Secret lives and private stories

Vampire Maman

There was a room full of books in the back of the Elder’s farmhouse. The adults would be gathered and I’d be back looking at the pictures. I couldn’t read well so I looked at the pictures and imagined what the words might be.

The volumes, old even then, held years of uncommon history, adventures, tales of people who lived lives that seemed far more exciting than mine. But I knew, that one day I’d be living the life of one of those people in the books – those books I could barely read.

During one of my girlhood book searches I found a large Bible. There were a lot of words in fancy lettering. What I remember was the pictures. There was a picture of a group of naked men building something. I made out the word Noah and knew that was a man who built the ark and gathered up animals. The story made no sense to me to begin with and now seeing a bunch of naked men doing construction work made even less sense. Wasn’t it uncomfortable to be sawing and hauling lumber completely naked? They didn’t even have shoes. I asked my brother Valentine about it. I think he was 6 or 7 at the time (about a year older than me.) He told me that it was hot in the Holy Lands. It was hot so they took off their clothes and built a giant boat. It still made no sense. It made no sense that books were filled with pictures of naked people no matter what they were doing. Nobody went around naked where I lived. In fact they wore too many clothes in the world of our childhood.

Years later I did read the books in the Elder’s farmhouse (and many more) and marveled at their content. In the dark of the rooms on hot summer nights I’d read for hours on end, escaping into a world of another century.

In town I’d go to the book shop and buy popular fiction, cheap novels that would take me to places of romance and lovely girls in swishing dresses who held tight to their virtue, least they be ruined forever by a handsome man with a dark and evil heart. Then on occasion I’d find something more frightening than losing one’s virtue. I’d read tales of disasters, prisons, insane asylums and Gothic horrors and mysterious strangers. I thrived on that. It was nothing like the books of today, but those stories influenced the stories we now read (and write.)

Stories weren’t limited to books. I’d always find a corner in a room full of adults who’d talk into the night about everything they’d ever done and who they’d done it with. And if they weren’t telling their own stories they were talking about somebody else. I’d listen, quiet as death, imagining I was unseen by the grownups.

When my brothers and I were small my mother would read books to us using voices and accents for characters, then a slow steady voice for the narration. On alternating days my father would tell us wild tales he’d make up on the spot and keep us laughing. Each story also came with a song. We were surrounded by stories and worlds other than our own.

There came a time when I could read more complex books (around age 11.) In an elaborately embroidered canvas bag (my own stitching) I’d carry a well worn and repaired copy of Jane Eyre. I’d imagine myself in her place. The story in my mind would change as I read the story on the pages over and over. I’d tell the brooding Edward Rochester that I didn’t care if he had a crazy wife. I’d save him from the fire. I’d turn him into a Vampire and we’d roam the hillsides forever and lay under the moonlight in fields of fragrant flowers. Or I’d leave him alone and make my way to America with my new found wealth and marry a rich man in New Orleans. I’d burn down my old school. There were 1,000 different versions of the story in my head, but I’d always go back to the original version. To this day I’ll still find myself in Jane’s shoes as I walk the dog in the meadows and oak woods near my home. The gentle winds through the trees transport me to another time, in a huge skirt with hair I’ve unleashed from my constricting bun flowing down my back.

As you can see it doesn’t take much to get my imagination fired up or much to entertain me.

I’d do the same with many other books over the years. Everyone in my family and all of my friends devoured books. I have to admit that when Dracula came out we all had to get copies. We read and shared what we read. Books circled around and around.

As learned to read I began to write. Not well at first, but in earnest. I’d write innocent silly stories typical for most kids. I’d write poetry and draw pictures to go with it. I’d write plays and find others to perform with me.

From there I discovered real romance and love letters. Everyone wrote letters then. It was a daily activity as well as an art form.

Over the years plays were produced, poems were written and mixed in were sketch books filled with illustrations of yet unwritten stories. Then I stopped.

I was just struggling to find myself, or at least find some sort of direction. A lot of us go through that. The thing I remember that stands out in a weird sort of way was how men I met would almost become angry at me for not being creative. More it was that i isn’t being creative for them. Then again, few of them added any value to my life. Not back then.

My writing then was one of my secret lives. My stories were private. It was the person inside of me that I didn’t share.

I always read. I never stopped creating stories and keeping notes on paper and in my head.

After I became a mother those memories of childhood came back, along with memories that spanned several centuries.

Then I started to write again. It started out as a story for a friend… and ongoing tale… just for fun. Now it is my heart and soul.

We all need something that fills our hearts and soul. It doesn’t have to be writing or art. I’m the only one in my family who is creative that way. One of my brothers is musical. The rest have other passions.

I think back to what I used to write. Then I look at the writing of the children in my life (now teens.) I marvel at the sophistication and complexities of the stories they write. I’m amazed how mature their words are compared to what I was doing at their age. I hope I’ve been an influence. Or maybe they’re just more mature souls than I was at their age. I’m so proud of them.

I continue to write because I’ve found a measure of success that feeds my ego. Yes, I’ll admit it. Mostly I write because I have stories to tell and face it…. I do this because it is fun. Yes, FUN. Really really really fun.  And it is mine. Of course I want, and try to entertain you too.

We all need to find something that we sense is our own, even if it starts with a book with words you can’t read and pictures you can’t understand. Your brain will make it all come together and it will work. Eventually it will all work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

old friends

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/

My Funny Valentine

When it comes to romance (hey, it is February) my brother Valentine is right up there as the guy every girl would like to be with, even if it is just for a few hours.

My brother Valentine is one of the most relaxed creatures I’ve ever met. Describing him brings up traits like low-key, mellow, friendly, happy, smooth and of course funny.

If you didn’t know him you’d never in a million years guess he is a Vampire.

Then again putting everything out there, the what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude has never seemed smart or true to me. It somewhat lacks in a certain sophistication. I’m not saying to be false, one just doesn’t have to wear their underwear on the outside for everyone to see.

So I said to him, “Val, tell me about your perfect Valentine’s Day.”

Val leaned back in the chair and smiled as he told his story. “February 12, 1941. There was a full moon. I was in London working for the American Military, as we all were. The usual super secret Vampire stuff. Anyway, that night Jo, you remember Josephine McClintock. Well, Jo and I were strolling around the city in the dark. We’d dined on a group of British officers who never knew their guests were Vampires. We were just a couple of funny Yanks with a lot of good jokes and sources for good booze.

Jo was always in a good mood, except that night she was a little off. She’d seen someone she was crazy about with another woman. What made it worse was that the other woman was a beautiful Norwegian Vampire. Her plans for the evening under the moonlight were crushed. Jo took it all in stride. To this day she is still one of the most level headed good humored Vampires I’ve ever met. She was the best companion I could have had that evening.

I’d also been crushed in a slightly different way and was feeling sorry for my self in the worst way. I’d run into Gloria. I know you remember Gloria – the Vampire who’d taken my heart but would never give me hers.  I wasn’t good enough for her, yet she always came to me, to my bed but nowhere else. I was in love with her. She was in lust. We’d parted ways months before but then I’d run into her while at the library. I was hopeful she’d changed her mind about me, but she told me she was in love. I told her some sort of lie about how I was doing great. Then we both said have a nice life and she left. An hour later she returned to where I was still doing research. She said she wanted me. Not forever. Just for now. Just for a few hours of sex. She said she couldn’t stay away from me.

I told her that I wouldn’t be with her because I would never betray another man like that. I said that it was out of respect for him that I wouldn’t touch her. She said she understood and respected me for that. I gave her a hug and I never saw her again.

I’d lied to Gloria. What I wanted to tell her was that I didn’t have sex with her wasn’t because she was in love with another man. The real reason was because she wasn’t in love with me. Now after all this time I wish I’d told her that, but I can’t go back.

That night in London, Jo and I found ourselves under the moonlight talking about how love never lasts and how useless any efforts on love were all stupid and a waste of time. We found ourselves laughing at funny stories about love and romance. What fools we are, especially us Vampires were for thinking that love could work and last for anyone.

From the window of a dark house that had once been grand, but now was in slight decay, came the faint sound of Artie Shaw’s Begin the Beguine. We quietly went inside the unlocked door and down a dark hall to a large hall. A wind up phonograph was on the floor. A couple danced cheek to cheek in the center of the room, alone, in love. He stopped the dance and kissed her under the moonlight that flooded through stained glass windows. Time seemed to stop. They were the only two people that existed in our war torn world. Their hearts would never be broken.

We backed out as quietly as we entered.

Jo linked her arm in mine and gave me a smile, “We were wrong Val. That was Jeremy and Samantha. They’re legends in the Modern Vampire movement. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.”

I smiled back. “Somewhat.”

“They’ve been in love for around 250 years. Real love.”

I laughed out loud then told her “I know all about their love affair. Jeremy and Samantha are my parents.”

We left Mom and Dad alone and went off to seek fun elsewhere. A few nights later the bombing started again. Jo was assigned to another post and I didn’t see her again until 1950 at a party in Santa Barbara. I saw her again last week. She’s doing great.”

“Mom and Dad are still in love,” I said to my brother.

“Yes they are. Every day is Valentine’s day for them.”

And I hope every day is Valentine’s Day for you, my readers.

~ Juliette aka

This sort of looks like Val but not quite (you know I can't show photos of my family here.)

This sort of looks like Val but not quite (you know I can’t show photos of my family here.)

Note: The song “My Funny Valentine” was from the 1939 musical Babe’s In Arms. The song didn’t become popular until the 1950’s when it was recorded by various amazing artists (my favorite is the Chet Baker version). They lyrics don’t describe my brother Val, who turns heads with his good looks, but no matter what he looks like, even if he looked like a frog I would never want him to change a thing about himself.

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart

You’re looks are laughable
Un-photographable
Yet, you’re my favorite work of art

Is your figure less than Greek?
Is your mouth a little weak?
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?

But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little valentine, stay
Each day is Valentines Day

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/writing-challenge-valentine/

Another note: If you’re a new visitor/reader please look around at some of my previous posts and the “curious about…” page. This blog is written from the viewpoint of a Modern Vampire Mom. I cover a variety of issues dealing with parenting, family, relationships and modern life through stories, poetry and art and of course musings. I muse a lot. So explore and have fun and feel free to comment. Warning – all posts are written really fast so I won’t forget what I’m thinking about…. Thanks for dropping by. ~ Juliette

Delivered to your door…

Delivered to your door…

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 three years old and he someone 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…

“Mom?”

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.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

sundaysunset

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/writing-challenge-backward/

http://abozdar.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/thank-you-awesome-bloggers-here-is-an-award-for-you/

2013 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

blu butterfly

I’m ending the year with resolutions, not just for my family but resolutions I hope all parents try to follow.

There are three words we should say to our kids every single day: I love you.

Three additional words we should always keep in mind: Love, Listen, Learn.

So with that note, here are my 2013 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents

Resolutions for ALL Parents:

  • Listen to your children with an open mind and an open heart.
  • Guide your children with wisdom and respect rather than force.
  • Talk to your kids. I’ll say it again TALK to your kids. Not AT your kids but TO your kids. This means conversations – yes, actual conversations. Talk WITH them.
  • Every single day ask your child/teen “How was your day?” and don’t take “OK”, “Fine” or any sort of grunt for an answer. Make your kid answer you in at least 25 words.
  • Don’t use your child as a tool to hurt your former spouse or other family member. If you need to CONTROL your situation or hurt someone keep CHILDREN out of it. Get professional help for your control and anger issues. No child deserves to be used as a tool of hurt.
  • Laugh with your child.
  • Know who your child is hanging out with. Start this early so by the time your kid is a teen he’ll know who is a good friend and who is not.
  • Teach your child that it is an honor to care about others.
  • Teach your child to love animals. That doesn’t mean you have to have 347 cats, a rabbit, a pony and 34 dogs. It means that creatures (even those we eat) should be respected and cared for.
  • Don’t dress your kid funny.

Resolutions for YOU:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Don’t worry about those “super moms” who volunteer 60 hours every week at school, make organic gluten free cupcakes that would put Martha Stewart to shame, go to all the latest parenting classes, are into all the latest health and nutrition trends, have kids who are perfect etc etc etc. What to know a secret? They aren’t perfect. They might be control freaks, or bored or just plain annoying to the rest of us who ARE GOOD PARENTS. Every family is different and we all have different parenting styles. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else.
  • Get your nails done (HA HA HA. Maybe twice a year for me if I’m lucky. I wish but it keeps slipping off of my radar).

Resolutions for Vampire Parents:

  • Teach your children to accept themselves for what they are.
  • Teach your children to be responsible for what they are.
  • Teach them the history and lore.
  • Teach them the difference between popular culture and reality.
  • Tell them NOT to try to read their teacher’s mind. Come on now kids, school is for learning and learning to learn. Don’t use your Vampire abilities to get into the minds of others to get good grades. You need to get those grades on your own.

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