Listen, and never discount a Vampire who wants to share art with you.

Some people do things oh so frustratingly slow, or weird, or just make me feel like nobody is listening (and I know they aren’t.)

On Thanksgiving I showed my great great great great Grandmama Lola a book to look at. It was an art book. I wanted her to see the artwork. So what does she do? She opens the cover and looks at the first page. Then she slowly turns the next three pages of publisher information. The she gets to the preface – you know those long introductions to art books that NOBODY reads, especially when someone wants you to look at some PICTURES. After she was into the first 15 pages, slowly turning them and not really reading them, wondering why I’d given her this book with so much text, I took the book. Then I opened it up to the start of the 175 pages that were in FULL COLOR of magnificent artwork.

She then slowly turned the pages, looking at all of the art, then proclaimed there were too many religious paintings. Did I mention this book was about Italian Renaissance art? It was.

I said nothing and put the book back on the shelf. My moment sharing Raphael and Michelangelo fell flat.

The whole week seemed to go like that. I was all but invisible wherever I went. Even among friends I was just there. My husband was there, but I was just a shadow most of the time. A few times I managed to make myself known before I was unseen again. Until a few nights ago when I finally found myself around kindred spirits.

When I was a child I was the quiet one. I would sit in corners, or curled in a large chair, and watch, and listen, and remember, and think about what the adults said. I always knew what everyone had done. I knew things children were not supposed to understand.  I also spent a lot of time with books, looking at pictures. I never get tired of art, be it a painting in a museum, or an illustration in a book. It could be an angel, or a landscape, or a diagram the ocean currents. Every image has a story, or a feeling, or something that came out of the head, the hands, the eyes, and the heart of someone else.

Lola is ancient, born in the Middle Ages, but she isn’t feeble minded, or out of touch. She just does things in a different way than I do. It is still damned annoying.

I was out with her recently and she insisted on lingering over her prey, excuse me, a donor. I clenched my fists, then quietly told her that we needed to get in and then get out fast. Unless you’re in a safe situation where you can linger comfortably for hours, you need to get what you need and get out. But noooooo, not Lola. She never listens to me, or any of my concerns. I swear I’m surprised she has lasted as long as she has. And yes, this is a Vampire blog. Why else would I be talking about what Lola does.

Anyway, don’t get between me and my art. Don’t make me feel unsafe or unwanted. And if you don’t listen to me, that is fine. I hear everything, and remember everything. And I still love you, for the most part.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Quietly Listen

He showed me a new project on his large computer screen, in the back room of a restored Victorian house. A cat sat on a window seat grooming herself. She’d lick a paw then carefully wipe her face. Then she curled up in a tight ball and started to purr.

“Tell me what you think Juliette,” he said with a cautious smile.

“I like it a lot,” I told him. I did like it. Nobody was surprised that he and his partner had made millions over the past five years. “You’re sad today.”

He looked up, kind of surprised. “I was just thinking. I saw a school bus earlier today. It brought back memories of when I was a kid. Everyday on the bus was a nightmare for me.”

I looked at this successful, good looking, witty man, and listened. I’d heard these stories before. Not his, but from others. What is it about humans that they’re children are so cruel. Some grow out of it. Some grow up to lead nations and continue to be cruel. Some who continue to be bullies are failures because of their crude actions. I just listened.

I was stupid and foolish as a young person, and done a lot of things I have retreated later, but never endured being beaten up on a bus, or called names and taunted for eight hours a day. I’ve never lived in that kind of fear day in and day out.

“I’d forgotten about it until today. I didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

“You’re better than they are.”

He smiled sadly. “Success is the best revenge.” He rolled up his sleeve and held out his arm. “Make me feel better Juliette. Please.”

I took his wrist and sank my fangs into it. I closed my eyes and sucked out the pain, and gave him a high that made him put his head back in the chair and relax into a deep trance like state. A smile came on his face.

When I was done I gave him a kiss. “You have your own Vampire. That is something those who were cruel will never have. Consider yourself lucky.”

He laughed and rolled down my sleeves. “Until next time,” he said.

“Until then,” I said and left him to sleep and dream of better things.

And remember, you don’t have to be a Vampire to help make the pain go away. Listen to those young and old. Stop bullying when you see it. The fight of those who are bullied is the side we should all be on. Stop, listen, support. How simple is that?  Extremely simple.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: The Rally

Andy stood in the dark on his back patio looking at the night sky.  He sang softly to himself, barely audible.

L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
Que nul ne peut apprivoiser,
Et c’est bien in vain qu’on l’appelle
S’il lui convient de refuser.
Rien n’y fait, menace ou prière.
L’un parle bien, l’autre se tait.
Et c’est l’autre que je préfère.
Il n’a rien dit mais il me plait.

Turning around he found his brother Max standing by the French doors that lead to the patio. Andy in his jeans and white dress shirt was in stark contrast to Max’s all black, mostly leather ensemble.

Max smiled. “I’m still in awe of the beauty of your voice baby brother.”

Andy gave Max a bro hug. “Thanks. You worked tonight?”

“I’m keeping the world safe for Vampires everywhere.”

“And you’re greatly appreciated by all of us.”

Max was a hunter of Vampire Hunters. Andy was an opera singer. Both were Vampires. And they were brothers, with the same chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes that could go pitch black on demand.

“Tonight,” Max began, “I was off from work and looking for a bite to eat, and I ended up in an alleyway with an incredibly angry woman.”

“Were you going to…”

“No. I’d passed some sort of event, people were mingling outside. One of them called me a faggot when I walked by.”

“What an asshole.”

“It doesn’t matter. At least it didn’t then. You know I’ve never cared what they think. I’m not one of them.”

“You’re the most standoffish Vampire I know.”

“Like I said I’m not one of them. But tonight was different. She got to me.”

Andy smiled. “Love?”

“No. Of course not. I turned the corner into an alley, and there stood a woman, alone. Someone yelled, “You’re a cunt Diana. You know that? Would you rather hang with a bunch of fucking rug munchers and queers?” She didn’t respond to him.

She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Have you ever known what it is like to be different? To be hated? Do you know what it is like to feel hated for not hating?”

Not a single warm blooded human has ever asked me that. “Why were you there?” I asked her. I wanted to know what would have convinced her to be at such an event.

“A couple of coworkers asked me along. One of them has a friend I kind of liked. I thought it would be interesting. I had no idea how interesting. It was like going back to 1930’s Germany. The guy I liked was that asshole who yelled at me.” She looked at me in an odd way. “Why were you there?”

“I wasn’t there.” I told her. “I just got off from work. I was just passing by, on my way to get a bite to eat. There’s a wine bar a few blocks from here. Please join me. We can talk.” As we left the alley there were more jeers. I turned to the men and gave them the most awful visions. One fell on the ground clutching his stomach. Andy, you would have been proud of me.”

“So tell me about her,” said Andy. “What did you talk about? Did you talk?”

“We talked for about three hours. She asked me if I was gay.”

“Did you tell her your preferences?”

“That I am attracted to both, but mainly women? Yes. She didn’t blink and eye.”

“Then what?”

“We talked. Then we walked for a while. I drove her home. Then I kissed her cheek. She didn’t even mention that my lips were cold or my eyes had gone almost black in color. It wasn’t romantic, but I’m going to watch after her. She might not know it, but she’ll never be alone, or unsafe.”

“What about dinner? Was it her?”

“No, some guy in the bathroom of the bar. It was fast and easy.”

Andy didn’t ask the reason for the rally and Max didn’t mention it.

About an hour later, on the drive home, Max watched the sunrise through the rain. He tried not to think too much about the night. He could have killed the men who called him names and yelled at Diana, but he didn’t. There was a lot he could have done, but instead he decided to perform the rare act of listening. Just listening.

After dropping his clothes on a chair he texted a Vampire he was trying not to fall in love with and asked her to come over. Then he climbed into bed and closed his eyes to the new day.

 

~ End

 

Note: I wrote this after listening to my teenager talk about what is going on in the news and the bigotry and hate and sheer ignorance we hear coming out of so many public mouths. This is a quickly written sort story, and not great literature (or even a great story) but I hope you understand the meaning behind it. Haters are going to hate but wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t hate and didn’t spread that hate to others. It is something we all must think about if we value our freedoms and the future of our children (who are usually smarter than we are.) ~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meadow Lark

This time of year I look forward to the song of the Meadow Lark. This bird does not simply chirp. It sings a song that evokes feelings of fall and comfort.

To be perfectly honest, before today I didn’t know it was a Meadow Lark. I knew it wasn’t a finch, or a jay, or a gull, or a hawk, or a robin, or magpie, or crow. It sure wasn’t a turkey.

I looked up a list of birds that are in the Sacramento Valley during the fall. Then I looked up each type of bird call on YouTube. On the third try I found my beloved song was that of the Meadow Lark.

Upon meeting my brother Val for coffee this morning I told him about my discovery. He smiled at me as if I’d just escaped from an insane asylum.

“So how’s that Vampire thing working out for you?”

He laughed. “Good. You?”

“Great.”

We’ve always been Vampires so that is a long running joke for us.

“Don’t ignore me when I tell you about something you don’t think is important.”

He lifted an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

“The Meadow Lark.”

“You have too much free time.”

“Fine, I won’t tell you anything anymore.”

“Oh Jewels, cut it out.”

“You’re such an asshole.”

We walked with our coffee through the old town, then up the hill towards the old church. From the hill I could see the hill my house stood on. I didn’t say anything. Normally I would have made one of those, “Oh look, the trees in my neighborhood,” but I didn’t. I was still pissed off at Val.

We walked past houses that were built when we were young, in the 1880’s.  When we arrived at the old church we saw a couple of ghosts sitting on the front steps. They vanished as soon as they saw us.

Val gave me a friendly nudge. “Do you think they’re planning anything for Halloween?”

“I doubt it, but you never know.” I knew we wouldn’t get any information out of them today. Ghosts tend to despise Vampires (for obvious reasons – we have bodies and they don’t.)

These were serious ghosts who’d made the long journey to California in the 1850’s to find gold. Most had been born in Ireland, come half way around the Earth only to die an early death, before the age of forty in a strange land of broken and misplaced dreams. Maybe it wasn’t gold they were looking for, but either way I hope they found something that made the trip worth while. Some found wonder and joy. Most didn’t.

I couldn’t see them but I could feel them looking at us like dark eyed children. I thought they might just want coffee. I wasn’t going to share with them. Neither was Val.

From the church we turned down a side street and headed back towards where we’d parked.

Val told me that his friend Lilly had dumped him. “I was her Vampire,” he said with a sigh.

“Did she know you’re a Vampire?”

“Absolutely not. So just like that she said I was cold and that she got bad vibes off of me. Bad Vibes were her exact words.”

“Sorry Val. I liked her.”

“I thought she’d make a great Vampire. Boy was I ever wrong. What are you doing for Halloween?”

I smiled and told my story to one more person. “We’ve been invited to a Harry Potter party and a Zombie party. So we’re going as the Weasleys on the 30th and Weasley Zombies on the 31st. I was going to stop at the thrift store to find some ugly sweaters. Wanna come with me?”

“You should go as Hagird. You know, like a little Hagrid.

“I thought of that but Teddy said I had to, you know, be somewhat respectable.”

“He is such a Victorian. But that is what happens when you marry a guy who was born in 1849.”

We walked on down the hill until we could see where the outdoor ice rink would soon go in. It is usually tee shirt, or at the coldest sweatshirt weather here, even in the winter but we pretend we’re in a Winter Wonderland.

“I think Lilly is seeing someone. I mean seriously seeing someone. I could deal with that. It was just the way she brushed me off that hurt. We’ve been friends for years.”

“I’m sorry Val.”

“She said I was a pain in the neck.”

“Well? What did you expect?”

“No, seriously. She started to put two and two together and realized that her neck or wrists hurt when she saw me. She just assumed I was doing something sick and kinky like drugging her drink then doing weird bondage stuff. What is up with women these days? I would never…”

“You were too comfortable with her. You slipped up. It isn’t like you.”

“Mind if I come to the Zombie party with you?”

I smiled and put my arm around my brother’s shoulder. “You know you’re welcome. It will be a good crowd.”

As we got to my car I stopped and listened.

“Your Meadow Lark,” said Val.

“The song of Halloween,” I told him.

 

So sing your song like the Meadow Lark, because you might not think anyone is listening but they are. And if they aren’t listening feel free to call them out on it. We all deserve to be heard.

And have more coffee.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Rejection Quota

It seems that all Hell has broken loose lately and damned if I’m doing my best to try to get it all back to normal. If not normal at least I want something that isn’t a never-ending roller coaster ride (roller coasters make me puke) or just quiet. I’d even go with boring. I’d embrace boring right now.

I had to attend one of those annual meetings yesterday. You know the kind where you sit for hours while others talk just to hear their own voices.

I picked Tellias up at his house on the far end of the city limits. I’m glad he and Eleora are still on the farm but sometimes the drive seems so long.

When I arrived he was in a grouchy mood. On the good side he was dressed decently thanks to my brother Val for helping with that. On his own who knows what the ancient Vampire Tellias would be wearing. It could be anything from old farmer overalls, to a vintage polyester fast food uniform, to a tuxedo with a Hawaiian shirt. Today he wore a black suit with a deep purple shirt and a silk tie with a very cool atomic age print on it. One his feet were yellow flip flops but I could deal with that. He’d pulled his white blond hair back with a black ribbon. Despite his age Tellias looks about nineteen or twenty years old – so the suit was charming on him.

“You look handsome today,” I said to him kissing his cold cheek. He did look handsome. He is one of those guys who is both handsome and beautiful at the same time.

“And you my dear are a vision of beauty unlike the world has ever known,” he said to me then he sang me a verse:

Exit: light
Enter: night
Take my hand
We’re off to never never land

He always sings me a song and I never know what it will be. I had to smile.

“I don’t want to go to this meeting. Nobody there cares what I have to say. Nobody ever listens to me anymore. I’m not relevant,” Tellias said to me.

“Tellias,” I said, “everyone there respects you. They value your opinion.”

He gave me a nasty look. “Nobody ever calls. They never come to see me. They treat me like I’m an idiot.”

“That isn’t true.”

“Is too.”

To some point it is true. Tellias and Eleora are old and alone, like so many other elderly and ancient folks of all kind. Thank goodness I enlisted my brother to help me out with them. They’ll go for weeks without help and never ask for help until the situation is grave. They are more or less a pain in the ass but I love them and help them and do what I can no matter how frustrating they are.

“Nobody values what I say either,” I told him and we went out to the car.

I don’t know if nobody values what we say but it feels like that a lot.

At the meeting we sat with the others and listened. After the speaker had spoken (it was just Vampire business, you wouldn’t be interested in) we gathered for a simple reception.

Everyone wanted to talk to Tellias. I held his arm and made sure he didn’t say something uncalled for or hijack the conversation to something trivial and uncomfortable. Who knows what was on his agenda on any given day.

It was true that nobody cared what I had to say. They knew what I was doing and the fact that I have things under control (so they think.)

My mother was there, collected, confident and elegant. Tellias gave her a hug and said, “You never come to see me.”

She shrugged him off and gave me a shit load of unwanted advice. Then she took Tellias by the arm and sweet talked him for a while. They had things to talk about, or so it seemed. I was just glad she was paying attention to him.

I made nice with everyone. It was all lovely in a weird sort of way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an introvert. I just wasn’t feeling social. All I could think of was all the other things I needed to get done. Thank goodness for the many bottles of Poet’s Blood they had on hand. Someone had put a paper-thin orange slice in each glass – a very nice touch.

I made my way over to the window and looked at the view over the city. So many trees. So much going on with so many people. I turned at the sound of my name.

It was Mehitabel. It was one of the few times she was out of her usual work garb of black leather and dark glasses. She was lovely in a black lace skirt and cream colored sweater. Let me back track on this one. She is a hunter and alpha Vampire in every single way possible. Her job is to seek out Vampire Hunters and Rogue Vampires and other nasty creatures and eliminate them. That is part of her job. And she works with my brother Max.  She also sleeps with my brother Max… sometimes. Sometimes it is him, sometimes it is her – meaning who wants to do what. I think right now she is just pissed off at him. Then again he pisses off a lot of folks, but that is another blog post.

Anyway, this quiet and thoughtful Vampire is standing before me and I didn’t even know what to say. I never know what to say around her.

So I ask, “How are you?”

She gives me a half smile, “Fine.”

“I liked what you said,” I told her.

“Good. I didn’t think anyone cared. Nobody listens to me, but I’ve learned to listen to others. It makes things easier because… I don’t know why, it just makes me feel better. It makes others feel better.” She shrugged. “I think I’ve hit my rejection quota. I’m done with it. I don’t even care anymore. Speaking of rejection, I heard you’re looking for a new position.”

“Um, yes. I am.” I told her about some changes lately. I was still helping others in transition but other things had changed. I have been a bit distracted and unsure lately about what is next. No, right now crawling into a crypt is not an option.

“You’re the most creative person I know,” she told me.

So everyone keeps telling me. Sigh.

We talked for a while about other things, like clothes and the drought and cats. I think both of us needed a casual conversation where we didn’t need to prove or justify anything. In fact we did talk about this season of Justified. That was interesting.

Later I dropped Tellias off and promised I’d stop by more often. I’d also promised my mother I’d see her more. I did not ask Mehitabel about Max. I will let them work that out on their own. In fact, I almost don’t want to know.

I always tell my readers to listen to their kids, but we need to listen to everyone. Sometimes we need to listen really hard because sometime it is hard for people to say what they need to say out loud.

And sometimes we just need to be there for no reason.

And sometimes we need to stop whining and get to work.

Have a good weekend everyone… I’ll have more on, well, you know, more stuff, later.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

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A house full of teens – and all is well

March came in like a house cat, a bit of rain and noise and general annoyance but nice and comforting.

By the way, I’ll try to have a short story for “Short Story Sunday” later today.

There is a house full of teens today. Not all are mine. They seem to congregate here. I guess they’re all mine in a way, they are part of my life and my heart. I hear bits of words like “manatee” and “scare things” and “teeth” and “it kind of sounds sort of creepy” and then laughing.

Now my husband Teddy is talking to them. I hear the words “pandemic” and “disgusting” and “depends on where you go” and “Japan.”

Then I hear: Cats don’t give a shit. Dogs carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Anyone who says teens don’t talk haven’t been to my house. We can get any kid to talk – a lot.

Telling and lecturing doesn’t cut it with teens. Discussing and listening does.

Now they’re talking about governments and laws and society and trust and secret police. That is my husband and half a dozen teens. Just hanging out. It’s a beautiful thing.

The conversation has changed to school and teachers. They’re talking about languages – Spanish, German, Latin (yes some schools are teaching offering it again), Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Gaelic, Welsh, Norwegian… I’ll need more coffee before getting in on that one. Then it switches to the American Civil War and speaking Southern. It moves to taking old people to museums who get shocked by naked statues in museums and how cute that can be. More laughing, more twists and turns. I hear someone mention monkeys. Now they’re talking religion. Weird religion. It is weird. In fear of not being politically correct I will not name names (maybe later.)

Nobody mentioned my squirrels but that’s ok. I’m more into the small trivial things – they’re having lofty thoughts right now.

While my own teens will complain about a lot of things and express their concerns I’m not getting teen angst. We’re not yellers or screamers. Nobody says “I hate you” or has any reason to. Sure they can piss me off but teens are a joy.

What a wonderful time of discovery and change. It is a time when parents really need to spend the time with their kids.

It is a time we should all spend with them. I don’t mean to be trite, but they ARE our future. And I see good things coming from this group of kids born in the last few years of the 20th century. I see a lot of good things.

Have a good Sunday everyone and a great week.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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