Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

My eldest brother Max (10 years my senior) had asked his best friend Teddy to escort me home from the theater one evening. It was 1874. I was 15 years old.

“Your hands are so cold,” he said as he helped me up off of the muddy street onto the boardwalk.

I gave him a coy smile. “I have a cold heart sir.”

He laughed. I never called him sir. He offered me his arm.

I gladly took his arm. “Your hands are positively burning. What sort of fire stirs your soul tonight?” That was pretty forward but I didn’t care. I was floating with the joy of being a flirt and having no brothers or parents around to stop me.

“You’re not like the other girls.”

“No I am not.”

“You’re an impish little thing. It will take a man with a quick wit and a good sense of humor to woo you Juliette.”

“Ahhhh, but you forget I have four older brothers. I pity any man who would have to deal with them.”

“They’ll love any man who is truly in love with you Juliette.”

“I doubt that Teddy.”

Then he stopped and faced me. “I have some news. A secret if you can keep one.”

“Your secrets are always safe with me.”

Teddy had a large smile on his handsome face. “I’m getting married.”

My young Vampire heart literally stopped dead. My head started to spin, but I managed to smile because like all Vampires, I was a natural liar. “Oh Teddy. I’m so happy for you. She really is lovely.”

I wished I could just turn to putrified slime and slip into the dirt like the dead in the cemetery but instead I found a dark place to curl up in for the rest of the night. Teddy would now be lost to me forever. No more laughing at silly jokes with him. No more having him give me sly smiles. No more watching him and my brother Max in awe as they turned from boys to real men.

Teddy would be moving on to the world of married men where there was no room for girls who laughed too loud and talked too much. There was no room for Vampires. Sure, once I was older and became an icy cold elegant woman like my Vampire mother I could entertain Teddy and his bride, but until then it was over. He might has well have died – at least that is what I was feeling in my cold quiet teenage heart.

Teddy had no idea how different any of us were. He had no idea that his father’s business partner was a Vampire. Teddy had no idea what a Vampire was.

While they were away to college Teddy never really questioned why my brother Max would go out in the middle of the night. He imagined it was a woman or gambling or just a restless spirit. Like all of us, Max was brilliant at hiding his true nature.

The young woman of good breeding whom Teddy had become engaged to was sweet. That was her only attribute aside from being considered pretty. She wanted nothing more in life than to be the wife of a successful man. The fact that Teddy was the most handsome human I’d ever seen in my life, interesting, smart and funny was just an added bonus. Other than the fact that Teddy thought she’d be a good match there was nothing remarkable about her. Good breeding. Good reputation. Good girl. I didn’t even think about passion. Thinking about that would be almost as bad as thinking about my parents having any kind of passion (remember I was 15 years old.)

Teddy’s love wasn’t out sucking blood out of people in the middle of the night. She was in bed alone dreaming of angels and kittens. She was the kind of girl he dreamed of and I am sure he dreamed of her at night.

I wished I was like her. I wished I was sweet and warm like a her. I touched my icy hands against my cheeks and closed my eyes and then wiped away cold tears. No amount of wishing could make me warm. No amount of wishing could make me walk in the sunshine without dark glasses or a parasol. No amount of charm or wit could make him continue to be buddies with me, a girl who lived in the shadow of the night. He’d never love me.

I found my brother Val and told him the news. Val, who is only 16 at the time, thought I was being silly. He didn’t understand. He was a boy. Teddy could still be friends with a boy.

Max came up on the roof where I ended up that night. He sat next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. “Teddy is like family. He’ll still be here for a long long time. With any luck he’ll live a long life and we’ll always be able to watch over him and protect him.”

I closed my eyes knowing it was a battle I couldn’t win.

“Listen Jewels, part of growing up is letting go, that means letting go of everyone else who is growing up and moving on. It won’t just be Teddy. All of us will have to go out in the world and make our way. We’ll all find love. We’ll find it with people like ourselves, other Vampires. People move on, but the human heart, and our hearts have a great capacity for love. You have to treasure that love because as we move on, they, the regular humans grow old and they die. I’ve seen Mother and Father mourn the loss of their friends in the worst way. We’ve mourned the loss of friends in the worst way. But Teddy isn’t dead. Be happy for him. He’ll still be my best friend. He’ll still be your friend.”

We sat on the roof until the sun came up and talked of life and love and loss.

A year later Teddy died and didn’t die. He became a Vampire (not from anything we did and very much against his will.) The wedding never happened. After that we all went our separate ways and had our share of love and adventure and friendship.

After Teddy acclimated to being a Vampire we became great friends. Twenty years ago we got married. That isn’t typical of anyone, but then again, not much is typical in my life.

As my own children become older and closer to being adults they’ll have to deal with friends moving away, getting in relationships and changing in ways they can’t imagine. Some friendships will last those changes, but many won’t. The fact that we can’t always predict these things doesn’t make it any easier, but at least we can talk with our kids about these things. We can be there when they need someone to talk to. And that day will come.

I have been fortunate to have friends who’ve been in my life since those days when I used to sit on the roof of my parent’s house and ponder the meaning of life. Sometimes my friends would sit on the roof with me. Sometimes my brothers would join us. We’re not sitting on the roof anymore, but we’re still talking and laughing and having warm hearts to go with our cold hands.
———————————

First posted: 2/20/14 

Thank you for dropping by. I’m on the road right now with Teddy. I’ll have a lot of new material when I return. xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Everything Will Be Alright

I’m on the road for the next few weeks. This post was first published in 2014, but the message still rings true.

~ Juliette

Everything Will Be Alright

My life is absolutely jam-packed full. But there were times when I was alone in almost every sense of the word. There were times that might have been hailed as opportunities and all I could see was a bottomless pit. There were times when I took opportunities and so the saying goes, ran with it. I ran as far as I could go. Everything eventually changes. Nothing stays the same except maybe our love and I hope our humor.

As a rule I’m reserved around my new clients, that is new Vampires. Yes, just turned a few months ago. She was doing well. Rather pragmatic and accepting about it. As with most of them it wasn’t what they expected. Then again, most of life isn’t what we expect until we’ve been around for a while and gathered that old moss of experience and wisdom.

Willow had family here and there. Her parents had divorced and started new families when she was about ten. She never saw them much or kept track of them. She had lived with an uncle who’d since passed away. None the less Willow made it through high school and college then on to a career. Then life and love imploded around her. It happens to all of us. She thought of jumping off a bridge but didn’t do it. She was thinking of a lot of things one night when she was seduced by a man who turned out not to be like her. And well, her life changed a lot more dramatically than she could have ever imagined, for Willow had been turned into a Vampire.

It was more complicated than that, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point is that I am in charge of helping Willow finally make the adjustment of living on her own, in a new world. A new life if you want to call it that.

I’d introduce her to the community of the night and teach her to know who is safe and who is not. I’d continue to give her instructions and watch over her until she was ready to be completely on her own.

She was surprised that we (Vampires) were for the most part not the creatures of dark brooding novels and movies. OK we can be dark and brooding and we’re pretty good at it, but the point is that we, like everyone else, just want to be happy. We want to fit in. We need to care and know we’re cared for. That is the Modern Vampire way, and the way for most people, no matter what exactly they might be.

That morning we stopped by a small cottage like house I’d found for her to live in.

As we entered the front door she a look about in a cautious sort of way, kind of like a cat after all the furniture has been moved around.

“Nobody will miss me. Not really. I mean after I died.” She looked out the window into the mid-morning fog.

I put my hand on her shoulder. “This is the beginning Willow.”

“I…” she started to say, but I cut in.

“This isn’t suicide. It is just being here in a different way. You’ll make it positive. You’ll find success. You’ll find love.”

WIllow looked around some more inside then out back at the small garden. She smiled, careful not to show any fangs.”

We then took my truck in search of furniture and other household items she needed to get started with her new life.

She asked if she could get a cat. Of course. On the way home we stopped by the shelter, the city pound, where she picked out a three-year old tabby with white paws named Jeeves. She said she’d help someone else make a new start too – that they’d do it together – Willow and Jeeves.

I turned on some music in the car and intentionally played “The Middle” by the band Jimmy Eat World. It is one of my son’s favorite songs. It seemed like the right song to play for Willow.

In most cases, no matter how melancholy things seem, it will get better. The stars will continue to shine, cats will purr and new friends will make bonds that last for years.

I try to teach that to my own children who will all too soon be leaving home to go off to college, alone, that there will be times when they’ll feel lost. But they have a good navigation system and they’ll always find their way. Maybe not where they thought they would be going but with any luck they’ll always end up where they are supposed to be.

As I watched Willow unload Jeeves the cat and hold him in her arms, I had a feeling that she was exactly where she was supposed to be too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

The Middle

Jimmy Eats World – Songwriters: ADKINS, JAMES CHRISTOPHER/BURCH, RICHARD E/LIND, ZACHARY MICHEL/LINTON, THOMAS DARRELL

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just TRY your best, TRY everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
You just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what their bitter hearts (bitter hearts) are gonna say.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright.

 

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

I’ve posted this a few times, but since it is Werewolf Week, and since this is what it is, I will post it again.

A Werewolf’s Train To Nowhere

 Right after I’d graduated from college (the first time) from one of the rare Universities (now a well respected and famous school) that accepted women I took a trip across country on a train to meet my brother Val. He’d gone to New York City without me, leaving me, a young woman, unescorted. I would have done fine on my own but back then, in 1881 young women, even Vampires, didn’t travel alone.

I got on the train on a dark full moon night and made my way to my car. I was to share a car with several other students and some sort of chaperone. What I found was three young men dressed in rather garish suits of the latest fashion (or so they thought) and nobody else. Two had short beards, again, the style of the time. I recognized one from school. The train started to move. There was no getting off. OK I could have jumped, but I was in a long dress with a bustle no less and jumping wasn’t a practical option. Contrary to popular belief I couldn’t turn myself into a bat and fly away. So I stayed. They were horrible the entire time making crude jokes and being as vulgar as they could be. They insulted me for being a Vampire, calling me dead and cold and well, they were vulgar to say the least. I was in Hell and ready to get off of the train.

I sat took claim to a settee with a small table and tried to ignore my garishly dressed companions. A young woman climbed aboard and the three men cheered. She was dressed as garish as they were in the most stylish of gowns but it was a bright orange color with brown beaded trim. Her hair was as orange as the dress and piled high on her head. That included a lot of fake hair to go along with her real hair.

She eyed me up and down. “Who invited the Vampire?”

“I’m Juliette,” I said to the Werewolf girl. Holy crap I’d been stuck for a cross country trip with four Werewolves. Every muscle and bone on my body tightened up. I wanted to scream. Instead I just kept my place in my corner while my companions made as much noise as they could laughing out loud and of course the alcohol and drugs came out. Of course.

Just as the parting whistle blew the door opened again and in stepped my friend Pierce. Finally, another Vampire had arrived, and a strong protective one at that. His father owned the train car and I didn’t even put the two together. Pierce was a friend of my brothers Max and Andy. At age 28 he was the oldest of our group. We made quite a contrast in our highly fashionable yet subdued attire compared to the flamboyant brightly dressed Werewolves. We were also a lot quieter.

The Werewolf girl who was named Phoebe gave Pierce a long hard look then smiled and licked her lips. Pierce is attractive with a narrow face, a sensuous mouth and dark heavily lashed eyes. Of course she noticed him. She’d no doubt try to have his clothes off, have her way with him then tear his throat out. Well, maybe not, but I didn’t want him to get her claws into a friend who was almost like a brother to me.

The males were Luke, Seth and Eldon. I’ll never forget their names. They were rude and loud and young. Had they been Vampires I might have thought they were fun, but since they were Werewolves I thought they were disgusting. Phoebe was just as bad with her crude laugh and dirty jokes.

Pierce and I played cards and stood on the back of the train in the night air. We mostly talked. I asked him about people we knew who’d gone out into the world – the young Vampires we’d grown up with. Pierce was on his way to New York. I was on my way to New York as well to meet my brother Valentine. After that we’d board a ship to London.

Conversations with the Werewolves were in bits and pieces of insults and crude jokes. Pierce’s father did business with their families. To keep the peace and keep favors in check he’d offered to let the young adults of the pack to ride with us. Also, by being with Vampires the Werewolves were more likely to behave themselves. At least that is what everyone thought.

On the second night, after a half of case of Champagne, the young Werewolf men, Luke, Seth and Eldon stripped naked right in front of us and said they were going out for a run. Phoebe decided to stay in. They ran out and I could hear them up on the roof of the train car howling, then down a side ladder and they were gone. Phoebe sat by the window looking at the full moon. She’d taken off her jacket and bodice down to a short-sleeved lace covered blouse. Long dark hair sprouted on her arms and hands. Her fingers grew claw like. Fur grew down the side of her face. She ignored us as a low growl came to the back of her throat as she watched for her pack mates.

Peirce and I watched three huge wolves run along the side of the train. The moonlight reflected off of their silvery gray fur. They were beautiful.

Then we heard horrifically loud shots. Our fellow passengers a few cars down were shooting at the wolves. Pierce ran out of the car. I could hear him shouting for the men with the guns to stop. Phoebe started to scream and scream and scream.

The next day we heard news of three young men found dead by the side of the tracks. The story was they had been drinking and had a fight on the top of the train and fell off after shooting each other.

I will never forget holding Phoebe in my arms and rocking her, trying to tell her that everything would be alright. I knew it would never be alright but I said it anyway.

For the next week as we made our way across the country she’d howl mournfully at night. The passengers said the train was haunted. I knew they’d brought on their own ghosts when they killed the wolves for no reason.

Werewolves and Vampires are predators but even we don’t partake in the senseless of killing animals for no reason other than target practice.

Pierce and I related the story to others but over the years we’ve kept a lot of the details to ourselves. It seems like so long ago. It was a long time ago. A long long time ago.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Musings and Conversations with my Millennial Vampire

Between my summer road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska (and the great Western US Adventure), and my trip up to Oregon for the total solar eclipse, I spent time with Garrett.

He is my first born, a late millennial Vampire, now a fourth year college student (they no longer use the terms Freshman – Senior.)

One night we sat together on the back deck watching the bats fly around the tops of the trees. The cats were underneath the porch light catching moths.

He changed his major from some sort of Environmental Science to Music Composition with maybe a minor in Film and Media Studies. He has the talent and the drive to be successful. Plus he has the advantage of being a Vampire. And his Uncle Andy (my bro) is musically gifted in astounding ways, and supports Garrett in every way.

Garrett is still interested in Environmental issues, along with fine art, but his heart is in music, as well as his talents.

Sometimes I am in awe of the remarkable young man who appreciates his talents and gifts. He also appreciates those around him.

“My friends and I,” he tells me, “we don’t take our donors for granted. We never take needlessly or aggressively. We’re not into that.”

I’m proud of my modern young Vampire son. He is by no means a pansy assed wimp. He is strong, and smart, and coming into his own powers. He is also kind, and sensitive, and full of humor. He can compose a jazz, or classical piece of music, then a few minutes later write a love letter for a friend, then go watch a science lecture just for the fun of it.

I worry about the future, but then again, I look at my kids and their friends, all new adults, and I’m not so worried.

As parents we need to teach them the knowledge of the past. In turn, they will create the knowledge of the future. Even as they grow older and lead their own lives, we are still parents. Appreciate their success. Don’t dwell on their failures. Enjoy them. Treasure them. Share yourself with them. And know you’ve done a good job (and if you haven’t it is never too late to turn things around.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Vampire Maman

 

A short essay on bullies

Think of all the time and energy bullies spend being obsessed with their victims. Think of all of the energy of that hate that could be channeled into something positive. Anything really, other than being obsessed with someone they deemed weaker, weirder, stupider, fatter, smaller, or just different in some way. Usually there isn’t a reason why a child is bullied. It is usually just a random act that builds into sort of a self-serving cult.

If you’ve been bullied just think of what an idiot the kids was who bullied you was. No doubt he or she still is. I doubt if they’ll even remember what they did. If they do they won’t feel bad about it. They’ll still blame you for their failures especially if you’re a success. Even if you aren’t. Their own self loathing is masked with self-indulgent feelings of superiority and then helplessness.

They’re nothing but defective worms. They are to be pitied. Then again, don’t waste your pity on them. Don’t carry the burdens of their actions with you. It hurt. It was wrong. It was wrong for adults to let it happen. But it is time for you to move on. You aren’t the asshole. The bullies don’t matter. They were the ones who spent the time to be obsessed by you, like evil perverse demonic fans. It was their loss, not yours.

And most of them, the bullies, have assholes for parents. Think about it.

You aren’t the asshole. Believe me on this one.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

fart joke

Charms of Youth

We watched our nineteen year old son drive down the street and back to college.

My husband was caught up in his own thoughts. Times were different when he was in college. He was different.

Nineteen is so young, but when you’re there it feels so grown up. It seems like everything is just a countdown to twenty-one. Those odd two years of nineteen and twenty are just stuck in-between being an adult and being a real adult.

I remember one warm September night in 1878 when my brother Valentine and I discussed the matter as we dug our toes into the wet sand on the riverbank. I was nineteen and a month from twenty. Val was twenty-one.

We had years of crazy, hair brained adventures, but on that night it seemed as if our carefree days of youth would soon be over. We played the remember when game.

Remember when we saw the orphan Werewolf children on this very beach.

Remember when we broke up a dog fighting ring.

Remember when you fell in love for the first time.

Remember when we ran wild through the streets at night because we could.

Now we were expected to be respectable but we knew that wouldn’t always be the case. We laughed over the prospect. Sure, we laughed but we were both scared at the prospect of being serious and respectable, or worse, dark and brooding like so many Vampires of our time.

Of course what we thought was love was far from it. But no matter, because we were both natural flirts and charmers. Remember, we’re Vampires. Of course we’re charming. But being charming to other Vampires is always a challenge, or at least it sometimes seems that way for the younger of our kind.

In our time on Earth, Val and I had experienced a lot. Just that week’s news included floods, outbreaks of diseases which left the dead piled in the street, news of Sitting Bull, evasive crops, and of course murder.

We watched a boat drift by and waved to the occupants. We knew they were surprised at our formal dress as we stood barefoot in the sand. I held my skirts up to my knees, while Val had removed his jacket but still wore his top hat.

Earlier that evening we’d been to a formal party. We’d become bored and made our way down to the edge of the water. We were at a point where we had become bored with a lot of things – well, pretty much most things. That would change soon. We couldn’t even imagined the adventures we would have.

I kicked water up at Val. He came back at me and pushed me into the water. Soon we were both soaking wet. We laughed so hard I thought I’d crack a rib.

So I stood in my front yard knowing my own children would have adventures, both big and small. I knew, as a mom, that my kids were much more prepared than Val and I were.

My husband Teddy and I have been deliberate parents. We have let our children explore ideas and experiences, all along discussing those ideas and experiences with them. We’ve taught our children that there are consequences to their actions that lie far beyond the moment and parental anger. Things they do now can and will affect the rest of their lives. And other things won’t matter later on. It is the key to know what does and what does not matter. Our kids get the big picture. They know about the world around them. We’re not helicopter parents. We don’t shelter our kids. Yet, we are always there for them.

We’ve raised them to feel joy and wonder that will last far after childhood is gone.

Hugs are in large supply.

My kids are ready to be adults. I’m ready, so my logical self says. It does go by fast, so make sure if you have kids that you are there for them and involved far after babyhood is over.

Be it the rare Vampire child, Werewolf triplets, or a Regular Human baby, it is our job to teach them so they’ll be adults we’re proud of. We need to teach them to be the adults we’d want to be – or better. Always better.

And like I say here, the key is to talk to them. Don’t wait until they talk first. From the first day they are on this earth make sure you talk to them. And even after they are grown, or think they are grown – talk to them, and with them. Discuss, laugh, debate, share, laugh, cry and be together in mind and spirit.

Have a good weekend everyone,

Juliette aka Vampire Maman