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

 

Every generation thinks the next generation is worse. That isn’t true.

Teens have always had their own style.

Teens have always had their own style.

 

Opinion: Juliette Kings

Every generation thinks the next generation is worse. That isn’t true.

Facebook is full of memes saying …

When I was a kid we were polite, we respected our elders, we were beaten with switches and had our mouths washed out with soap… 

Oh screw that. I’ve always seen RUDE hateful mean despicable young people. I’ve seen it for decades. They learn it from their elders. They learn it from those same parents who are posting those stupid memes.

The teens (and little kids for that matter) in my life are polite. They are respectful. They are great. And you know what? I didn’t have to resort to paddles or other barbaric violent means of teaching them how to be good.

I think back of when I was young and saw unspeakable things done to other children. I remember them being physically and emotionally tortured. I remember children being humiliated by their unloving abusive parents. These were “normal” two parent Christian households. Throw not the first stone they say, but these people should have had stones thrown at them. When I look back I can’t even say out loud, or write the words of what some of the children I knew when through – it is too disturbing. But I can see patterns in the type of parents they had. Some things never seem to change.

Fortunately now there are resources, though not enough, for children who need help. There is never enough help. Foster care isn’t an answer. Family counseling isn’t a solution. These kids need new permanent families who love them, even if it isn’t a traditional family.

I see families where step-parents are the real parents. I see single dads and moms raising kids on their own and the kids are GREAT. I see kids doing great things. I see them talking about everything. I see them questioning the world. They need to question. They need to have their own opinions in order to grow.

Well mannered and polite teens are more of the rule. They aren’t the exception.

The teens in my life have more empathy than anyone of my generation ever had. They are smart. They are focused. They like old people.

They question the world around them. They want to make the world a better place.

The media would have you think otherwise.

If you want the teens and young adults in your life to show respect then you have to give some respect as well. You need to listen to them. I don’t mean “blah blah blah” sort of listening. I mean hearing what they have to say. I mean respecting their opinions even if you don’t agree. I mean explaining things to them if you’re pissed off rather than yelling at them.

Show them that their time is as important as yours. Because it is.

Yes, of course there are kids who are assholes, bullies, trolls, turds, tattlers and trouble makers. But look at their parents. The adults they live with are usually assholes, bullies, trolls, turds, tattlers and trouble makers. Unfortunately for the rest of us, and for teachers, there are one or two of those children (and their awful parents) in every single classroom.

And you know what? It is those asshole parents who post those negative memes. So screw them. If they want respect they have to show a little respect. Show a little interest. Get out of your own head and your own tiny little world. Learn something new.

Fortunately by the time kids are in high school a lot of the assholes (and others) have learned that their behavior gets them nowhere. Teens aren’t playing by playground rules anymore. Assholes are put in their place, and a lot of them realize what jerks they’ve been. It is called growing up.

In AP History the 11th grade students are reading Huckleberry Finn. My daughter and I have discussed the book and the context of the book considering when it was written.

She said, “Huck’s father was just like the white trash, or any of the trash that you see now. They don’t want their kids to do better than they did. It is awful.”

So if you see a kid who is an asshole consider the source. Consider who that child is learning from. Maybe that kid can learn from you. Think about it.

It isn’t Vampires you should fear. It is apathy. It is lack of empathy. It is people refusing to listen to everyone, young and old.

You need to study history because if you don’t know where you’ve been you can’t understand where you are going.

In turn, we need to look forward to the future. We need to listen to the young people and have open discussions with them. For they are the ones who can change the future. Now is a scary time. Now is the time to listen to the teens and young adults. They can see with a fresh eye all of the bull shit the rest of us have become numb to.

So stop complaining and see the incredible talent and resources right in front of us – in our young people. If you’d just open your eyes, your ears, and your heart you will see what I see.

Spend some time with a young adult – some real quality time. It isn’t all smart phones and hook ups. It is a lot more.

 

~ Juliette aka The Old Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Meadow Lark

This time of year I look forward to the song of the Meadow Lark. This bird does not simply chirp. It sings a song that evokes feelings of fall and comfort.

To be perfectly honest, before today I didn’t know it was a Meadow Lark. I knew it wasn’t a finch, or a jay, or a gull, or a hawk, or a robin, or magpie, or crow. It sure wasn’t a turkey.

I looked up a list of birds that are in the Sacramento Valley during the fall. Then I looked up each type of bird call on YouTube. On the third try I found my beloved song was that of the Meadow Lark.

Upon meeting my brother Val for coffee this morning I told him about my discovery. He smiled at me as if I’d just escaped from an insane asylum.

“So how’s that Vampire thing working out for you?”

He laughed. “Good. You?”

“Great.”

We’ve always been Vampires so that is a long running joke for us.

“Don’t ignore me when I tell you about something you don’t think is important.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“The Meadow Lark.”

“You have too much free time.”

“Fine, I won’t tell you anything anymore.”

“Oh Jewels, cut it out.”

“You’re such an asshole.”

We walked with our coffee through the old town, then up the hill towards the old church. From the hill I could see the hill my house stood on. I didn’t say anything. Normally I would have made one of those, “Oh look, the trees in my neighborhood,” but I didn’t. I was still pissed off at Val.

We walked past houses that were built when we were young, in the 1880’s.  When we arrived at the old church we saw a couple of ghosts sitting on the front steps. They vanished as soon as they saw us.

Val gave me a friendly nudge. “Do you think they’re planning anything for Halloween?”

“I doubt it, but you never know.” I knew we wouldn’t get any information out of them today. Ghosts tend to despise Vampires (for obvious reasons – we have bodies and they don’t.)

These were serious ghosts who’d made the long journey to California in the 1850’s to find gold. Most had been born in Ireland, come half way around the Earth only to die an early death, before the age of forty in a strange land of broken and misplaced dreams. Maybe it wasn’t gold they were looking for, but either way I hope they found something that made the trip worth while. Some found wonder and joy. Most didn’t.

I couldn’t see them but I could feel them looking at us like dark eyed children. I thought they might just want coffee. I wasn’t going to share with them. Neither was Val.

From the church we turned down a side street and headed back towards where we’d parked.

Val told me that his friend Lilly had dumped him. “I was her Vampire,” he said with a sigh.

“Did she know you’re a Vampire?”

“Absolutely not. So just like that she said I was cold and that she got bad vibes off of me. Bad Vibes were her exact words.”

“Sorry Val. I liked her.”

“I thought she’d make a great Vampire. Boy was I ever wrong. What are you doing for Halloween?”

I smiled and told my story to one more person. “We’ve been invited to a Harry Potter party and a Zombie party. So we’re going as the Weasleys on the 30th and Weasley Zombies on the 31st. I was going to stop at the thrift store to find some ugly sweaters. Wanna come with me?”

“You should go as Hagird. You know, like a little Hagrid.

“I thought of that but Teddy said I had to, you know, be somewhat respectable.”

“He is such a Victorian. But that is what happens when you marry a guy who was born in 1849.”

We walked on down the hill until we could see where the outdoor ice rink would soon go in. It is usually tee shirt, or at the coldest sweatshirt weather here, even in the winter but we pretend we’re in a Winter Wonderland.

“I think Lilly is seeing someone. I mean seriously seeing someone. I could deal with that. It was just the way she brushed me off that hurt. We’ve been friends for years.”

“I’m sorry Val.”

“She said I was a pain in the neck.”

“Well? What did you expect?”

“No, seriously. She started to put two and two together and realized that her neck or wrists hurt when she saw me. She just assumed I was doing something sick and kinky like drugging her drink then doing weird bondage stuff. What is up with women these days? I would never…”

“You were too comfortable with her. You slipped up. It isn’t like you.”

“Mind if I come to the Zombie party with you?”

I smiled and put my arm around my brother’s shoulder. “You know you’re welcome. It will be a good crowd.”

As we got to my car I stopped and listened.

“Your Meadow Lark,” said Val.

“The song of Halloween,” I told him.

 

So sing your song like the Meadow Lark, because you might not think anyone is listening but they are. And if they aren’t listening feel free to call them out on it. We all deserve to be heard.

And have more coffee.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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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. 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 position.”

“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

 

 

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The art of ease dropping

Just before the night falls down and blankets the earth the Vampires go to work.

Just before the night falls down and blankets the earth the Vampires go to work.

Ever had one of those evenings when you just wanted to relax but nobody would let you? But then it doesn’t matter because the commotion just too fun to pass up.

My brother Max dropped by the other evening. He’d spent the past few nights on some rough and disturbing jobs. There were scenes that stuck in his head even too disturbing for a seasoned hunter like him to describe.

On the way home from a somewhat nasty and gruesome job involving a couple of freakish rogue Vampires, his partners had called to say they’d found the location of a ruthless nest of Vampire Hunters. Another rescue and inhalation was in order. It was exhilarating and exhausting both physically and emotionally.

After finalizing things with his partners Jayne and Mehitabel he made his way to my house. That would be my brother Max, ultra Vampire macho man. Fearless, tough and sexy (not sexy to me, I’m his sister, sheesh.)

He arrived a little on edge. I mixed him a cocktail while my husband Teddy (Max’s BFF) and I listened to Max’s story. It was horrifying and gruesome to say the least, but of course we couldn’t stop listening.

Then suddenly there was a crashing sound and screams. Max reached for a weapon in his belt. Teddy and I didn’t flinch.

“Teenage girls,” I said. “Five of them are upstairs. Sorry I didn’t tell you we’re having a slumber party.”

I looked down at the gun.

“If you’re going to stay the night,” I said to my brother, “you’re going to have put that thing in the safe. We have kids in the house.”

“Do you mind if Jayne and Mehitabel stop by here tonight?” Max asked knowing the answer would always be yes. Jayne and Mehitabel were his partners – hunters and enforcement like my brother. These were women to be admired and Vampires to be feared. Plus Jayne was always funny and always makes me laugh out loud.

Of course we didn’t mind. Our house often resembles Grand Central Station.

While my poor tired brother was in the shower I walked by my daughter’s room. The conversations in there are always interesting.

“Boys never take showers. They say “I’m just going to take another one tomorrow.” That is like saying I’m going to take a dump and not wipe because I’m just going to take another one tomorrow.”

There was another comment about the fact that boys think that spraying Ax on anything will make any smell go away.

Jayne and Mehitabel arrived covered in dirt and sweat and blood and who knows what. I sent them to clean up.

The adults were in the family too and kitchen. Clara (age 14) and friends (Allie, Krystal, Veronica and Jackie) were upstairs in her room. My 17-year-old Garrett and his friends Randy and Jake were on the back deck.

I cracked the kitchen window and could hear Garrett and his friends talking.

Ethan already got a letter from Princeton. UC Santa Barbara told Keera that they want her. 

She is so freaking talented, even for a Werewolf. I mean, like they’re usually not artistic.

She is so hot. I wish she was a Vampire. Either way I think I’m getting into Santa Barbara. I hope I do.

As I went to get more wine glasses I could hear Max and Mehitabel in the dining room. I stood dead still so I could hear what they were saying. There is a history between the two and of course I HAD to listen in. Come on, admit it, you would have done the same if it was your brother (or anyone else for that matter.)

I heard Max’s voice, lower and slightly more husky and urgent than his usual tone.

 You were in love with me. I know you were.

She answered back. I killed three rogue Vampires tonight. Then we had to deal with the Vampire Hunters who almost did the same thing to us. I can’t stop shaking Max. This isn’t about you. Everything isn’t about you.

I stepped away and went back to the family room with glasses and an opened bottle of wine (a nice Coastal Zin.) I heard Teddy and Jayne talking.

Like a hedge? They’ll grow like that?

Sure. Cherries, pears, apples. You can train the trees to grown flat on a trellis. 

So many slices of life just walking around my own home. So many stories in so few words. So much of the universe all right here under my own roof.

I’m always listening in no matter where I am. Listen and you’ll hear all the stories of universe – even if it might be out of context, but it is always interesting.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman