Undead @ The Empty Glass – Daughters of Darkness

For the uninitiated: “Daughters of Darkness” is a conversation between my neophyte self and a centuries-old immortal discussing (what else?) living forever on blood in the dark. Nancy hates that I keep doing this, yet she keeps agreeing to it… go figure.

Nancy: What forsaken place have you dragged me to this time?

Janiss: It’s called “The Empty Glass…”

N: As it says on the front. I can read, Janiss. Why here?

J: Just to change it up a little, plus they’re open past midnight.

N: Lucky us. There’s no karaoke, is there? I’ve murdered for less.

J: Oooh, such a tough Vampire! No, just “open mic night.”

N: It’s awfully small and too few exits.

J: It’s intimate. Are you already plotting your escape?

N: That depends on what the next singer-songwriter is about to inflict upon us.

The bartender brings the drinks we’ll barely touch.

N: (showing interest) What’s yours?

J: Woodchuck hard cider.

N: (dabs her finger in my pint glass and touches it to her tongue) Fruity. Barely alcoholic.

J: As if that made any difference.

N: Let’s get this over with. What’s the topic?

J: Vampire bloggers…

N: You’re not still commenting on that “mother succubus” blog, are you?

J: (smiling) Juliette’s blog, yes. “Musing’s of a modern Vampire mom.”

N: She’s not a real Vampire.

J: (shrugs) You don’t know that.

N: You have to have children to be a mom.

J: You had kids and you’re a Vampire, so what?

N: I gave birth before I was turned. Dead things don’t grow inside of dead things.

J: And yet two corpses are sitting at a table in the state capital of West “By God” Virginia pretending to drink while listening to… whatever that song is.

N: It sounds vaguely like the Ramones.

J: (gasps) You’ve heard the Ramones?

N: (trying not to smirk) I saw them live in Cleveland. They were touring with Iggy Pop. Late seventies. “Blitzkrieg Bop” sounds better when they perform it in person.

J: I’ve… got nothing.

N: So back to your living dead mom…

J: I like her. She’s sweet. She’s the kind of Vampire I try to be.

N: You mean a pretend Vampire?

J: “Character is what you are in the dark.” It’s a blog and she’s a writer. She tells cool stories, like her “Vlad’s Diary” series. And she takes care of her elders, even when they’re a bit confused about things now and then.

N: They’re Vampires too?

J: Of course.

N: Look, I know it’s fun to blur the lines like Stoker and Rice playing with the whole out-and-proud bit, but we survive upon mortal human blood. No matter how entertained people are by the idea of it, blood drinkers aren’t going to suddenly become acceptable, even if the Japanese invent TruBlood. I also don’t need to remind you how outnumbered we are.

J: It’s a spycraft thing. If people are watching for someone trying to not to be seen, don’t. Juliette’s sincere, and I like her idea of a Vampire family. Confidence works. If you look like you belong, no one thinks twice about it.

N: (smiling) I can’t remember ever being so naïve, and that’s coming from someone who remembers everything.

J: I still don’t see the harm. I work the night shift —

N: Which you don’t have to.

J: — and I’m very good at drawing blood.

N: Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. So why are you dredging this up again?

Continue reading “Undead @ The Empty Glass – Daughters of Darkness”

Lady Bat in Her Belfry

The day length for December 21st, 2020 was 9 hours, 26 minutes.

That also made it the longest night of the year… perfect for Vampires.

Happy Winter Solstice. I spent it on the rooftop of Cedarcrest Sanctum in my “lunarium” where I keep my telescopes. Cole refers to it as my belfry; he even hug up a little bell up to make it official. I was trying to watch the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn crossing paths, but overcast skies are thwarted my plans to see it live. I resisted cheating the weather patterns.

In facility news, we got the first round of our COVID vaccine fully distributed to residents and staff over the weekend. It doesn’t mean we’re safe; it means the end is in sight but we have to stay vigilant, remembering to mask up and keep social distancing.

And while “that guy” has less than thirty days before eviction from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C., a new round of stimulus checks will hopefully be going out to Americans soon.

I know we’ve been lucky, and I know many have not. I also know we’re all tired of “the new normal,” but things really are looking much more hopeful than they have for a long time.

Sorry for the late post. My New Year’s Resolution is to get back to a regular blogging schedule. Things have happened and been happening — you’ll find out more about them soon.

Trust me; I’m a Vampire.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Pandemic Tips Illustrated

Anyone noticing my signature image caricature is already familiar with the work of Danny Fry. Since Cedarcrest Sanctum has been on COVID-19 lock-down since March 2020 and occupying most of my time being a creative administrator, I thought it might be fun to have Mr. Fry illustrate a series of PSAs for Humans and Vampires alike, featuring Danny’s unique take on my supernatural likeness (in my favorite London Fog trench, of course, which has curiously grown shorter over the years).

Feel free to share (as long as you use them unaltered) and please link them back to us at CedarcrestSanctum.com if you like. I hope these will help make these reminders a little more memorable.

God, yes, I know we’re over all this. “COVID” fatigue isn’t fake news, but if everything we currently know is accurate, rest homes and long-term elderly care aren’t the only places that will be put to the test before a real vaccine is ready. It may be up to a year from now before things will return to some semblance of normalcy.

Trust me; I’m a Vampire.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Three Takeaways of the 2020 Quarantine

To all of Cedarcrest: good day.

Janiss here.

On Tuesday, March 10th, 2020, our facility closed its gates in an effort to protect our residents and staff.

Some of our staffers have family… family we can’t maintain on-site. On a voluntary basis (and in some cases with applicable compensation), most have chosen to stay with us while a few on the outside continue to support us. This is fine for singles and those whose kids are grown and support themselves, but it’s far harder when you have others depending on you that aren’t part of your paying job, so no judgment. Happily, we’ve worked through all of those situations.

I, of course, will stay on-site for the duration.

That said, there are three key takeaways the 2020 Quarantine makes abundantly clear.

First, for everyone in the West Virginia state legislature and in the United States congress, let me be clear: a $15 minimum wage is the LEAST you could do for what you’re all now calling “essentials services.” From truckers to utility workers and every grocery store employee, stop penalizing people from making a living wage just because “they could do better and should only be paid accordingly.” Yes, we’re all dependent upon the medical field and hospital workers (who are risking their lives trying to keep the citizenry alive and hospitals from being overwhelmed), but we all need to stop looking down at “mere” restaurant workers and begin seeing so-called entry-level work as a potential career choice instead of an unworthy stepping stone of shame.

Second, the Internet must be seen as a utility and the essential service it is. Especially in states like West Virginia where shady companies promise the moon, take your money, and provide no service while threatening to fine those who quit services they’re not even getting because of questionable contracts. Information, education, and the economy itself have been uploaded, and those without reach are being left behind. When the only way to get your paycheck and spend it is through “a hand-held talisman with a magical connection to a ghost tower” be effective, forget all that Net Neutrality stuff; like water and power, the ‘Net is now essential for survival.

Third, it’s time for tribalism to end. I’m not talking about Progressives and Conservatives or Elephants and Donkeys; I’m talking about seeing the Planet Earth for what it is: a living organism. While even my own parents complained about the Unites States being “the World’s Police Force,” there was a certain truth to it and a need for it. If a war breaks out, Americans can help keep it from spilling out into another country… or a bad actor from using the opportunity to expand into that region. But it should be clear by now to everyone (no matter who you voted for) that hiding behind a wall and wishing nothing gets through it is futile and foolish. Viruses don’t care about politics, borders, or economic status; they just want to infect another host and move on to the next… and that includes our country of residence. Helping others helps ourselves, even if it wasn’t already the right thing to do.

We’ll survive this. We can even thrive from it. For now, we have to limit the damage being done to buy the precious time needed to keep COVID-19 contained until the spread can be halted.

Hang in there, guys.

Trust me; I’m a Vampire.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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COVID-19 and Program Update

COVID-19-CDC-2020

To all of Cedarcrest: good evening.

Janiss here.

As prior bulletins were distributed door-to-door in addition to being reposted in high-traffic areas, a few of you continue ask basic questions we’ve already answered. Going forward, check your email… yes, including you, Mr. Johnson.

With regards to all the conspiracy theories going around, here’s what the world outside of Cedarcrest knows according to the CDC:

“Currently there are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent COVID-19. Therefore, community approaches to slowing transmission including appropriate hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing, and reducing face-to-face contact with potential COVID-19 cases are needed to slow disease transmission and reduce the number of people who get sick.”

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/healthcare-facilities/guidance-hcf.html

Obviously, Cedarcrest doesn’t have this issue — you’re welcome — but the problem is currently one of transmission. As you know, the Program suspends symptoms while preserving the host, meaning if anyone becomes infected, something communicable could still be passed to any visitors because of the two-week incubation period. Again, from the CDC:

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Anyone in the Program will not be allowed close or direct contact with outsiders for the immediate future unless a direct exception is filed and approved and a Team protocol implemented… yes, including me. All visitors are encouraged to use “facetime” and other digital communications media, up to and including our GSC volunteers. Unfortunately, this also means our mall trips and other outings are postponed for the time being.

Here’s the good news: there isn’t any more bad news. All facilities are open to you as always, and if there’s something we’re all interested in, our creative manager Kelly Jean will do her level best to figure it out. Oh, and of this memo, WV has no documented cases… yet.

We’re also well-stocked in toiletries and hand soap — before anyone asks.

Also of interest, May 12, 2020 is Primary Election Day here in West Virginia. Early and absentee ballots will be available, and if COVID-19 is still an issue at that time, we’ll figure it out before then. The following site has additional information:

https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/GoVoteWV.aspx

Addendum: 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann in Seattle, Washington created a tracking site to see the numbers in real time: https://ncov2019.live/data. While I don’t advocate staring at escalating numbers and worrying, there is an encouraging number there as well: Total Recovered… and that’s a great thing.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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An Old-Time Allegheny Christmas – Daughters of Darkness

From three years ago… enjoy!

Cedarcrest Sanctum

Note: this conversation originally took place on the evening of Wednesday, December 21st — the 2016 Winter Solstice.


2016daughtersofdarknessJaniss: We’re back for another evening of hot cocoa and immortal talk. Say hello, Nancy.

Nancy: (long sigh) Hello.

J: It’s the longest night of the year, and you’ve chosen to spend at least a little of it with me — thank you.

N: Free drinks, yes?

J: I pay for those.

N: Free for me, then. (sips) What topic have you chosen?

J: Christmas, of course.

N: Very appropriate. (gestures at all the decorations and shoppers, then at her themed cup) Continue.

J: (leans forward) Do you celebrate it?

N: (raises an eyebrow)

J: Come on, you can’t tell me you’ve never been swayed by the Christmas spirit. Not once in three centuries?

N: I most often choose to spend it alone not killing anyone.

J: Isn’t that how you spend…

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Thirty is the New Eternity

Thirty is the new twenty. Forty is the new thirty. Apparently, fifty is back to being thirty again.

I still try to smile at the idea that a Guy Fawkes mask reminds me of my own birthday.

Thanks, mom and dad.

I said no parties for me this year and I meant it. Too much going on. My plate is full.

Our facility drill is this Friday, November 9th; details to follow.

We’ll be busing down the few who didn’t vote to the courthouse tomorrow. See or email Kelly Jean about that.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Respect Existence or Expect Resistance — Vampire Verisimilitude

The title of this post was paraphrased from one of my favorite posters seen during Women’s March 2.0.

Why do they always schedule these things during the day? #unfair2undead

It does, however, bring up a very good point: with all the talk of “America First” and nationalism, why does it never seem to dawn on these folks that life itself is symbiosis? We’re in this together. Quoting Anthony Douglas Williams: Not a single creature on Earth has more of less right to be here.

No one understands this more than a Vampire.

Sure, we’re equipped like the predators we are — low-light eyes, fangs, and talons — but we can’t feed one another. Guess who that leaves?

Delicious all of you.

Yes, we can take what we want… and then people would hunt us to extinction, so any benefit of having us around would be extinguished as well. You already know about the benefits.

The smarter among us ask to feed, make fair deals, and establish lasting relationships. While it may sound like a threat, Vampires are safer when satiated, and if we’re not healing from mortal combat, we need less blood to keep us docile and out of predator mode.

But if we’re denied, it’ll get bad. The longer we’re denied, the worse it’ll get — for everyone.

Again, not a threat. Just telling it like it is.

And if you’re being marginalized, shunned, moved aside, or in any way denied your right to be here (read: to exist), you need to make yourself known.

Trust me — I’m a Vampire.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Sex and the Single Vamp – Vampire Verisimilitude

“Let’s talk about sex, ba-by — all the good things… and the Vamp things… that may be!”

That Salt-N-Pepa song came out two years after I was born — the first time. My second birth was twenty-two years later, and I have no delusions about what I am: an imitation of life meant to lure in prey. I can stop my heart with a thought because it doesn’t need to beat; I can cease my breathing because I don’t need air. The brain in my head isn’t even really where my memories are stored — so why should a Vampire’s body benefit from or even desire sex?

I’ve often questioned the nature of my existence. Am I soulless? Did my spirit move on to leave this echo in an animated dead body where nothing I do has any actual consequence to my afterlife? I’ve asked this to others of my kind — the ones who wonder about such things — and we’ve all come to the same conclusion.

Vampires imitate life but also crave the benefits of it. Interaction allows us to become better hunters but also to empathize with our prey — we don’t have to kill to survive.

But why sex? We can’t procreate to create half-undead babies no matter what popular fiction suggests: animated dead bodies can’t conceive… but we CAN feel. All of our senses are heightened and we can become inexplicably aroused. Living blood is some of it — okay, most of it — but even without the thirst, we crave touch, an intimate familiarity with someone other than ourselves to quench a different thirst.

I have a personal theory, too. Vampires fear almost nothing — it’s one reason we can be tricked into our own destruction — and many of the inhibitions and consequences of sex are no longer concerns: pregnancy, disease, if it’ll be weird, if he won’t call the next day, if he blasts it across social media… none of it matters to a Vampire. Well, except maybe that last part…

There’s only the feeling and emotion of the act itself, those too-brief moments bodies become intertwined and drive one another into a frenzy of unbridled sensation before exploding into a body and mind-numbing calm.

Feeding is a near-religious experience for a Vampire but also instant gratification, searing blood pouring down our throats and igniting every fiber of our being. Sex, however, is a shared personal experience, and for all the blood in the world, Vampires still crave intimacy.

As for why I’m sharing this? No inhibitions… remember?

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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Midwinter Nights – Vampire Verisimilitude

The sun goes down; the fires light up.

cedarcrestfirepitwinterThe world looks renewed after a snowfall. With ice and snow covering everything, color and individual details merge into monochromatic shades and textures, becoming something different — perhaps something more. Everything familiar and unique becomes joined in single theme. The skies turn gray, a blanket over the stars and heavens.

Bask in the glory of Winter at night.

Sometimes, you need a moment of silence in the dark and the cold, long enough to see it for what it is: a frozen moment in time when the future is full of possibility… even for a Vampire.

But for now, all is peace.

The good Lord knows we need it right now.

Take your power seriously. Keep each other safe. Be indomitable.
~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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