Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

don't be a ghost

Where’d you hear I was dead?

I was sitting (and still am) at my dining room table with my laptop and overheard my husband on the phone.

“This is Theodore Kings…yes, it’s me Teddy….well I suppose, but no I’m not dead…I haven’t been dead for a long time. Where’d you hear I was dead?….Really?…I married Juliette…Yes, that Juliette… You and Juliette? My wife? Really. No I didn’t know… I wanted to ask you about…”

From there is was all business. I hadn’t thought about him for years. I hadn’t talked to him for at least eighty years if not longer. We’d spent a year on and off, more on, traveling around Europe and ended up in New England. Then we just sort of drifted apart and pst touch, as Vampires tend to do. I had no idea that Teddy knew him.

Anyway, what was I writing about? Huh.

Oh right, we were looking at vacation spots and thinking of either Iceland or Bermuda. Seriously. But we have to go to New Mexico and school and skate schedules have us booked up.

The cat is on the table next to me purring, then I hear a voice asking, “So are you dead?”

I look up to see The Ghost sitting across from me. Yes, that ghost.

“I’m very much alive,” I tell him.

He smiled that nasty shit eating grin of his, “Sort of like those parasites that go dormant for years on end then come to life when they smell blood.”

“Do you need something Nigel?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Not really.”

Tonight his eyes were almost black under his long lashes. He smiled and started to fade out, then reappeared in the chair next to me. He is so annoying.

“Juliette, my dear, you were never a real person were you?”

“No, I was never a real person. I’m one of the lucky 10% of Vampires born this way.”

“Then how can you be undead? I mean you’re a Vampire so you’re supposed to be undead. But you were born alive as a Vampire, so you didn’t die first did you? That wouldn’t make any sense. Then again, I’m a ghost and that never made any sense to me. I was alive and then I was a ghost. And my body is in a box marked with a stone. People still come by and visit there. I’m hardly ever around when they visit. And here we are talking. Fancy that. So what exactly is undead? Isn’t it weird to be a monster? Do you ever feel like a freak of nature?”

“We’re done talking Nigel.”

“You’re done Juliette. I’m just going to hang out for a while. Go back to what you were doing.”

I tried to ignore him and started to look up stuff, you know research on the book I haven’t finished yet.

“Hey, Juliette, mind if I take your car?”

“You’re a ghost. You can’t drive.”

“Just checking to see if you were listening.”

I reached out and touched where his hand was. My palm rested on the table but it made him smile. “I’m listening. It must be difficult to be real and then not real. Teddy had a Hell of a time adjusting. How are you doing with it Nigel?”

“Alright I guess. I need to get out and haunt more but it gets old after a while. Not quite 30 years and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Just kidding. It’s fucking great.” He almost spat that out with a ghostly snarl. Not as good as a Vampire would snarl it out but almost.

We sat for a while and listened in to Teddy’s phone call. They were talking about diamonds.

Nigel stood up and straightened his cufflinks. “It was fun. I gotta go.”

“Haunting?”

He smiled. “No, hot date.” Then he vanished with a thin bit of blue smoke like an exotic cigarette, but without the smell.

You can’t always define friendship or connections or old loves or old pals. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First published January 2015

Fog

Today is perfect. Thick fog blankets the oaks. Small birds dance among the branches. Rain is supposed to come later today, but this morning I will enjoy the cold, damp, beautiful, and mysterious fog.

Out on the deck, in his usual spot, I could see the Ghost talking to my calico cat. Even in the fog, even in his semi-transparent state his black hair shines, and his blue eyes stand out like a Caribbean lagoon.

“I know you’re watching me. I know you’re writing about me,” he yells making the glass of my dining room windows shake.

I went outside, trying not to trip over the cats who are trying to get out and in at the same time. The calico hissed at the younger gray cat. He backed off, then pushed himself around her. They always get so pissy with each other. It is even worse now that the dog is gone.

Last night I was wondering why the area around the cat food bowls is so messy these days. Ahhh. There is no dog to clean up the floor. Damn. I miss my dog so much I can’t even say it out loud.

I make it out to the deck feeling the wonderful cool damp air on my face.

“Do dogs ever become ghosts?” I had to ask.

The Ghost gives me one of those are you stupid or what looks. “No, dogs don’t become ghosts.” Then he looked away, over the trees, then back to me. “I miss her too. She was the best dog I ever met.” Yes, dogs can see ghosts and they love people even when they’re not alive.

We stood together, a Ghost and a Vampire watching the tiny finches and sparrows in the trees.

“When I was in high school, back in the late 70’s we had official smoking areas in school but we couldn’t eat in class. That was so stupid. A kid could take a smoking break but if he was hungry he couldn’t have a snack. Now there aren’t smoking areas but kids can eat in class. Some things change for the better. A lot of things about high school are better now. Where your kids go, went, still go, teachers aren’t having sex with students anymore. Kids have more options on what classes they want to take. There aren’t elite classes reserved for the so called smart kids. Everybody gets a chance to excel. If I hadn’t died so young I bet I would have worked with teens. Fuck that, I would have been a parent with teens right now. I would have had a dog too. And a wife.” Then he smiled. “At least I do have a girlfriend. She is a ghost but I love her as if she was alive. She likes your kids. I like your kids. You did a great job with them, considering you’re a Vampire. My parents were total assholes.”

“Where are your parents Nigel? Are they still alive?”

He smiled a bitter smile. “My dad is in Hell as far as I know. I don’t know where my mother is. Maybe in prison. Maybe shacked up with some meth head out in the desert. She didn’t even go to my funeral. She has never visited my grave. Stupid bitch. I’m thankful I didn’t spend my formidable teen years with either one of them.”

That is all he’d say about his family. His memories of his past are full of memories he doesn’t want to say out loud, and the rest of his memories are filled with holes. I let him ramble on for a while. He’ll talk for hours. I don’t know if he is making up for lost time or if he has always been an extreme talker. I stopped listening when he started to talk about economic theories, and why the Gold Rush era ghosts who hang out by the lake are so annoying and creepy. I’ll have to agree with him on that one. The Gold Rush ghosts are exceptionally annoying and creepy.

It started to rain and we came inside.

Then Nigel smiled. “It is nice to talk to a real person, even if you are a Vampire.”

“You know I’m always here,” I told him.

Then he laughed and vanished.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

God Rest Ye Merry Werewolves, and Ghosts and Vampires too. With muffins. We can’t forget the muffins.

Today I stopped by my friend (dare I say friend) Austin’s house to drop off muffins for his Grammy. She loves muffins, especially the ones I make. Austin and Grammy are Vampire Hunters, but they only go after the bad ones. I’m not a bad one. In fact I’ve had them help me out a time or two but that is a different post.

I know you might think it odd that I’m making muffins, being a Vampire and all, but I DO make the best muffins. I don’t eat them but I love the smell and I love the joy they bring. Just like my husband Teddy becomes the cookie baking king this time of year.

When Teddy was a child, a long long long time ago, he would make cookies with his mother and their cook. Now that he is a Vampire (since 1875) he still bakes cookies this time of year. Hey, we’re spreading the joy.

Next I stopped by my friend Adam’s house to drop off muffins for his 88 year old mother. She loves a good muffin. Aside from being a scary talented photographer, Adam is also a Werewolf. Sure were friends. Why not. You know all the peace on earth goodwill to all thing. Why shouldn’t we be friends.

While I was baking my kitchen filled with Ghosts who just wanted to smell the muffins as they came out of the oven. I put a few on the plate so they could sit next to it and bask in the goodness, imagining what it would be like to eat one. Always let Ghosts smell your cooking, and your coffee. That keeps them from throwing stuff around and haunting you in the middle of the night. Good cook are never bothered by Ghosts.

God rest ye merry Werewolves
Let no howling in the fray
Remember I made muffins
For now and Christmas Day
To save us all from growling
And that you won’t be a stray
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy
Vampires and joy
Oh tidings of Vampires and joy.

Blueberry Lemon Muffins
Best Muffins You Have Ever Had

Juliette’s Recipe
Makes 10 muffins

Ingredients

Muffin

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar (this is just regular white sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (don’t be tempted to be overly healthy and use olive oil – do not use olive oil – use some sort of vegetable, canola, or corn oil)
  • 1 egg (chicken egg – do not be tempted to use an emu egg or a dragon egg, or fish eggs) If you want to go vegan or whatever substitute a 1/3 cup of smashed banana or apple sauce for the egg.
  • 1/3 cup milk. I’ve used almond milk and it works just fine.
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Topping (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (add nutmeg too if you feel so inclined)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. In fact, seriously folks, don’t even bother with greasing the muffin tin, just use muffin/cupcake papers.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Don’t over mix – just make sure it is all mixed in nicely then STOP.
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4.  Fill muffin cups a little bit over the top (nobody likes flat muffins), and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  5. Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup COLD butter (chopped up in squares), and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork (or your hands), and sprinkle over muffins before baking. You should end up with small peas sized bits of butter covered in flour/sugar mixture.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

I usually fill 10 muffin cups.

Variations: If you don’t have blueberries, or don’t feel like blueberries chop up an apple (no peel) or pear (no peel), or add fresh cranberries. You can also add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and nuts if you feel like it. I’ve even made these with well drained finely chopped fresh nectarines and strawberries. Add anything you want (I don’t recommend meat or beans.) You can also use frozen berries but make sure they are room temperature and well drained. You may also exchange the lemon zest for orange zest.

Wishing you all comfort and joy,
And muffins!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Red Muffin Tin

Red Dress, White Trim, A Dancing Ghost and the Quiet Musings of a Vampire Mom

Red Dress, White Trim, A Dancing Ghost and the Quiet Musings of a Vampire Mom

She was a shining light in the forest, not a ghost who haunts but a ghost who dances to her own music.

I watched from my window as Mary danced in the woods. She wore not clothing of the 15th century when she lived, but a red mini dress with white fur trim on the hem and bell shaped sleeves. A long Santa had was on her head with a fluffy white ball at the tip. Bells adorned the top of her white over-the-knee boots. Her red-brown hair was braided with gold ribbon. When you’re a ghost you can wear what you want, do what you want, dance and love when you want.

That is if you don’t let your own ghosts get in the way. That was Mary.

Had it been any other ghost she would have annoyed the crap out of me, but since it was Mary I was enchanted. She is like a little elf who haunts my kitchen as she sits in front hot cups of coffee taking in the aroma. We chat about romance and fashion. She is a delightful little spirit.

Sometimes she slips and shows her own bloody and mangled murdered form but today she dances with joy to a long lost Christmas song.

A coyote yipped close by, down in the brush and Mary vanished. Damn coyotes. The cats lifted their heads at the noise. My dog didn’t even acknowledge the existence of her coyote cousins. Had it been a Golden Retriever she would have been all over it’s ass, but she had no time for coyotes.

Just as most Vampires have no time for ghosts.

I stood in front of the window with a glass of red wine in my hand watching the rain. My husband Teddy came up behind me and kissed my neck.

“What color do you want to paint the living room?”

“I don’t know. It depends on what color flooring we get,” I said putting my arms around his neck and kissing him.

I know that has nothing to do with ghosts but it has everything to do with how things go around my house. Just little bits, like a fragment of a song or just a small bite of something good.

“Did you see the ghost darling?” I asked my husband.

He missed her unfortunately. And so we started our evening discussing the news of the day, work, our kids, what color we want to paint the walls, what we’d wear to the next black tie party and other things married people talk about. What? Did you think we talk about spider webs, bats and blood all night? Hardly. We’re no Dracula and Elvira. Nobody we know is that.

Teddy asked me if I was going to tell anymore Christmas stories here. I think I will. I will also repost The Travelers (a Christmas tradition) and some new stories soon.

In the meantime, just imagine a tiny young transparent woman dancing in her red mini dress under the canopy of oak trees to the music of Tchaikovsky and Johnny Marks.

Have a lovely December,

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Passings in the Night

Passings in the Night

The plan tonight was to share some Vampire tales and adventures and truly funny things, but plans change.

Tonight I saw The Ghost, Nigel. He wore an impeccable black suit, his hair was a perfect glossy black and all in place. He motioned for me to sit with him out on my back deck under the cold night sky.

His eyes met mine and he told me a story.

“I died December 3, 1986. I normally wouldn’t have remembered the anniversary of my own death, but, it was the strangest thing, I was standing out in the woods, not doing much of anything. When you’re a ghost you don’t do much of anything. Anyway, I was out in the woods and a woman came towards me. She was smiling at me and I knew things about her. Her life had taken up where parts of mine had stopped. Then her life stopped December 3, 2013.

She looked at me for just a moment in passing. It was dark but I could see the light coming over the horizon. She asked me who I was and if we knew each other. I told her “I don’t know you, but we’ve loved some of the same people.” I turned her in the right direction.”

Nigel stood up and looked up at the stars, hovering in and out of a transparent state. Then he came close to me and made himself look as real as a live person.

“I couldn’t go with her. But I sent a little bit of my love along, I hope. Well, I know I did. Don’t look all sad. I’m a ghost. These things happen. Hey, nobody should die alone. She left surrounded by love.”

“Who was she?” I had to ask.

He shook his head slightly. “I don’t know. But we loved the same people, just not at the same time. I loved them first, then she loved them after I was gone. I have a feeling she was better at it than I was, or most people for that matter.”

There were so many questions I wanted to ask him but tonight was not the time to ask or to try to get answers.

Love is a force that we can’t explain or quantify. It goes beyond words, beyond sorrow and beyond grief.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

First posted December 2013 – In memory of Julian Elsworth and Lil Longshore.

 

yhst-30479181885695_2029_1975741462