History

“I was tired of Rome. When the first opportunity came up to go to Britain I took it. It was sometime around 78 or 79 AD. My timeline is a little fuzzy on that. I had no idea where I was going or that I’d meet the love of my life and some of the best friends I’ve ever had there. There was nobody like me in Rome. I was alone. I’d always been alone as long as I could remember, since I was a small child. I’d met other Vampires, but they weren’t like me. They were distant and fearful, living in the shadows. I was almost a demigod. Imagine that, and here I am, an old man, living on a farm by a river in California.”

Tellias didn’t look like an old man. He looked about nineteen or maybe twenty. Today Tellias was wearing yellow flip flops, black tuxedo pants, an orange and brown work shirt with the name Lloyd embroidered above the pocket, and his 1966 Rolex Submariner. His white blonde hair was tucked behind his ear.

We were in my brother Aaron’s office,  a restored Italianate mansion built in the 1870’s. Aaron has a law practice. Today his cohort and friend (if you could call it that) Austin Durant was there. Austin Durant is a history professor but he also restores old building. He is also a Vampire Hunter. This is where it can get complicated.

Durant works with Aaron to rid the world of Shadow Creepers, the Vampires who have no souls, and/or no redeeming value to society. They’re the ones who can’t control themselves, cause problems, or just fill out walls and craw spaces with their dried out crusty nasty barely animated corpses. Sometimes I begrudgingly help them out.

I know, I’ve been distracted… I’d stopped by with Eleora and Tellias, the ancient Vampires that I keep an eye on. My great great great great Grandmaman Lola was also along.

Austin was enchanted by the stories. When I first met Austin he tended to be a little tense being the only non-Vampire in the house, but by now he knew we wouldn’t harm him. Why would we?

I went to the kitchen to make tea, and check my email. Eventually Austin met me in their. I poured him a cup and we chatted a bit while we watched the storm outside.

“When I think of all of the history you and your family has experienced, it is just mind boggling,” said Austin.

“We have seen a lot. Sometimes too much.”

Lola came in and got a glass of water. She flirted a bit with Austin then moved on. Nobody would pick her out as a Vampire with her wavy brown hair, jeans and a sweater. Sometimes she walked with a slight limp, but otherwise she looked your average twenty five year old woman.

After she’d left Austin asked (in almost a whisper), “How old is she?”

“Lola is six hundred and seventy five years old. She was born the same year as Geoffrey Chaucer. Same day too. When is your birthday Austin?”

“July 5.”

“You have the same birthday as P.T. Barnum. It seems fitting doesn’t it. You’re a historian and a Vampire Hunter. That makes you sort of a purveyor of freaks and important facts nobody wants to understand.”

“How…”

“You have the same birthday as my daughter. She was born July 5th, 1999.”

“Is she, your daughter a Vampire? Your kids are Vampires like Aaron’s kids aren’t they?”

“Of course they are.  By the way, I have the same birthday as Weird Al but I’m exactly a hundred years older than he is.”

“You were around during the California Gold Rush.”

“Right after the Gold Rush. My husband Teddy was born on the Panama Peninsula when his parents were on their way to California in 1849. They were among the first. My brother Max was born in Sacramento a few weeks after Teddy’s parents and my parents arrived. Aaron was born in 1854. I came along in 1859. Our other brothers Andy and Val were also born in the 1850’s. 1851 and 1858. We were a big family of little Vampires. I suppose we were around during the tail end of the Gold Rush, kind of sort of. I vaguely remember adults talking about the war, you know the Civil War. My big memories are more about the city growing up around us, floods, fires, the art museum, and the railroad. The rail road was big. Oh, and I remember then the State Capitol building went up. That was glorious fun. We had roller skates too, for indoors. The streets weren’t good enough for street skates.”

“You skated?”

“Yes, we skated.”

“I know all of this, or most of what you’re telling me, but when I hear it from you…when I hear it from you, it’s like…I don’t know. It’s extraordinary. The things you’ve seen…”

“Austin, don’t have too much adoration for us. You have your own extraordinary talents and experiences.”

Dear Eleora blasted into the room, twirling her red circle skirt, and singing something that sounded like a long lost Motown song. She kissed my cheek, then kissed Austin on the cheek.

“Would you like some tea sweetie?” I asked her.

“Not right now, but when you’re done with yours come back and join us, and bring Mr. Austin with you.” Then she fluttered out of the room.

“She is the wife of Tellias, right?”

“Yes she is. I’m not sure if they ever were formally married but they’ve been together since he arrived in Britain from Rome.”

“How old are they?”

“Over two thousand years, but nobody knows for sure. We believe she is older, but we don’t ask.”

“They look like teenagers.”

“They act like old people. They are old people.”

We finished our tea and got back to the others. I took all of my elders home. Aaron and Austin got to work on some restoration and nasty ghoul extraction they’d been working on.

One day I might sit down with Austin and tell him all of my tales of bygone days. Then again, I think he just might get depressed when he finds out that nobody ever learns from their mistakes. Nobody listens to reason, or cautionary tales, or cares about anything in the past or in the future. Then again, I might be wrong.

It doesn’t matter how old someone is, or how young, but how they see the world. It is how they choose to see the world.

I tell my kids that. My now legally adult children. They seem so young, because they are. And of course, they keep me young as well – all 159 years of me.

Stay young. Share stories. Live well. Learn from your mistakes, and from your success, and from each other.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Never Shout Never – Absolutely Never

Define and Conquer

I’d picked the kids up last week from the roller skating rink and caught a nice break visiting and singing along with them to fun music from the iPod (Never Shout Never, Coffee and Cigarettes. Always fun and inappropriate), when I pull into my driveway and see that black Mercedes parked in front of my house.

In another life, another time, another moment, my heart would have skipped a beat. Everything in my romantic Vampire soul would have cried “Adventure and Romance are MINE”, followed by “Insanity and Trouble” and the urge to RUN, but at this moment, BUSY MOM, just looked and thought “You’ve got to be kidding?”

My kids are already wondering why my mood is gone.

The last time this person was over my husband gave him the “We’re not going to raise our kids in a Vampire Ghetto” talk. Not “Ghetto Talk” but telling this prominent Vampire that we would not be raising our children in a night-time world of Vampires and darkness. We’re modern Vampires. We don’t lurk around shadows. We don’t lurk. We live in a diverse world. And aside from that, my husband used to be a regular human. But that is another blog post up the road somewhere.

He greeted the kids and they ran upstairs with excuses about tons of homework. I greeted Nathaniel Chase with a kiss on his cold cheek. He took my hands in his and told me how lovely I looked. Teddy had already opened a bottle of wine. I headed to the kitchen to get my own glass of wine, with the intention of joining  the men who were deep in discussion about whatever it is men discuss when my brain is full of kids and work and the 50,000 things the average mom has to do each and every single day rain or shine, dark or light.

I was in no hurry to get my own glass. From the corner of my eye, from the kitchen window, I could see the ghost sitting on my back deck reading a large red book. Nathaniel Chase would be too polite to bring up the ghost. Most Vampires are polite to a fault unless provoked (or with their blood relatives). As I poured the wine I wondered what brought Nathaniel here. It was always something that would turn my world upside down. He always wanted something. What would it be this time. Did he still want to know about Jack the Ripper? Did he want to recruit my son into studying with some old musty Vampire in Europe? Did he want to get information about someone? Or did he just plan on bitching about our lifestyle choices?

I glanced out the window at the ghost. He flipped me off and vanished. I thought about Nathaniel, glossy black hair, slate blue eyes and matching sweater and black jeans with a plaid Cashmere scarf hanging around his neck (you know the kind guys wear now). He could have been the front man of a famous band or a CEO of a Fortune 100 company. He could be whatever you wanted him to be. As a Vampire he was that good. Women’s heads would turn but they wouldn’t know if it was because he was dressed so well or if he was handsome or if he was a creature from another realm. All they were really sure of was that they couldn’t resist him. He could work it on men too (we all can). No regular human could resist Nathaniel Chase.

He’d been around for a long time. I suspect at least 400 years but I never asked. I just knew that it was his job, or he thought it his job, to keep track of what other Vampires were doing. I’m a mom, so had too much to deal with right now without being twisted and turned by Nathaniel Chase. And I could resist Nathaniel Chase. I’d been resisting him my entire life.

I’m proud to be whatever I am and have raise my children to do the same but that said…I don’t want my children to grow up feeling as if the world is not theirs. I don’t want them to live in an antique world of darkness, reeking with the smells of dried blood and fear. I don’t want them to feel as if they are monsters or outcasts.

Nathaniel Chase was always watching me since  I was a child. Nothing I ever did was right. Of course girlfriends and I got into all sorts of silly problems but we were just girls. On the other hand my brother Val and I got into some serious trouble on more than one occasion over the years, but we learned from our mistakes. We were serious successful adults now – not the crazy reckless youthful Vampires of old.

I downed my wine, poured another glass, straightened my shoulders and joined my husband Teddy and Nathaniel in the formal living room. I was ready to take whatever crap he wanted to throw at me and I was ready to throw it back. Never again would I let Nathaniel Chase get the best of me.

It took everything I had (and the wine helped) to keep my upper lip from getting a twitch in it. My head was light. I hated confrontation. I didn’t need it right now.

“So what brings you here Nathaniel?” I asked as I pushed a cat off of the chair and sat down. The cat jumped up into Nathaniel’s lap. Traitor.

“My wife and I are moving here in a few months. Our daughter is 3 and our son just had his first birthday. I wanted to ask you about the schools. I hear you’re the go-to source for all things to do with parenting” Nathaniel answered. My husband just smiled.

As we grow up, no matter how long it takes, there comes a time when we realize that we’ve come into our own. I believe that most people are respected and liked and loved far more than they can ever imagine. I don’t always feel like that, believe me, but all reason tells me to just stop thinking and give myself a pat on my back for doing a good job.

We talked for another couple of hours about kids, schools and the joys and challenges of parenting. And all was well in my world, as the tune to Coffee and Cigarettes ran through my head.

 

coffee

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Note: Never Shout Never – Absolutely Never was first posted in February 2013. I reposted it today after reading a post from Rara (everybody’s favorite dinosaur and loving blogger.) CLICK HERE to see her post.

 

 

 


Tag Hash

taghash_ancient-rome

“It is called Tag Hash. You add stuff as you go, as in tagging it on to the end,” explained the ancient Vampire Tellias. “I learned to cook in Rome, when I was a much younger Vampire than I am today. Tiberius was emperor at the time. God, that was a strange time. Fun if you were on the top of the food chain like I was. They thought I was a demigod. Oh, I had my share of torrid adventures. Nothing I’d recommend either one of you try, but it was fun.”

Tellias pulled out a large cast iron skillet then rooted around his kitchen for various knives and bits of food. Vampires don’t eat a lot of regular food but we do, from time to time. One can’t live on blood alone.

With his white blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, wearing a red apron over a tuxedo shirt with a thousand little tucks and blue plaid pants he was quite the dashing cook. He looks all of 19 years old but Tellias is as ancient as modern civilization and much more civilized. My 15 year old daughter Clara and I were visiting and chatting and having a lovely time in large Victorian kitchen.

Tellias talked as he cooked. “We made Tag Hash back then too. I believe I’ve had this made with everything from chopped mouse to wolf to mussels. Once a group of superstitious soldiers even added the body parts of slain heroes. A bit of human heart or liver that made the soldiers feel special. It wasn’t very good, in fact it was horrible and a bit disturbing, but they thought they were stronger after eating it. Anyway, people used to do all sorts of nasty things. They still do. So, where was I? Tag Hash. Ingredients come and go with fashion but everyone likes to add bits and pieces together and think they have something special. Sort of like a romance – all bits and pieces.”

Tag Hash

He took a few mushrooms and chopped them up, then grated a carrot and a few squash he’d picked that morning. After that he added finely slivered onion and shallots to the mix and a bright red bell pepper. He chopped a small mountain of spinach and Swiss chard together. Throwing in a bit of thyme, salt and pepper he mixed everything in a bowl with a hand full of chopped oysters, some raw steak thinly sliced steak and a slash of white wine.

Next he took out some thick smoky bacon and cut about 8 pieces into small bits and threw them in the cast iron skillet to fry. He said he never cooked the pieces whole. It was easier this way and much more fun.

Throwing a bit of olive oil and a hint of grape seed oil in the pan he added the chopped ingredients and flattened them out.

“One must wait a bit to make sure everything browns.” He said with a sly smile, and then flipped the crispy hash over. Then he cracked a few eggs on the top and left them to cook.

When it was brown on both sides and the whites of the eggs had cooked, he moved it to three plates and we proceeded to the table. He sprinkled a bit of chopped tomato and green onion on top for color and a little zest. The vegetables were tasty, the oysters were done to perfection and the steak was rare.

The dish was served with Bloody Marys (made with real blood of course), and Clara had some spiced Poet’s Blood.

It is a dish that is served different every time because it is Tag Hash – just tag things onto it until you get it like you want.

“I like to fix this around Halloween.” continued Tellias. “I add pumpkin and winter squash with a bit of sweet potato. It adds a delicate sweetness without processed sugar. If I was a Witch I’d add small children, monkey balls and bat eyes, but I’m not a Witch. Luckily none of us are Witches or Warlocks. You have to watch out for them. Always question what they’re cooking, or better yet don’t dine with them at all.”

Long long ago his wife had been involved with a couple of Warlocks so Tellias never trusted any kind of Witch. Come to think of it none of us really trust them or like to spend much time with them. They’re as creepy as Ghosts as far as I’m concerned and far weirder and one can never trust a Witch. Never.

I wouldn't recommend eating ANYTHING a witch serves you. Just smile and say you have a stomach flu or better yet, run away.

I wouldn’t recommend eating ANYTHING a witch serves you. Just smile and say you have a stomach flu or better yet, run away.

We didn’t have any left over Tag Hash but we had some left over hash tags: #taghash, #hashtag, #vampirecooks, #vampiremaman, #modernvampires, #Tellias, #ancientvampires. I’m not sure what to do with them but we’ll figure it out before they go bad.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Doubt

change

I had an extremely misspent youth, even as a Vampire. This was mainly due to ignorance and stupidity on my part.

That is the main reason why I spend so much time thinking about how to parent my own kids so they won’t be going out into the big wide world with no direction or wrapped in a cloak of ignorance.

Anyway…

My brother Val and I spent a lot of time together when we were young. We have three older brothers, but we’re the youngest and only a year apart in age.

We don’t play “remember when” much anymore about the stupider moments of our lives. Remember when your hair caught on fire? Remember when you left your corset in the carriage? Remember when that Hungarian countess didn’t tell you she was married? Remember when we got locked in that basement for two weeks? Remember when you fell in love with HIM? Remember when she broke your heart and you chased her all the way to Boston and crashed her engagement party and she told you that she hated you forever? Remember when we went to that underground club and both got blood poisoning and threw up for a week. Remember when everyone had completely lost respect for both of us? The list pretty much could cover about 500 pages of 8 point type and single spaced. That would be the short list.

It really wasn’t that bad. It just sounds bad on paper, or if we say any of it out loud.  Most of our friends have the same sort of experiences. Somewhere along the line we learned from our mistakes experiences and grew up.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t all stupid. We were just kids who didn’t know how to be grownup yet. We’d been around for a lot longer than most adults, well, all regular human adults but we just sort of floundered. It was a long time of trial and error. We all go through it, or maybe not. I don’t know.

All I know is that I don’t want my kids to feel that sense of missing out or missing the boat, or just being lost and clueless. I want them to be prepared and to have all the tools they need to succeed in whatever they want to do.

Val and I remember the exact moment we grew up.

After yet another break up with my on-and-off-for-years lover Pleasant Van Dusen I moved back to my hometown. Pleasant moved 3,000 miles away and I was only slightly heart broken by his departure this time. I settled into a large downtown house by myself, making a studio in the upstairs and more or less living up there with my art. I’d go out in the night, reconnecting with a few old friends. Sometimes I’d go visit the Elders on their farm on weekends, reconnecting with a sense of something that seemed normal. I spent most of my time alone with my art, illustrating for magazines and books under a male name. It was 1922 and women were still supposed to be hidden away in the kitchen or some other domestic activity.

In my spare time I decorated the house, bobbed my hair, read and started to get more involved with my community, that is the local community of younger Modern Vampires. That included my brother Aaron who had started a law practice.

A few months into my move, my brother Val moved in with me. He’d just come back from Europe after some bad experiences with body snatchers and Vampire hunters.

We spend our evenings out, still making mischief but not so reckless as we had before.

One evening I found myself sitting on the steps of my basement wondering what the next century would really bring. I thought about Pleasant far too much. I thought about all sorts of things, but for some reason, no matter how crappy my thoughts were I knew I was home. I was where I needed to be.

Val came down and sat beside me.

“I was trapped in a basement for a week with a Werewolf named Ben Hayes and a nun before I made it back here. I know you’re waiting for a punch line on that one, but it wasn’t a joke. Sister Martha was trying to assist two young men who she thought needed help and we all ended up as captives of a crazy man. I owe Sister Martha and Ben my life. It was so stupid and it was all my fault.” Val sat in silence. I knew part of the story but didn’t press him for more.

He put his arm around my shoulder and gave me a squeeze. “The only reason I’m even here is because I realized that it wasn’t the basement that was holding me captive. It was my own prison of my own making.”

“Me too,” I said. “So how did you get out?”

“One night Ben tried the door and it was open. We just walked away.”

And in a way that is what I did too. I just opened the door that kept me from moving on with my life and walked away.

After that Val and I both lived a life where we learned from our mistakes and from our experiences. We thought before we acted. We treasured what we had and what we’d worked for. And when we worked we did it not just hard but smart.

Sure there were more disasters and mistakes and broken hearts, but all in all we’ve done quite well for ourselves.

But still, sometimes that nagging self-doubt comes back like some ghoulish phantom. Doubt can be a Vampire’s greatest fear and greatest enemy. So can the loss of hope and the sense of no direction.

And it wasn’t some earth shattering event that brought this all on. It was just getting to that point where suddenly everything clicked. Or maybe it was just that no bull shit point.

My kids will be (are already) smarter than I every was or ever will be. I can credit myself and my husband for a lot of that (for most of it.) I didn’t raise them by accident or without thought or purpose. I didn’t keep them in a box. I talked to them all the time. And I hope I’ve prepared them to make better choices with their eyes open and with purpose. Most of all, I want them to be happy and happy with who they are.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

prison of our own making