The Ghost of Pumpkin Spice

“I never had a computer, or pumpkin spice lattes, or a cell phone. I had a VCR for about a year. I had a French Press. I’d get coffee beans from the Farmer’s Market. There was a little booth with a zillion spices and about thirty flavors of coffee.”

“They’re still there. I think the gal there has been selling spices since she was a teenager, maybe forty years now.”

“Wow. Remember the Mexican bakery?”

“I’m a Vampire. I don’t eat pastries.”

“Well, you eat other things besides blood. I know that.”

“The olive guy. There was a guy who sold olives and pickles.”

“You eat olives?”

“Sure. I eat most green things.”

“Artichokes?”

“I love artichokes.”

“Green beans?”

“Sure. Not a lot but you know, sometimes.”

“I can’t imagine Dracula eating green beans.”

“Dracula is a fictional character. In fiction the only time people eat green beans is when they snap them with their grandma. I doubt if Dracula snapped beans with his grandma.”

Nigel the Ghost held a hot mug of coffee laced with cinnamon. He put his head down and closed his eyes. “I miss coffee.”

“You can always get it here,” I said.

“It isn’t the same when you can’t drink it. Shit, I haven’t had a real cup of coffee in thirty two years.”

He brushed his black hair out of his eyes, then smiled.

“What?” I asked.

“I’ve been dead longer than I was alive.”

“So you’ve told me.”

I sat across from the Ghost, his black hair shaggy around his face, a black tie, and white shirt with the sleeves rolled up today. He’d hidden the gash in his head and the blood on his pale face. His eyes flickered from the coffee to me.

He cleared his throat, not because he needed to but for dramatic effect. “I might be a ghost but I’m not completely dead.”

“You’re never completely dead as long as someone stills loves you.”

“I can feel it but unfortunately I can’t see them. Well, I can’t see most of them. I don’t know how to get to them. You know the limits of my territory is out of my control.”

“So you’re stuck with me.”

“Stuck with a Vampire. Who would have thought.”

“Want me to heat that coffee up.”

“Sure, and add some nutmeg to it. Pumpkin Spice.” Then he winked and gave me a rare smile. “You know this is weird.”

“Not for us.”

Then he put his head back and laughed. I just sipped my own coffee and then put his cup in the microwave, because that is what friends do, even if they’re Vampires or Ghosts.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

coffee

Coffee with Vampires and Ghosts

Memories, Parenting, Shared Stories, and Growing Up

My daughter turned nineteen yesterday. That now means I’m officially a parent of those who are exclusively adults.

With the kids in my life getting older it beings back a flood of memories from the time I was a little bit older than two years, to my childhood, and somewhat embarrassing and adventure filled young adulthood.

I hope that all adults, especially those with children, and I mean children of any age, can remember way back when. I don’t mean like those memes you see on Facebook that say “When I was a kid we jumped off of cliffs, played with guns and live hand grenades, went swimming in snake infested rivers, stayed out until dark, exclusively dined on fried food and sugar, and put our hands into garbage disposals, used chain saws unattended, and we’re still alive. Kids these days are spoiled assholes.”

Having children brings up random memories. Sometimes these are fearful. Sometimes they bring a sigh of relief because your child is not doing the same thing as you did. Sometimes they are happy, or bittersweet because of a time you loved that will never be again.

Yesterday I thought about how I waited on the front porch of our house with my mother and my brother Valentine as we watched my three older brothers walking off to school. They were fourteen, thirteen, and nine. Val was almost five. I was almost four. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to go to school. Val was silent on the issue. He’d already started to read on his own and had no plans on going to school. Not ever. He never told my parents so he missed his opportunity to be an exclusive self learner. I didn’t learn to read until I was six and didn’t master it until I was about eight.

I thought about how much I like my daughter’s boyfriend, and my son’s girlfriend.

And the most random memory came into my head. I dated a guy named Orin once who was nice. He had a dog who was nice and a nice sense of humor. His home was nice. What wasn’t so nice was the fact that his sister lived with him. Gertrude seemed nice at first despite the fact that she was loud and exceptionally out spoken. But then it got weird.

Wherever I went with Orin Gertrude would be there. When Gertrude would talk Orin would stop whatever he was doing and give her a dreamy look. Gertrude was the expert in everything and he would defer to her on everything. She monopolized every conversation. Eventually everything we did was what Orin and Gertrude wanted to do. In fact that only reason I think I was around was because Orin didn’t want to have sex with his sister. She already had dibs on all of the other girlfriend functions. It was like dating married man who brought his wife along, only weirder. So the last time I saw him I invited him for cocktails. I said we could do something afterwords. A few nights before I told him that I was bothered that Gertrude, or Gertrude and her boyfriend were always along. I wanted some time with just him. He brought Gertrude along. As we sipped our drinks Gertrude talked and Owen gave her dreamy looks and said nothing out of his goofy love stuck smile. I left after I was finished with my drink and never saw him again.

I’ve told that story to my kids. They think it is exceptionally creepy. Siblings are great. Just not like Owen and Gertrude.

This morning my daughter Clara and her boyfriend left for a camping trip on the north coast. I thought of a camping trip long ago with my friend Amelia.

I was living in Sacramento. Amelia was living in Las Vegas. So we met half way in the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, where the highest mountains in the lower 48 are. We were at Devil’s Post Pile, an amazing geological formation. As we set up our tents I heard seals. This was great. Last time I went camping on the beach we heard seals too.

I said to Amelia, “Do you hear the seals?”

She said, “Those are mules.”

Then I remembered we were three hundred miles from the ocean, and in the mountains.

I’ll attribute my memory fade to a four-hour drive in my sports car with the top down. Brain bake. Or maybe it was just me, because sometimes I’m like that.

Amelia is still in Las Vegas being fabulous. I’m still living near Sacramento.

Amelia and I are still having adventures. I heard the seals, aka mules, years before I ever had children. Now Amelia and I have grown daughters. I think our hearing is a lot better now. Parenthood will do that to you.

By the way, I haven’t heard seals in the mountains since then.

I was also with Amelia on my 19th birthday one hundred and forty years ago, but I won’t tell that story today.

In both storytelling and parenting use what you know. Use the truths from you experiences to teach your children. Entertain them with your stupid stories so maybe their stupid stories won’t be so stupid.

We all connect through our stories. Our stories make us who we are. They are something we can share at no cost, except maybe a little embarrassment.

I love to listen to stories and memories others have to share. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting around a campfire, strolling through a museum, or hanging out at home. What matters is that we listen with open minds, open hearts, and a sense of humor. And add in some love.

Yes, even Vampires, despite the misinformation out there about us, know about love. We know a lot about love – and stories. So be like a Vampire and tell your story and collect stories from others. You’ll thank me for it later.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

vm darling girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Memories

“I love that story. I wish you’d make it into a book.”

Lola has been telling me that since 2012. She loves that story.

So I printed out a copy of my story The Travelers so that Lola could read it again.

My great great great great grandmother read the first paragraph and said, “This is not the story I read. You changed it.”

“Except for a few edits, spell check, and a rewritten last sentence this is the same story you read in 2012.”

“The man who found Thomas Kent and his little girl didn’t have children.”

“Yes he did.”

“You changed the story.”

“No I did not. I know my stories.”

I had printed out several other stories but I know she won’t read them.

Lola was born in 1343, the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. Her current lover Cody was born in 1980.

Cody, a young Vampire, and friend, whom I’ve helped since his unexpected entry into my world, never listens to me either. That said, he is always ready with an opinion.

My husband Teddy pulled me aside and started talking family stuff. He goes on about my brother, my parents, and assorted folks I don’t want to talk about. I was seriously thinking my head was going to explode.

Anyway, as we gather with family and friends, you might notice that stories will change. Memories will fade, or morph into something else. The whole space time continuum will just fly out the window.

Somewhere around the table you might find at least one person who shares your memories as you remember them.

In the meantime I’m going to share, again, some Christmas memories from some of my Vampire friends, family, and other friends. I hope 2018 (despite all of the weirdness) brought you many good and treasured memories, and I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Memories from my Modern Vampire Family and Friends

From Andy: One of my fondest memories is walking with her in the snow at night. Her hands were hot, and as hard as she tried, she could never warm up my hands.

aurora

From Matthew: We looked at the stars in the night sky and didn’t feel dead anymore.

From Verity: A nip of brandy and a nip on the neck of my husband under the mistletoe. 

From Lola: A lovely young man all tied up in red ribbons and bows. That isn’t figuratively either. He was all tied up.

From Tellias: We saw a great light in the sky and I knew something had happened that would change the world. That was a long time ago. I was very young.

From Eleora: We never did much for people we took blood from until we started to celebrate the Christmas holiday. Then we started to leave them presents. That is where the Santa Clause tradition came from. And this year I’m going to wear my red dress with the white fur trim and red boots and snowflake earrings. 

From Val: My sister Juliette and I would sneak into churches and sing along to the carols. Everyone said it would kill us but we knew nobody who is damned could be so inspired by the music as we were. 

From Cody: I used to be afraid of Vampires before I became one and found out how much fun they are, especially around the holidays. Well, except for the men in black and the zombies, but hey, you have to respect them for what they are.

From Adam (a Werewolf): Running in the mountain snow until we were so tired we couldn’t go another inch. My mother would be waiting with fresh meat, fruit cake and hot chocolate. We’d turn from wolves to boys and run naked all over the cabin as my parents laughed. It was crazy but, you know, we’re Werewolves.

parenting

From Aaron: We used to act out the Christmas Carol except someone would always tear out Scrooge’s neck before my mom could finish the narration. Oh man, we would laugh so hard.

From Max: Candle light and the long cool kiss of another Vampire.

From Teddy: I’ll never forgot the Christmas I pried my mother’s necklace off of the rotting corpse of the woman who stole it. I knew at that moment that Juliette was the Vampire I would one day marry and would proudly wear the necklace. It was also the night I learned I hadn’t lost my soul, or at least not completely.

From Jayne: I wore a red velvet dress trimmed with flowers and holly. The room was filled with candles and garland. Everyone tasted like cinnamon and whiskey.

red

From Ione: I was so excited about seeing Santa that I bit the cat.

kiss me

kiss me

From Elizabeth: Going for angel walks in the cemetery at midnight with Jayne and Mehitabel. The stone angels inspire the singing of the dead. It is quiet lovely and moving if you know what tombs to visit.

angel sacramento

From Nathaniel: After years of spending Christmas protecting my kind from Vampire Hunters, I look forward to spending a quiet Christmas with my wife and child. I think I earned it.

From Thomas Kent: Christmas is a time for us to make frozen hearts warm and inspire peace among all creatures, even those of the night and cold.

To learn more about the individuals above click on their names.

Wishing you all dear readers sweet memories.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Old Soul

In my Thursday (sometimes not Thursday) advice column “Ask Juliette” I get a lot of questions about where Vampires come from. I also get a lot of people asking how they can become a Vampire (fat chance I’ll share that with any stranger on the Internet.)

So…

Where do we come from?

Why are we here?

My answers are easy.

  1. California.
  2. And because I’m having too much fun.

But seriously, I hear a lot of ruckus about where Vampires come from. Are we Demons, or some off shoot of Fallen Angels, or something more sinister? Is our condition from some virus or weird spores, or God knows what kind of blood bourne poison? Pashaw. Don’t be ridiculous or over dramatic. None of that is true.

I remember a long time ago when someone asked Tellias, who is over 2,000 years old, where we come from, and he said, “I don’t know. I wasn’t around back then. Plus I was a foundling. Nobody knows who my parents were, or if I as born this way. Does it matter? I know who I am.”

We can become tangled in ambiguous lore, or we can live now with the history and traditions we know. We should also live with facts that we know are true. Those who go back as far as Tellias have fragmented stories, or whispered (and sometimes shouted) stories of small groups of Vampires who might know the answers, or parts of the answers.  But it all comes down to two parts lore, three part science, and thirty seven parts something else. Werewolves are working on the science of it all (and the something else.) That is why Werewolves, Selkies, and Vampires are the way they are. They’re working more on shape changing than other things but still…

I asked Eleora who is as old beyond measure. Nobody knows exactly how old she is – maybe 2,500 years or so. Maybe older. She and Tellias live in their Queen Ann Victorian by the river, among the orchards. They’ve been together since he went to Britain with the Romans and found her on the edge of a cliff singing a song of night out to the cold dark sea. They were both alone, neither of them lost, and both Vampires. It was love at first sight. They both look all of nineteen or twenty years old but they are ancient. Extremely ancient.

So on a hot summer day, while we sat inside Eleora’s dark parlor, away from the heat, with tall crystal glasses of unsweetened iced tea, with sprigs of fresh mint from her yard, I asked her, “where do you come from Eleora? Why do you think Vampires are here?”

Eleora sat on the settee, wearing a faded tropical flowered sundress, her dark curls piled on her head with a red bow, and cheap purple flip flops (we used to call them Zories) on her feet.

She looked like she was thinking about what I’d said, then she took a sip of her tea. “Juliette dear, would  you like some brandy in your tea? Maybe some blood? I have some Sheriff’s blood. It’s pretty good with tea.”

“It is good,” said Tellias. “It has a kick. All that extra testosterone mixed with fear. Good stuff. I’ll go get it.” He left, and nodded to Eleora to answer my questions.

“When I was a teeny tiny child, a long long long time ago, I was small. Smaller than most children, even way back then. I’m not so small anymore. I’m 5 feet and four inches tall now. The same as you. You’re still that tall aren’t you?”

“Yes, dear, I am still that tall. Eleora were you a Vampire when you were small, or did you become a Vampire later?”

She smiled with a bit of fang. “I’ve never talked of this. I don’t remember…” Then she laughed. “I don’t remember much of anything. My head is just a mess of old papers, rocks, and locked travel trunks. But…let me see. I was always different from the others. I could see through the night and darkness. I could understand the calls of the wolves. I could scare the witches who lived in the caves near by with a giggle. I would hear the elders say I lived in a dream. I didn’t care. I was happy. My parents loved me. I loved them, because they were sort of different too. Not quiet like me, but serious and strong.”

Then one day I fell asleep in a field of flowers, listening to the waves of the ocean and the songs of the Selkies below on the beach. In the morning I returned home and home was gone. It was just like last summer when all of those poor folks, up by that lake, north of here, you know, when the fire came through and they lost everything. It broke my heart to think of them. Where did Tellias go?”

“I’m right here my love,” he said doorway where he had been quietly listening.

“Other children were there. And nobody had touched the albino. She was simple. Not like an old person, but like someone who hasn’t got her wits all together. She never spoke and never listened. Now she went about and gathered up the six children who were left. I found my parent’s heads and hands stuck in a tree. And then I started to scream until the sun came up the next morning. It was awful. Simply awful. Moon Girl, that is what we called the albino, dug holes and motioned to the children to help her fill them with flowers and body parts. She motioned for us to sing, while she also sang with her silent voice and let her tears fall. I remember wondering if she’d ever wipe her nose. Odd how children are like that. It is like when you were small Juliette and you’d always be watching people and wondering about them. You didn’t like grown ups when you were small. They disgusted you for the most part, especially when they’d get close and try to get you to talk to them. Remember?”

I remembered. “What happened next Eleora? What happened with Moon Girl and the other children.”

“Old Soul came through and took us to a safe place. He didn’t look old, but when he took us to the safe place he was as old as I am now.”

Old Soul. That was a new one to me. “Old Soul? Was he a Vampire?”

“Was and still is. He came with a great horse, and several more of his kind. They put us on their horses and took us away to where they lived in a great stone castle sort of house. He was an amazing person. He discovered that Moon Girl’s tongue had been cut out, and someone had poked sharp sticks into her ears when she was a tiny child. He taught her how to write and how to read. He taught all of us how to read and write. He was like an early saint tho brought the word of God unto the masses, but he brought all words to us, from cultures we couldn’t even imagine. He told us how wide the word was, and of many different kinds of people who lived all over. He also told us of the Vampires who lived in peace and protected those in need of help. Old Soul told us about how he and his people drank the blood of men, and in turn protected those men and kept them safe from demons and bad spirits. When I was older,  I made the choice to become a Vampire in order to protect those I loved. I love your nail color Juliette. It looks very pretty. You should stick with the light pinks.”

“Where did Old Soul come from?” I asked.

“Here and there.”

“Was he one of the first Vampires?”

“No, that would be silly. Nobody is that old.”

“Where did the first Vampires come from?”

“Would you like more tea? I think I’ll have more. I should give Old Soul a call. I haven’t seen him in, maybe… a long time.”

“He stopped by last Christmas time. Remember Eleora, he wore a red cashmere sweater that almost melted when you touched it,” said Tellias.

“Oh of course. And he is still so handsome,” said Eleora.

“Extremely handsome,” said Tellias. “He always was.”

“Who is he?” Again I asked.

“Just a friend,” said Eleora.

“A friend,” said Tellias.

“A good friend. That is why we are here,” said Eleora.

“Why are we here?” I asked.

Eleora took my hand in hers. “Because it is too hot to go outside.”

We chatted for the rest of the day about my kids, Vampires we know, and whatever popped into Eleora’s head. There are answers to every question. There are all kinds of answers to every question.

For some of us there is someone like Old Soul who mysteriously comes into our lives. For most of us it isn’t so mysterious. We make connections, we reach out, we discover each other. As my children take those steps into adulthood they’ve started to realize how important those connections can be. We take our history into the future and share – not just the stories but the love as well.

I know, I’m rambling just like Eleora. But that’s ok.

Have a good weekend everyone.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories

As yet another graduation day approaches I thought about memories. So many memories are being made this week. So many will be made this summer.

Our memories of ourselves are rarely the same memories that others have about us. Others rarely remember us for what we think is important. They rarely remember us for anything that we’d ever think of. It isn’t that history isn’t unkind. Personal history is more a flash of emotion. It is a connection made. It is unexpected bits and pieces that are filed away.

I have memories of times that are like they happened today. I can run them in my head like movies. But if I share those with those who were there with me will they remember?

I run into those who knew me long ago. They don’t remember so many things and events, and even talents that I identify with my own self image of who I am.

What they do remember is my voice. My voice. They remember how I talked and how calm I was. They remember my sweet, calm, soothing voice. That is what everyone except my closest friends remember. I never knew that.

Even without our own families we remember things as if we weren’t related at all, and grew up miles apart.

As I write, a new tale based loosely on a brief time in my life, and those involved, I think of how we remember each other. My memories will be woven with fiction, but I seriously doubt if anyone would ever know they’re mine. Then again, isn’t a lot of what we write, feel, and how we react based on our own memories and experiences, even those locked away in secret places of our minds and hearts.

What I wish for the young adults in my life is that they have many wonderful shared memories that will continue to amaze and entertain, and bring joy for years to come. Even if that is just the memory of the sound of a voice, or the chance viewing of a falling star late at night. Your memories are yours and yours alone. To keep, or to share.

Wishing you good ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Evie

Our friend Pierce was by this weekend. He pulled out a tintype of his mother and sisters.

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “There is Evie when she was alive. How is she?”

“Great, you should get in touch with her. She is in the Oakland Hills these days. She’d love to see you,” said Pierce.

Evie is on the far left, with the long ringlets looking straight into the camera.

They were a lovely family of assorted interesting personalities. Evie has a fire about her, and a curiosity, and sense of humor that kept everyone who knew her entertained, and on their toes. Despite the fact that she had more than her share of suitors she took a different path.

I don’t know exactly when she approached my brother Aaron and told him that she knew what he was (what we all were.) She wanted to be like us.

Years later we were walking on a beach, it was I think 1932. We were wearing satin evening dresses with absolutely nothing on under them. My hair was in Marcel waves. Hers was pulled back in an elegant chignon with a diamond clip.

We were talking about everyone at the party we’d just been at. It was a warm night on the Central California coast, as we walked barefoot, our stomachs happy and full of blood and booze.

Then she stood and faced the waves. She dropped her dress on the sand and ran laughing into the waves. I didn’t see her for days after that. I’ve no idea if she had taken a night swim then run off with a lover, or if she’d hitched a ride on a whale and gone off to Mexico. I have no idea at all.

But that was typical of Evie.

It was good seeing the old tintype. I’ll have to give her a call – and soon.

Just a reminder for all of us to call old friends, and rekindle old relationships. It will be just like being alive again.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman