Don’t ask me…Vampire Fun and Games

My phone made a meowing sound. That’s my brother Aaron’s ringtone.

“Hello,” I said. I wondered what he wanted.

“Juliette, how’s it going?”

“I’m not crawling under any houses or going into any basements for you.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because whenever you have to get rid of, or otherwise deal with dried up musty old Shadow Creeping Vampires you call me to do it for you.”

“Juliette…”

“Isn’t that what you have your Vampire Hunter for?”

“I’m not going to ask you to kill anything. Well, not technically. You know what I’m asking. You and Val are the best. He’s on his way over right now.”

“Does Val know what you want Aaron?”

“No, I neglected to tell him.”

This reminded me of an event a few months ago. One of my daughter’s good friends from High School started sending her fervent religious materials and calling her about church events and sin and it was strong and negative. My child was offended and told her friend that she was offended and then told him to never call her again. He was such a nice kid. I’d hoped they’d stay friends.

So when my brother Aaron calls me to do something I’d never ask my kids to do I sort of cringe. There are some things I did in my past, with and without my brothers, that I would never want my children to do.

One of those things is converting regular people into Vampires. And the worst thing about it is that my brother Val and I are the best. Yeah, I don’t talk about that a lot on this blog, you know the whole Vampire thing.

We’re the youngest two of five siblings. Val and I are little more than a year apart. Aaron is five years older than me. Then there are the two older brothers who are eight and ten years older than me. I don’t want to get them involved with this at all because one knows everything and can be a real asshole and control freak. The other is just, well weird and always defers to the eldest when things turn stressful. Either that or he’ll tune out and find some back door to sneak out of.

Our brother Aaron is smack in the middle. I’d like to smack him right now.

Then he said, “Do you mind stopping for coffee on the way?” Then he proceeded to give me an order for six different cups. It made me wonder who would be there.

“Do you want any pastries?” I had to ask in my most snarky voice.

“Very funny. Just get here soon baby sister,” he said. Vampires don’t eat pastries. I wish we did but we don’t.

So to make a long story short I showed up at the Victorian house we all still own in the middle of downtown.

A thirty something couple greeted us. Aaron claimed he’d known them for a while. They’d been thoroughly vetted. He thought they’d be good Vampires. Whatever. I knew I’d be the one who’d end up helping them through the transition.

My great great great great grandmama Lola was there as well. She was uncharacteristically quiet. On the other hand she looked quiet lovely in a flowered sundress covered by a denim jacket. At six hundred and seventy five years she still looks like a twenty six year old young woman. Val and I kissed her cool cheeks and thanked her for being there. You know, just in case. God only knows (or maybe not) how many Vampires she has brought into the world.

Val and I asked the obligatory questions. Do you understand that you’ll be dead for short time before we bring you back. Do you know there is a risk of losing your soul? Do you understand what it means if you lost your soul? Do you know there is a huge risk death, as in final death? Do you understand that you will need to consume human blood to survive? Do you understand that you will have to actually bite into a live human body every once in a while? Do you understand that you will outlive everyone you know? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will not be immortal? You can die. Someone can kill you. You can suddenly die for no reason as well. Do you understand that this can’t be undone? Do you understand that once you become a Vampire you will ALWAYS be a Vampire?

I didn’t ask, “Have you lost your fucking mind?”

There was more but I won’t go into that right now. Actually there is one more item that Aaron, Val, and I stressed more than the other points. “Do you understand that if you tell anyone, or show anyone what you have become that you will die in an extremely unpleasant way.” That is one of the ugly points of being a Vampire that I don’t cover on my nice humorous feel good parenting blog. We don’t take blabber mouths lightly.

“Want to go to Target with me when we’re done here?” I asked Val.

“Sure,” he said. “I need shampoo.”

“I hear you’ve never lost anyone,” the woman said to me. “How many have you converted?”

“How many Vampires have I made?” I glanced at Val. “A lot.”

Val just smiled. Asking a Vampire how many people they’ve turned into Vampires is like asking someone how many sexual partners they’ve had. It is something you just don’t ask anyone.

Then we did what needed to be done. Lola had agreed to stay for a week to help with the transition. It isn’t easy. It isn’t pretty. Aaron was going to stay at least for a few days, but he lives walking distance away so it isn’t a big deal.

I watched him as he took off his Hermes tie and rolled up the sleeves of his custom made shirt. Always the best dressed Vampire in the room. I love Aaron but I wish he’d occasionally relax (and I don’t mean just rolling up sleeves.)

Val and I ended up finding a dark neighborhood bar and sat for a while doing shots of tequila. We talked about our three elder siblings. It wasn’t all bad. A lot of it was. At least they respected us for our talents.

Then we wandered around Target for about two hours laughing and filling our basket full of all kinds of fun stuff. My kids would have been proud of us, just because of how much fun we were having.

And now I’m home with nobody but my cats and a dog. The husband and still at home child are away. The other child is living far far away. OK, only about six hours away but that is really far if you’re a mom.

I’m not even sure that I’ll tell them what I did today. They won’t approve, or they’ll have questions I don’t want to answer. Everyone has strong opinions on the matter. Vampire families are like all others – we all have strong opinions.

So that was my day. I’m tired and… sometimes when you’re a mom you just don’t need to be bugged. And sometimes when you’re a mom you just want to smile and listen as your family gathers around in the evening and forget your day. Even if you’re a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Juliette by the window

 

 

 

 

 

Musings on a Winter Afternoon

The weather today is cold and crisp and clear. It is a good day to work in the yard. We can see snow far away in the mountains, but we don’t get snow. We get squirrels and birds. Today I’ve heard eagles, gulls, songbirds, humming birds, crows, hawks, and jays. I’ve seen buzzards. I have no idea what they sound like. The turkey vultures tend to be quiet as they spread their wings and soar overhead with great beauty, in contrast to their homely faces. There are also wild turkeys but I haven’t seen any of them today.

Even in the daytime I see the shadows of ghosts trying to figure out where they ought to be. I wonder why some people won’t let go go the Civil War and realize that the South lost. It isn’t just the Civil War – it is a lot of wars that were lost years, even centuries ago and nobody has the heart to say “move on,” except the ghosts, who would like nothing better.

Because we know that people (especially politicians and religious leaders) don’t read history, or learn from the mistakes in history. They don’t even learn from their own mistakes. If they do they are more rare than a California Condor, or an alien from space.

As I look across the room the 1876 Seth Thomas clock strikes 1:00. It still runs. Things always keep running when they are made well, with pride. Remember that when you raise your children. Teach them to run well with pride. Life will be easier that way (figure it out.)

Anyway, there are patches of color where we’re trying out different paint colors. No rain is predicted for next week so I figure it is a good time to start painting. I fully expect the dog and cats to turn golden yellow, white, and green as their curiosity and sense of territory kicks in.

There is a lot to do before night, when I’ll get to relax with friends, with wine, and a movie, and some fresh blood, and fresh conversation. Fresh conversation is always good.

Have fun. I’ll have a new story tomorrow for Short Story Sunday. And don’t forget the free science fiction poster deal. CLICK HERE to find out more.

And tell your kids you love them. If you don’t have kids, tell someone else.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

50s-cocktail-party1

If you have a cat…

As a parent, even a parent such as I am, one sees a lot of nasty stupid things. You’d think by the time your kids are almost grown (almost 17 and 20) that it would stop. And I’m not talking about kids, I’m talking about parents.

Dear Super Mom,

Maybe the reason you change your children’s teachers, schools, churches, sports, coaches, sports clubs, isn’t because everyone is insensitive and not doing their job. Maybe it is you. Maybe YOU aren’t doing your job. So just shut the fuck up and stop bad mouthing everyone. Look at yourself. And look at your kids – they’re mean to other kids, and they lie. Because of that other kids and adults don’t like them. Go figure your kids are just like you. How sweet. OK I’m done. Peace. 

 

Now that I have THAT out of the way…

Clara and I are planning another cross country road trip across deserts, mountains, and plains. Vampires love road trips. It is a time to crank up the music and see America. And who doesn’t like to taste the local flavor, if you know what I mean.

We are driving from near Sacramento, CA to Lincoln, NE, through Denver, CO. I’ll make sure I send photos from the road and my travel log. We’re going to the National Artistic Roller Skating Championships.

Excuse me for a second. Outside of my window is an angry Ghost. Did I mention that it is the middle of the day and over 105 degrees farenheit outside? Did I mention that I live on a hill, so the window is about two stories up.

I’ll be right back.

OK I’m back.

I motioned for the Ghost to come inside. He looked horrible – almost dead. I mean, he is dead, but not that kind of dead. Unless he is in his head-bashed-in with a frying pan look he had when he died he looks pretty good. He was one of those guys with almost a pretty face. You know, the kind with the sweet smile and eyelashes that make any woman green with envy. Yet, he is still extremely masculine. That does not sway my opinion of him, which is that he is usually a complete asshole.

He vanished in and reappeared standing behind me. His already shaggy black hair was almost standing on end. His skin look gray, even for a ghost. He wore his funeral suit without the jacket, and his black tie was loose around his neck, and he’d rolled up the sleeves.

“You look like you’ve been to Hell and back,” I said to him.

“Don’t even joke about that,” he said, then whispered the words Vampire bitch under his breath as if I wouldn’t hear.

I haven’t seen Nigel, The Ghost, for months, then suddenly he shows up in a bad mood, expecting my full attention.

I wait for him to speak, as one does with a Ghost. And I wait. He says nothing. Then I try to go back to writing something meaningful for my blog post about traveling with teens and young adults, but I’ve lost track of every thought in my head.

So I ask. “What is it Nigel?”

“Nothing.”

“Is it the heat?”

“I don’t have a physical body. I don’t feel heat.”

I’m not one for guessing games. In fact I hate guessing games. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone comes in and says, “Guess who I saw?” or “You won’t believe this. Guess who is getting married?” I don’t want to guess. I don’t want to throw out a dozen names and still not know what you want to tell me. Just tell me. So I didn’t even ask Nigel anything, and of course that drives him nuts, because he’d come back at me with a “guess what” fill in the blank.

The calico cat rubbed against Nigel’s leg. Yes, cats can do that, even if you don’t see the Ghost. Cats always see the Ghost.

Nigel gave the cat a smile and stroked her head, then he glared at me and vanished. I’m not even going to speculate on why he stopped by, other than to annoy me, or maybe he just needed to see the cat.

The train of thought is lost forever.

But I know that if you have a cat to pet then everything will be alright. If you have a cat your most troublesome Ghost will fade away with a smile on his face.

That’s it for today. Time to cool off.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman.

 

Food and a box is all they ask for (usually)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kind of like worms in that weird old kid’s song

As I sit pondering… the cat walks over to the dog bowl and check it out. There is nothing there she desires.

It is odd how random thoughts go in and out. Kind of like worms in that weird old kid’s song.

 

The worms go in

The worms go out

The worms play pinochle on your snout.

 

Anyway, on the way home this morning, after dropping Clara off for a Mock SAT test, I was thinking about what I’d write today. Junior year in high school is busy. All week long she has been seeing college recruiters and now tests. Mock SAT today (the new test), PSAT next week during school, then the real SAT and ACT. Then the AP tests. Then my mind goes off in other directions. What songs would I include on a play list for old boyfriends? It has been a while since we played wii Just Dance. Garret’s vintage clothing collection that he swiped from his father’s closet is making waves at college. I thought about a blog about wearing vintage clothing and jewelry – should I write it? What would happen if we (Vampires) told the world what we really are? How would that change the presidential debates. Holy crap, now THERE is an idea. I’ll write about that next week for sure. I thought of love letters and graveyards and the drought and coffee and about putting up my Halloween decorations.

Wait… just a second… I will be right back.

I felt a presence outside but refused to lift the shades. And like my bad cat who scratches the walls to wake me up, a ghost, THE GHOST, materialized in front of me. He sat at my table, in the round turret breakfast nook, right across from me.

He did not look happy. In fact he was glaring at me. His black hair hung over his forehead and covered one eyes. Today he wore his black suit, the one he was buried in (in 1986).

Before he could say one mean nasty comment I spoke first.

“Nigel, did you know The Cars have been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?”

He brushed his hair out of his face, uncovering a bloody gash in his forehead. The gash vanished. He looked perplexed. I know he’d planned on saying something vile or rude. I know he’d planned on using the word fuck, as in “fuck you Vampire.” He is such a lovely and thoughtful ghost (said no Vampire ever.)

After we sat for a while as I sipped my coffee Nigel finally spoke up. “Too bad they didn’t get nominated when Benjamin Orr was alive.”

“Coffee?” I had to ask. Nigel nodded.

I put a cup of coffee in front of the ghost. He inhaled and closed his eyes with a slight satisfied smile.

“Los Lobos was nominated,” I told him.

“Local boys. Good choice. Who else?”

“Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Yes, the Smiths, Steve Miller, Chicago, Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson. There were a few others.”

“Janet Jackson? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

“I kid you not.”

“Fucking Janet Jackson?”

“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir.”

He took in another breath of coffee. His form wavered in and out of transparency and opacity.

“So the Giants won’t be going to the World Series this year?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“I don’t know what happened to my record collection.”

“Did you leave a will?”

“Sure, but not specifics like that. I was only 26 when I died.”

“Do you want me to check it out for you.”

“No, it would just piss me off.”

“Nigel dear, everything pisses you off.”

“Pretty much.”

“Is that a ghost thing?”

“No. It is a Nigel thing.”

His eyes grew black and he glared at me. I knew the rage was building up. Ghosts are such tormented souls, not to mention major assholes most of the time.

“Hey Nigel,” I said. “I’m going to put up the Halloween decorations while Clara is at her mock SAT test. Do you want to help?”

His eyes went back to normal and the rage vanished from his pretty face. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”

“What are you doing for Halloween this year?”

He smiled. “I’m going to be a ghost. How about you?”

“I don’t know. I thought about being Little Hagrid, or maybe a Vampire.”

We both smiled and finished our coffee.

I have to go pick up my child now. Have a good weekend everyone and thanks for dropping by.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Teenage Jungle

Hey baby, let me finish my cigarette and we’ll take the SAT test together. I hope your score is smokin hot high because stupid boys never get lucky with me.

In the house of 26 windows

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Why yes, I’ve taken up house keeping in your walls and I’m quite comfortable. Thanks for asking.

 

 

I live in a house with twenty-six windows.

I am a Vampire.

My home is on a hill so that creates a nice cool space under the house where we keep wine, camping gear, yard tools, and boat stuff, among other things. There are no coffins under there. There are no coffins anywhere in my home.

Windows let in the light. Windows also let in the night. They let us watch rare lightning storms. They let in the moonlight. Windows let me view the fog without the dampness.

Wait…I was just going to muse on about living next to an oak forest, and the peaceful setting, and more windows, but I think I just heard gunfire. What the fuck is wrong with people? Sure shooting guns is fun but not in a residential area. Not near a public park. It doesn’t matter that there is a lot of undeveloped land around. Assholes.

A few nights ago, about a mile away, some white trash yahoo shot a gun into the air a bunch of times then shot up a car. Needless to say he is in jail right now. We’ve had two drug related drive by shootings in our quiet relatively crime free community in the past year so everyone is a bit on edge. One was a sixteen year old who had been involved in drug traffic. What a sad waste.

So back to my musings on windows but I’ve totally and completely lost my train of thought.

I’d like to say that I can take care of annoying people. Not as in bringing them chicken soup when they are sick, but as in making them live in fear, or have nightmares that drive them crazy, or other creative solutions. I can, but I don’t, as long as they stay away from me or those I love. As with most Vampires, I just take a deep breath and keep writing (or doing whatever I was doing.) We aren’t super heroes or keepers of the calm. We’re just Vampires. We pick our battles carefully. Then again, doesn’t everyone with half a brain.

Oh great. Now I hear squirrels running around in the wall, between the floor of the upstairs and the ceiling of the downstairs. I am not happy. Squirrel squatters are the worst kind of animal trash. And no, my cats are not earning their keep right now.

Ants are in my house too. I can usually manage them. Our neighbors haven’t been so lucky. They put their cat food dish in a bowl of water so the ants can’t get at the food.

Turkeys are in my yard. I can hear them in the back picking through the dry grass (we’re in a drought remember.) They have done their best to try to dig up the roses in my front yard. There are six of them. All females. They make their rounds digging in yards, looking for whatever turkeys eat. The small calico cat used to stalk the turkeys but now she just ignores them. Don’t suggest shooting them. Just don’t.

Last winter I came home to find a large dead male turkey right in the middle of my front yard. I have no idea what happened. No idea. But there was a broken branch in one of the trees above the dead bird. I just figure he was drinking and fell out of the tree.

So if you thought Vampires are solitary creatures you are wrong.

Speaking of which, I have to get the door. I’ll be back.

That was my charming young hipster friend Cody. I suppose I can’t call him a Vampire in training anymore, or even a new Vampire. He has been part of the community for four years now.

I told him he could take my squirrels and make a beard out of them. Or maybe a coat. Those were jokes of course. Bad jokes but jokes never the less.

My young friend (he is in his mid-thirties) stopped by for coffee and lively discussion. It is what Cody and I do. Today, in a rare burst of emotion, he was asking a lot of questions.

First he asked, “Why do I still need to wear contacts or glasses during the day, but I can see crystal clear in the dark?”

“Our eyes are sensitive to the light,” I told my young friend. “It is just part of being a Vampire. Our night vision, the ability to see in the dark, is a gift. One of many gifts.”

“Is it wrong to be in love with a woman who is six hundred years older than I am?”

“No.” I answered. Of course it that was one of my kids I’d flip and have to go beat the living moonlight out of that old Vampire. But Cody is an adult…long story for another blog post.

He talked, while I listened, about the fact that he could feel the emotions and even the thoughts of others. It was overwhelming to him sometimes.

He talked about how he could smell warm blood inside of live people and it reminded him of summer barbecues and that bothered him. I told him that it happened to all Vampires from time to time.

Then he asked the one question that got on my nerves. “What is that noise?”

“Squirrels.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll blast roller skating music at them. You know, organ music played to popular songs in classic dance beats.”

“That would do it. Or you could hire someone with traps to come out.”

“I could do that too. I could also feed them peanut better cookies until they get so fat they explode.”

We had more coffee and spoke to the transitions in our lives. Even Vampires have transitions. Even 155 year old Vampires have transitions.

“Sometimes I miss things, like being warm. In the winter I can’t see my breath in the cold air,” said Cody.

I’ve always been like this, but I remember as a child wishing I could breath out fog like regular humans could. Growing up this way makes being this way normal.

“Cody,” I said, “your feelings are normal. Your new world is normal too. Take it from me, no matter where you are, make it your normal.”

I’m sure that made no sense at all to him, but he looked at me as if I was some self-help guru.

“Like a new normal,” he said.

“Like the normal you’ll always had but just different. Even if you had never become a Vampire you’d still have major changes in your life.”

Then we talked about books, and had more coffee, and went for a walk down by the lake.

And now, I’m back here with my cats, the squirrels, and still no ideas about my twenty-six windows and how I’m going to tie those into a life lesson story. Oh well.

Have a good week everyone. And don’t feel stupid to ask questions. There are no stupid questions. OK there are stupid questions but I’m a mom and I’m not supposed to say that.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The house with 26 windows

The house with 26 windows

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to Believe

Oh what is this water falling from the sky? Rain maybe?

——————

“Do you remember Douglas and Cassandra?”

“Vaguely,” I said to my husband. “What did they do this time?” They were famous for pulling stunts and living dangerously close to being found out.

“They left.”

“Left? Oh. When?”

Doug and Cassie had been Vampires since the early 1930’s. The last of their children has passed away from old age so they decided to end it. From time to time it happens. Maybe more than any of us would like to admit. It didn’t surprise me. They’d never been happy with their choice. No kidding. They’d been party animals who decided to become Vampires after (yes after) their kids were born. Bad choice. They had no idea what they were getting into. Kids change people. Becoming a Vampire with three children at home at the same time is not a good idea.

I barely knew them, but it was still a shock, but then again it wasn’t. After sitting in the back of the memorial service for their 89-year-old son, their youngest child, they decided to move on too. Doug and Cassie crawled into a crypt they’d purchased decades before and sealed the door.

I won’t say that I started to think of my own choices. These days I’m beyond thinking about any choices I’ve ever made in the past. One can only think of those sorts of things so much before feeling rather stupid.

What I was thinking about was how to write the transition pages that would tie a book I’m writing all together. I was thinking of bringing my old dog to the vet for a bad leg. Down under the basement of an empty Victorian building my brother and I own I was looking for some of my old drawings I thought I’d left there about a century ago.

My friend Adam (a Werewolf and brilliant photographer) dropped by. I’d told him I’d be there.

“What do Werewolves do when they get depressed or feel regret for being what they are?” I don’t even know why I asked him that. I guess just the mood of the night.

“We howl at the moon. I don’t know, drink, pick up women, chase cats…take drugs, sleep, rip flesh, you know, the usual. What brought that on?”

I shrugged. Adam stepped closer. “What do you do when you get depressed Juliette?”

“I have no idea. I don’t get depressed.”

We ended that conversation as quickly as it started and moved on to general gossip about people we know.

I pulled out a file of sketches and spread them out on the table. Adam looked them over a bit. Then he edged closer, his shoulder touching mine.

“Remember how we were before I knew you were a Vampire?”

“Before I knew you were a Werewolf,” I said. I didn’t add before you almost ripped my throat out.

“Do you believe things happen for a reason?”

“Not really. I mean sometimes. Right now I’m trying to believe it. I’m trying to believe in the impossible.”

“What is the impossible?”

“I am. Everything.”

He put his arm around my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “I believe.”

“Good.”

We went to breakfast, more for him than me. Then I took my daughter to school. On the way we talked about a boy in her school who’d come from Africa. His parents were wildlife naturalists. His mom passed away. They lived here now. Then we talked about the world economy and endangered species and phone chargers and roller skating.

Conversations are like rain the way they just fall. Crap, that was a line out of a really bad movie. I can’t believe I even wrote that.

In a bit I’m taking the dog to the vet for a limp, then for a few hours I am on my own, and trying to believe.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

 

 

Vampire Maman