Art is a reflection of the soul.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Art is a reflection of the soul.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Beliefs that seemed so important to me when I was young don’t seem so important to me now.
I think that applies to most people. We are influenced by our small world of parents and school. Then we go out into the wide world and do stupid things based on our young narrow views. We reject experiences, including love, friendship, career opportunities, education, adventure, fashion, creativity, and so many other things because we’re only twenty years old and set in our ways.
As we get older we start to loosen up and realize that maybe those hard held beliefs don’t fit us. We realize there exceptions to the rules. We realize that we can change those rules and traditions and make them better.
I’ve written about this a lot on my blog, mostly though stories about my friends and family, and my own somewhat crazy experiences. Yes, we learn from our experiences, and from the experiences of others. Heaven help the person (and we all have “that person” in our lives) who never learns from experience and is doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.
A lesson for children is to not let others squash their desire to question what they know. And others will try. As a parent you shouldn’t fear this – if you give your child a good foundation, and most of all TALK WITH YOUR CHILD. Discuss these things. Keep the lines of communication open.
Just from talking to my children I’ve changed my mind and beliefs about some things. Yes, we can, and do learn from our own kids if we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open. It is a wonderful thing.
We move away and retreat from the old ways. At the same time so often, too often, we wonder “what if?”
That said, life does not stop when one grows up. You can keep exploring and having those adventures. You’re grown, not dead. And until you’re dead you can keep living, and changing, and looking at your options.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Mayor Darrell Steinberg held a service for the city’s homeless population on Monday following a new report by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.
The document finds that 78 homeless people in Sacramento County died in 2015.
But Sacramento is not the only city observing this issue.
Cities across the United States will pay homage to the homeless who have died in their community on Wednesday as part of National Homeless Day.
I listened to this story this morning on Insight. I thought about the story “The Alley,” I’d posted a few months ago. It was inspired by what we saw (my teenage daughter and I) during a drive through the Alkali Flats area of town, and a drive behind the Crest Theater to look for murals during the Mural Festival.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.
Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.
Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.
“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.
“Nikki. You look good.”
She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.
“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”
“Are you living somewhere?”
“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”
“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.
Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”
“Looking for a fix?”
“Maybe, and a little romance.”
Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.
“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”
Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.
“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.
“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”
“You’d die Nikki.”
“Better than living my life.”
“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”
She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”
He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.
“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”
“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”
“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”
“Did she drink his blood?”
“Of course she did.”
“Did she make love to him?”
“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”
Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.
He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”
He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.
“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”
“You know why Nikki,” he said.
“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.
Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.
Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.
“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.
Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.
Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone, if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.
Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.
Max was brooding. It is what my eldest brother does best.
I’d come home and found him sulking in my living room on the red couch brooding over a book on the symbolism of art.
“Why does everything have to be so complicated? Why can’t a dove just be a dove, or a sunset just a phenomenon based on the rotation of the earth?”
“You sound like Andy,” I told him. Andy is another brother of mine who likes to wax poetically 24/7 and imagines himself deep. Andy is deep and it works for him. It just sounds weird and uncomfortable when Max does it.
His two giant wolfhounds, along with my sled-dog-mongrel lay sprawled in carpet of dogs at Max’s feet.
I invited Max for Halloween. I thought a quiet night of little monsters and our usual gathering with friends and kids and non-Vampire folks would do him good. Or it would make him want to crawl out of his skin but I didn’t care. I went over to my big brother and rubbed his shoulders. “Relax. You’ve been under a lot of stress too. We all have. Watch the game with me.”
I knew Max was missing parties at home due to the fact that we KNEW the Giants would win the World Series (3rd time in five years) and Max lives in San Francisco. I knew he didn’t care about some stupid female in f-me shoes. So we watched the Giants win and wondered how many little baby boys would be named Madison and Hunter in 2015. Just a couple of Vampires hanging out on a Wednesday night before Halloween.
Oh come on, we’re really not that horrifying. Sure we have some amazing dental work that we use to suck blood out of living humans, but nobody is the worse for it, well, not usually. Our hearts don’t always beat, but they do love. We’re cold, but then again we don’t get all sweaty. We can give people nightmares and hide in shadows and make you forget whatever we want you to forget. I can even suck out your soul but that is usually more trouble than it is worth. Really, trust me on that one.
My husband Teddy was at Kings game (Basketball. Of course they didn’t win. They never win.) My 15-year-old Clara came down to join us after the game. She told Max about all of the stupid stuff going on at school.
I know, I should have some sort of awful HORROR story this time of year. But this is our time to just relax. The holidays are coming and the cold weather and THAT is when things really pick up for us.
I let Max go on about all of the Demons and Zombies and Vampire Hunters and Crazy Ass Rogue Vampires and assholes he had been dealing with at work. He is one of the ones who takes care of all of those things. Not “take care” as in nurture, but “take care” of as in “get rid of.”
On his arm is an ugly fading scar from a Demon scratch. In his heart, be it ever so still, is a will that can’t be broken by anything that might come his way in the shadows he protects.
You should thank him for that. Max and those like him are the reason Regular Humans only have to deal with their own evil and not that of our kind, or those who aren’t Regular Humans or any kind of human.
He and his teammates are the reason why Halloween is relatively safe and sane and fun… the ghosts and ghouls know there will be dire consequences if they show their real faces.
I’ve so many calls to make before tomorrow night and so much to do. Clara is driving me crazy with requests for EVERYTHING (as teenagers do.) As a mom, even as a Vampire mom I feel a need to keep everyone safe and happy. That is, easier knowing that those like Max have my back.
If you’re a Regular Human, on this Halloween thank those who have your back and will risk their lives for you.
Max and I talked through the night about everything under the moon and stars. We watched the ghosts dance later under the oak trees as the bats danced above in the air. As the dogs slept we laughed. I got Max to laugh, something that has seemed rare lately.
In the morning, this morning, to the sound of garbage trucks (yes it is garbage day) we went outside and watched sky show it’s lights just before the sun came up. Max put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze.
“So what’s next?” I asked him.
He smiled showing a bit of fang. “Halloween my dear Juliette, Halloween!”
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
I’ve often written about regrets and mistakes. We learn from those experiences and in turn teach our children so they don’t ever end up living with the burden of so many “I wish I had” experiences.
My husband Teddy always says “If all of those bad things didn’t happen we wouldn’t be where we are now. It has all, good and bad, led up to this.”
But sometimes I wonder about his deepest thoughts in his heart – the heart that used to pump hot blood and had a finite lifespan. I wonder if he still thinks back to the days when he was human.
For one who has always been a Vampire I can only imagine what it is, or was like to be one of them.
To be one thing then being forced into a metamorphic transformation into something different, without your consent, without prior knowledge is beyond compare of almost any other experience. But one deals with it…usually…best case scenario.
I know there are times when he has wished for a normal life, or normal for most people. Most regular human type people.
Teddy would have been dead by 1950. More than likely he would have died in the 1930’s or before then.
It was last Friday when he came home in a good mood. I knew who he’d had for lunch. Several times a month they sit in a bar by the river for hours talking about everything under the sun. Then they go back to his office and… well, he leaves with just the right amount of blood and she leaves happy as well.
This sort of arrangement, for a married man no less, would have seemed totally unacceptable and morally corrupt for the Victorian man my husband used to be. Now he looks forward to his encounters with his “regulars.” I have my own encounters. It is what we do. We’re Vampires (for goodness sakes.)
But there are times when he expresses a reverence for the elderly and those with experiences and wisdom that comes from living. He wonders if he’ll ever have that sort of wisdom.
I believe he does, he just can’t see it. I see it in what he teaches his children and how he lives his life. He is open and honest with our kids about being different. He can give the knowledge about what it is like to be like everyone else.
You know, we’re not ghouls who hold people down and rip their throats out. We have a bit more class and refinement than that.
But still, sometimes I wonder, would he go back and change things? Would he choose to stay ignorant of our world? Would he choose to never have tasted blood, or never to have tasted my kiss, or loved our Vampire kids?
Honestly, I don’t think he ever wonders about it. He just accepts it. That is a good thing. And is it a good thing or a bad thing that he is a Vampire? For me it is a good thing. For him it is just a thing. It is what it is.
Like he says “If all of those bad things didn’t happen we wouldn’t be where we are now. It has all, good and bad, led up to this.”
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
It is dark and quiet in the hour before sunrise. The only sound other than my computer keys is the sound of a cat playing with a twist tie. How can a creature have so much fun with a twist tie? And the real question is: Why is it so cute? Now he is trying to bite the corner of my laptop monitor. Cute kitty indeed.
This week so much good news, sad news and work has drained my brain of any story telling skills (or so it feels.)
I’ve been swamped.
The kids are super busy with so much activity that I can hardly keep up with them. The talk is of friends, relationships, and the chunky-monkey winterized cat Oscar who has been renamed “Gato Gordo.” One of them is going to do a music video in Spanish and we’ve been listening to 50 years of Spanish language songs, then the day the music died and great guitar solos.
We’re talking about picking a college and skating (and a lot of practice due to a big meet this weekend) and being different in a different kind of world (not just because we roller skate) and a million other things, including farts because I live with teens and farts are always part of the conversation. Farts and butt cracks and stupid things other kids do (naked selfies) and say (you don’t want to know.)
One thing I’m grateful for is that we talk in this house. Everybody talks. There are no filters here. It is a safe zone. Yes, a safe zone even when the parents are in the room. Don’t think for one minute my husband and I didn’t work hard and plan for that one.
I think that is why I write – because it is the only time I can get any quiet time … that isn’t true, they talk to me when I try to write too. In fact that, when mom writes, is PRIME time to talk to mom.
Teddy (the dad and husband) is also crazy busy but seems to be keeping a sense of humor…They’ve all been laughing all night. It is a beautiful thing. I hope. He is exceptionally sweet these days but can still drive me nuts. And then there are others I need to take care of and check on and watch over…
Soooooo, I’m reposting something I shared in September, 2013 about taking care of the old folks and being a Vampire and being me. You know how it is. I’m busy. I take care of everyone because I have to, well, and want to. I’m sure you can relate, even if you aren’t a mom or a Vampire.
I looked at the muscular, almost beautiful, naked body on the bed and the folded up sheriffs’ uniform on the chair. The badge seemed to sparkle saying “look at me, look at me.” A white and pink orchid flower was behind his ear.
Holy crap, this wasn’t how I’d planned on starting out my week.
I was reading on my deck, a glass of wine in my hand, my eyes closed for just a second…
I was three years old and someone was throwing me up in the air and I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.
His hands are warm and I cling to him to put my ear next to his chest and hear his heart. I hold him tight feeling the heat radiate from his body. I keep laughing. He is so different from everyone else I know.
Thirteen years later, he takes my hands, I laugh. Then my best girlfriend says “He’ll marry me and I’ll be his wife forever.” No way would she get the most handsome man in the world to marry her. I laughed in her face and everyone yelled Happy New Year. Someone lit up lights to spell out 1865. We were in California and in love with men we have silly school girl crushes on. Who cared about the war? We were safe.
I woke in a cold sweat, on the back deck, my book on the ground, the cat staring at me. I heard my son’s voice.
“Mom, Uncle Val is on the phone.” My son Garrett stood at the sliding glass door holding my phone out at arms length.
My brother Valentine, 13 months my senior said I have to come right now. It was an emergency. Nobody else could come. None of our three older brothers could make it. Everyone else had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth.
I arrived at the farm house, my two teens in tow, slamming the door as hard as I could when I got out of the car.
I’m usually pretty calm but I lit into my brother when I saw him walking towards us. “Nobody ever consults with me. I’m the one with the kids and the husband and my own business. I’m on fucking call 24/7 for everyone in this family and nobody ever asks me what I want or need. Nobody.”
“Are you done?” Val asked this in an uncharacteristically sarcastic tone.
“No. What is going on?”
My brother scowled at me and shook his head. “Why are you yelling?”
I went into the house leaving him in the yard. I could hear my son saying “Bad day to mess with my mom.”
Dealing with the sick and elderly is something we do. We do it for love or obligation or family bonds or whatever the reason it is usually on autopilot fueled by guilt and frustration. I’m so saint but sometimes I want to play that saint card so much it hurts.
Eleora stood at the door in a yellow bikini top and a tie-dye skirt, her brown curls done up in red bows. She fluttered around then kissed me on each cheek. Tellias gave me a big hug. He was wearing a green shirt with yellow parrots embroidered on the back. A patch on the front said Dave in large script letters. His white blonde hair was pulled back with a green ribbon.
They look like they’re 19 or 20 years old but they’re ancient – two of the most ancient Vampires known. They were pioneers and founders of the Modern Vampire movement. It is hard to see them like this. It literally breaks my heart.
Steel guitars were hissing away on a scratched up old record playing on a wind up phonograph in the corner.
“We can’t find the car keys,” said Tellias.
“We’re being tropical tonight,” said Eleora as she danced around and put an orchid flower behind my ear.
I was ready to scream. “Again? Where did you last have them?” I asked slowly and calmly.
“If we knew that we’d be driving,” said Tellias, as he took the ribbon out of his hair and shook it out on his shoulders.
“We’d take a road trip to Montana and Maine and Michigan and Maui!” Eleora sang as she danced around again.
“How long have the keys been gone?” I asked.
“Two or three weeks. Val won’t let us use his car,” Tellias said.
“He says we drive too creatively,” Eleora giggled.
“Yes, he said we drive too creatively,” added Tellias.
“Creatively,” said Eleora, this time more seriously.
“Creatively. That was a nice way to put it,” I said more to myself than to the Elders. “What about food? Is Val bringing you food?”
Tellias patted my hand. “Val has been a darling but we like delivery. We call and they come to the house. Amazing. We should have done that a long time ago.”
Delivery? What in the world were they doing? I looked at the hanging chandelier in the entryway. “Nice fixture. Is it new?”
“A couple of nice men came and installed it,” Tellias told me. “It should last for years. The old one was fitted for gas and ugly. Remember?”
“We had them for lunch,” Eleora proudly told me.
“You shouldn’t do that. They’re help,” I told them.
Eleora just smiled. “We liked them Juliette. We wanted them to stay.”
“Are they still here?” I asked not knowing if I wanted to know the answer.
Tellias answered this time. “No, they left. Then we called the County Sheriffs and asked them to come out. We said someone tried to break in. Eleora sounded scared. They sent two good-looking strong young men right to our door.”
“Right to our door. Good looking healthy young men,” Eleora echoed.
I glanced out the window and saw the black and white car on the side of the house. Oh no.
“Where are they?” I asked trying not to panic.
They both looked to the ceiling. I ran up the stairs.
In a bedroom done in high Victorian style, I found a golden haired well-built man face down and naked on the bed. His uniform was neatly folded in a chair. He was alive but in a deep sleep. The name badge was Murphy, as in Officer Murphy.
Another handsome muscular young man was in the next bedroom over, shirtless on his back, asleep. I noticed a wedding ring on his finger. The name badge on his shirt had the name Garcia. His sleeping eyes moved a little under long dark eyelashes.
I called down the stairs. “How long have you had these guys here?”
“Since yesterday. We jammed the GPS on their car.”
I sat down on the top step, almost in tears. They couldn’t find their car keys but they could jam a GPS signal. I thought about the guy with the wedding ring. His wife must be sick wondering where he is.
In most popular novels ancient Vampires are powerful creatures of the night. In my life they are silly creatures that forget all rules about consequences or right and wrong. They act like senile teenagers, with occasional flashes to the wise, powerful leaders they once were.
Tellias sat down next to me. “We thought about keeping them for a while. Then you and Val wouldn’t have to worry about us.”
Eleora slid down on the other side and stroked my face with a cool hand. “Why are you so upset? Everything will be fine. It always is.”
We dressed the nice handsome patrol officers and positioned them in less provocative poses. An hour later another patrol car and an ambulance arrived. Two officers had become ill with an unexplained illness. Not knowing what to do a young couple took them in to their home. All was well. The officers recovered with no memory of what happened. Both mentioned an overwhelming calm and sense of well-being. Imagine that.
Tellias took my hand, like he did when I was a child. “Juliette, my dear child, we weren’t going to turn those young men into Vampires. You know we wouldn’t do that.”
“I just worry about you two,” I told him.
“You care too much for those Regular Humans,” said Eleora. “You have to distance yourself.”
“I’m married to a man who used to be a Regular Human,” I said quietly, but ready to scream.
Tellias squeezed my hand again. “And if it wasn’t for Eleora and me he would be dead.”
I went back to the bedroom where the married officer had been. Years ago my husband lay in that bed, a phantom between two worlds, that of the humans of the light and those of us who favor the dark. An unwanted conversion that had turned those warm hands cold forever, but given me…
I looked over to kids standing next to me. A 14 year old daughter and a 17 year old son. They shouldn’t have to see all this, but I don’t believe in sheltering them. I never have.
I guess I should do my famous parenting blogger bullet points but there is no point in this story. It is just one of those things, on one of those nights.
Have a good weekend everyone. Relax and get some rest.
~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman
And another adventure of mine…click here for “If You Want Something Done Ask A Busy Person.”
And for more on the Elders do a search on the blog under “Elders” or “Tellias” or “Eleora.”