Fear and Change

Most Vampires get paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Oh forget the blood taking and seductive ways that helped romanticize us.

You know what I’m talking about. Even the most confident of us feels that way more than we would like.

We jealously guard our own versions of our memories.

Something taken away.

Something given.

Something found.

Something lost.

It is that sense of loss and identity that finds so many climbing into crypts or under floorboards to sleep forever.

It is that inability to know there are others and that there is something to look forward to. Things change but not for better or worse – just different. Hell, things usually change for the better if you want them to be better. If you make them better. I didn’t say it was easy. It isn’t anything you’ll find in a self-help book. There aren’t self-help books for Vampires. There aren’t self-help books for most things that really matter.

Reaching inside where your old soul used to be and pulling up your new self isn’t easy. Your old self is still there – you will never lose that. You will always be yourself – like it or not. But you can change. You can become better. You can refurbish your old self.

You can shine like the full moon on a clear winter night.

Where you miss the warmth of your skin you will find coolness of nerves.

Where you miss those who grew old you will treasure the memories.

Where you miss the innocence of your existence you will find something else.

You aren’t a monster or an outcast – you are just different. Everyone is different. Accept it.

You’ll taste blood, but you’ll give back contentment in your donors – or give nightmares – it is your choice. Nice. You never had that choice before.

You’ll learn how to get blood stains out of anything.

Change or lack of change are both things we want and something that we fear.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy. Then again, nobody said it wasn’t going to be exciting and wonderful.

Contentment isn’t just something for a few. It is something we can all strive for. Content but still moving forward, never forgetting where we have been or where we are going.

The other day I spoke to my friend Cody who has been a Vampire for almost four years. He never asked for it but he accepted the changes in his life. There will be hardships ahead along with triumphs. He didn’t struggle like some do. He has had a lot of questions and questioned a lot of things. He has learned.

But he told me, “You know that old expression about a door closing and a window opening? The roof came off for me. I can see the whole world of possibilities now. Anything is possible as long as I keep reminding myself of that.”

Yes, Cody, anything is possible.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Jury Duty

Friday was High School Graduation. Saturday was, well, Saturday. We spent Sunday with Wonder Woman (I wish they’d just call her Diana and forget the Wonder Woman title.)

Monday was jury duty.

I’ve been getting out of jury duty for years on the excuse that I had child care issues, which was true. Now it is summer. I work from home. My kids are out of school. They drive. No excuses.

Even as a Vampire I believe in my civic duty and in our justice system (I bet you didn’t think I’d bring up the Vampire thing did you?)

So yesterday morning came. I knew what I’d wear. Conservative but comfortable business wear. A royal blue blouse, black slack, black flats, a white sweater, shiny brown hair slightly flipped up, black marcasite jewelry, easy on the eyeliner. Once I got there I saw that most people had come in jeans and were more on the comfort scale than I was.

I first stopped for coffee at the corner donut shop. This was not one of the awful national chains (aka Dunkin Donuts which sells something called coffee that resembles dirty pond water and I wish had not opened in my neighborhood) but a small family run place with a funny name (Ducky’s Donuts) and friendly young owners. The coffee is in pump containers, and you have to get your half/half out of the fridge yourself. As always the coffee was excellent. No donut – just coffee, but I hear the donuts are great.

It took me a little over an hour to get to the court house. Morning traffic from my house to downtown was heavy but more than I expected. But hey, one has to see the bright side. I took a less traveled road through Midtown to Downtown and got a great morning view of the Capitol building (yes, Sacramento.)

And this was my day:

I arrive at the court house. Then I waited in a line to sign in. We were all told not to sit on the benches or tables outside of the court house because homeless people camped out there at night and the clean up crew couldn’t guarantee how clean anything would be. A judge explained the reason we go to jury duty and the history of it all. It was nice. He also said to send in any suggestions and thoughts to the court. I read about 100 pages in my book (John Sanford, Escape Clause. Extremely entertaining), then I pulled out my iPad and watched videos on YouTube about cats, deep sea creatures, deep sea mysteries, why dogs turn their heads when you talk to them, and a super lame high voiced silly British comedian I’ll never watch again (a lot of British humor seems so old fashioned to me these days.) We were excused for lunch and I almost stepped on a condom on the courthouse steps. Then I saw my husband at the lunch break and asked him how to quickly light a car on fire, what fuel to use, etc etc etc. He didn’t bat an eye because I’m always asking him stuff like that. No, I’m not going to really light a car on fire, I’m just writing about it. He doesn’t read what I write but is always willing to give technical advice. Went back to the court house. I dozed in my seat. Looked out the window and counted palm trees (about five from where I sat.) Read another chapter in my book.  Several people around me mentioned that they’d finished their books. Everyone started talking to each other. Sat for another hour, closed my eyes and figured out how to smash a guy in the head, get him to his car, drive him four or five miles away, light the car on fire, walk home, then have a horror writer in Canada tell an old friend of mine (under a full moon by a camp fire on a beach) how such a sweet woman could be such a cold hearted killer, but hey, the guy deserved it, and it fits into the novel I’m working on. Then at 2:00 my jury group was excused. Jury duty done for another 18 months.

Needless to say my experience was nothing like the movie/play Twelve Angry Men. It wasn’t even like Witness for the Prosecution. It wasn’t like a Vampire movie either. It was real but not gritty or dramatic. It just was.

Luckily there was no traffic on the way home, except right before my house in the never ending messy three miles of road construction. When I arrived home I helped the girl child find her shirt for the senior trip (high school graduates, not old folks) to Disneyland. They should have arrived at the Magic Kingdom about an hour ago (it is now 8:08 a.m. PST.)

All of this reminds me that despite all of the political assholery going on right now, we have a system that works. Juries are picked. People are allowed a fair trial. People participate. People gather peacefully. This isn’t about politics. It is about what is right.

So that is all I have this morning. I’ll need about another gallon of coffee and maybe even another hour of sleep before I get going on today’s agenda…

Have a great day everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Put A Spell On You

My brother Aaron called. I love Aaron but when he calls it usually means that he needs my help. I’ve got a ghost in my house who is going through a serious bout of depression, I’d promised to stop by and Eleora and Tellias (our ancient elders), and then I had more stuff to take care of with my daughter after school today.

It can be anything with Aaron. A suspicion of time travelers lurking around, a dried up Vampire under a house that needs coaxing out (or worse), a confused new Vampire, a picture to be drawn, research into the odd or unknown, feline behavior woes, Ghost or Werewolf trouble. I never know.

So I asked, “What is it Aaron?”

“I have a book I want you to see,” he said.

“Can you bring it over tonight?”

There was a pause then, “You don’t want it in your house. Teddy is here. We’re at my office.”

Without so much as a thanks see you soon he hung up.

I grabbed my keys, and the dog followed me. Aaron didn’t say no dogs. As I locked the door the air on my front porch suddenly dropped about 40 degrees. Leaning against the porch rail was The Ghost, Nigel himself.

“I’m in a hurry,” I said. “I don’t have time for this.”

He smirked at me and said, “I’m going with you.”

Fine. We all got in the car, the dog in the back and Nigel and me in the front, and off we went, a Vampire, a German Shepard, and a Ghost to my brother’s law office downtown. Of course if anyone saw us they’d just see a brown haired woman in a burgundy colored sweater and a large and exceptionally nice looking dog in a blue sedan. Nothing special or unique here.

We, at least the dog and I, climbed the stairs leading up to Aaron’s office in the converted Queen Anne style house. Nigel was already at the top waiting by the tall front door.

“You know,” he said, “the front porches are on the second floor because the city used to flood every winter.”

“I know I was here,” I said as I opened the door and my entourage followed me in.

We went inside and found the place deserted except for Aaron and my husband Teddy in a conference room. A large, somewhat old book was on the table.

The dog was happy to see everyone. My husband gave me a smile that would make any woman’s knees go weak, and then kissed me. Aaron looked at Nigel then back to me.

“You brought a ghost,” he said.

“I brought a dog too.”

Right off the bat I realized that my brother had a spell book. Yes, as in Witch’s spells.

“What do you think?” My brother carefully opened the book then stepped back.

The pages were bordered with black and white illustrations with a forest motif. I recognized the artist. “Julian Rix,” I said.

“You knew him,” said Aaron.

“I did. He was quite the flirt. This is weird. He’d never deal with Witches,” I said.

Aaron scowled. “That is what I thought too. They must have hired him to do the borders then added their spells. There is no sign of any magic or strangeness in the drawings.”

“You knew Julian Rix? Holy shit Juliette. How well did you know him?” That was my husband.

“Well enough. He and Grandmama Lola were friends. I was around seventeen, maybe eighteen. You were off somewhere learning how to become a Vampire. Val and I had just come back from a trip to New York,” I said. “From the style and subject I figure the drawing were done around 1876 or 77.”

The text was in an odd script, in an odd language I didn’t know. It was written in rust colored and black ink. I ran the tips of my fingers over one of the pages. Then I immediately pulled them back. Son of a bitch, the words burned my finger tips. The rust colored writing was in human blood. Of course it was. I might drink blood but I’d never be so crass as to write with it. God only knows where it came from because it wasn’t from a Witch.

“Where’d this come from?” I asked my brother.

“A client found it in the walls of a house he was restoring,” said Aaron.

I should have known. “It was Austin Durant, the contractor, historian… oh right and Vampire Hunter. What the crap Aaron?”

Nobody said anything. Then Nigel spoke up. I’d forgotten he was even in the room.

“You’re looking at a cypher used by seventeenth century occultists.”

We all looked at him.

“What? Just because I’m dead doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My girlfriend Mary was born in the seventeenth century. We spent a lot of time looking at old books when we were off haunting a castle in Scotland. She knows about all of that stuff. Hey, it isn’t like we had anything else to do.”

Without touching the book Nigel turned the pages with a raised hand. “If I were you I’d seal this thing back up in the wall, or even burn it. Then again, the illustrations… oh man, if you burned this it would be a crime. Why not just take a blade and cut out the spells. Most of the spells are for weird love potions and revenge potions anyway. Nobody needs that shit. There is also a nasty nasty spell on it and a lock down spell. I’d keep away from this if I were you. Whoever wrote this did not like Vampires.”

I looked at the clock. “We have to go. I’ll do some research and get back to you. Nigel, you may stay if you want.”

He smiled at me, one of those shit eating grins of his, “I know I make you guys uncomfortable, but I might just stay a little bit longer and browse through this interesting piece of history, you know, since it burns your precious undead fingers.”

I left to help the elders with some things, and then go pick my child up from school. Teddy and Aaron assured me they’d lock up the mysterious book in a safe place. I told them to burn it. Nigel flipped me off as I left. The dog wagged her tail and licked everyone on the face.

When I picked seventeen year old Clara up from school she told me all about her upcoming AP testing (Advanced Placement, look it up if you don’t know.) Her teacher asked the kids what they need to do to get ready and write it on the board. Someone wrote cry.

We don’t have time for spells, and chants, and flesh burning texts. All I want are the beautiful borders, and stunning landscapes that are on my wall and not in a toxic book.

Spells are like lies and time travel. They change things that should not be forced to change. They bend the will of one person. They screw with the order of the universe. They are false and steal away choice. Sounds like I’m talking about politics doesn’t it. But seriously, you don’t go where you’re not invited. You can’t force anyone to love or hate. You can’t buy passion.

Julian Rix had his heart-broken by a woman who lived to be a hundred years old. He didn’t last so long. The entire story is all too sad for me, but I doubt if he’d been happy with a love spell. It should have been a shallow love, like a shallow grave that can’t hide the fact that someone was hurt.

Anyway, tomorrow we’re going on a college tour, then the dog will take her test in dog school (she failed last week), and then I’ll think of how no spell can being one true love. I know THAT for a fact. Ask my husband about it.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Quietly Listen

He showed me a new project on his large computer screen, in the back room of a restored Victorian house. A cat sat on a window seat grooming herself. She’d lick a paw then carefully wipe her face. Then she curled up in a tight ball and started to purr.

“Tell me what you think Juliette,” he said with a cautious smile.

“I like it a lot,” I told him. I did like it. Nobody was surprised that he and his partner had made millions over the past five years. “You’re sad today.”

He looked up, kind of surprised. “I was just thinking. I saw a school bus earlier today. It brought back memories of when I was a kid. Everyday on the bus was a nightmare for me.”

I looked at this successful, good looking, witty man, and listened. I’d heard these stories before. Not his, but from others. What is it about humans that they’re children are so cruel. Some grow out of it. Some grow up to lead nations and continue to be cruel. Some who continue to be bullies are failures because of their crude actions. I just listened.

I was stupid and foolish as a young person, and done a lot of things I have retreated later, but never endured being beaten up on a bus, or called names and taunted for eight hours a day. I’ve never lived in that kind of fear day in and day out.

“I’d forgotten about it until today. I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

“You’re better than they are.”

He smiled sadly. “Success is the best revenge.” He rolled up his sleeve and held out his arm. “Make me feel better Juliette. Please.”

I took his wrist and sank my fangs into it. I closed my eyes and sucked out the pain, and gave him a high that made him put his head back in the chair and relax into a deep trance like state. A smile came on his face.

When I was done I gave him a kiss. “You have your own Vampire. That is something those who were cruel will never have. Consider yourself lucky.”

He laughed and rolled down my sleeves. “Until next time,” he said.

“Until then,” I said and left him to sleep and dream of better things.

And remember, you don’t have to be a Vampire to help make the pain go away. Listen to those young and old. Stop bullying when you see it. The fight of those who are bullied is the side we should all be on. Stop, listen, support. How simple is that?  Extremely simple.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Rejection Quota

 

It seems that all Hell has broken loose lately and damned if I’m doing my best to try to get it all back to normal. If not normal at least I want something that isn’t a never-ending roller coaster ride (roller coasters make me puke) or just quiet. I’d even go with boring. I’d embrace boring right now.

I had to attend one of those annual meetings yesterday. You know the kind where you sit for hours while others talk just to hear their own voices.

I picked Tellias up at his house on the far end of the city limits. I’m glad he and Eleora are still on the farm but sometimes the drive seems so long.

When I arrived he was in a grouchy mood. On the good side he was dressed decently thanks to my brother Val for helping with that. On his own who knows what the ancient Vampire Tellias would be wearing. It could be anything from old farmer overalls, to a vintage polyester fast food uniform, to a tuxedo with a Hawaiian shirt. Today he wore a black suit with a deep purple shirt and a silk tie with a very cool atomic age print on it. One his feet were yellow flip flops but I could deal with that. He’d pulled his white blond hair back with a black ribbon. Despite his age Tellias looks about nineteen or twenty years old – so the suit was charming on him.

“You look handsome today,” I said to him kissing his cold cheek. He did look handsome. He is one of those guys who is both handsome and beautiful at the same time.

“And you my dear are a vision of beauty unlike the world has ever known,” he said to me then he sang me a verse:

Exit: light
Enter: night
Take my hand
We’re off to never never land

He always sings me a song and I never know what it will be. I had to smile.

“I don’t want to go to this meeting. Nobody there cares what I have to say. Nobody ever listens to me anymore. I’m not relevant,” Tellias said to me.

“Tellias,” I said, “everyone there respects you. They value your opinion.”

He gave me a nasty look. “Nobody ever calls. They never come to see me. They treat me like I’m an idiot.”

“That isn’t true.”

“Is too.”

To some point it is true. Tellias and Eleora are old and alone, like so many other elderly and ancient folks of all kind. Thank goodness I enlisted my brother to help me out with them. They’ll go for weeks without help and never ask for help until the situation is grave. They are more or less a pain in the ass but I love them and help them and do what I can no matter how frustrating they are.

“Nobody values what I say either,” I told him and we went out to the car.

I don’t know if nobody values what we say but it feels like that a lot.

At the meeting we sat with the others and listened. After the speaker had spoken (it was just Vampire business, you wouldn’t be interested in) we gathered for a simple reception.

Everyone wanted to talk to Tellias. I held his arm and made sure he didn’t say something uncalled for or hijack the conversation to something trivial and uncomfortable. Who knows what was on his agenda on any given day.

It was true that nobody cared what I had to say. They knew what I was doing and the fact that I have things under control (so they think.)

My mother was there, collected, confident and elegant. Tellias gave her a hug and said, “You never come to see me.”

She shrugged him off and gave me a shit load of unwanted advice. Then she took Tellias by the arm and sweet talked him for a while. They had things to talk about, or so it seemed. I was just glad she was paying attention to him.

I made nice with everyone. It was all lovely in a weird sort of way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an introvert (though my daughter says otherwise). I just wasn’t feeling social. All I could think of was all the other things I needed to get done. Thank goodness for the many bottles of Poet’s Blood they had on hand. Someone had put a paper-thin orange slice in each glass – a very nice touch.

I made my way over to the window and looked at the view over the city. So many trees. So much going on with so many people. I turned at the sound of my name.

It was Mehitabel. It was one of the few times she was out of her usual work garb of black leather and dark glasses. She was lovely in a black lace skirt and cream colored sweater. Let me back track on this one. She is a hunter and alpha Vampire in every single way possible. Her job is to seek out Vampire Hunters and Rogue Vampires and other nasty creatures and eliminate them. That is part of her job. And she works with my brother Max. She also sleeps with my brother Max… sometimes. Sometimes it is him, sometimes it is her – meaning who wants to do what. I think right now she is just pissed off at him. Then again he pisses off a lot of folks, but that is another blog post.

Anyway, this quiet and thoughtful Vampire is standing before me and I didn’t even know what to say. I never know what to say around her.

So I ask, “How are you?”

She gives me a half smile, “Fine.”

“I liked what you said,” I told her.

“Good. I didn’t think anyone cared. Nobody listens to me, but I’ve learned to listen to others. It makes things easier because… I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better. It makes others feel better.” She shrugged. “I think I’ve hit my rejection quota. I’m done with it. I don’t even care anymore. Speaking of rejection, I heard you’re looking for a new mission.”

“Um, yes. I am.” I told her about some changes lately. I was still helping others in transition but other things had changed. I have been a bit distracted and unsure lately about what is next. No, right now crawling into a crypt is not an option.

“You’re the most creative person I know,” she told me.

So everyone keeps telling me. Sigh.

We talked for a while about other things, like clothes and the drought and cats. I think both of us needed a casual conversation where we didn’t need to prove or justify anything. In fact we did talk about this season of Justified. That was interesting.

Later I dropped Tellias off and promised I’d stop by more often. I’d also promised my mother I’d see her more. I did not ask Mehitabel about Max. I will let them work that out on their own. In fact, I almost don’t want to know.

I always tell my readers to listen to their kids, but we need to listen to everyone. Sometimes we need to listen really hard because sometime it is hard for people to say what they need to say out loud.

And sometimes we just need to be there for no reason.

And sometimes we need to stop whining and get to work.

Have a good weekend everyone… I’ll have more on, well, you know, more stuff, later.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Rejection Quota
First posted March 27, 2015

 

Slut

A story from my friend Bart. He’ll tell you all about it (you might have heard this before but it is a story well worth repeating – I’m sure a lot of you can relate.)

Slut

A lot of us have kids in college, or starting college in the next year or two. One of the big things everyone is talking about is sexual assault on campus or in college towns. I’ve talked about it with my two kids who are in college. Everyone has, at least everyone who is a decent parent.

So I get this call from Hodge Williams. Yes, that Hodge Williams. Everyone remembers him.

“Bart, how are you?” As soon as he spoke I wondered what he wanted.

“Hodge. Fine. Great. Life is good. What’s up?”

“I’m writing a story on the history of sexual harassment and violence at universities in the US. I tried to contact your sister but she wouldn’t return my calls.”

“Beth?”

“Yes, Beth. She kind of got around so I was thinking she might have experienced first hand, you know, she was at risk.”

“What do you mean by at risk?”

“Oh come on, your sister was a slut. Everyone knew it.”

I sat there with the phone a bit stunned. He just called my sister a slut.

“Hodge, you’re an asshole. In fact you’ve always been an asshole.” I hung up the phone. What an asshole.

After sitting for a few minutes and collecting my thoughts I called my sister and told her about the conversation.

“What an asshole,” she said. “Sure I was sleeping with his best friend without the benefit of being his best friend’s official girlfriend. OK I also slept with another one of his friends but we were in college. We were young.”

“Did you ever sleep with Hodge?”

“No. Hell no. He was always making passes at me and grabbing me. Hodges had that Madonna/Whore things going on in his head. A girl was either a virgin until marriage or a whore. Plus we’re not like him, you know the religion thing, so he just assumed I was a whore.”

“But you didn’t have sex with him.”

“I know. That makes me a whore. He called any girl who wouldn’t have sex with him a whore.”

“What an asshole.”

“I know. Believe me, I know. I mean, if the guy had asked me to go see a movie or go for a walk or just spent time talking that would have been different but he was just all over me like…yuck. He really called you? I can’t believe he’d have the gall to do that. Asshole.”

After we got off the phone with the promise of a lunch date later in the week I got to thinking about my own kids.

I’d spoken with both my daughter and son about sexual predators. I’ve done the best to teach them not to be bully bait. I’ve taught them to stand up for themselves and for others.

From experience I knew that bullies never grow up and most don’t change.

Hodge never got the answer he wanted. Over the years Beth had a few close calls with sexual predators but she always ended up safe either by being with friends or using physical force to get out of it (exactly twice as she told me.) That didn’t include unwanted advances by guys like Hodge. And even though Hodge didn’t use force it still hurt emotionally that he’d think so little of her or of any girl.

I wanted to pound the crap out of him. Then I thought about how many other women out there who thought the guy was an asshole. That made me smile. Spread the word ladies, spread the word.

That evening after work I talked to my wife about it. She shook her head and said she’d had similar experiences. More anger surged through my brain, then sadness deep in my soul.

We all judge others. We all make assumptions. We all call names even if it isn’t out loud. We all talk behind the backs of others. Maybe we need to stop. It isn’t easy. It isn’t even practical.

Anyway, if you see Hodge Williams call him and an asshole, and tell him that Beth and Bart don’t say hello.