The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy)

The Lives I Never Lived (aka Ophelia, Drowned aka A Preoccupation With Tragedy)

~ Adelia Hoff

 

I mean this:

When you see me again, it will be in the desert through the low-res camera of a errant traveler, hunched over the remains of an unidentifiable piece of roadkill, looking like a ghost. I will be tranquilized by a Park Ranger who mistakes me for a too-brave cougar and when they check my dental records they will find a dead man’s.

 

__

You were like something out of a fever dream-

An angel in sapphire and silver

That night, as you walked towards me, arm outstretched

I remember wanting nothing more

Then to let you utterly consume my immortal soul

 

__

Life-drunk on a siren’s song,

Scrabbling at sun-baked soil

The sky is falling and the numbers, six-seven-eight meters, count up to go down.

Distortion of mirage and heat of sun bring revelation of acceptance, promise of knowledge,

Look around.

What would you save?

What could you save?

 

__

Some nights I cannot sleep.

One time I heard a screaming outside. It could have been a coyote.

Every so often I remember the parable of the scorpion and the frog, and I wonder: am I the scorpion? I am not naturally high strung, but I am self serving and strong willed. Do I hurt people with that I cannot control? Do I really care if I do?

The coyote, if it was that, yelled twice during the night.

There is a gentleness that seizes you at dawn. The uncanny can be a comfort, strange as it may sound. That which has not been explained yet could be anything.

Does the coyote care who it hurts?

Was it ever really a coyote, or just a phantom of the self?

Do I really care?

 

 

__

The elk bellows,

“Oh king, oh captain, oh lover of mine, where are you?”

The forest whispers back,

“They are not here. Search as you will, but only echoes will come to you.”

 

__

The Reflection

 

I found you pale and afraid –

selenic and blind.

Should I have left you there?

I cannot say.

I am a selfish creature.

Then again,

so were you.

 

__

Sometimes it feels like driving for too long and listing to the same song on repeat for hours and when you finally get out you have to remind yourself how to be a human again

And sometimes it feels like getting pulled under by a wave with the immediate reconciliation that if you must go at least your body will be claimed by the ocean and that’s okay because you didn’t really care for the thing anyways

And sometimes it’s on the precipice of desert rain when you smell dust and creosote and the animals are quiet because the water here is no lifegiver

And sometimes it’s mania and the realization that there is no higher power or meaning and that means nothing can stop you from becoming something cosmic and holy and irreverently profane and powerful but you can’t bring yourself to carve away the undue flesh binding you to this condemnation

But most of the time it is simply the knowledge that something isn’t right and no one else can tell but you can and it could and would drive you mad if you payed it any more heed but that’s okay because you’ve gotten used to ignoring things and are pretty good at it at this point

So the numbness continues and the panic continues and you scream let me out let me out please please please I don’t belong here I’m not meant for this I can’t go on like this anymore but you have to keep going because the rest of the world won’t stop just because it’s too much and you can’t handle it

And maybe just maybe it’s not you that’s the problem

Personhood isn’t for everyone

 

__

I do not love you.

Yes, I care-

But love?

 

Never.

 

I adore the kitten, with its triangle tail and toddling steps.

I admire the wind, strong and unyielding.

I devote myself to knowledge, the true currency of power.

 

But I do not love.

 

 

__

This world is cruel

and unforgiving

to all soft things

So is it really so surprising

that being good

and gentle

and kind

Is inevitable replaced with jagged edges

(protect me, the thing inside cries)

(please, please don’t let me get hurt again)

(i might just break this time)

 

__

[you’re floating somewhere below the suface of the ocean. there’s nothing around you in any direction, and you’re not entirely sure how you got here.]

[you’re out camping in the mountains. night is coming. it’s probably the most content you’ve been in a while.]

[there’s a low fog over the city as you look off a tenth story balcony. you can feel a storm brewing in the distance, but for now you can’t tear away from the feeling of being above it all.]

[you’ve been traveling for days now. whose turn was it to drive? haven’t you seen this road before?]

[there’s whispering in your head. rationally, this should be a cause for alarm. you’ve come to the realization that you’d only be alarmed if it stopped.]

 

darkness outside

About the Author:

Adelia Hoff is a student studying the freshly dead. When asked about her personal life her only comment was, “I’m just visiting,” whatever that means.

 

From Juliette:

Thank you so much Adelia for sharing your words. It is an honor. Truly it is. You know I’m going to be asking for more in the future.

xoxo

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

What You Believe

Beliefs that seemed so important to me when I was young don’t seem so important to me now.

I think that applies to most people. We are influenced by our small world of parents and school. Then we go out into the wide world and do stupid things based on our young narrow views. We reject experiences, including love, friendship, career opportunities, education, adventure, fashion, creativity, and so many other things because we’re only twenty years old and set in our ways.

As we get older we start to loosen up and realize that maybe those hard held beliefs don’t fit us. We realize there exceptions to the rules. We realize that we can change those rules and traditions and make them better.

I’ve written about this a lot on my blog, mostly though stories about my friends and family, and my own somewhat crazy experiences. Yes, we learn from our experiences, and from the experiences of others. Heaven help the person (and we all have “that person” in our lives) who never learns from experience and is doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over.

A lesson for children is to not let others squash their desire to question what they know. And others will try. As a parent you shouldn’t fear this – if you give your child a good foundation, and most of all TALK WITH YOUR CHILD. Discuss these things. Keep the lines of communication open.

Just from talking to my children I’ve changed my mind and beliefs about some things. Yes, we can, and do learn from our own kids if we are willing to keep our hearts and minds open. It is a wonderful thing.

We move away and retreat from the old ways. At the same time so often, too often, we wonder “what if?”

That said, life does not stop when one grows up. You can keep exploring and having those adventures. You’re grown, not dead. And until you’re dead you can keep living, and changing, and looking at your options.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

moth

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/retreat/

Homeless

From Capitol Public Radio, Sacramento, CA:

Mayor Darrell Steinberg held a service for the city’s homeless population on Monday following a new report by the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness.

The document finds that 78 homeless people in Sacramento County died in 2015.

But Sacramento is not the only city observing this issue.

Cities across the United States will pay homage to the homeless who have died in their community on Wednesday as part of National Homeless Day.

I listened to this story this morning on Insight. I thought about the story “The Alley,” I’d posted a few months ago. It was inspired by what we saw (my teenage daughter and I) during a drive through the Alkali Flats area of town, and a drive behind the Crest Theater to look for murals during the Mural Festival.

Click here for a link to the story on Capitol Public Radio.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

The Alley

Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.

Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.

Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.

“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.

“Nikki. You look good.”

She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.

“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”

“Are you living somewhere?”

“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”

“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.

Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”

“Looking for a fix?”

“Maybe, and a little romance.”

Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.

“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”

Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.

“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.

“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”

“You’d die Nikki.”

“Better than living my life.”

“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”

She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”

He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.

“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”

“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”

“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”

“Did she drink his blood?”

“Of course she did.”

“Did she make love to him?”

“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”

Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.

He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”

He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.

“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”

“You know why Nikki,” he said.

“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.

Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.

Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.

“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.

Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.

Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone, if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.

Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.

~ End.

Halloween is Almost Here (more musings and random thoughts)

Halloween is almost here

Ghosts and Goblins yell and cheer,

Witches drink their Bat Eye Beer

Halloween is almost here.

 

halloween kittie

 

At the crack of dawn this morning, actually about an hour before, I looked out on my deck to find two ghosts holding coffee mugs and savoring the first stirrings of the woodland creatures who live in my yard and behind my house (along with the sounds of fire truck sirens, trucks and a random dog bark or two.) I watched my translucent friends put their heads together in close conversation, occasionally laughing or using hand gestures.

These ghosts have discarded any old ideas of white sheets and hollow eyed wails. They leave that for others. Sure they can haunt the crap out of anyone and show their form in death (a rather violent image, especially for the one called Mary) but they usually choose not to.

He has pale skin and dark, almost black glossy hair that layers around his face. She has long reddish brown hair that she lets blow in the ghostly winds that most of us can’t feel.

If it was any other pair of ghosts I would have chased them off, but these two are mine. At least mine because they live in my space. I usually don’t like ghosts or anything without a body, but there are always exceptions.

I didn’t interfere with their reveries. I’d pick up the cups later. That is the empty cups they fill with their phantom coffee. I had other things on my mind.

Earlier my husband Teddy had come home with a scratch across his handsome face. Three scratches from fingernails to be exact and bites in various places.

He’d been called to see about a rare pocket watch a client of his was looking for. When he arrived at the old Victorian he discovered that the apartment was below street level (the original street level.)

The door was answered by a woman of shocking appearance. She was bloated like a dead thing that had been out in the sun. Her eyes were sunken and rimmed with pale pinkish red. Despite her bony frame the fashionable black dress she wore strained at the seams. White blonde hair tangled around her face. Blood caked around the corners of her mouth and on the cuticles of her fingernails.

He recognized her, barely. In 1934 he’d spent two weeks with her on Catalina Island. People thought she was a film star with her Jean Harlow looks and beautiful clothes. So much for happy memories.

She told him that now she fed on transients and outcasts who wouldn’t be missed. Rather than taking a pint or a quart here and there she sucked them dry. Nobody would miss them or care. It always looked like natural causes anyway. Then she’d sleep it off for a week or two and start again.

Teddy, being the man he is and a Vampire with a social conscience tried to tell her that what she was doing was not acceptable. Bad move Teddy. She attacked him, screeching that she never asked to be a Vampire. She didn’t choose that life. She had become isolated as those she preyed upon.

As she fled into the night  The young man who made the nicely decorated basement apartment at home was in a deep sleep. He wasn’t someone off the grid but someone who’d left his bedroom window open and a Vampire climbed in. Teddy had the decency to erase any bad memories the young man might have had. Then Teddy called a Vampire Hunter to take care of his old friend. Teddy didn’t have the stomach to do it himself.

We talked about it for a while and like so many things it just seemed sad. Too many things seem sad.

Halloween is almost here but we’re already up to our eyeballs in scary shit, including a school shooting scare and other stupid stuff.

But then again like all families we’re busy to the point where we can’t stop and even think about anything much. It is like this all the time. Halloween brings a flood of activity. A party at my house on Friday. A party on Saturday. A skate meet on Sunday. A dozen other things including school and work are squeezed in between. Then we start all over again.

But I’ll make it a point to stop and sip my coffee and watch the sunrise.  And tomorrow we’ll carve those pumpkins I’ve been gathering on my front porch!

 

Halloween is almost here

Werewolves howling is so near,

Zombie looking for his ear,

Halloween is almost here.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Pin-Up-Halloween

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secret lives and private stories

Vampire Maman

There was a room full of books in the back of the Elder’s farmhouse. The adults would be gathered and I’d be back looking at the pictures. I couldn’t read well so I looked at the pictures and imagined what the words might be.

The volumes, old even then, held years of uncommon history, adventures, tales of people who lived lives that seemed far more exciting than mine. But I knew, that one day I’d be living the life of one of those people in the books – those books I could barely read.

During one of my girlhood book searches I found a large Bible. There were a lot of words in fancy lettering. What I remember was the pictures. There was a picture of a group of naked men building something. I made out the word Noah and knew that was a man who built the ark and gathered up animals. The story made no sense to me to begin with and now seeing a bunch of naked men doing construction work made even less sense. Wasn’t it uncomfortable to be sawing and hauling lumber completely naked? They didn’t even have shoes. I asked my brother Valentine about it. I think he was 6 or 7 at the time (about a year older than me.) He told me that it was hot in the Holy Lands. It was hot so they took off their clothes and built a giant boat. It still made no sense. It made no sense that books were filled with pictures of naked people no matter what they were doing. Nobody went around naked where I lived. In fact they wore too many clothes in the world of our childhood.

Years later I did read the books in the Elder’s farmhouse (and many more) and marveled at their content. In the dark of the rooms on hot summer nights I’d read for hours on end, escaping into a world of another century.

In town I’d go to the book shop and buy popular fiction, cheap novels that would take me to places of romance and lovely girls in swishing dresses who held tight to their virtue, least they be ruined forever by a handsome man with a dark and evil heart. Then on occasion I’d find something more frightening than losing one’s virtue. I’d read tales of disasters, prisons, insane asylums and Gothic horrors and mysterious strangers. I thrived on that. It was nothing like the books of today, but those stories influenced the stories we now read (and write.)

Stories weren’t limited to books. I’d always find a corner in a room full of adults who’d talk into the night about everything they’d ever done and who they’d done it with. And if they weren’t telling their own stories they were talking about somebody else. I’d listen, quiet as death, imagining I was unseen by the grownups.

When my brothers and I were small my mother would read books to us using voices and accents for characters, then a slow steady voice for the narration. On alternating days my father would tell us wild tales he’d make up on the spot and keep us laughing. Each story also came with a song. We were surrounded by stories and worlds other than our own.

There came a time when I could read more complex books (around age 11.) In an elaborately embroidered canvas bag (my own stitching) I’d carry a well worn and repaired copy of Jane Eyre. I’d imagine myself in her place. The story in my mind would change as I read the story on the pages over and over. I’d tell the brooding Edward Rochester that I didn’t care if he had a crazy wife. I’d save him from the fire. I’d turn him into a Vampire and we’d roam the hillsides forever and lay under the moonlight in fields of fragrant flowers. Or I’d leave him alone and make my way to America with my new found wealth and marry a rich man in New Orleans. I’d burn down my old school. There were 1,000 different versions of the story in my head, but I’d always go back to the original version. To this day I’ll still find myself in Jane’s shoes as I walk the dog in the meadows and oak woods near my home. The gentle winds through the trees transport me to another time, in a huge skirt with hair I’ve unleashed from my constricting bun flowing down my back.

As you can see it doesn’t take much to get my imagination fired up or much to entertain me.

I’d do the same with many other books over the years. Everyone in my family and all of my friends devoured books. I have to admit that when Dracula came out we all had to get copies. We read and shared what we read. Books circled around and around.

As learned to read I began to write. Not well at first, but in earnest. I’d write innocent silly stories typical for most kids. I’d write poetry and draw pictures to go with it. I’d write plays and find others to perform with me.

From there I discovered real romance and love letters. Everyone wrote letters then. It was a daily activity as well as an art form.

Over the years plays were produced, poems were written and mixed in were sketch books filled with illustrations of yet unwritten stories. Then I stopped.

I was just struggling to find myself, or at least find some sort of direction. A lot of us go through that. The thing I remember that stands out in a weird sort of way was how men I met would almost become angry at me for not being creative. More it was that i isn’t being creative for them. Then again, few of them added any value to my life. Not back then.

My writing then was one of my secret lives. My stories were private. It was the person inside of me that I didn’t share.

I always read. I never stopped creating stories and keeping notes on paper and in my head.

After I became a mother those memories of childhood came back, along with memories that spanned several centuries.

Then I started to write again. It started out as a story for a friend… and ongoing tale… just for fun. Now it is my heart and soul.

We all need something that fills our hearts and soul. It doesn’t have to be writing or art. I’m the only one in my family who is creative that way. One of my brothers is musical. The rest have other passions.

I think back to what I used to write. Then I look at the writing of the children in my life (now teens.) I marvel at the sophistication and complexities of the stories they write. I’m amazed how mature their words are compared to what I was doing at their age. I hope I’ve been an influence. Or maybe they’re just more mature souls than I was at their age. I’m so proud of them.

I continue to write because I’ve found a measure of success that feeds my ego. Yes, I’ll admit it. Mostly I write because I have stories to tell and face it…. I do this because it is fun. Yes, FUN. Really really really fun.  And it is mine. Of course I want, and try to entertain you too.

We all need to find something that we sense is our own, even if it starts with a book with words you can’t read and pictures you can’t understand. Your brain will make it all come together and it will work. Eventually it will all work.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

old friends

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/writing-challenge-reflections/