they can’t hurt us in a church. Or at least they do not dare hurt us there. Besides, I like the music. It soothes me.”
“What did you mean about two souls? I thought my soul was gone.” Teddy looked at us in a very serious way.
“Do you think that anyone with so much love and passion could exist without a soul? Oh Teddy, don’t be such a child. We need two souls. One for our own existence and one for our shadow. Didn’t you know that?”
The first rays of dawn arrived as we arrived at the house. Teddy crashed in one of the spare bedrooms. But before he slept, he put the necklace he’d taken around my neck. “My mother always liked you. She would have wanted you to have this.”
I was honored and touched. Since then I’ve worn this necklace every Christmas season.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
This was first published here in 2012 – my first Christmas writing and sharing my story at http://www.vampiremaman.
Today my husband Teddy is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.
He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.
Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy decided they needed a tree.
In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.
Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.
“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.
“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”
Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.
Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.
Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2019 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.
Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.
And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.