Seeing Beyond Yourself

When your children go out into the world there are traits they’ll need to be successful, even if they’re Vampires.

Compassion and seeing beyond your own single mindedness is something that our world lacks. It is also something our children can make up for, and make their future brighter.

You can be the smartest person in the world but if you can’t see traits and qualities in other that you don’t have then you aren’t that smart.

You can be rich but if you don’t give back then you’re morally poor.

You can think you know what you like, but if you’re closed minded you’ll never really know what you like.

As our children become adults they must move from the sheltered world of their childhood, that of high school and their parent’s home, and see beyond themselves.

Your assignment for today, as a parent, grandparent, or anyone with a young person in your life: Talk with your young person about the big wide world. Talk to them about compassion and making a difference. It is a big world, but even a small bit of compassion will go a long way and make a big difference. How have you seen beyond your world? Share that. And with any luck, your young person, in the infinite wisdom of youth will share their visions with you.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Slut

This morning I read that several fraternities at Swarthmore College are closing down due to “rape rooms.” College has long been a traditional place for rape culture, slut shaming, sexism, and general bad behavior. Some colleges are worse than others.

My daughter, whom I’m proud to say was just accepted into three of the University of California campuses, is accepting at at a campus which is known for not having a large Greek presence. That particular school is also known for not having a huge “party culture” which is fine for me. My son Garrett DID go to a school with a large party culture and survived and thrived. Like I always say, you have to talk to your children about these things long before they start college or high school – start before puberty.

So in light of all of this, I’m posting a story you might have read before about double standards, college, and general bad behavior. People might behave badly but it does not mean you, or your kids, have to put up with it.

Slut

My children are in college now which is sometimes even more scary than elementary or high school. 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 say hello.

~ end

 

Remember to always talk to your kids about these things. Also tell them to support, respect, and have compassion for others as well. In other words tell them not to be entitled judgmental assholes.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Christmas Journey (with Vampires, a cat, a train ride and a fight)

Everyone loves Christmas stories, especially those of journeys and discovery and love. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my Christmas stories with you – that is Vampire Christmas stories. Some of you might have read this one before but go ahead and pour a glass of wine, or a goblet of blood or even hot chocolate and enjoy this one again. xoxoxo

A Christmas Journey

People don’t know who or what we are. We’ve kept it that way for centuries, as stories and myths over ride any sense of reality in the minds of men.

In December of 1875 tragedy came into our lives. My best friend Isabelle fell under the spell of rogue Vampires and almost killed my brother Max’s best friend, who was the son of my parent’s closest regular human friends. You see, for those of you who are new here, we’re Vampires. As part of the Modern Vampire movement, we go by the rule that nobody is ever turned into a Vampire without consent.

Anyway, scandal was the only word for it. Theodore Kings, my brother’s 26 year old friend was not only the smartest and most handsome regular human any of us had ever met, he was also a kind man who was engaged to be married in February. Isabella decided she wanted the handsome Teddy for herself. We almost lost Teddy, as in death. Not the death one has when turning into a Vampire, but forever death. And when my father did manage to save our beloved friend, dear Teddy was horrified at what he had become…he was horrified at what we all were…but that is another story for another time.

My parents were upset at the prospect of Isabella or any of her rogue friends contacting, or corrupting my brother Valentine or me so we were to be sent away for a few months to keep us out of trouble. The plan was to send us to New York to say with my Grandmama Lola for Christmas. I was 16 and Val was 17 and the prospect of the big city was more exciting than anything we’d ever experienced. Plus it helped us get our minds off of Isabella and Teddy. Most of all it got us away from the eyes of our parents.

Yet, Val and I were also angry that my parents had so little trust in us that they thought it necessary to ship us off clear across the country. After all, we were practically adults. In fact, in most circles at that time we would have been considered adults who could get employment, get married or live independently.

My father’s friend Nathaniel Chase agreed to take Val and I from California to New York City on the train. Nathaniel had his own private luxury car so nobody thought there would be any problems. Nathaniel was the very image of the sophisticated and charming Modern Vampire. He was also cunning and dangerous in his own ways – enough to take care of two over active Vampire teens. What trouble could a couple of teens get into when watched over by a 400 year old Vampire?

On the first night Val and I explored the train. There were dining cars, first class, second class, other private luxury cars and all sorts of interesting people. Nathaniel was busy with “business.” Unfortunately that didn’t last for long. He was scolding us for getting too friendly with people, running, sticking our heads out the window and laughing too loud. That was just the short list.

On the second night he caught Val in an embrace with an attractive woman from San Francisco. That didn’t go over too well either. Val used the excuse he was just being a Vampire. Nathaniel knew better.

On the third night there was a party in another private car in which there were plates full of beautiful treats. I had my first eclaire. It was huge – the size of a man’s hand. That with a stomach full of warm blood (from a handsome 19 year old who claimed to be the son of a famous minister), a bottle of sparkling pink wine (which I wasn’t supposed to have) and sugar (which makes Vampires absolutely ill) had me throwing up most of the night.

By the time we got to our first stay over in Chicago, Nathaniel Chase was ready to lock the both of us up for good. But he didn’t.

We stayed in a large new mansion built after the great fire of 1871. It was there for Vampires of our rank. Val and I were in heaven. Off of the train with Nathaniel gone most of the time!

Nathaniel had given us a full set of rules and warnings. Bite only on the wrist, not the neck. Don’t go into questionable parts of town (he supplied coordinates.) Do not talk to Vampires you don’t know. Don’t be turned by a pretty face. Watch for Vampire Hunters. Stay close to the house. Shop, have fun, act normal. Under no circumstance let anyone suspect you are different. Don’t act like children.

Val and I did all that and more. We were the perfect little citizens. At parties everyone commented on how charming young well-mannered people we were. I’m sure that warmed the cold heart of the old Vampire Nathaniel Chase.

On our fourth day in Chicago Val and I were walking along at dusk when we heard a great commotion coming from a warehouse. And you would be right if you guessed we were in a part of town we shouldn’t have been in.

Inside of the building a large group of men were standing in an impromptu arena yelling and cheering. We thought it might be a boxing match until we realized it was a dog fight. Beasts of all sizes had been brought in to tear each other apart. We could smell the blood and the fear in the dogs. We could also smell the excitement and blood lust in the men who watched the fights. I held Val’s arm, utterly appalled by what I saw. Ears were torn off, bowels were torn open and dogs howled and whimpered in pain.

Then just as I thought I’d seen enough a large man held something out to five growling dogs.

“I present you Lucifer. Tonight you will see before your very eyes these dogs devour the devil.” And he held up a black kitten of about 5 months who cried with pitiful mews of fear. My cold blood boiled.

Hiking up my skirts I climbed the ropes around the arena and entered the ring. I yelled at the man to put down the cat. He laughed. Then I growled at him showing my fangs. In horror the man lashed out striking me across the face. His large ring made a gash across my cheek. Val jumped the ropes and came to my rescue. Knocking them man down he was about to tear his arm off when someone grabbed us up by our collars and threw both of us out into the snow.

Nathaniel Chase and two other Vampires stood there looking at us in disgust. We could hear the commotion inside of the warehouse grow louder.

Nathaniel pulled me to him and yanked me into a waiting carriage. “You could have had us all killed.” His coat smelled slightly of patchouli and roses. I saw a long light brown hair against the black of his jacket. He’d been visiting a woman. I should have known.

“You were with a woman weren’t you?” I glared at him with the triumph of someone too stupid to know what I was saying.

His eyes lit up with a fire and he pulled me around in front of his face holding both of my arms like vices. “It isn’t just small animals that they kill. They kill what they do not know or understand. They kill what they fear. They kill anything they see as evil.”

“But they’re evil themselves,” I stammered back, unable to move or remove myself from his glare.

“No, it is their world, so be it if it is ruled by ignorance and superstition. You must NEVER show yourself for what you are. Never. So help me God Juliette, if you ever do anything like this again I will make sure you will spend the rest of your days drinking rancid blood out of a gourd, in a dungeon so deep you’ll forget there are stars in the sky.”

He let me go and turned to my brother. “As for you Valentine. I have no words to express my disappointment in you.”

One of the other Vampires, an elegant looking man called Joseph pulled a small black kitten out of his coat pocket and handed it to me. “I believe this is yours. Do not forget the price you paid for his freedom.”

All the way back Nathaniel lectured us on responsibility and stupidity. When we returned to the house he vanished into the study with the two men. We were told to go to our rooms and stay there until midnight.

I lay on my bed and cried my heart out. Val came in and sat quietly next to me. We were utter failures.

When the large clock at the end of the hall struck midnight we left the room and went in search of Nathaniel Chase.

On the balcony he stood cradling the sleeping kitten in his arms. He quietly sang to himself in Welsh the old song “All Through the Night.”

All the stars’ twinkles say

All through the night

“This is the way to the realm of glory,”

All through the night.

Darkness is another light

That exposes true beauty

The Heavenly family in peace

All through the night.

“You have Lucifer,” I said stroking the purring kitten under his chin.

Nathaniel gave me a rare smile. “His name is Gabrielle now. He’ll go where I go. Do you know who Gabrielle was.”

“I believe an arch angel,” said Val.

“Gabrielle was a messenger. So is this little beast in my arms, brought to us in order to teach the two of you humility. But also to teach me what good hearts you have. Compassion is a rare and wonderful thing. It can also be a danger if you react in fear and by letting your heart lead the way.” He held up a hand knowing what I was going to say. “Your heart and the feelings of your heart are important. But you must be smart. You must not be like your friend Isabelle who turned a man into a Vampire, almost killing him and committing his soul to Hell. She claimed it was romantic but it was cruel and selfish.” He handed me the cat now called Gabriel. “Take care of this cat until we get to your Grandmama’s, then he is mine. And Juliette, remember that we are like dark angels who inhabit the night. No matter how much good we may do we are still to be feared by those who are not our kind.”

Gabrielle lived for another 22 years and went everywhere with Nathaniel Chase.

Val and I got to our Grandmama Lola’s house in New York City by Christmas Eve night.

Nathaniel Chase still doesn’t have much confidence in me. I made mistakes with my heart over the years, as did Val. But we learned that we must keep our hearts to ourselves and take action with our brains and with conviction and with deliberate action.

A few weeks ago I visited Nathaniel, along with my brother Val and my husband Teddy. He still looked the same as he did in 1875. He still has a black cat. The current one is named Michael. They’re all named after angels. Small dark angels of hope and love.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas from all of the Vampires and their cats.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

 

This story was first posted December, 2013

 

Taking Care of Our Elders – Vampire Style

We’re drove out to the old farmhouse where Tellias and Eleora live. About twice a month Teddy (my husband) and I pack the kids into the car and check up on them.

They’re ancients. Nobody really knows how old they are. They are fragile and need help. They don’t have a family. It is just the two of them.

When we drove up, just before dawn, they came to the door to greet me, thrilled to see a carload of their young Vampire friends.

Tellias was wearing an old workshirt that looked like something a guy working in a garage would wear. The name Greg was stitched on it. Eleora wore some horrible looking flowered dress with a stretched out brown sweater. She had on yellow flip flops that had seen better days.

They both looked pale and malnourished.

“Are you two eating anything at all?” I asked as Teddy took the large cooler to the kitchen.

They told me that their car wasn’t running but it was an excuse. The car was almost new but I was sure they’d forgotten to put gas in it or more likely lost the keys.

I unpacked provisions in the kitchen. They huddled around me touching my back and arms, then stroking my face.

“How long since anyone has been to see you?” I asked.

“Not since you were here. Nobody sees us anymore.” Eleora looked at me with sad round eyes.

“What happened to your clothes?” I asked, almost afraid for an answer.

“Someone stole them. We can’t get to our storage unit or the other houses.” Eleora shifting her feet, knowing I knew she was telling a lie.

“Who stole them? Did you let someone in the house?” I asked.

“We were out trying to hunt.” Tellias said putting his head down, trying to avoid my stare. I suspected they’d gone down to the river to find homeless people and transients to hunt and someone followed them home.

They were two of the oldest vampires I knew, over 2,000 years old. Treasures, but like the elderly of all kinds, they are often forgotten, especially those without children. Soon they fall apart like the past civilizations they lived in.

They both look, at first, like they are 19 or 20 years old. He has pale blonde hair and blue eyes. She is a golden eyed girl with reddish brown curls. They are slight with almost translucent skin.

They used to have a working farm with hired workers but now they leased out the farmland. The two acres around the house were kept up with a gardening service, but nobody was watching the residents. They’d been in and out of Vampire comas for years. They’d lost their confidence. I was afraid they’d lost their hunting skills.

These two were never the fierce Vampires of old tales and modern stories. They were always timid and always got by the best they could by hiding in the shadows and keeping out of sight. They were so sweet and good-hearted that it almost killed me to think of anything bad happening to them.

Teddy came into the room and gave Eleora a gentle hug. “We need to get the two of you better.”

They were slightly out of touch, unhealthy and frightened. It was obvious Tellias was depressed. They were prime targets for Vampire Hunters.

The ancients were glad the children were over. They always fussed over them and told them tales of long lost civilizations that no longer existed and were not yet discovered by historians and treasure hunters.

“We have to move them into town.” Teddy told me where the other’s couldn’t hear.

We dined on blood in beautiful crystal goblets the couple had purchased in the 1870’s when they first built the farmhouse. We talked of friends and relatives and the future.

I didn’t want to leave them. But I’d see them soon. I’m going to get them new clothes and find the keys to the car, and move them into the 21st Century where they belong.

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman