Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

My eldest brother Max (10 years my senior) had asked his best friend Teddy to escort me home from the theater one evening. It was 1874. I was 15 years old.

“Your hands are so cold,” he said as he helped me up off of the muddy street onto the boardwalk.

I gave him a coy smile. “I have a cold heart sir.”

He laughed. I never called him sir. He offered me his arm.

I gladly took his arm. “Your hands are positively burning. What sort of fire stirs your soul tonight?” That was pretty forward but I didn’t care. I was floating with the joy of being a flirt and having no brothers or parents around to stop me.

“You’re not like the other girls.”

“No I am not.”

“You’re an impish little thing. It will take a man with a quick wit and a good sense of humor to woo you Juliette.”

“Ahhhh, but you forget I have four older brothers. I pity any man who would have to deal with them.”

“They’ll love any man who is truly in love with you Juliette.”

“I doubt that Teddy.”

Then he stopped and faced me. “I have some news. A secret if you can keep one.”

“Your secrets are always safe with me.”

Teddy had a large smile on his handsome face. “I’m getting married.”

My young Vampire heart literally stopped dead. My head started to spin, but I managed to smile because like all Vampires, I was a natural liar. “Oh Teddy. I’m so happy for you. She really is lovely.”

I wished I could just turn to putrified slime and slip into the dirt like the dead in the cemetery but instead I found a dark place to curl up in for the rest of the night. Teddy would now be lost to me forever. No more laughing at silly jokes with him. No more having him give me sly smiles. No more watching him and my brother Max in awe as they turned from boys to real men.

Teddy would be moving on to the world of married men where there was no room for girls who laughed too loud and talked too much. There was no room for Vampires. Sure, once I was older and became an icy cold elegant woman like my Vampire mother I could entertain Teddy and his bride, but until then it was over. He might has well have died – at least that is what I was feeling in my cold quiet teenage heart.

Teddy had no idea how different any of us were. He had no idea that his father’s business partner was a Vampire. Teddy had no idea what a Vampire was.

While they were away to college Teddy never really questioned why my brother Max would go out in the middle of the night. He imagined it was a woman or gambling or just a restless spirit. Like all of us, Max was brilliant at hiding his true nature.

The young woman of good breeding whom Teddy had become engaged to was sweet. That was her only attribute aside from being considered pretty. She wanted nothing more in life than to be the wife of a successful man. The fact that Teddy was the most handsome human I’d ever seen in my life, interesting, smart and funny was just an added bonus. Other than the fact that Teddy thought she’d be a good match there was nothing remarkable about her. Good breeding. Good reputation. Good girl. I didn’t even think about passion. Thinking about that would be almost as bad as thinking about my parents having any kind of passion (remember I was 15 years old.)

Teddy’s love wasn’t out sucking blood out of people in the middle of the night. She was in bed alone dreaming of angels and kittens. She was the kind of girl he dreamed of and I am sure he dreamed of her at night.

I wished I was like her. I wished I was sweet and warm like a her. I touched my icy hands against my cheeks and closed my eyes and then wiped away cold tears. No amount of wishing could make me warm. No amount of wishing could make me walk in the sunshine without dark glasses or a parasol. No amount of charm or wit could make him continue to be buddies with me, a girl who lived in the shadow of the night. He’d never love me.

I found my brother Val and told him the news. Val, who is only 16 at the time, thought I was being silly. He didn’t understand. He was a boy. Teddy could still be friends with a boy.

Max came up on the roof where I ended up that night. He sat next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. “Teddy is like family. He’ll still be here for a long long time. With any luck he’ll live a long life and we’ll always be able to watch over him and protect him.”

I closed my eyes knowing it was a battle I couldn’t win.

“Listen Jewels, part of growing up is letting go, that means letting go of everyone else who is growing up and moving on. It won’t just be Teddy. All of us will have to go out in the world and make our way. We’ll all find love. We’ll find it with people like ourselves, other Vampires. People move on, but the human heart, and our hearts have a great capacity for love. You have to treasure that love because as we move on, they, the regular humans grow old and they die. I’ve seen Mother and Father mourn the loss of their friends in the worst way. We’ve mourned the loss of friends in the worst way. But Teddy isn’t dead. Be happy for him. He’ll still be my best friend. He’ll still be your friend.”

We sat on the roof until the sun came up and talked of life and love and loss.

A year later Teddy died and didn’t die. He became a Vampire (not from anything we did and very much against his will.) The wedding never happened. After that we all went our separate ways and had our share of love and adventure and friendship.

After Teddy acclimated to being a Vampire we became great friends. Twenty years ago we got married. That isn’t typical of anyone, but then again, not much is typical in my life.

As my own children become older and closer to being adults they’ll have to deal with friends moving away, getting in relationships and changing in ways they can’t imagine. Some friendships will last those changes, but many won’t. The fact that we can’t always predict these things doesn’t make it any easier, but at least we can talk with our kids about these things. We can be there when they need someone to talk to. And that day will come.

I have been fortunate to have friends who’ve been in my life since those days when I used to sit on the roof of my parent’s house and ponder the meaning of life. Sometimes my friends would sit on the roof with me. Sometimes my brothers would join us. We’re not sitting on the roof anymore, but we’re still talking and laughing and having warm hearts to go with our cold hands.
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First posted: 2/20/14 

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Talk to your kids. Hug your dogs and cats. Check in on those who are elderly, alone, or might need extra help. Be kind. Don’t be a dick. And kiss a Vampire (you’ll thank me later.)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

I Hate Valentine’s Day

I Hate Valentine’s Day – A Very Short Story

“I shouldn’t be alone today,” thought young Randy as he sat brooding on a rock, on the beach at 5:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day. His heart was broken. The girl, a Vampire girl he knew he was going to fall in love with had given her heart to another and left him in the dreaded friend zone. 

And it wasn’t as if she’d left him, or chosen another college student. Sure the guy she’d fallen for looked like he was twenty-one but he was born in freaking 1902. What did girls see in these older guys?

He was jolted from his thoughts by a “Hi. You’re Randy, aren’t you?”

A dark haired girl stood in front of him. “I’m Alexis. I’m in your Organic Chemistry class. I’m a Vampire, but you knew that. I know you are too. Small world.”

“Oh, right. Sure. Hi. Have a seat,” said Randy, glad for the company now.

“I hate Valentine’s Day,” said Alexis.

“Why do you hate it?”

She sat down on rock next to him. “My parents were borderline Shadow Creepers, you know old time Vampires who stayed in the dark most of the time. Nobody knew we were Vampires but everybody including the other school parents thought my parents were weird. I got picked on a lot at school. I was like quiet and small. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I didn’t dare try any of my Vampire stuff on anyone. I was afraid if anyone found out they’d kill my family.  Anyway, every Valentine’s Day we’d have to make stupid boxes and bring Valentines. I always made something pretty with roses and flowers and stuff, all pink and nice. I always But I never got any Valentines. Maybe from one of the girls who felt sorry for me. Everyone had full boxes except me. The kids all started to laugh at me. I wanted to rip their throats out but I couldn’t. You know, Vampire code.”

“Sure, don’t show them what you are, no matter what. Did your mom and dad know?”

“I never told them anything. We didn’t talk much at home. But I got my revenge.”

“Revenge?”

“I told the teacher I had to go the bathroom. Of course the boys started to make jokes about how I’d stink the school up. They were mean like that. Always. It never stopped. So like the teacher said someone had to go with me to make sure I wouldn’t spend too much time in there, cause sometimes I’d just go there to get away from it all. She said that Ashley should go with me. Ashley was the most popular girl.

She started to pout and complain. So a girl called Emma volunteered. Emma was the only kid who gave me a Valentine. She was kind of overweight and sometimes the other kids would say mean things to her too, but she was the smartest kid in the class so they didn’t say too much.

When we got out of the classroom she said she knew I didn’t need to go to the bathroom. We walked around for a bit, then went back to the classroom. But we didn’t go in.

“You can make them pay for what they did. I’ll help you,” said Emma. “I’m a Witch. I know what you are.” Then she smiled in a way that even scared me.

We didn’t go in. The door locked. The room filled with smoke. The other kids started to scream. They couldn’t get out. Everyone started to claw at their faces and arms. That is except the teacher who kept trying to open the door. We ran to the office to get help. You know, we had to keep up appearances.

By the time the fire department go there and knocked down the door, the smoke at gone away, but the smell of sulphur was still in the room. Some of the kids had clawed out their eyes and made huge gashes in their faces and arms.

Then Emma whispered in my ear, “they’ll never call you ugly again.”

Hey, even I was shocked. I never did a thing. It was all her. Both of us ended up going to another school. In high school I made a lot of friends. They all thought my parents were cool Goths. The rest of the kids are still all scarred and screwed up.”

Randy looked at her feeling sort of numb. “Where is Emma now?”

“She got into swimming. Lost a lot of weight. Turned blonde. She’s at UCLA now. So Randy, why don’t you like Valentine’s day?”

“A girl I liked started seeing another guy.”

“Bummer. Sorry to hear that.”

They sat in silence for a while, listening to the waves. Randy didn’t know what to say. He and his best friend had been the two most popular boys at their high school. Their lives had been happy and relatively care free. Their parents were modern Vampire in every way possible.

Alexis bumped her shoulder gently against Randy’s. “I hope you don’t think I’m weird.”

“No. Well, maybe just a little.”

“Looks like the storm is coming in. Wanna get coffee? No pressure. It’s not like I want to be your girlfriend or anything like that. Just you know, like just a couple of Vampire friends.”

“Sure,” said Randy.

As they walked up to the street he put on his sunglasses against the morning sun. Well, stranger things had happened.

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

A Special Kind of Magic – Parenting in the Pandemic – Empty Nest Version

When I started writing this blog in 2012 one of my kids was in high school, and the other was in middle school. This was more or less a middle school parenting blog. Then the rest of my family crept into it. The old folks, my brothers, and even my parents. Then friends started to slip in through the cracks. No matter what parenting was always at the core of it all.

On of my kids finished up graduate school at the beginning of the pandemic. Now in the middle of the pandemic my daughter sent in her graduate school applications today. I read some of the letters of recommendation from several esteemed professors and people in her field. I was blown over.

This is the child I took to Black Veil Brides concerts. This is the girl who shocked the horrible middle school PE Bitch teacher with her stylish outfits that DID NOT break the dress code rules. This is the kid who struggled with algebra and ended up taking a series of upper division statistics and economics classes at a top university and getting almost all A’s. Yes, this is the kid who never got below a B in college. This is the kid who inspired me to write about glitter, glue slugs, and Emo music, and growing pains.

These are the kids had tough conversations with about school shootings, and death, and losing, and caring, and unconditional love, and failure, and reputation, and about being an asshole.

My daughter hasn’t been in a classroom since last March. She’ll graduate and never meet most of her upper division professors or classmates in person. She has asked for and received letters of recommendation from professors, and a boss she has never met in person. She has impressed others with her presentations and discussion points but never in person.

Both of my young adults would love to live life in person. Wouldn’t we all. Sure we go to the post office, and the grocery store, but not to schools, or museums, or coffee houses with friends. I guess we could sit outside the coffee houses, sometimes, if there is seating and not too many people are there.

My dog misses the days we’d spend outside at the local coffee house. At our usual table I’d write or read. My giant do would stretch out over the walk way and thump her tail at anyone walking by. I’d have water and treats for her. I’d pretend she was as smart and well behaved as she looks.

Now Garrett, who is 24 is living in the Hollywood Hills, housesitting until the middle of next year, working from home, and working on starting his own business with his best buddy Randy. Neither one of them has a girlfriend right now which is weird but a nice break for Randy’s mom and me. We’ve seen a lot of broken hearts with our sons. I’ve found a lot of love letters in the laundry.

Clara and her boyfriend (both 21) will be getting their own place in January. They’re both seniors in college, but will never set foot in an undergraduate classroom as students again. Their roommates are getting weird. Everyone is getting weird. They’ll save money and time. It just makes sense. Yes, if you’d told me this would be what we’re talking about today in 2012 I would have said NO WAY.

I’m serious about parenting but I’m pretty chill too. It isn’t just a Vampire thing. It is a parenting thing. Seriously, you have to be chill. You have to listen. You have to change with the times as a parent. As parents we are leading the way and we can’t do it blindly using rules from the 1970’s.

My kids are stressed. I’m chill on the outside but going nuts inside.

Clara, her boyfriend of four years, and his orange kitten all came up this week. It was a surprise. It was a 450 mile drive. They’ll go back on Thursday and return before Christmas. They just needed a quiet safe place to finish their finals and graduate school applications. Their homes didn’t provide that right now. Maybe two years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem but right now it is. I just want them to be able to finish school without any additional stress.

Yesterday Clara and I went out. I had on a red jacket and a red mask with a cat print on it. She wore a black sweater with a black mask with a cat print on it. That wasn’t planned. We just do that – always dressing almost the same or in the same colors. It has been going on since before middle school. It just happens. It is a special kind of mother/daughter magic.

So yes, I write about Vampires, but it is really all about my kids and everyone else I love.

Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind. Hug your dogs and cats. Talk to your kids. Check in on those who might need extra help or those who are alone. And of course, if you get a chance, kiss a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Normal, or Whatever

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I’m trying to appear to be normal and appear to be a normal parent.

Considering I’m a Vampire that is always the the case, you know, appearing to be normal.

Normal: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Of course I’m more than normal. I want to shout off of the roof tops what a proud parent I am but I don’t want to brag or sound crass. OK, I DO want to brag in a big way.

So often we hear the tern the new normal. What does that even mean? Or worse we hear back to normal.

How about new beginnings. Or the new better way. Or the new challenges. Or something positive. Positive might not be a word that most people expect from Vampires but we’ve survived thousands of years because we’re positive about the future. We look back on the past but there is too much to dwell upon. Looking upon the future is what keeps us fresh and young. It isn’t just all about blood you know.

We also live with a certain amount of fear which is good and bad. It is usually bad.

When I started this blog in 2012 my son Garret was in high school. He was playing his guitar, flirting with girls, painting pictures, writing poems, and being a normal Vampire teen. Now he is grown, finished with college, starting a career and thinking about getting his own place.

After living with his best friend Randy through college and grad school he is now ready to be completely on his own. Randy will still be in the picture but an hour away with his own job and interesting (to say the least) relationships.

While I am still adjusting to having an empty nest, Garret will be getting his own first nest.

His sister Clara, now at almost 21 and completely the adult of the family, is going to go looking for places with Garret. They’ll be living closer together, something they look forward to.

I don’t need to warn them about the dangers of not being careful as in who they let into their homes, or share their secrets with. They’re fully aware of keeping their night life separate from their day life, so to speak.

Some things never change. Some things change continuously.

Our goal should be to not let any of it throw us off and keep a balance. Right now, in this strange year, it is easy to be thrown off. Yet, at home it is easy to keep things the same.

Dogs still wait at the door for their owners to return. Children still need to go out on their own. Sometimes they need to come back, then out again. Sort of like cats.

So that’s all. I’m just thinking out loud today and avoiding a painting project, and staying out of the summer heat. I got the car smog checked, did some research, made some calls, and payed bills. Yes, Vampires need to do those things as well.

As for normal…

Try not to be too normal. While normal is easy, it isn’t always the most interesting thing to do. It is safe, but not always.

Things are still going to go bump in the night. Then again that might not always be a bad thing.

And if you need something to read remember that the newest WPaD Anthology Goin’ Extinct Too! Apocalypse A Go-Go is now available in digital format. The paperback will be available in July 2020.

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  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Talk to your kids.
  • Hug your dogs and cats.
  • Don’t yell at your significant other too much. They’re getting tired of all of this too.

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This is where I’d rather be RIGHT NOW.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Just Listen…

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This morning it was quiet aside from the sounds of the birds and the occasional car in the distance.

Right before dawn, when the sky was between light and dark, my grown children, brother Max and I went for a long walk.

My husband Teddy was sleeping after spending a day boarding up buildings and helping other businesses and friends do the same.

The kids are frustrated by the Covid-19 pandemic, the shut downs, the loss of opportunities, online college, the social injustices in their world, and by their current roommates. Max and I listen to them while we walk and try to control three large exuberant dogs. We just listen. I had to tell Max to listen and refrain from giving too much advice at this time. Just listen.

Yesterday I told my now grown daughter that I understand her frustrations. I’ve spent the past quarter of a century talking to my kids about school shootings, social justice, random acts of violence, war, racism, sexism, the environment, and how to stay smart in a world that is sometimes absolutely insane.

I’ve mentioned before how proud I am of their diverse group of friends of every color, ethnic background, and sexual orientation. They don’t think in terms of “us” and “them.” If they do the “them” means people who would rather hold people back, or destroy our planet rather than move forward in a positive and meaningful way. I know that sounds awkward but I don’t know how else to put it. Their tolerance for assholes is extremely low, at least for my daughter. My son is more forgiving.

Gone are the days when I can just kiss them and make it all better.

I told them that I can’t help them with a lot of things they’re going through right now, but if the space aliens show up in July I’ll be the one to take care of that.

Max smiled and said nothing. He makes an attempt to take care of Demons and other dark forces but sometimes things get even too insane for him.

For me, everything has become amplified since I became a parent. Everything. That includes the good things.

Now more than ever we need to treasure the good things and work towards our goals of all things that are good.

With our guidance, and by that I mean by our encouragement and love, our children will change the world of ours for the better. They want it. They need it. Even without us I believe they’ll do it.

In the meantime I’ll watch the night sky for flying saucers, and watch the cold spaces under my house for goblins and rattle snakes.

If the aliens do come all I can say is that they’d better bring snacks and beer. If they land at my house they’d better bring cat treats too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Short Story Sunday: Driving Home With Superheroes

For some reason graduate students seemed to be decades ahead of undergraduate students, especially freshmen and sophomores. At the ripe old age of twenty three Randy had discovered that the first day of school.

He’d also discovered a small following of younger Vampires who looked up to him like they would their favorite ancient Vampire Uncle.

They also liked Randy because he was unique and exceptionally hip and trendy in his vintage clothing and wavy longish blonde hair.

Before he left home after Christmas break, wearing his favorite Levi big bells, a Heart concert shirt from 1979, and a vintage fringed leather jacket, his dad called him “Fucking Flowers.”

Randy asked what that was all about. His dad laughed and told him that now he was an adult he needed to read John Sanford books starting from the beginning and work his way up to the Virgil Flower books. Randy made a note of it and a plan to stop by the bookstore when he got home.

Being the nice guy he was, Randy had volunteered to give three young Vampire students a ride from Sacramento back to Long Beach. Two, Josh and Winslow were Freshmen. Katie was a sophomore. They’d all packed their clothes, Christmas stash, care packages from their moms, and other gear in the back of Randy’s 2012 Range Rover and headed south an hour before the sun came up.

Randy decided to impart a bit of his wisdom upon the younger minds. “Being a good Vampire is like being a good parent. You must stay relivant. You can’t get behind or you’ll be left behind.”

“I think we need to be like superheroes,” said Winslow, a dark haired young Vampire with bright blue eyes and friendly round face.

“Superheroes? Whys that?” asked Randy.

“You know, because we can do things other people can’t do. Like see in the dark, and make people forget shit, and we’re super quiet, and shit,” said Winslow.

Randy turned down the radio. “The only super hero Vampire that I can think of is Morbius. He was kind of an asshole and not even a real Vampire. Come on guys, you can do better than that. You don’t need a superhero. You just need to be yourself. You already rock at being Vampires. Come on leave the tights to Katie. Girl you rock the tights with those boots.”

“Thanks,” said Katie. She was a small girl with brown hair and freckles. Nobody would ever pick her out for being a Vampire. “I got the tights for Christmas from my grandma. Just like what you said about being relevant. My grandma is relevant. She knows what I like.”

Randy smiled. “If I was a girl I’d wear tights all the time but it has nothing to do with being a superhero.”

“We were thinking about getting some costumes made,” said Josh, a tall kid who spent a lot of time at the gym.

“Dude, you don’t need costumes. Just wear black and jeans that fit. You’re already rocking it. I know you. You don’t need to pretend. You’re already living the secret life. You don’t need to make it more complicated with daytime cosplay. You’re already superheroes.”

As they drove on the subject changed to music, favorite podcasts, dog beach stories, and spilling the tea.

Being a Vampire in the modern world carried certain responsibilities including the usual truth, justice and all of that good stuff. They didn’t need tights or capes. They just needed to keep their mouths shut and do the right thing. That was all anyone could do.

Yes, being a graduate student included being a role model, especially if you were a role model for young Vampires, or anyone else who was just a little bit different, or a little bit confused about growing up and finding their place in the world.

Maybe a trip to the vintage clothing store was in order when they got home. Randy would take all of them. They could find costumes that they could live with. The thought made Randy smile. Fashion was his superpower. That was cool with him.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales