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

Musings on Moving On

I’m not special. I’m busy. I’m different. I’m impatient and frazzled more than usual these days. I’m a mom.

So don’t sweet talk me or give me hollow compliments. You never had to prove anything to me. I’m a Vampire. You never have to prove yourself to a Vampire.

That is what I said to the creature who stood before me the other night. I was out with my 18 year old son and we met some people for dinner. Our dinner. You know, we’re Vampires. It’s OK. When we were done with our tummies full and our “friends” empty of a few pints of blood and full of sweet dreams, we quietly headed for the car. Halfway down the alley we were stopped by a stranger, or someone I thought was a stranger.

His face was in the dark as he asked if we were having a nice evening. I took my son’s arm and gave a nod, ready to move on when the man stopped in front of us.

“You don’t know who I am.”

I looked at him in the face and I knew. It had been at least 80 years but I knew him. I can’t even start to tell you how annoying it is when someone from my past shows up when I’m with my kids.

“I know Vampires never forget. And I’d never forget you Juliette. You’re still just as beautiful as the last time I saw you.”

We made a little bit of small talk. He complimented me several more times. Then we went our ways like ships that pass in the night. Just signals of those who might or might not meet in port one day.

“Who was that mom?” Garrett was naturally curious about the person we’d just me.

“He’s a Warlock. We used to run in the same circles, kind of sort of. There was always something about him that made my skin crawl.”

“He seemed nice enough.”

“He is, but…”

“He’s a Warlock?”

“He was such an asshole. It has nothing to do with him being a Warlock. We had a lot of the same friends. That is all. It is what it is.”

We talked a bit more. Just another night of a week full of annoying things that fortunately are separated by really nice things, like evening with my son.

Garrett and I talked for the next hour about people we know and our plans for the summer and his graduation from high school. We talked of college and the people he’ll meet. There will be new friends. Some will last for a year. Some will last forever. Some will come and go from our lives like shadows.

We came home to find my husband Teddy and daughter Clara watching Lizard Lick Towing. I know, we’re Vampires who have sunk to the lowest of low, but at least it was good to see some daddy/daughter bonding. They watch Bar Rescue together too. So much for Gothic Vampire stereotypes.

I told Teddy about my old Warlock acquaintance. He used to be among my circle of friends a long time ago but we grew up and all moved on. It wasn’t the wrong time wrong place situation. It was just time to move on.

Just like with my children and the end of the school year, it is time to move on.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

This post was first published May 2014.

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

 

red heart

 

Ghosts and new beginnings

 

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Spring is the time of year for new beginnings or Fall when school starts or even January 1st… so they say. I think it is the beginning of summer. That is when school is out and we all take a deep great and regroup.

It is also the time when kids graduate from high school. Then they aren’t kids anymore. They suddenly become adults.

Last night we gathered for my son Garrett’s graduation from High School. I was so proud and at the same time choked up. I’d known so many of these kids since they were teeny tiny little things. I knew them before they knew how to read or that the world was anything but a wonderful happy place. Now they were moving on to college and other adventures. I was so proud but at the same time uneasy knowing what is ahead for them. I know that sounds weird, but I love so many of those kids so much.

After the celebrations we (our entire family, uncles, grandparents and assorted others plus friends) went out to the farm belonging to the Elders. They’d agreed to host a party for the Vampire kids in their barn. The rest of us “adults” gathered in the house.

In the old days parties might have included some Regular Humans to provide refreshment (come on you know what I’m talking about) but tonight we provided blood from bottles. This was a celebration for our own kids, the 16 of them from the area who graduated this year plus a few friends who’d graduated last year or would graduate in the next few years.

I left my teenage son and his younger sister to their own friends and took my brother Val for a walk in the pear orchard.

We’d run through these orchards as teens, trying to get as far away from our older brothers and parents as possible. Our conversation centered on Garrett and his friends and college. We compared notes on summer plans and what the future would bring for the new graduates. Small bats fluttered around our heads and crickets chirped in the grass, just like when we were young so long ago. So much for musings, Then we started to talk about things we’d done when we were young.

That was in 1877. I was 18 and Val was 19. We were young Vampires ready to take on the world. Our parents found a college that would accept the both of us (not because we were Vampires but because I was female.) It would be a continuation of our childhood adventures. We spent a lot of our time and energy hiding what we did. We smiled at the fact that my kids and our brother Aaron’s kids (now in college and law school) tell us everything. How times have changed.

The girls in the barn at the party were all in shorts. Back then I was in a long dress with a corset and on special occasions a train on that dress. It was all ruffles and bows for me and I loved it. Val laughed at how I’d always be tripping when my heels would get caught in my skirts.

As we laughed and giggled, walking along like two drunks bumping into each other, a figure appeared in front of us. Transparent with a slight glow she stopped in front of us and held out her arms to us as if pleading.

“Holy crap. Damn ghosts,” whispered my brother in an almost harsh growl. His fangs came out.

“Hush,” I hissed. Then I realized this was not just any ghost. It was a childhood friend. Suddenly guilt grabbed me and I froze.

It was Ada, the first girl Val ever kissed. She was also the first girl he bit on the neck. He’d been in love with her as only a teenage boy can fall in love.

Ada was a lovely flirt and a beautiful silly girl. Her dance card was always filled and her future was bright. Later she was seduced by a charming man who married another woman. Then pregnant, she married another man. He was handsome and rich – it was all good on paper. The child died and her marriage turned abusive. Our brother Aaron offered to turn her into a Vampire. He thought it would help her escape. Valentine offered to take her away to start a new life. In the end she sewed rocks into the hem of her skirt and walked into the river.

My parents were livid about what my brothers had done. At the time I didn’t think they did anything wrong, but now I know they shouldn’t have interfered. They should have been a friend but not exposed themselves for what they really were.

Val also realized who this beautiful and sad apparition was. “Ada,” he said to her. “Why are you here?”

She just look at us and said nothing.

“Darling Ada, it is time to move on.”

Ada moved a little closer. We could feel the air get cold, like someone had opened a freezer. “I did everything wrong.”

“No,” I said, “you loved your child. You loved. Ada, please, it is time to move on. Stop torturing yourself.”

She shook her head. “I had the chance to become one of you, the undead. Now I’m in a ghostly Hell of my own making. I’m damned forever.”

We stood, not knowing what to say. Then behind us came a voice. A very familiar voice. It was another ghost – a ghost I know very well. A ghost, dear readers, you know well.

Val and I turned around to find The Ghost, Nigel standing behind us. He wore his black suit as usual but tonight he had a white rose in his lapel. He wasn’t taking to us. Nigel was here for Ada.

For those who don’t know, Nigel is a big pain in the neck. He lives at my house, or more so at my neighbor’s house but hangs out with me most of the time. Between insulting me, flipping me off and hiding my keys, we’ve sort of become friends. When I’ve had to deal with loss he has been there for me. In turn I’ve been there for him, as much as one can be there for a ghost. He died 100 years after Ada and was obviously dealing the ghost thing a lot better than she had been. Anyway…

Nigel spoke to Ada in a calm loving voice. “It is time to move on my love. You are innocent of all wrong. Your time here is done. You’re free to go and be with your child.”

He moved close to the other ghost and embraced her. In a flash of blue and pink light there was only one ghost left.

Nigel turned and looked at us. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the two most irresponsible Vampires of the 19th Century.”

I could have been insulted but he sort of had a point.

“Is she gone?” My brother asked as he took my hand.

“Yes.” Nigel didn’t elaborate. He just stood there and glared at us.

“Thank you,” said Val.

Then Nigel came close and looked me in the eye. He blasted me with an ice cold wind. “Don’t even think of asking me why I can move poor Ada on and still be stuck here myself. You Vampires think you rule the world but you don’t know the half of it. You don’t know anything.”

We stood eyes locked. My mind went blank. I had no idea what to say.

Then he smiled a wicked smile and said, “I have to congratulate you on what a good job you’ve done raising your own children. Too bad they’re Vampires.” Then he vanished.

Valentine and I walked back to the house. We decided not to tell anyone else, except maybe Aaron, about Ada.

I suppose I could say we’re all haunted by the ghosts of our pasts, but come on, this was weird and sad even for Val and me.

Back at the party everyone was having a good time. I was greeted at the back door by my husband Teddy who had a kiss waiting and a glass of wine. I could hear the music blaring from the barn. Everyone was happy and getting along. Life is good, even if you’re undead. And I plan on keeping it that way.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Musings on Moving On

I’m not special. I’m busy. I’m different. I’m impatient and frazzled more than usual these days. I’m a mom.

So don’t sweet talk me or give me hollow compliments. You never had to prove anything to me. I’m a Vampire. You never have to prove yourself to a Vampire.

That is what I said to the creature who stood before me the other night. I was out with my 18 year old son and we met some people for dinner. Our dinner. You know, we’re Vampires. It’s OK. When we were done with our tummies full and our “friends” empty of a few pints of blood and full of sweet dreams, we quietly headed for the car. Halfway down the alley we were stopped by a stranger, or someone I thought was a stranger.

His face was in the dark as he asked if we were having a nice evening. I took my son’s arm and gave a nod, ready to move on when the man stopped in front of us.

“You don’t know who I am.”

I looked at him in the face and I knew. It had been at least 80 years but I knew him. I can’t even start to tell you how annoying it is when someone from my past shows up when I’m with my kids.

“I know Vampires never forget. And I’d never forget you Juliette. You’re still just as beautiful as the last time I saw you.”

We made a little bit of small talk. He complimented me several more times. Then we went our ways like ships that pass in the night. Just signals of those who might or might not meet in port one day.

“Who was that mom?” Garrett was naturally curious about the person we’d just me.

“He’s a Warlock. We used to run in the same circles, kind of sort of. There was always something about him that made my skin crawl.”

“He seemed nice enough.”

“He is, but…”

“He’s a Warlock?”

“He was such an asshole. It has nothing to do with him being a Warlock. We had a lot of the same friends. That is all. It is what it is.”

We talked a bit more. Just another night of a week full of annoying things that fortunately are separated by really nice things, like evening with my son.

Garrett and I talked for the next hour about people we know and our plans for the summer and his graduation from high school. We talked of college and the people he’ll meet. There will be new friends. Some will last for a year. Some will last forever. Some will come and go from our lives like shadows.

We came home to find my husband Teddy and daughter Clara watching Lizard Lick Towing. I know, we’re Vampires who have sunk to the lowest of low, but at least it was good to see some daddy/daughter bonding. They watch Bar Rescue together too. So much for Gothic Vampire stereotypes.

I told Teddy about my old Warlock acquaintance. He used to be among my circle of friends a long time ago but we grew up and all moved on. It wasn’t the wrong time wrong place situation. It was just time to move on.

Just like with my children and the end of the school year, it is time to move on.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Everything will be alright.

window

My life is absolutely jam-packed full. But there were times when I was alone in almost every sense of the word. There were times that might have been hailed as opportunities and all I could see was a bottomless pit. There were times when I took opportunities and so the saying goes, ran with it. I ran as far as I could go. Everything eventually changes. Nothing stays the same except maybe our love and I hope our humor.

As a rule I’m reserved around my new clients, that is new Vampires. Yes, just turned a few months ago. She was doing well. Rather pragmatic and accepting about it. As with most of them it wasn’t what they expected. Then again, most of life isn’t what we expect until we’ve been around for a while and gathered that old moss of experience and wisdom.

Willow had family here and there. Her parents had divorced and started new families when she was about ten. She never saw them much or kept track of them. She had lived with an uncle who’d since passed away. None the less Willow made it through high school and college then on to a career. Then life and love imploded around her. It happens to all of us. She thought of jumping off a bridge but didn’t do it. She was thinking of a lot of things one night when she was seduced by a man who turned out not to be like her. And well, her life changed a lot more dramatically than she could have ever imagined, for Willow had been turned into a Vampire.

It was more complicated than that, but that isn’t the point of this story. The point is that I am in charge of helping Willow finally make the adjustment of living on her own, in a new world. A new life if you want to call it that.

I’d introduce her to the community of the night and teach her to know who is safe and who is not. I’d continue to give her instructions and watch over her until she was ready to be completely on her own.

She was surprised that we (Vampires) were for the most part not the creatures of dark brooding novels and movies. OK we can be dark and brooding and we’re pretty good at it, but the point is that we, like everyone else, just want to be happy. We want to fit in. We need to care and know we’re cared for. That is the Modern Vampire way, and the way for most people, no matter what exactly they might be.

That morning we stopped by a small cottage like house I’d found for her to live in.

As we entered the front door she a look about in a cautious sort of way, kind of like a cat after all the furniture has been moved around.

“Nobody will miss me. Not really. I mean after I died.” She looked out the window into the mid-morning fog.

I put my hand on her shoulder. “This is the beginning Willow.”

“I…” she started to say, but I cut in.

“This isn’t suicide. It is just being here in a different way. You’ll make it positive. You’ll find success. You’ll find love.”

WIllow looked around some more inside then out back at the small garden. She smiled, careful not to show any fangs.”

We then took my truck in search of furniture and other household items she needed to get started with her new life.

She asked if she could get a cat. Of course. On the way home we stopped by the shelter, the city pound, where she picked out a three-year old tabby with white paws named Jeeves. She said she’d help someone else make a new start too – that they’d do it together – Willow and Jeeves.

 I turned on some music in the car and intentionally played “The Middle” by the band Jimmy Eat World. It is one of my son’s favorite songs. It seemed like the right song to play for Willow.

In most cases, no matter how melancholy things seem, it will get better. The stars will continue to shine, cats will purr and new friends will make bonds that last for years.

I try to teach that to my own children who will all too soon be leaving home to go off to college, alone, that there will be times when they’ll feel lost. But they have a good navigation system and they’ll always find their way. Maybe not where they thought they would be going but with any luck they’ll always end up where they are supposed to be.

As I watched Willow unload Jeeves the cat and hold him in her arms, I had a feeling that she was exactly where she was supposed to be too.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 chrysanthemum

 

The Middle

Jimmy Eats World – Songwriters: ADKINS, JAMES CHRISTOPHER/BURCH, RICHARD E/LIND, ZACHARY MICHEL/LINTON, THOMAS DARRELL

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just TRY your best, TRY everything you can.
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves when you’re away.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, you know they’re all the same.
You know you’re doing better on your own, so don’t buy in.
Live right now.
You just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet.
It’s only in your head you feel left out or
Looked down on.
Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can (do everything you can).
And don’t you worry what their bitter hearts (bitter hearts) are gonna say.

Chorus
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright, alright.
It just takes some time,
Little girl you’re in the middle of the ride.
Everything, everything will be just fine, everything,
Everything will be alright.