False Starts, Lost Dreams, Finding Love and an Ancient Tabby

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 the war, then ended up in a group home for lost 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. There were always too many people from her past she didn’t want to deal with.

On the second floor, as she left the art section, she ran into a man she’d been passionately in love with. She smiled with a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe he’d finally feel the same longing she did. 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 month. 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 young 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.

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 Val, yes, that Val, my brother. His delightful friend Alonzo joined them.

That was 38 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 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. 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.

Halloween is almost here and all kinds of ghosts 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 39 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

Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

don't be a ghost

Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and Pluto. The brilliant logic of youth.

Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and Pluto. The brilliant logic of youth.

My son asked me “If there are vampires, werewolves, ghosts and people who are not exactly human and we don’t even know what they are, then why can’t Pluto be a planet? It has 5 moons.”

I said “I think it has something to do with it’s orbit.”

“You gotta dance your own dance mom.” he said. “Pluto dances it’s own dance.”

I love that kid.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

PlutoMeme5

Pluto on Pluto

First posted July 2012

Stories We Shall Never Tell

In the dark

We ran through the streets

Slick with rain

Back alleys

Darkened windows

Broken glass

Rats

The smell of decay

And death.

Then into grand mansions

We’d fly

Cloaks off

The rustle of silk

A white tie

A flash of fang

The smell of wine

Cigars

And blood.

We were young

Carefree

With stories

We shall never

Tell

Our own

Children.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Every generation thinks the next generation is worse. That isn’t true.

Teens have always had their own style.

Teens have always had their own style.

 

Opinion: Juliette Kings

Every generation thinks the next generation is worse. That isn’t true.

Facebook is full of memes saying …

When I was a kid we were polite, we respected our elders, we were beaten with switches and had our mouths washed out with soap… 

Oh screw that. I’ve always seen RUDE hateful mean despicable young people. I’ve seen it for decades. They learn it from their elders. They learn it from those same parents who are posting those stupid memes.

The teens (and little kids for that matter) in my life are polite. They are respectful. They are great. And you know what? I didn’t have to resort to paddles or other barbaric violent means of teaching them how to be good.

I think back of when I was young and saw unspeakable things done to other children. I remember them being physically and emotionally tortured. I remember children being humiliated by their unloving abusive parents. These were “normal” two parent Christian households. Throw not the first stone they say, but these people should have had stones thrown at them. When I look back I can’t even say out loud, or write the words of what some of the children I knew when through – it is too disturbing. But I can see patterns in the type of parents they had. Some things never seem to change.

Fortunately now there are resources, though not enough, for children who need help. There is never enough help. Foster care isn’t an answer. Family counseling isn’t a solution. These kids need new permanent families who love them, even if it isn’t a traditional family.

I see families where step-parents are the real parents. I see single dads and moms raising kids on their own and the kids are GREAT. I see kids doing great things. I see them talking about everything. I see them questioning the world. They need to question. They need to have their own opinions in order to grow.

Well mannered and polite teens are more of the rule. They aren’t the exception.

The teens in my life have more empathy than anyone of my generation ever had. They are smart. They are focused. They like old people.

They question the world around them. They want to make the world a better place.

The media would have you think otherwise.

If you want the teens and young adults in your life to show respect then you have to give some respect as well. You need to listen to them. I don’t mean “blah blah blah” sort of listening. I mean hearing what they have to say. I mean respecting their opinions even if you don’t agree. I mean explaining things to them if you’re pissed off rather than yelling at them.

Show them that their time is as important as yours. Because it is.

Yes, of course there are kids who are assholes, bullies, trolls, turds, tattlers and trouble makers. But look at their parents. The adults they live with are usually assholes, bullies, trolls, turds, tattlers and trouble makers. Unfortunately for the rest of us, and for teachers, there are one or two of those children (and their awful parents) in every single classroom.

And you know what? It is those asshole parents who post those negative memes. So screw them. If they want respect they have to show a little respect. Show a little interest. Get out of your own head and your own tiny little world. Learn something new.

Fortunately by the time kids are in high school a lot of the assholes (and others) have learned that their behavior gets them nowhere. Teens aren’t playing by playground rules anymore. Assholes are put in their place, and a lot of them realize what jerks they’ve been. It is called growing up.

In AP History the 11th grade students are reading Huckleberry Finn. My daughter and I have discussed the book and the context of the book considering when it was written.

She said, “Huck’s father was just like the white trash, or any of the trash that you see now. They don’t want their kids to do better than they did. It is awful.”

So if you see a kid who is an asshole consider the source. Consider who that child is learning from. Maybe that kid can learn from you. Think about it.

It isn’t Vampires you should fear. It is apathy. It is lack of empathy. It is people refusing to listen to everyone, young and old.

You need to study history because if you don’t know where you’ve been you can’t understand where you are going.

In turn, we need to look forward to the future. We need to listen to the young people and have open discussions with them. For they are the ones who can change the future. Now is a scary time. Now is the time to listen to the teens and young adults. They can see with a fresh eye all of the bull shit the rest of us have become numb to.

So stop complaining and see the incredible talent and resources right in front of us – in our young people. If you’d just open your eyes, your ears, and your heart you will see what I see.

Spend some time with a young adult – some real quality time. It isn’t all smart phones and hook ups. It is a lot more.

 

~ Juliette aka The Old Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts and Pluto. The brilliant logic of youth.

In honor of Pluto…and one of my favorite posts.

Vampire Maman

My son asked me “If there are vampires, werewolves, ghosts and people who are not exactly human and we don’t even know what they are, then why can’t Pluto be a planet? It has 5 moons.”

I said “I think it has something to do with it’s orbit.”

“You gotta dance your own dance mom.” he said. “Pluto dances it’s own dance.”

I love that kid.

~ Juliette

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