Ode to a Greek God (read if for the first time, or read it again)

You might have seen this before. I’ve found myself up to my ears in dogs, cats, family matters, and hunkering down for some rain coming tonight… needless to say my brain is not in the creative mode, love letter mode, or wanting to write about parenting (but my kids are great.) Anyway, I read a blog post John Coyote wrote about Monterey and I thought of this story. The two are totally unrelated, but aren’t most things that way. One idea makes you think of another and another and another, and soon you’re where you should be. “Ode to a Greek God” was one of the first stories I’d written for “Writers, Poets, and Deviants.” It has a poem in it too. That is why. This was written I believe in 2012.  

 

Ode to a Greek God

A story by Marla Todd

I’ve been 6000 years at the top of my game. I knew it was too good to last.

I’m having breakfast on my deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the perfect amount of salty warm breeze drifting over me. A beautiful redheaded woman is still in my bed and I can still feel the warmth of her skin against mine. Fortunately she’ll be gone in an hour.

Anyway, I’m having coffee and some amazing cheese and apple pastries my son dropped off this morning. I’m also checking out a box Pan had dropped off with the pastries. That’s my son Pan, the famous happy-go-lucky satyr who dances through the woods making merry. That’s over. He settled down about 150 years ago with a wood nymph named Gloria and they’ve been keeping domestic bliss ever since. I never thought I’d see the day. Anyway, they were cleaning out some closets and found some stuff I’d swiped a few years ago. Thirty-four years ago to be exact.

It looked like I’d gone into the backpack of a college girl. I’d been in college mode that year for a change of pace. I was young, buffed and blue eyed and a killer smile. Female heads all turned in my direction.

In the box was a silver hair clip in the shape of a flowering tree branch, a delicate sexy lacy cream-colored underwire bra size 32C, a sea shell and a folded up piece of college ruled notebook paper. I unfolded the paper and read the words that would change my life.

It was a poem. It was in a round girlish script written in blue felt tip pen. No name identified the writer. I started to read, expecting the usually silly girlish babble about the meaning of life, teen angst and the horrible nature of never being understood. What I read was something else entirely.

As I stood upon the steps,

Halfway between the land and sea

The messenger god Hermes

Came to me,

Swift footed and bright

But somewhat overtaken

By his cousin Dionysus’ last visit

He brought me a message

And I read it through his blue eyes

“I bring you myself” he said.

No answer came from my lips

Except a kiss,

Which spoke very clear.

Oh happy was I,

When hand in hand

Under the stars we ran

For my mythical Hermes

Turned into a man

I took a gulp of coffee and stared at the poem. A poem about me? People had written poems about me, of course, but this was personal. It was a poem about ME, not a god of tales and lore but about ME, Hermes. It was about ME.

This girl knew me. I mean she KNEW me. She knew who I was. How? I never let on to any mortal to who or what I am. Never.

She wrote me a poem. It wasn’t a great poem. It wasn’t even a good poem. It wasn’t epic. But by my father Zeus, it was tender and sweet, full of the promise of love. It was happy. It was from her heart. A heart that considered me more than just a good body and maybe a great fuck, if I did indeed fuck her. I know I must have kissed her. I must have made love to her, because a girl who wrote the poem would never just fuck a guy. She’d have made love to me in a way I should have remembered, but damn it I couldn’t remember a thing.

A kiss. I tried to recall it. Such a kiss I should have remembered. It should have burned on my lips. It should have taken my immortal breath away. I sat going through all of the dusty file drawers in my brain trying to remember, but NOTHING came to mind.

Don’t get me wrong. I am usually NOT the romantic type. I love women but I refuse to be the kind of guy or god who is going to turn into a jellied mass of so much romantic bullshit over just any female. Or am I? My stomach knotted up. My head spun. My heart started to beat fast. I thought I was going to throw up.

By the way, I am Hermes, the messenger God. I go by a lot of names but my friends and family and people who worship me call me Hermes. The Romans called me Mercury, but that is a completely different story, one I’d like not to bring up right at this moment.

So I close my eyes and THINK. 34 years. I’m trying to get a face. A location. Who the hell wrote that poem? There was a ski trip to Aspen and another to Tahoe. An uneventful week in Miami brought back no memories. Of course there were trips to Greece and Paris. The summer was spent in San Francisco and a little north of there was the beach house. Fall brought on New York and Boston. I was in Vermont for the holidays with my family (I know what you’re thinking and yes, we do get together for the holidays just like any other large dysfunctional family).

I heard a car start and looked back to the side of the house. The redhead drove away in her red BMW. I wouldn’t see her again. She got what she wanted and was happy. Fine with me.

Up the drive walks my cousin Dionysus, who happens to be staying at my brother Apollo’s place next door. There again, he was the PARTY GOD. Now he turned into Mr. Bottle Shock. Always going up to Napa, Sonoma, Amador or jetting over to France, Australia, and all corners of the Earth for wine tastings. The guy has been going on about Lodi wines lately so much that I wanted to smack him until I tried them. He was right; it was the nectar of the God’s. But really – Lodi? Have you been to Lodi? Despite all of that he’s still my best friend.

He read the poem. “Halfway between the land and the sea. She was at the beach house you dork.”

“Do you remember her?”

“Yes I remember her.”

“Who was she?”

“Miranda. Quiet girl with the pretty blue-green eyes. She was cute enough.”

“I’m trying but I don’t have a face yet.”

Dionysus poured himself a cup of coffee, added about a gallon of milk to it and half a cup of sugar before sitting down. “She drove a beat up old MG Midget. You talked cars. She was impressed by your Porsche. The two of you hung out all weekend making small talk. Saturday night you went for a walk on the beach and she had sex with you. You thought she was sweet. Remember, she was getting ready to go off to UCLA for the fall. You told her you were going to Harvard.”

Pictures, smells, sound and feelings started to flood my brain.

“She’d been there for several weekends. We always ended up talking on the porch.” I said as images started to come back into my brain.

“Right. She liked you a lot but she didn’t come out and hunt you like the other chicks always did. It wasn’t until that last weekend that you acted on it.”

I remembered. She was a cute, somewhat pretty 17 year old girl with long brown hair and aqua marine eyes. At a party she wouldn’t have been the girl all the guys were after, but I noticed her. Well, she noticed me first. She started out talking to me about cars. From cars we talked about the tides and the ocean and movies and music and school. She wanted to travel to Nepal and spend time in Europe. Most of her friends were moving on to different colleges but she seemed all right with it. Her mind was set towards the future. I liked her company but she didn’t indicate at all that she wanted true love or a lasting relationship.

We’d walked on the beach. I’d made a few jokes and she’d laughed. She said a few things that were so funny it surprised me. I kissed her and a few hours later we made love by the base of a cliff in a private isolated area of the beach. She didn’t howl at the moon or put on a show. She wasn’t a virgin either.

Miranda let me take the lead but followed with quiet perfection. She lost herself quietly in the moment (which by the way lasted a good hour) and in me and didn’t ask for more. She could kiss too and had an amazing body. What more could a young man want?

We walked back to the house with all of our friends and she never said a word about it. The next morning she gave me her number and said, “Call me”, knowing full well the chances of me doing that were slim to none.

I never called her back.

Now I sat alone in my anguished romantic hell. She’d written a poem that morning and I’d stolen it along with a few other items to remember my lovely weekend. The god of thieves had taken a token of love she dared not share with me and for 34 years I had no idea what she’d written on that piece of folded up note paper.

“Where is she now?” I asked Dionysius, knowing if he didn’t know he’d find out.

He pulled out a large wine glass; the big kind used for reds and filled it with water.

“Take a look Hermes. But you might not like what you find. I guarantee you that one like her isn’t sitting around pining for the boy who got away.”

Images and information started to swirl in the glass. And I guarantee you, it sounds primitive, but you get a lot better information in a wine glass than you’ll ever get on Google.

Miranda had earned a doctorate degree in Genetics from UCLA and an MBA from Stanford. She was currently the Director of Development for a biotech firm in Northern California. The husband was an advocate for foster youth and has been a public defender for 20 years. They’d produced two lovely children, one of each. 11 year old girl and 13 year old boy. Both in swim club, good students, get along, popular, no problems. Lots’ of friends with kids, vacations and barbeques. Her home is in a fairly upscale neighborhood but not too pretentious. They go wine tasting a lot and like to cook. My kind of mortals if you don’t mind me saying. The husband even built sort of a wine cellar in the basement. She also likes to build garden sculptures but the visuals were blurred.

“Like whirly gigs?” I asked, thinking of pink flamingos with wildly spinning wings and little figures of men chopping wood. The idea was too weird to digest.

“Kinetic yes, but more large found items, tiles, wood, paint.” Answered my cousin.

“Like the Watt Towers?”

“Not that extreme. More like something out of Sunset Magazine. Understated with a touch of rustic charm.”

Enough of the garden shit. “What’s the relationship like with the husband? What is he? Some middle-aged Viagra popper?”

Dion gave me a smile, like the kind you’d give someone who just said something incredibly stupid. “Hermes, I’m surprise in you. The husband doesn’t need Viagra. He functions quite well on his own.”

“I didn’t need to know that. Did she ever write HIM a poem?”

“The husband? No. You’re the only one she has ever written about.”

“Does she still write anything?”

“She just finished a novel. It’s a mystery romance sort of deal.”

“Can you get me a copy?”

“Sure. I’ll call her up tonight and ask her to email it to me.” He said with a slight touch of sarcasm in his voice.

“Am I in it?” I asked too urgently, hoping the answer would be a definite YES.

“I have no idea but I seriously doubt it.”

“Is she looking to publish it?”

“As we speak. This is her dream Herm. She wants to be published before her kids get into high school so she can be home more with them.”

How could any woman with such a romantic soul, who wrote a poem to a god end up where she was I wondered? “What the fuck is she doing in Biotech?” I asked my cousin.

Dionysus shrugged. “A growing and diverse field with fulfilling opportunities to make the world a better place. She loves it but after 25 years of it she is ready to move on, maybe be a consultant but her family is everything to her.”

I looked into the glass again and saw her as she is now. The brown hair was a little shorter falling slightly below her shoulders, now lighter with blonde highlights. She was dressed stylishly in one of those cute little sweater sets all the women are wearing with a slim skirt and flats with bows. She wore bows on her shoes, a fact that turned my body to so much more jelly. I remember she always wore some bit of fluff or frill along with her Levis and rag wool sweaters. The aqua marine eyes sparkled with little signs of aging. She laughed out loud filling the room with joy. How could someone be so happy working in a science lab? How could someone be so happy without me?

The glass told me that she is known for her humor and mirth. I hardly saw any of it 34 years ago. How could I have been so blind?

To make matters worse was the fact that she was lovely. Fifty one years of lovely female bliss aged to perfection – like the most exquisite and complex wine ever made. She was something to be savored. She was something to be lingered over and enjoyed slowly with great appreciation. I wanted her so bad I ached.

I’m not the kind of guy, or god for that matter, who turns himself into an animal (like dear old dad) to trick a woman. I’m not going to do anything to hurt or use a woman. If a woman wants to use me, then fine, I’ll let her, but that doesn’t make me a bad guy. But I guess I was the perfect asshole to Dr. Miranda Wilkenson Hobbs. She wrote me a poem and I never called her.

I looked up at my cousin. “What was it like before she met the perfect husband?

He shrugged. “She traveled a bit. Worked a lot. Dated a lot. Had a couple of serious relationships but nothing she couldn’t walk away from. She met her husband 16 years ago at a party.”

“Did she write him a poem?” I asked.

“No. Nothing.”

“Nothing. Any hang ups with old boyfriends?”

“None. She’s still friends with a few. They’re all married with kids. Nothing unusual. She didn’t write them any poetry either.”

I conjured up an image of the husband in the glass. Average to nice looking middle-aged man. Full head of black hair, sparkling bright blue eyes, slightly crooked nose but with one of those warm and fuzzy charm filled smiles that women love. Nice slightly better than average guy who could in no way compare to me. No way. Not enough for her to write him poetry. Asshole bastard.

During the following weeks I pulled strings and called in favors that sent Miranda’s book right into the waiting hands of Bryan Woods, literary agent extraordinaire. By the way, Bryan Woods was the name I went by when I spent those weekends at the beach house 34 years ago.

When she received my call I couldn’t believe how good it was to hear that lovely voice. Why of course she could meet me. Where? I made arrangements in San Francisco. She’d have to drive to the big city which was A) always a treat for her and, B) a few hours from her home and away any distractions, C) a most romantic spot for seduction.

It was a beautiful day in the city with clear skies and a high of 68 degrees F. I wore gray Armani and my Rolex Daytona (yellow gold), and of course a Hermes tie. The blonde highlights in my hair were perfect and natural. The smile was a zillion watts. The eyes sparkled blue as a Maxfield Parrish sky.

I picked a restaurant with impeccable service and food, an excellent wine list and a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Exactly at noon Miranda showed up. She scanned the room and saw me with a slight hint of recognition. She’d dressed carefully with thought as women do. A flattering and pretty pink tweed suit over a pink silk blouse with high t-strap shoes that was so classic and sexy I nearly laughed out loud with joy.

She smiled and took my outstretched hand. I took her back to our table. There was the usual required small talk about the drive over, the weather, etc etc etc.

We ordered wine and food. I told her how impressed I was with her book. By the way, I was impressed. The woman could write a story. We spoke of publishing and possible options and contracts. I told her I could see a movie deal coming out of all of it. No lies there. After a flurry of animated conversation we suddenly stopped.

Then she looked at me with slightly squinted eyes and asked “Have we met before?”

I said “The beach house.”

“Oh my goodness. That is you.” She said looking slightly embarrassed.

“We made love on the beach.”

She glanced down unable to meet my eyes for a moment then took a sip of wine and looked up at me again. “We were just kids. Wow that was a long time ago. Small world. Um, it’s good to see you again. You’ve obviously done well for yourself”.

“So have you dear Miranda.” I put the piece of notepaper with the poem in front of her. “Read it.”

She read it but her reaction wasn’t what I thought it would be.

“Where did you get this?” she demanded.

“I took it from your backpack.”

“It wasn’t yours to take.”

“You wrote it about me.”

“Just because we…Bryan, this was private. You betrayed my trust in the absolute worst way.”

“It’s Hermes.”

“It wasn’t yours to take.”

“I’m Hermes. My real name is Hermes, not Bryan. On some level you had to know. Tell me you knew.”

It was as if she didn’t hear a word I said. “Yes, it was about you but the poem was mine,” she said. “You were not supposed to see it.” She was clearly upset, not in a crying angry way but in a calm and collected rage.

“How did you know?” I asked calmly trying to sooth and comfort her.

“Because you shrugged it of the next day like nothing ever happened. I really liked you a lot but oh well. Shit happens.”

I took her hand. “But it did happen Miranda. You and me. You wrote a poem about us.”

“Guess what? It happened a long time ago. I’m not that girl anymore.” She said obviously not following my lead as she pulled her hand away from mine.

“Obviously. How did you know that I am Hermes?”

“You were cute and light on your feet. You made me think of Hermes. Jeeze Bryan. Is that why I’m here? If this isn’t about my book…”

I put my hand on hers again. “I didn’t mean to upset you. But yes, Miranda, I am the messenger god Hermes. Hear me out. I only use the name Bryan Woods when I mix with mortals. Your poem touched me to the very soul and to my bones in a way that nothing else has ever touched me. Nobody has ever written anything so personal to me or about me before. I’m sorry I over looked you. I am sorry I never called back. I’m sorry that it has taken so long for me to tell you that I love you.”

“I should go.” She said trying to pull her hand away and starting to stand up.

“No” I said still holding her hand as I transported her to another time and place.

I took her to a beach. The air was cool and breezy not too cold. She wore a sweeping filmy dress of lavender and white that highlighted her curves. Her hair was slightly blown by an ocean breeze. She was bare footed. I wore a romantic poet’s shirt, sleeves rolled up, half way open to show my spectacular chest.

Against the cliff was a bed piled high with romantic white on white pillows and flowing curtains off of high bedposts. Pink garlands of fresh roses wound around the bedposts. It was one of her dream sort of things.

Miranda looked around 360 at her surroundings, completely ignoring me. Her eyes squinted at the sight of the bed. She turned to me with a total lack of expression on her lovely face except for an angry fire in her aqua marine eyes.

I put my arm around her waist and pulled her close then buried my face in her hair. “It’s been too long”. I said.

She pushed herself away. “What the hell is going on? Did you put something in my drink?”

“I told you I’m Hermes. You’re in my world now.” I said.

I grabbed her wrists. I would have her and she would submit and enjoy ever bit of it and then be glad that she was mine. Or so I thought. She twisted to get away and stomped on my foot. We lost balance and went down to the sand. I was still holding her wrists as I landed on top of her. I could have taken her then and there as I lay between her legs, but I didn’t. Not with Miranda.

“Let’s move it to the bed.” I said gently, my lips meeting hers.

“No, I’m not going to do this. Please. Don’t make me do this.” Tears welled in her eyes. I felt a knot in my stomach and then a wave of nausea swept over me. I rolled over onto my back letting her go. The day was not going as planned.

She got up and walked down the beach a ways then stopped dead in her tracks. She stared at the surf. The sea serpents were out there wrestling. They’re as big as humpback whales with all the teeth, big eyes and claws one expects from them. She froze, and then looked back at me.

“Sea serpents.” I said catching up with her. “Listen Miranda, I’m really sorry. Yes, I’m an arrogant son of a bitch. When I read the poem I thought just for a moment that, no it was more than a moment. Nobody has ever cared like that.”

She didn’t hear a word I said as she stood transfixed on the sea serpents. They roared and crashed into each other in kitten-like play. Green, blue and gold scales sparkled in the sunlight.

I put my arm around her shoulders. “Pretty magnificent creatures aren’t they?”

“Will they come after us?”

“No. They pretty much stay to themselves.”

“This is amazing. Are they real?”

I turned her around and looked into her face. “Yes, they’re as real as I am.” Taking her face in my hands I kissed her. She didn’t fight me, but didn’t exactly jump in my arms either.

“We’re at that point between the earth and the sea.” I kissed her again. She stepped back and crossed her arms. This was going to be more difficult than I thought.

“You’re Hermes, the god Hermes.”

“Yes. I am Hermes.”

“You’re real.”

“I am.”

I expected her to kiss me or something now that she realized who and what I was. She turned away from me and looked at the sea serpents again then looked back at me.

“I wish my kids could see this.”

“My children always loved it when I took them to see the sea serpents. They still do.” I said suddenly thinking that I’d done well by my children and their mothers. In these modern times we’d be a typical blended family. Go figure. Miranda didn’t say anything but kept looking out to the sea.

“This could all be part of your life Miranda. Few mortals ever see this. I’m willing to make you part of this.”

“I can’t.”

“You’d give up immortality?”

She gave me a look that would have killed any red blooded mortal. I watched her take off again down the beach.

I suddenly understood that she’d never love me in the way I wanted her too. Honestly I did. Of course understanding and acceptance are two different things. I ran after her and caught her by the arm spinning her around to face me.

“Miranda stop.” I said trying to reason with her.

“What about my book?” She demanded.

“What about it?” I spat back at her.

“Did you like it or were you just saying that to get me here?”

“It could be a best seller.”

She glared at me. “I won’t sleep with you to get it published.”

I was slightly offended but saw her point. “That isn’t good business Miranda, you should know that. Your book is good enough to publish without sex.”

“I know it is. But as my agent can you get me a good deal and top posting on Amazon and book and posters in the window of Barnes and Noble? Can you get me on the best seller lists? Can you get me an interview with the New York Times and NPR?”

“I’m your agent now?” I asked.

“Yes, I mean don’t you want to be?” She asked looking at me like I was stupid or something.

“What about your biotech job?”

“I’ll keep working until the royalty checks start coming in,” she snapped.

I put my hand on her shoulder, ever so gently. “I’ll get you a six figure advance. You can quit your job tomorrow if you want.”

Her face softened. I could feel her shoulders relaxing. “Really? You’d do that?”

“Of course I would. I’ll be your agent but you have to do something for me.” If I couldn’t have her love, I’d get something almost as good out of her.

She squinted her eyes up at me. “What?”

“You have to write about me.”

“Poetry?”

“Books. The modern adventures of an ancient god.”

“I can do that.”

“I’ll have the contracts drawn up. I believe you’ll like the terms.”

“I’m sure I will.”

“One day I will make love to you again.”

She finally smiled. “Don’t count on it.”

“Let’s go back.” I closed my eyes and when they were open we were back in San Francisco. The restaurant (which by the way I own) was empty of any other customers and fresh blackberry pie and fresh made vanilla ice cream was on the table along with coffee. The sun was starting to set over the San Francisco Bay. We talked about our lives and our kids for about another hour or two. It was so easy with the elder Miranda.

“You’re going to get caught in some pretty nasty traffic.” I told her in my most concerned and caring voice. “You can stay the night here with me.”

“It’s ok,” she said,”I have a couple of audio books in the car.”

I walked her out to her car, a blue 2010 Mustang convertible. I should have known she’d still have a convertible.

I didn’t want to let her go. “Miranda, I’m sorry I was a jerk. I didn’t know how you felt about me. Another time and place and we could have…”

She put her finger to her lips as if telling a child to be quiet. “Listen, Bryan, I mean Hermes, I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you imagined it but I have a good feeling about this, about us. I really do and we’ll make a good partnership and maybe even become friends. I take that back. We will become friends. Okay?”

Friends usually means the kiss of death in a relationship but not this one.

“You’ll write about me.” I said, not as a question.

“I will write about you Hermes.” She put her hand on my waist, stood on her toes and kissed me. “I will write wonderful things about you that everyone will want to read.”

I opened the car door for her. “I’ll fax over the contracts in the morning. Drive safe Miranda.”

Late into the wee hours of the morning I sat on the balcony overlooking the Bay and thought of her kiss that lingered on my lips. The messenger god Hermes had indeed turned into a man.

It MUST STOP. We are writers. We will not keep quiet.

In light of today’s shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Md we need to all watch and speak out for writers, editors, and journalists everywhere.

From NPR: “On Thursday night, Anne Arundel officials released the names of the Capital Gazette employees killed in the shooting: Rebecca Smith, sales assistant; Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor; Wendi Winters, special publications editor; John McNamara, staff writer; and Robert Hiaasen, an assistant editor and columnist.

 In a Facebook post Hiassen’s brother Carl, a renown novelist, described Robert as “one of the most gentle and funny people I’ve ever known.”

Journalists, nonfiction writers, bloggers, or writers of fiction have long been targets. Jails around the world are full of bloggers and journalists sent there for speaking out on subjects we would consider no big deal. Writers of fiction and nonfiction have long been threatened by extremists. In the US, in France, and in other countries journalists have been targeted by crazy ass insane hateful ignorant people.

In today’s climate of crazy ass madness and blind hate we need to keep our voices loud and support writers all over the world. No writer should live in fear. Not from some crazy ass shooter. Not from their government. Not from stalkers and trolls. We must stand together.

We don’t need useless thoughts and prayers. We need action. We need to speak out for the freedom of thought and speech for everyone on this planet.

I don’t feel like my government will do anything. Thoughts and prayers are useless and will not fix the problem. Ignorance and hate must not be embraced. We can’t ignore anymore shootings. Politicians are useless. It is up to us to figure out a way to CHANGE. I wish I had the answer – help me out.

Keep your voices loud. Keep your voices clear. Support all writers be they journalists, bloggers, writers of fiction, and nonfiction.

To the assholes of the universe: YOU CAN’T KEEP US QUIET. YOU CAN’T STOP OUR VOICES. WE WILL WRITE. We will write. We will write. And those who don’t write will READ and talk and share.

We are writers. We will not go away. We will not be quiet.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: One of my all time favorite authors John Sandford said this better than I could have. This is his heartbreaking FB post.

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Summer School Daze

My almost 19-year-old daughter Clara is taking a college English Class this summer. They’re reading and writing about poetry and literature. The exact name of the class isn’t important.

Clara: I can’t believe some of the other students.

Me: What happened.

Clara: Some girl bragged about being an English Major, then she said she hated to read. She actually said she hated to read. She just wants to write. She just gushes about how she loves to write. But she hates to read.

Me: But how can she be a good writer if she doesn’t read?

Clara: She LOVES to write. I bet she writes awful fan fiction. She’s that type.

Me:

Clara: shrugs shoulders

Me:

Clara: I feel sorry for the teacher.

Me: Wow. You have to wonder.

Clara: I know.

The moral of this true story is that if you love to read you don’t have to write. HOWEVER, if you love to write you have to read. That is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Live it. Teach it. Preach it.

And keep listening to those kids of yours. They’ll tell you all kinds of unbelievable things. Also, hug a teacher.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Creative ideas with or without belching

You never know where creative ideas are going to come from. I’m around teens a lot. Teens belch. Write what you know (so I write about teens and Vampires) but sometimes we can be inspired to write something new. Maybe some more Science Fiction. So on the drive home from the post office yesterday I thought of a story and told my 18-year-old daughter and sounding board Clara.

My idea:

There is a planet with two different forms of life. The first form of life belches a lot. They belch out gas that the second form of life need to live.

Clara looked at me and said “Mom that isn’t one of your best efforts.” Then in a deep strong Southern accent she says, “Bob come over here and belch in my face so I can keep living.”

“I was thinking they were more like toads or something.”

“Mom, that is so lame.”

Later I told my husband who respond with “That is really bad.”

So much for being the next Philip K. Dick. Maybe on a good day I might get close to H.G. Wells. That would be a really great day.

On the other hand, I seem to have written about gassy planets and the like before.

Monday morning could have been out of a science fiction story…

Being with the elderly is always interesting. A little bit of time travel, a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of “I’m too old to give a shit about what anyone thinks” attitude. The attitude is what makes being really old so delightful.

I stopped by to see the Elders. They’re ancient Vampires. Nobody is quiet sure how old. They look like they’re around 19 or 20 but they’ve been around since before the birth of Christ. It is my job, now with the help of my brother Val, to look in on them and make sure they’re ok.

When I arrived they fluttered around me, giving kisses and hugs. They sang a song to me Irving Berlin’s “I Love to Have the Boys Around Me.” Yes, they’re pretty random, but also exceptionally sweet.

Eleora had her long reddish-brown curls up in a loose bun and a most interesting outfit. She’d taken one of those old lady track suits. You know the kind I’m talking about – velourish fabric pants and top, always matching, usually in bright colors. Always monochromatic. Eleora rarely wears trousers (what she calls all pants.) But she wanted that track suit. So she made the pants into a skirt. Remember those skirts in the 1970’s made out of jeans? The legs were split and usually patchwork fabric (yes, like a quilt) was a large triangle in the front making a swell skirt. Well, Eleora had done that with her track pants. It was a riot of colors and patterns all in reds. She was so happy dancing around for me.

So maybe I don’t need science fiction to be weird. Sometime I just need my own life, which is always weird and astounding and fantastic and full of astonishing things I could never imagine.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

WPAD SciFi

Revolutionary Fanfiction, Being Creative, Being Weird, Being True to Yourself as an Artist

Yesterday we were fully entrenched in the Dark Ages. Now that we’re almost back in the light, Clara, my teenage daughter told me about a girl she knows who writes fanfiction based on the Sons of Liberty TV series. She wrote 60,000 words of fanfiction complete with a lot of non-physical romance between Sam Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Hey, don’t laugh, that might be more accurate than the TV series (Sam Adams was shown as a smokin hot bodice ripping hunka hunka burning love.) Not that Sam and Tom had a romance but the general facts, or lack of facts, in the show. In fact, one of the history teachers read it and said that the teen writer was right on spot with her historic lifestyle facts. It was silly and far-fetched but the girl did a great job. Huzzah!

Will the real Sam Adams stand up.

Will the real Sam Adams stand up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have never even thought about writing fanfiction. I have to admit that I’d like to rewrite the final season of Justified because it seems like the worst fanfiction ever played on TV. It just isn’t fun or interesting or believable this season. I feel cheated. Anyway, enough of my rant on that.

My own teen told me a while back that there is fanfiction out there about bands she likes. These aren’t bands you hear on most radio stations. This is fanfiction about bands like Dance Gavin Dance or Twenty One Pilots or My Chemical Romance. There is plenty of fan fiction for the bigger bands too. Anyway it usually involves a lot of sex. Lots of it. And most of it is really bad.  She read an interview of one of the musicians who was amused by it all. I mean, you’d have to be amused.

Meanwhile back at the castle…

Vampire Maman is sitting in a semi dark room with coffee and a head full of cobwebs. I’m  finishing up a novel. It has nothing to do with fanfiction or Vampires or much of anything I’ve ever written about.

When it is done I will fling it out into the world.

That is why I have to admit I admire the passion and guts of fanfiction writers. They just throw their stories out into the world with no shame or fear of backlash – no matter how bad or silly it is.

Alright I have to admit that I do that every time I post something here, but they (fanfiction writers) really throw it out there. It is hard to explain. They just barf it up – right out in the open. OK they’re weird and if you’re that weird then you don’t care what other people think SO we should embrace our weird sides because weird is fearless.

I am not fearless.

Last week I received a rejection notice from a well respected publication. It is a publication that I have always read and admired. I’ve always thought I would one day be published in that magazine. I was told by many that my work would be a perfect fit. No, my story didn’t capture the interest of the editor. That is what I was told. Oh well. At least it was read and somebody got back to me about it.

My daughter asked me if I was sad about it. Maybe for a few seconds. I was disappointed. Being in the creative world be it art or graphics or writing or music or even writing, one gets used to rejection. One gets used to being disappointed with one’s self as well as others. It is part of being a creative soul. You expect people to be assholes because they don’t understand the difference between a Thomas Kincade and Thomas Hart Benton.

But you also learn to be calm. You learn to be clear with your words. You learn to count to three before saying anything. You learn to explain the difference between what you believe is good and WHY it is good and WHY it works and the advantages of your work over some stupid ass lame idea. Just don’t say out loud that you think the other ideas are stupid ass – use different words such as less effective.

So if someone rejects you what do you do? You don’t use bad words. You don’t get emotional. You just move on. That is part of being a creative person in an uncreative world. Tell your kids that.

So back to that novel. It is a lot of work.

Here are a few other things I believe about being creative:

  • It doesn’t matter if anyone else sees it.
  • It doesn’t matter if you make money from it.
  • You can make money from it (I do make money from it.)
  • Stand up for your work.
  • Learn and refine your craft – this is a process that never ends.
  • Don’t be stupid about it – you can always get better. You can always improve.
  • Relax.
  • Don’t make excuses for yourself. This is one of the hardest things to do. You don’t have to explain anything to anyone (unless you write a blog.)
  • Stay with your art, your music, your writing, your dance, your furniture design, your painting, your typography, your garden sculptures, your videos, your cooking or whatever you do that makes you feel alive and creative. Stay with it.
  • Never give up.

I don’t believe in suffering for my art. That comes along easily enough on it’s own. I would rather embrace it and fit it into my life. It is who I am, so suffering is unproductive and it just isn’t fun. Nobody likes a martyr. And being a martyr is too much work. With all the time and energy you put into suffering for your art you could have written that novel.

And with that final thought I will refill my coffee, sharpen my fangs and work on that novel and fear no more.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Jessie at the Guitar by Thomas Hart Benton

Jessie at the Guitar by Thomas Hart Benton

 

Driving me crazy (or my brain is full right now)

From time to time I have to tell my husband “I don’t want to talk about my family.”

It is easy for him since he has no family outside of me and our kids and my insane group of siblings and assorted relations.

When you’re a vampire the insanity goes on for centuries but the same rules and feelings apply to everyone. Maybe not so much Werewolves since they’re such pack animals. Anyway…

My brother Valentine called me the other day and said that our brother Andrew was acting “funny.” Nothing new there. Andrew, aside from being somewhat flighty and in his own special universe most of the time, is prone to getting himself into both physical and emotional issues that can’t be dealt with alone.

“What is it now?” I asked wanting to just hang up and not even bother. Actually I was wondering where he’d want me to come pick him up and how long it would take of me to get there.

It ends up he was in Reno and had wrecked his car on an isolated mountain road. My situation was for him to take the train and I’d pick him up at the station closest to my house near Sacramento. Trains are great for Vampires. You can either sleep or eat or meet new people. The scenery is always nice through the mountains. Then we can all tell “remember when” stories about when the railroad was built and our dad took us out to see the construction.

Then Andrew calls me and asks if I can pack up the teenagers and drive up to get him. Three hours in the car with two teenagers is always a good time. With mine it is always a good time, but Andrew, please, don’t do this to me.

“Why can’t Val come get you?”

“I want you to come. You’re it darling.”

This is why I can’t get anything done.

I told him where and when to meet me. Andrew can always find something to keep him busy including getting a room at the best hotel to hang out in. Any woman, any man, anybody. So why am I going up there?

Then Aaron (another brother – the really serious responsible one) calls to say that Andrew called and said he was stranded and feared for his life due to a number of reasons and he was suffering from a broken heart and he’d wrecked his car. The layers keep piling on. Aaron says NO WAY is he driving up to get Andrew.

Then my mom calls and asks if I’m getting Andrew. I want to scream at her and scream bad words but I hold my breath and say “of course I’m getting him. Do you think anyone else is going to volunteer?”

Then she tells me how depressed Andy has been and how sensitive he is. She goes on about how next week he is singing Opera in New York and I need to understand… Oh please, give it a rest.

So I take care of work stuff with a few calls. I get the kids who are complaining loudly about the whole deal and end up only taking the 18 year old with me. The other one (15) is doing stuff with friends.

On the way up the mountain my son Garrett and I talk about everything under the stars and moon, then we just listen to music. I think of writing projects I’m working on. I have deadlines.  I can’t come up with plots or endings or twists and turns.

 

The end of the world had come and gone a long time ago. Of course I wouldn’t dare remind Captain Sandy of that extraordinary fact. He stood in the basket of the airship, hands on the control, the tails of his tuxedo jacket blowing in the wind.

When the end of the world came the evil and the damned were gathered up and taken down to Hell. The pure and righteous were led up to Heaven in a golden white light.

That left the artists and writers, along with a lot of musicians, wine makers, computer programmers and antiques dealers. Of course there were others, but nobody that lacked a certain amount of creative or innovative spirit. One must have spirit when the world ends.

It worked for me.

I mean, the world had become way too serious. I adjusted my goggles and facemask as I looked down on the tire fire that had been burning for the past 100 years. Adjusting the leather hood on my cat, I took him out of his basket to take a look. My five year old son Aaron stood on his toes to get a look as I held tight to the back of his jacket. I must have been a sight, boy in one hand, cat in the other.

Life was an adventure to be savored and enjoyed. It was a destroyed world being built up by those with visions of beauty and wonder. Captain Sandy always said this was Heaven. Of course I never told him otherwise. It was Heaven to be in the arms of my husband at night and feel the touch of his skin on mine, that is until I’d run my hand over the deep scars on his back. I called him my fallen angel. He would just laugh and kiss me as only an angel could kiss. Maybe it was Heaven for him since he was now dead, but I will never know unless I die too and find him there.

Once when I was younger my brother and I found some old movies where everyone at the end of the world were driving big trucks and dune buggies as they shot anyone they came across. There were zombies and crazy fucks of all sorts fighting for the last clean water or bits of fuel.

We laughed. That was not our world. Ours was a world to create without hesitation or critical review. Our poets were considered as important as our politicians. Our sense of style always outweighed our sense of practicality.

Captain Sandy asked me what I was thinking that could have me smiling so.

I told him and he just shook his head.

“Life isn’t a theater play like you make it out to be my dear. There are dangerous things out in dark areas of stench and smoke that would enslave us and make us into meals if they could. You’ve been protected in your leather and velvet bustle dresses and fanciful thoughts. It’s a good thing to be ignorant of the world but it is dangerous in ways you can’t imagine.”

“Captain,” I said, “you forget that the shadows took my husband. I take flights of fancy so I won’t fall out of the sky and die of sorrow.”

He turned and gave me a quick smile. Despite the dark pattern of scars on the left side of his face the Captain was still a handsome man with a dazzling smile. All the women were quick to notice him.

 “Why are you alone?”

“I’m not.”

 “No wife or children?”

“I had a wife. She vanished when the world ended. I never knew if she went up or down or just vanished to dust. Who knows. The bitch could still be around somewhere.”

“So you’re alone,” I said.

He stepped closer and took me in his arms, his lips against mine, his body heat searing through my dress right down to my bare skin…

Oh fuck, I’ve written myself into a hole again. I swear I can’t come up with anything anymore. I have to come up with an ending and maybe even a plot. What a novel idea (no pun intended.)

 

Garrett looks over at me. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” I tell him.

“Mom, you look so serious.”

“I was thinking about a story. Just ideas. Sorry.”

He turns up the radio and we start singing out loud together to a song by The Killers then we sing to Blink 182, then we put in the Abby Road CD and sing the entire CD until we arrive to the Nevada Museum of Art where Andrew is waiting for us among the Western landscapes.

He said he has dinner for us in his hotel room. Good. Garrett and I are famished. I won’t go into details. Party friends who never knew when they woke up that they’d spent the afternoon with three hungry Vampires.

On the way home, down the mountain, we talked and laughed and actually had a nice relaxing ride.

Anyway, life isn’t all parties in crypts dressed like vintage Cleevey Stevie Nicks or other nonsense. We take care of each other just like anyone else. We do that even when it isn’t fun.

That said, my brain is still full and as much as I love Andrew, he owes me big time.

Take a deep breath. Remember, you are loved, no matter how busy you are.

Also that you are creative, maybe not this minute, but you’ll get there.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman