Even Vampires Need a Break

moth

 

I didn’t want to deal with my family. It isn’t that I don’t love them, but sometimes I need a break.

I went to San Francisco for a meeting and didn’t even call my parents or my two brothers wo live there. It was my day in the city, alone, just me and my own business.

At Harrison and 2nd the light changed at the intersection and I headed out across the street with everyone else. A normal move, just crossing the street, when something, somebody snagged my arm. I looked in the face of a man, long, lean, good looking with a dazzling smile. He’d pulled his honey blonde  back in a short tail and a 3 day beard (oh so hip these days.)

“You’re like me,” he said.

“Yes.” Yes indeed. That was all I had to say. He was a Vampire too. I didn’t even notice him in my brain haze of family drama and overwhelming emotional wave of… well, you know, family.

“Let’s get coffee.” He took my hand and dragged me into a parking lot filled with music, food trucks and tables. It was dark, under the freeway and loud. It was perfect. We sat at a bench, coffee in hand, huddled together.

His name was Marcus. He’d been a Vampire since 1971. A few months ago he’d moved down from Seattle with his girlfriend who was also a Vampire. It was for a job, more like minded Vampires and his parents lived in the area. Yes, his parents.

He’d kept in touch with them over the years and now he wanted to take care of them. His parents were progressive in many ways and had accepted the fact that their son was different. Alright, it isn’t that simple. Most people are horrified when they find out Vampires are real, much less somebody they love, or their own child is a Vampire.

Think about it. Can you imagine if your child said “Mom I’m a Werewolf.” That would horrify me to no end. I’d have to accept it. There would be no other choice in the matter.

Marcus told me about his parents with great love and care. They were still living in their own home. They were fragile and didn’t get out much. Driving was a thing of the past. Marcus and his Vampire girlfriend Kate had moved into the neighborhood of 1920’s homes and watched over the two old people.

I told him that I was feeling that no matter where I went, no matter where I was, someone was going to bother me. If I was someplace quiet suddenly it would be full of annoying noises. There seemed to be no place where I could be alone. As I said this the noise around us was like a blanket that kept everyone else in the world out. Nobody knew were were Vampires or different or feeling stress or like we wanted to scream.

We just chatted about the good things. I told him the best places to get blood and spices and what small venues were good for concerts. I told him about the shop with the pug and the white French bull dogs who lived in the front window – not for sale but just to keep the owner company and to look cute. I told him how funny my teenagers were.

In turn he told me about finding a great house and exploring the area. He wanted to know about the culture and the local Vampire lore. He’d heard a lot of it over the years but he wanted to know more.

Marcus was a fairly young Vampire, born in 1948, and like I said, he became a Vampire in 1971. Over the years he’d only met a few of us who were born into it, that is born as a Vampire. He was even more surprised and tickled to find I belonged to one of the “Vampire Power Families” as he called it. Our roots are ancient and the exploits of some of my family members are famous among our kind.

So anyway, to make a short and unremarkable story even longer, we exchanged information and planned to keep in touch. It was really nice to meet him. I know what you’re thinking – the term “really nice” and “Vampire” shouldn’t mix. Hey, if you’re a Vampire you come to appreciate “really nice” and little moments. We all should.

NPR has been running a series of articles on stress this week. I’ve listened but been grateful for the attention Weird Al is getting and stories about science and books. I might be “undead” but I’m not immune to stress and the pressures of everyday life.

Before I left Marcus we grabbed a bite (some geeky hipster programmers he knew) and then walked together to where my meeting was being held. When you’re a Vampire you learn to make quick friendships since there are so few of us. We have to stick together.

So I suppose I must stick to my family. On the way home I stopped by the farmhouse to see check in on the Elders. My brother Val was there already. He’d made sure they’d remembered to turn on the fans in the heat and brought by some cold bottles of blood. They sometimes forget to eat and we worry they’ll go into a Vampire Coma or worse, find piles of ashes where they once stood.

My voice mail was full of messages but I didn’t answer any of them, except to my husband to tell him that I loved him too.

All things considering everything is good. It is better than good. But sometimes a mom just needs some time to be herself. Sometimes everyone needs that.

 

Have a good rest of your week everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

readbyvampires

 

 

Alone or Not – Musings from a Modern Vampire Mom

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Today someone made a comment to me about taking care of everyone except me.

I guess.

I close my eyes and think of walking on the beach alone. The cold water, the long stretch of beach all to myself. Not the warm beaches to the south but the cold windy beaches of Northern California that call me.

Before school starts I will go. I won’t be alone. The kids will come with me. Maybe friends too. Maybe the husband. Even the dog or a brother or two. It will be a party.

Before I was married I used to travel a lot alone. Sometimes others would question that and be puzzled but I was never bothered by it. If I wanted to go somewhere I’d go.

I tell my kids “you’re your own best traveling companion and sometime your only traveling companion. You have to get along with yourself if you want to have a good trip.” I haven’t always been my own best travel companion but at least I’ve gone places despite the miserable company. Sometimes it has led me to a place where I was good company with myself.

In the triple digit summer heat I seek the cool dark places of both body and spirit. I haven’t had time to have that luxury, not much.

Then again, I spend time above ground in public places laughing with my kids, or making them laugh.

The only time I even stop to think about “alone time” is when I sit down to write, and when I’m writing this blog.

My other writing time is filled with characters that have nothing to do with me. They have much more exciting lives than I do. Well almost. They aren’t Vampires. I mean, you can’t top that.

My brother Andrew once told me, “For such solitary creatures we spend an extraordinary amount of time seeking out the company of others.”

Even a cold touch of a Vampire brings comfort. A flash of smile and a reflection off of eyes in the dark and the faint sound of a laugh in the quiet of the night brings joy.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

moth

 

 

Retreats, Re-treats and a Vampire’s Thoughts on Writing

traditional vampire

Once upon a time, I kissed a Vampire. I wore a bustle dress but he did not have wings. It was lovely.

victoiran bats

In popular mythology Vampires have bat wings and turn into bats. Nice idea.

in your room

I was never one for creeping into bedrooms either, of course unless… unless it was a bed I wanted to stay in for a while. Hey, you know, even Vampires multi-task.

So do moms like me. So do most modern parents (Vampires or not.)

I usually don’t comment on the blogs of others… I try not to be rude or snarky (HA HA April Fools on that one) but I just read a blog post about “Writer’s Retreats.” There were thoughts and quotes from “experts.” I have no beefs with the author. She was lovely. I do have it with other things about retreats and “experts.”

Today has been one of those days when I read about “Writer’s Retreats,” and I think of myself and my writing friends and I think “WTF?” I’m f___ing busy. I have an independent mind. I need coffee. I’m a bitch. But…

Perhaps when I was younger but I would have just found love the idea of a retreat. I also would have found the cutest guy at the retreat and slept with him. I would have written a bunch of lofty angst filled crap that nobody would ever want to read. Yes that is blunt. It is. Deal with it. Or I would have instantly gotten writer’s block and totally bored, or spent the entire time trying to impress everyone else there, and maybe drained the blood from the cute guy and left in the middle of the night. Maybe not. It just has no appeal to me anymore. I don’t want to be lofty. I don’t want to be deep. I don’t want to be literary.

So anyway…

What would my retreat be?

My retreat is in those hours before the sun comes up with just the company of my cats and my coffee.

My retreat is in those times when the kids are practicing their sports, or I’m waiting for, well, just waiting for someone or something else.

It is when I walk the dog and let my mind fill with ideas.

My retreat is looking at pictures and art and music. Filling my senses completely full.

My writing retreat is when I lay next to my husband, our arms around each other. I close my eyes and drift off to a place where everything is perfect and as it should be.

Sure I’d like the luxury of spending a lot of money and time off in a cabin in the woods (but not like that silly movie of the same title) with like minds… but then I think not. I’d rather spend the time with like minds that I already know or who live in my circles. I’d rather be with other bloggers and short story writers, those I know and those I don’t know yet, who live in a rushed world with so much variety and activity that they can hardly think, much less escape from it. They’re the ones who inspire me.

My writing friends and my quick messages to them and their feedback is my retreat.

Reading the works of others, no matter what the content, point of view or genre is my retreat.

The joy of learning the craft of writing (the stuff you don’t see here) is my retreat.

I guess I’m just not a follower. There are those who inspire me but I’m sort of old and I have teenagers and life is extremely serious and at the same time so whimsical and funny and amazing that… that if I went off by myself to write I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I like my alone time. That said, as a writer and an artist, it has to be MY time. My place. My thoughts that rattle around in my brain for hours and days before anything goes down on paper, even if those hours and days are only a split second.

You might not agree with me. I wouldn’t go on a marriage retreat either. I wouldn’t go on a Vampire retreat. I don’t do retreats. I despise the very idea of self-help retreats. Spiritual retreats make me think of cults totally creep me out. But if you like that sort of thing… well go ahead but don’t ask me along. I’ll just smile and say “have a nice time.”

I have to say that my husband feels the same way about these sorts of things. We came into this relationship with this view already. And don’t even get me started on most parenting books, experts, seminars and retreats. My fangs will come out when that subject comes up.

My husband always says “Everything annoys you.”

I respond with, “Why yes it does.”

I’m not going to pretend I’m perfect or my views and life are perfect (like some people in the news) but it is my life and I’m feeling a little snarky right now. My regular readers know I’m usually pretty sweet and sensitive. I am. Really. Most of the time. OK I try.

But I do like TREATS and I like sharing so I guess that could be a nice Re-Treat. A nice bottle of wine, some cheese, some tea or whatever you like… I could go for that. We’d talk about our writing then maybe we wouldn’t. We’ll just end up talking about our dogs or roller skating or books we’ve read or those day-to-day things that make up the contents of good writing (fact or fiction or those odd bits that live in both worlds.) Or you could send me a link to something cool online or a story you’re writing or I could read your book and then you could read mine. THAT is the perfect retreat – to share treats – the treat of our thoughts and creativity.

And to think this was going to be an essay on being a Modern Vampire… oh well.

Have a good week everyone and don’t listen to me if you don’t want to, but I’ll be here if you need me.

And on a serious and thoughtful note… I hope all of you have your own small retreats, those places either mentally or physically that are yours and yours alone.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

clarke dark

The place between the night and the day

First Morning LightYesterday a call came in. A small whispery voice, like old tissue paper that had once wrapped up lace and flower petals said, “We can’t find Ginger.”

The conversation continued, or I attempted to continue it. I asked where they’d seen Ginger last and if they’ll looked everywhere. But I got the same answer. “YOU have to come. We can’t find Ginger.”

Ginger is an old dog. She is some sort of medium sized Lab and Golden mix with a few other breeds in there. One day 15 years ago she showed up starving and dirty on the Elder’s farm. She was grown even then and seemed middle aged. Like her owners, Ginger is ancient and confused.

The elders are Tellias and Eleora, two ancient Vampires who aren’t even sure how old they are. He met her when he went to Britian with the Roman Army. That was a while back. Theirs was a story of sweeping epic romance, but now, they were calling me to find their old dog.

I brought the kids with me, 17 year old Garrett and 14 year old Clara. When we arrived, they, the Elders were along. The early morning air was filled with smoke from forest fires in the hills. Eleora was afraid of smoke, so she was out of sorts even more than usual. Back in the days of burning rice fields she’d leave town for the coast.

When we arrived Tellias came out to greet us in an old black tux with no shirt underneath the jacket and bare feet. His blonde hair was covered by an old pith helmet. Eleora wore a halter style sundress out of some ugly brown and yellow batik fabric and red cowboy boots. She carried a large butterfly net and a green glass bowl of dog biscuits. Despite their age and frailties they look as though they can’t be much older than 20.

And it is my job to take care of them and make sure they’re safe and have what they need. It is my job to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

My children and I were showered with hugs and kisses. They usually sang songs to us when we arrived, but this time is was all about finding Ginger.

We searched high and low for Ginger. We called. But no answer.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” said Tellias.

“Everywhere,” said Eleora.

“Everywhere,” whispered Tellias.

So we all searched and called more. After taking a break from dog searching, cleaning up, fixing a few things, and throwing in some laundry that had piled up, we sat down for a few moments. There was a click click click on the floor and we turned to see Ginger looking at us with big brown eyes.

We have no idea where she’d been, but we were glad that she was back. She is covered in hugs and kisses. All is well.

It had been a long week with my work, the kids starting school, my husband’s activities and looking after the Elders. Some say don’t sweat the small stuff but it all seems the same. There is no small stuff or big stuff – just stuff. But it is my stuff. It is my choice to be the one who manages all the stuff and take care of stuff and deal with stuff.

It isn’t that I love the stuff, I love the people who bring the stuff to me.

And in the early mornings between the night and the dawn I am left alone to my own stuff, or what I can clear out of my head and heart. I walk the trails near my house under the oaks, on the edge of the bluffs over the water. I can hear the first birds of the morning and see the last bats of the night. The deer, coyote and bobcats walk at a distance and sometimes let me see them in their own world. The squirrels jump through the trees like crazed acrobats.

I think of everything and nothing. I think of things that I don’t have time to think about when I’m looking for old dogs, lost socks, and lost souls.

My mind wanders the hills far beyond where my feet take me. Sometimes I see ghosts, but even they know not to bother me in my Vampire reveries.

At that place between the night and the day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/daily-prompt-activity/

Musings on Reading, Sharing and Not Much…

“For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”
-Louis L’Amour

Musings on Reading, Sharing and Not Much

I once knew a guy who read everything written by Louis L’Amour. I read a few upon recommendation. Like Romances, I could see how the Westerns became addictive. It was a fun escape with strong tides of right and wrong with tension and adventure. Most of all it was an escape and a way to relax in another world. I haven’t read any Westerns since. But I’m glad I did, just to try it out.

We read to escape, to be inspired, to travel outside of our bodies, to share ideas and emotions. to solve mysteries and feel emotions that out busy lives might block out.

Yesterday I cleared my deck of acorns and pollen and dust. Now I have a perfect place to read in the warm soon-to-be-summer evenings.

I was repotting a plant, not thinking about reading at all, my mind on overtime with Vampire business and mom business.

The Vampire children are hunting on their own more and more. They’re doing great – undetected by their regular human friends. I’m proud of them. School is wrapping up with good grades and a little bit of bad attitude creeping in (the 8th grader is so tired of the kids in her small Middle School and can’t wait until the BIG high school starts). Plans for the summer are being made. Summer will be low key for us.

My Vampire brothers are hanging out more often. It is like grand central station with their visits. I make them bring books and take books with them.

I also make sure I lecture Andrew on how I hate his old friends and he needs to keep them away. He tends to be amused by what I call  trash Vampires. They are the ones who give us a bad name. They like me for some reason too. I get so tired of their sleazy compliments and nasty attitudes about everything. I get tired of the way they attempt to suck up to us (no pun intended). They call me a snob. Ugh. Andrew is so smart that is surprises me. Since he moved back to the US…anyway. Despite my annoyances at Andrew, I like the books he recommends. My brooding Vampire brother likes light and funny mysteries. Go figure.

Vampire guys seem to like action movies and romantic comedies too. No point to telling you that except next time you go see a movie with a Vampire and want him to watch the screen and not your neck you’ll know.

Summer is coming and I want to say I will never ever do any volunteer work again as long as I live. It is sports this weekend (yes, I am a self-respecting Vampire…but…). Thousands of hours of time for school. There are other groups I’m asked to help with. It isn’t as though I don’t like to help, but like all volunteers, we want to know that our time is well spent and actually doing good. Of course when I volunteer to sit at that raffle booth I always have a book with me. Bet you didn’t know how I was going to tie that one in.

I can see my deck from the window right now. The cat is in one of the chairs. The sun is just starting to come up so the shadows are still deep and cool.

The Ghost is out there mouthing the words “get out here right now Vampire.” I wonder what he wants. So time to turn off my computer and pick up my coffee and my book and go outside for just a bit.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Musings on Opera, Driving and Mom Time

I remember when my kids were babies I used to read blogs and articles that gave useless advice to busy moms. They’d say things like “take a bubble bath” or “have a date night” and I’d wonder who the crap they were writing for. Spa days? Really? I mean it. Get real. And while you’re at it F-off.

None of those writers ever said “Watch Pulp Fiction for the 50th time” or “Have a stiff cocktail with good booze.” One night when I was at the end of my rope I watched The Hangover” all by myself. Yes, I love movies as much as I love making stuff up.

On Friday nights we’d have Friday Night Opera Bath. I’d turn on the Public Radio and we’d listen to opera. To this day the kids still don’t like opera. They think I’m quaint. But one day they’ll thank me for it.

I still listen to opera when I’m driving late at night alone.

So why DO mom’s drive their kids around so much, even moms who work full-time (like me) and don’t seem to have a moment to spare?

Driving is our alone time. It is our time to think and unwind and let our minds go free.

If I’m in a tub full of bubbles someone, a child, a husband, a cat, will come in wanting something. When I’m in the car, in the driver’s seat I’m in control. It is my time.

It is also quality family time. It is time that kids and parents can talk and nobody can say “I gotta go”. One can’t just step out on the freeway going 65 or 70 mph.

Dad’s’ need time too. Don’t expect your man to be around 24/7 building things and fixing things. He needs his time too (even if it includes opera or sports or whatever.)

And since it is a myth that Vampires turn themselves into bats…I know I can sit outside with a book and in the quiet of the night watch the little guys fly around behind my house. Books and bats usually do the trick…until everyone shows up, but I don’t mind that. The conversation is always good, at least around my house.

But walks and gym time work the same way. It is time away. We all need our own away time, even if it just in our minds.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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