Fear and Change

Most Vampires get paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Oh forget the blood taking and seductive ways that helped romanticize us.

You know what I’m talking about. Even the most confident of us feels that way more than we would like.

We jealously guard our own versions of our memories.

Something taken away.

Something given.

Something found.

Something lost.

It is that sense of loss and identity that finds so many climbing into crypts or under floorboards to sleep forever.

It is that inability to know there are others and that there is something to look forward to. Things change but not for better or worse – just different. Hell, things usually change for the better if you want them to be better. If you make them better. I didn’t say it was easy. It isn’t anything you’ll find in a self-help book. There aren’t self-help books for Vampires. There aren’t self-help books for most things that really matter.

Reaching inside where your old soul used to be and pulling up your new self isn’t easy. Your old self is still there – you will never lose that. You will always be yourself – like it or not. But you can change. You can become better. You can refurbish your old self.

You can shine like the full moon on a clear winter night.

Where you miss the warmth of your skin you will find coolness of nerves.

Where you miss those who grew old you will treasure the memories.

Where you miss the innocence of your existence you will find something else.

You aren’t a monster or an outcast – you are just different. Everyone is different. Accept it.

You’ll taste blood, but you’ll give back contentment in your donors – or give nightmares – it is your choice. Nice. You never had that choice before.

You’ll learn how to get blood stains out of anything.

Change or lack of change are both things we want and something that we fear.

Nobody said any of this was going to be easy. Then again, nobody said it wasn’t going to be exciting and wonderful.

Contentment isn’t just something for a few. It is something we can all strive for. Content but still moving forward, never forgetting where we have been or where we are going.

The other day I spoke to my friend Cody who has been a Vampire for almost four years. He never asked for it but he accepted the changes in his life. There will be hardships ahead along with triumphs. He didn’t struggle like some do. He has had a lot of questions and questioned a lot of things. He has learned.

But he told me, “You know that old expression about a door closing and a window opening? The roof came off for me. I can see the whole world of possibilities now. Anything is possible as long as I keep reminding myself of that.”

Yes, Cody, anything is possible.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

This was first posted in March 2015. I’m still trying to figure out what to do on Saturday now that my 50 Burning Questions series is over. Here you go: Best of Juliette.

False Starts and Finding Love – Things that we’ll never be able to explain.

False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

As a child Bronagh would get up each morning and go to school. There she’d figure out ways to escape through day dreams and long lone walks around the school ball field. In her more lucid and social moments she’d be trying to ignore the nonstop bullying from the group of smirking thugs who ruled the school. Having a different name in a universe full of Debbies and Nancys and Susans made one stand out. It made one get picked on along with being small, plain and quiet. Her family was also considered weird.

Her father was a large loud Irishman with a thick accent and her mother was a small pale elf like German woman who’d lost her family in a tragic accident, then ended up in a group home for unclaimed children. The Irishman and the German girl met in a bar, got married, moved to America and had too many children and didn’t do things like other families. They’d sit up all night and play cards and smoke and drink too much. Then they’d tell stories of ghosts and werewolves and violent relatives who didn’t come to America. They’d sing loud songs and walk around their backyard in their underwear. Sometimes the intensity of the couple frightened the other families of their normal middle class community.

Bronagh was never mistreated at home but she never felt too connected to her family either. She loved them but she didn’t want to live with them or be like them.

She struggled in school but in her secret world she was smart and would one day be beautiful and successful. Nightmare sessions in front of the class unable to do a math problem while other children jeered made her imagine a different life. At that point she started to keep secrets.

Nobody ever knew what she was feeling or thinking. She gave away nothing by her expression or words. She lived in two worlds – one on the outside and her own world inside.

She grew up, went on to high school, made friends, grew into a beautiful young woman, made straight A’s and never looked back.

Then she went to college and found herself on too many long walks alone, but that was OK. She was used to that. Friends came and went. There were always good times to be had but she never stayed close to anyone. She graduated and had plans but her life seemed to be one big black hole that sucked the life out of every idea, every relationship and every job prospect. All of her choices sucked. It was as if everything she touched turned to garbage. It was garbage that couldn’t even be recycled. It was toxic waste.

Time passed and roadblocks grew higher and doors slammed in her face. She found herself with a college degree, a shelf full of books, a stray one-eyed tabby cat she named Toulouse, and nothing else.

One day she decided that one of two things needed to happen. She either needed to die or fall in love. Nobody would ever love her she decided, so she set a date to end it all, that is if nothing happened.

She grew numb.

One day she forced herself to go the large university library to research jobs and graduate schools.

On the first floor she ran into an old party friend Cindy. Beautiful lucky Cindy was going off to her dream job in Los Angeles. A huge engagement ring sat on Cindy’s finger. Cindy’s clothes were beautiful and obviously expensive. Joy radiated out of her, not for material reasons but because she was just where she wanted to be. Then again Cindy had been born where every girl wanted to be.  Cindy was that kind of girl. Bronagh gave Cindy a hug and wished her the best.

Then she saw a guy she’d had a one night stand with talking to a biology professor she’d had. Ditching them she went up the stairwell to the second floor to take refuge with some art books.

On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been in love with. He was glad to see her. He was glad to tell her that he was getting married – to somebody else.  He asked her if she still had the cat. She thought he thought she was an idiot. She lied and said she had a boyfriend and great job prospects. Someone she really liked had dumped her the week before. She’d been fired from a job she’d held for a week. It didn’t matter. He’d cheated on her anyway. Being young and miserable with no prospects is no fun even when you don’t feel bad about telling lies.

Feeling numb she looked at college catalogs, made notes about graduate school requirements then go up to walk and distract herself. It was time to look up poisons or just sit down and die and turn into a mummy that someone would find in 50 years or so behind a stack of books nobody ever read.

In the deep darkness of the ancient basement stacks she accidentally tripped and fell into the arms of a man. It wasn’t that kind of fall into your arms. It was more of the kind of “I noticed you were looking up poisons,” kind of falling to his arms. He noticed in a big way. Poisons were not the kind of things pretty girls, or anyone not doing medical research or writing crime novels usually looked up. She said she was writing a story. He knew she was telling a lie but he let it pass. He told her he was doing research for a class he was teaching in creative writing. That wasn’t a lie. Well, not a complete lie.

She had iced herbal tea with him in an earthy crunchy little coffee shop and they talked about all sorts of things. His name was Valentine, yes, that Val, my brother. His friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 36 years ago. She still remembered the purple skirt and white lace top she was wearing. On her feet were gray flats. Val was wearing jeans and a black tee. Alonzo wore a red vest and a white button down shirt. His dark hair curled around his ears. It was weird how she remembered the details. She clicked with Val and Alonzo. They didn’t judge her. But they were not like the predators she’d met who wanted to lure her into schemes and religions and cults and plans that she didn’t want to be part of.

They became friends and she became one of them – one of us. A Vampire.

I know it sounds weird but she tells such a glum story. Bronagh is the funniest Vampire I’ve ever met. Yes, we have a sense of humor. You can’t live as long as we do and not.

Bronagh thinks about things too much – old things, things that happened, the guy in the library, the guy who dumped her, people who had been to her, a friend who died when they were young. But then not really, not lately. She used to sometimes wonder what life might have been like had she not become a Vampire.

Becoming a Vampire wasn’t what solved her problems. Having some support and encouragement and sheer tenacity is what got her out of her gloom. Long story. Hard work. Creative thinking. Love. Humor. She shrugs it off.

She’ll laugh and talk about how handsome Alonzo is,  but she’ll be quick to tell everyone that she married him for his sense of humor. She’ll tell you about how he proposed to her while they walked under the stars on a windy beach. She won’t tell you about the times she was so unhappy and lost before that day in the library. Those dark times were such a small portion of everything but still, it makes a mark.

Alonzo had a past so full of nightmares that he was glad to become a Vampire and live in a world of calm control and find some measure of peace. I’m just glad to have them in my life. Maybe I’ll talk Alonzo into telling me a few stories.

Valentine’s Day is almost here and all kinds of ghosts of relationships past are coming out of the woodwork. Let’s just keep most of them tucked away. We don’t need to deal with them or let them bother us.

Alonzo just shrugs and laughs off anything from his past. Bronagh does the same for the most part. They’re just like any other couple, only they’re Vampires. They believe that what they is due to divine intervention and it happened for a reason. Maybe. Maybe not. I’d like to think it was meant to be. OK it was meant to be.

And the odd thing about this story is that the old one-eyed tabby cat Toulouse is still alive at 43 years old. Of course, cats aren’t supposed to live that long but sometimes, well, all Vampires know that there are things we’ll never be able to explain.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Savor

As I walked downstairs from my bedroom I wondered how many tons of cat vomit is flushed down toilets each year?

At 4:12 a.m. the dog had asked to go out. As I made it to the entryway I saw that the poor thing couldn’t wait. She had tummy troubles and made a huge mess. She is a large dog at 85 pounds, so believe me it was a huge mess. After taking a large bag full of the mess out to the garbage I sprayed the carpet and now I’m waiting to scrub it. Fortunately for me the carpet is being replaced with hardwood floors soon.

So what does this have to do with parenting, vampires, or having an empty nest?

My nest is not so empty. Since there are no children in the house the animals are all more aware of MOM. We are all adjusting. The cats are eating quicker and barfing because the dog is trying to eat their food. The dog is eating cat food and getting huge runny poops. I’m trying to give all of them extra attention.

In the meantime my adult children, young but still adults now, are keeping in touch this week though the magic of the smart phone.

I just received photos of costumes from Paramount Studios, and last night photos from Griffith Park Observatory (yes, the one in LA LA Land.)

Then photos came of Pike Place Market and a friend’s new beard. This is the first beard of the group. It is well groomed, blonde, and a new trendy hair cut. Looks good.

They’re on winter break from school and off with friends, one north, and one south.

When I was that age I also tumbled into adventures, and unfortunately more misadventures. If I had the resources, and the wherewithal kids had now… Yes, I think how different it might have been, but does that matter? I’ll let my alternate universe self deal with that. I’m just happy beyond words to see I’ve given my kids the tools they need. Yes, they have those phones, but there are so many more tools one must have.

They’re curious, and full of adventure. They smart. They’re cautious. They’re playful. They’re young and without fear of the unknown.

The other day Nigel the Ghost, who left his body, ok died, around the age of 26 or 27, told me to tell my kids to treasure their youth and make the most of it.

I was feeling snarky so I said, “we’re Vampires.”

Then he said, “then treasure it all the more.”

He is right. And so, no matter who we are, what we are, or how we live, we should treasure everyday, and every experience.

I thought about all of the adventures I’ve been on with my children. There will be many more to come, and I am glad they are having their own adventures as well now. They’re building their libraries of wonderful memories. Yes, I wish I was there, but like I said, we will have our adventures too.

A new lesson for our adult children should be to savor the moments. Plan fun. Continue to play. Take breaks. Watch for falling stars. And to continue to treasure those you love.

Tell them, as they grow older, they should keep an open mind as well. My mind is much more open now than it was when I was a clueless eighteen year old.

Just remember, and this is coming from an old Vampire, to savor all moments. Even if it is just petting a cat who leans against your leg, or the quiet of a cold winter night.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Death is in my garbage can

I see ghosts. Of course I do, because I’m a Vampire.

That said, I have never seen the ghost of a wild animal or at least that of a wild creature who met death in my yard.

Yesterday my lovely delicate little light as air calico cat grabbed a squirrel by the neck, almost decorated it, then at out the heart, lungs, liver, and whatever else was above the intestines.

I found the bloodied squirrel spread eagle, gutted, with tiny white ribs exposed to the sunlight. Not a drop of blood was on the cat.

I only mention this because whenever I have found a dead animal in my yard I feel unease. I don’t know what to do with them so I put them in the garbage can. Then every single time I have to go out to the garbage can in the side yard I know a body is in the bottom of it.

The largest animal was a huge male turkey who was dead on the ground underneath a broken tree branch in my front yard. A female turkey walked around him feeding on whatever she could find in my flower beds. Think of the largest Thanksgiving turkey and add about ten pounds to it. That was the dead turkey in my yard.

It died on garbage day. For a week two turkey feet stuck up almost to the top of the garbage can, a reminder to me every time I took something out to the trash that life is a frail thing indeed.

Another time I found a beautiful dead little squirrel in my front yard, still warm from a fall. I scooped it up and wrapped it carefully in a bag and put it in the garbage can.

Birds, snakes, squirrels, and turkeys all go in the can. My house is built upon rocks so digging is out of the question. And if I did bury an animal in my yard by the next morning another animal would have dug it up, no matter how many rocks I put over the hole.

Anyway, there is something uneasy about having the body of an animal, not food, but just an animal who visited my home come to a violent death and end up spending a week with me (or until the next garbage day.)

I do not see their ghosts. I do not hear tiny animal banshee voices in the wind. All that is left is fur and feathers.

This is an unreasonable discomfort of mine, but anyway… it is what it is.

You’d think as a Vampire I wouldn’t care, but finding a tiny warm squirrel in my yard, with no life in it’s tiny body is just so sad. A rat, not sad at all. A turkey – not that is just weird because they are so darned big. With smaller birds all that I ever find left are feathers and maybe a random foot. You can ask my cat about that. Luckily it has been years since I’ve had to deal with dead possums or skunks. I don’t know what I’d do if I found a coyote, a raccoon, or heaven forbid a bobcat or a mountain lion dead in my yard.

Garbage day won’t come soon enough. It is Friday and death is in my garbage can.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Crawl Space (and Thoughts on Halloween, Parenting, and Vampires)

Crawl Space

I took off my sweater and handed it to my brother Aaron. There was no way I was going to crawl on my stomach under the crawl space of a house with it on.

“So tell me again why you can’t get the bodies out from under the building first?” I had to ask.

“They’re not quite dead yet and they might attack Austin. He’s human, a Regular Human,” my brother told me. Austin by the way is a Regular Human and sometimes Vampire Hunter and usually just a guy who does a great job restoring old buildings that seem to be filled with scary shit like ghosts and old musty Vampires.

And of course Aaron was wearing a $5,000 suit of course he couldn’t crawl under the house.

“You might know them”, added Austin, meaning the creatures under the house.

I almost gave him a fang filled snarl but I just gave him a weak normal girl smile.

Wearing garden gloves I crawled on my  hands and knees over bare dirt.Even in the dark I could see assorted bugs and cobwebs. Rat droppings were scattered around. Why the crap would any Vampire want to sleep under floor boards?

About 20 feet into it I saw the boxes. OK they were coffins.

I thought back of when I was a kid and always the one to crawl under houses and into tight spaces. It wasn’t because I was small. It was because I pretend to be fearless and now it is because I don’t take any bull shit from Shadow Creepers and dusty old Vampires who can’t deal with the modern normal world. We’re not having a Nosferatu and Dracula Hoedown kids, this is the 21st Century.

The lids were on the boxes. I managed to kneel on my knees without banging my head on something and pushed one off. Inside was a male in a pinstripe suit. His face was waxy looking and pale. I noticed sunken cheeks and lips that seemed a little thin. He hadn’t fed in a while. The box next to him contained a female. Skin stretched over her face, a hint of teeth including fangs showed beneath parted lips. Oh come on, all Vampire girls know not to sleep with their fangs exposed. She wore some sort of black dress thing. The scent of rotted roses and cigar smoke came from her box. In the third box…nothing jumped out. It was another male. I recognized the face. His eyes open a bit, yellow green rolls to stare at me. I see recognition in his face; a fact that was once handsome and could be again, but he was so strange, so weirdly in the shadows and cold, not like Vampires I associate with, but like a dead fish.

Then my butt vibrates. My phone. I pull it out. Garrett, my darling son is calling from college. I’m a mom. I must answer.

“Hey mom, what do you call two ducks and a cow?”

“What?”

“Quackers and Milk.”

“Good one. What do you call an Englishman, two ducks and a cow?”

“Graham Quackers and Milk. Love you mom.”

I hear a groan from one of the box. I slap it hard with my hand and hiss at it. The noise stops.

I keep my eyes on the yellow green orbs that watch me as I talk to my son. He rattles on about classes and girls he knows and sings me a song he wrote. He says he goes to the beach almost every day and is going to go surfing on Sunday. He says it is the perfect college for Vampires. He is so excited about school. My heart melts a little.

Then he asks me what I’m up to.

“I’m under a building with three boxes full Shadow Creeping Vampires. You know me, everyday is Halloween.”

“How’d you end up there?”

“Helping your Uncle Aaron and a friend. Long story, but the short version is that I was the only one wearing jeans and I’m smaller than they are so I got elected.”

Old Green Eyes started to sit up. “I gotta go Garrett. I’ll call you back later today.”

“Love you mom.”

“Love you too sweetie pie.” I looked at my old friend. OK he wasn’t a friend. I’d met him before, a long long time ago. “What are you doing here?” I said trying to keep myself from sneering at him.”You look like a fucking Zombie. What is wrong with you people? Have you lost all self respect?”

“Juliette,” he whispered my name in a dry voice, like old coffee grinds and gravel.

“Jasper. That last time I saw you was…1923, New Orleans. What are you doing here?”

He started to tell me something in French that I couldn’t quite make out when I stopped him. “Listen, you have three choices. The first is that you agree to live like Modern Vampires and stop this nonsense of lurking around like you’ve just come out of some creep show. The second is that I leave you to the Vampire Hunters. The third is that you let one of my friends, and I use that term loosely, take you to San Francisco where you can be with others of your kind. But you can’t stay here. We have enough problems in Sacramento without your kind.”

“My kind?” He opened his eyes wide and showed his fangs.

“That is exactly what I mean, you giving me the evil eye and trying to scare me with your ugly mug. You used to be handsome and well, you were never charming but you used to be, well, not THIS.”

I crawled back into the sunlight which was no cup of tea, believe me. I might spend time during the day but the sunshine, especially after the darkness under a house, always comes as a shock. I pulled out my sunglasses put them on then took a deep breath and brushed off my pants. Filling Aaron and Austin in on the situation I told them that I’d let them decide what to do with Jasper and his friends.

I had to go home and take a shower and scrub my skin off with steel wool, or at least that is how I was feeling. The image of his eyes stuck in my brain like Poe’s Tell Tale Heart story.

“It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees – very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

His eyes will haunt me for sure. Maybe I’ll check on him in a few months time, out of morbid curiosity. That is, if the Vampire Hunters or other creatures don’t get them first. There are Shadow Creepers who seem so vile, but then there are other Vampires who I don’t even dare name or ever seek out for any reason.

Like I’ve said, Halloween is never far from my reality.

I called Garrett back. He listened to my story. I didn’t make it into some cautionary tale or anything like that. We just talked. He told me that I was the most awesome mom ever.

So anyway, that is what I did today.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Your life of truth and lies

As my kids got older they asked about people I’ve known, and of choices made, or not made. They’ve asked about what was the real truth and what is not. Sometimes people live in a place in-between the truth and the lies.

Ever since I was a tiny child I have collected stories. I listened in silence as adults talked. I’d fill in the blanks between the spaces that didn’t make sense, or more often or not were missing.

I can piece together parts of a life and figure out anything. There are no secrets. All is revealed.

Most people are horrible liars. Their stories change over the years. Photos and documents don’t add up. Confusion layered with bull crap. I can figure it out. What really happens in the real world. Truth is stranger than fiction, but even strange truth has some real truth to it.

The statement “He died at sea,” in reality means “he had another family in another country and went back to them. That is why he is gone. That is why they know nothing of me or our child. That is why I say I am a widow rather than an unwed mother.”

Or the reason someone moves across the country to take a great job, but leaves a more prestigious job. He never wanted to be there. He never wanted to be with her. It was a mistake. Then there was a divorce. No children. He’d made a mistake and now he was going to lead his own life the way he wanted to – finally. There were a few other clues in there but in reality I never spoke with the person in question. I just knew. I was right. I’ve speculated on everything here and I’m right.

The young man joined the army because he was immature and needed to become a man. That is what his parents said. They said it would prepare him for college. He jointed the army because he knocked a girl up and his parents didn’t want him burdened with a family so they sent him away. If their son went away the girl would go away. So the young man learned to run away from his problems. The girl learned not to trust anyone.

She didn’t know why he was so mad. He was an idiot.  But she never got over him. He hated her or so he said. In reality he always loved her. The man she said was just a friend was really a lover who later jilted her.  He loved is second wife but when he couldn’t sleep at night, almost every night, he thought of his first wife – he did this for over 60 years. He died two days after she did.

He never left her because he wanted to prove his family and friends were wrong. She never left him because she wanted to punish him for ruining her life and because he was the only thing in her life she had absolute control over.

Uncle Jack did not die of natural causes. Neither did he die alone.

He still thinks of her all the time but it is too late. Years too late. She married someone else. He lost his chance. She thinks of him but he had his chance. She thinks he never knew that she loved him once. She was wrong about that but is doesn’t matter. Now she loves someone who deserves her – she loves him with a passion.

He never married because he was afraid of being controlled.

She never married because she had fantasies of being controlled.

You dated a man who claimed he killed people for a living and then you went to church on Sunday and everyone thought you were a saint. They never knew your daughter hated you. You never knew what she did at night after she moved away.

He always had a feeling she wasn’t dead but he never told anyone about it. He should have asked to see her body.

She said she was kidnapped as a child. In reality she was abandoned by her mother who was chasing after a cheating husband who had no use for children.

He always thought the wonderful man he grew up with and loved was his father. In reality his biological father was the man in photographs hidden between the pages of a well-worn copy of Ulysses.

They said it was a miracle that she survived the accident. Over and over the story of her car going off of the cliff was told. A slick road, an out of control truck, her small red Mustang, and the long drop into the Pacific Ocean. She told everyone it was by the grace of God and prayer. In reality it was because she cheated at cards. He was so impressed with her skills in deception that he gave her another 50 years.

When life give you lemons plant the seeds and tell everyone you have a rare fruit of kings.  But sooner or later someone might find out they’re really lemons. But don’t worry about it, we’ll make pie.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman