Halloween, Ohio – Vampire Verisimilitude

btvsspike“In my day, no self-respecting creature of the night went out on All Hallow’s Eve. We left that to the posers, the blighters who had to dress up and try to be scary.” ~ Spike, “Angel”

Tomorrow night is the official Trick ‘r Treating — on All Hallow’s Eve, as it should be — 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the town I grew up.

Sunset is about 22 minutes after that… and I’ll be awake.

There’s little or no chance of rain today or tomorrow in the city of St. Clairsville, Ohio; highs in the mid 50s, perfect for going door-to-door in costume for candy. Neighborhoods like the one I grew up in are perfect for Trick ‘r Treating because it’s too far to walk out to my Gramma’s house in West Virginia.

halloweenpumpkinsSo why won’t I be in Glenville or at Cedarcrest Sanctum this weekend? I felt like a bit of a reset. I see my folks on Easter and Thanksgiving, usually reserving Christmas and New Years for the residents at Cedarcrest.

But not this year. I turn 28 next Saturday, November 5th, and I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic. I though that maybe I could make a tradition of hanging out with my folks while they’re still around… especially in light of the fact I haven’t aged in six years and subsist entirely on a diet of human blood.

Did I mention my dad dug a grave for me in the backyard and had a guest house built around it? I have a crafty old man when he wants to be.

I’m looking forward to the smell of freshly carved pumpkins with real candles burning inside (my mom always insists) and hot apple cider in the air. I want to see the kids in costume with their parents, especially when the adults dress up, too — happy family units going door-to-door. The Connelly Residence is always a favorite stop since my dad fills a huge plastic cauldron with full-size candy bars… take your pick.

btvssunnydaleclass1999My folks dress up but not in costumes; they let their decorations show off their spooky spirit.

What will I be wearing? Jeans, jacket, and a gray t-shirt that says “Sunnydale High School, Class of ’99.” Subtle, right? Even my ‘rents won’t get it.

Happy Halloween!

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
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City Vamp, Country Vamp – Vampire Verisimilitude

Gilmer Country — home to both Glenville State College and our esteemed Cedarcrest Sanctum — was shown in a recent report to be the second-poorest county in West Virginia out of fifty-five counties. That sounds bad…until you realize the cost of living isn’t high here and college students (for the most part) aren’t working.

You also wouldn’t know it seeing all the upgrades GSC has been making over the past few years.

Fortunately, Glenville retains its country charm. I grew up in St. Clairsville “Go Devils!” Ohio — in spitting distance of Wheeling, West Virginia — but I consider myself a country girl and mountaineer at heart, always looking to spend as much time as possible at my grandparent’s farm.

I refrain from the word Hillbilly; I’m more like a Hillbecky.

VampireMouseI know Vampires in both Wheeling and Washington, D.C., but I can’t imagine subsisting in the city. Daytime below ground is a requirement for us, so penthouse suites and park-view condos are out of the question in terms of practicality — unless you have a private Batman-esque express elevator straight down into the basement. And how bad would living in New Orleans be with all the flooding? Yes, according to Anne Rice, the Big Easy is infested with immortals, but that has to be pure fiction; no one I know would spend their day’s rest in a flooded grave (it’s terrible what keeps happening there).

Vampires who are the feeding-on-criminal-scum types have to avoid authorities, closed-circuit television monitoring, and who knows what else. I mean, when people are hungry, they go where the food is; there’s a support system in place, right? You don’t put your Johnny Appleseed bag over your shoulder to pick fruit trees or milk a cow for something to pour over breakfast cereal. It’s the same with domesticated Vampires; you know where your next meal is coming from and it shouldn’t be a surprise pain-in-the-neck to anyone.

Still, the country is laid-back and takes its time. Give me the sounds of crickets and rustling leaves over sirens and screams any night.

Your mileage may vary…and isn’t that little vampire country mouse adorable?

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
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Vampire Heaven, West Virginia – Vampire Verisimilitude

It’s true — almost. See what I did there?

Full disclosure: while I was born at Wheeling Hospital, I grew up in St. Clairsville, Ohio (go Red Devils!) As often as I could, I spent holidays and summers in Gilmer County long before I made it my permanent residence. The Mountain State is indescribable to people who’ve never visited.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also home to a few Vampires.

The great state of West Virginia has a look, feel, and flavor all its own (not that kind of flavor). Beautiful mountain country mostly unspoiled by industry, a small but dedicated population far less backward than popular movies and television would have you believe, and a state-wide small-town feel that’s entirely different from everywhere else. Our state capital of Charleston boasts less than 60,000 people; New York City alone has over four times the population of our entire state.

But why “a Heaven for Vampires?” For one, it’s a peaceful place; we like that. Mountaineers take care of their own — whether related by blood or part of our extended family. People work together. There’s a work ethic here that things have to get done and nobody else is around to do them, so even if your nearest neighbor is five miles down the road, they’re still willing to help out. There’s also a mandatory relax ethic, too, so when the work’s done, it’s done. Anyone looking to get away from all the craziness and still reside within the continental United States couldn’t do much better.

The native terrain has kept too much major industry from ruining the state (though they still try). Away from major roadways like I-77 and I-79, most businesses don’t stay open too late and “roll up the sidewalks” at sundown. If you’re used to cities that never sleep, that isn’t here.

Sadly, things are changing now. The younger generation is being lured away by more lucrative out-of-state work, leaving the elderly to fend for themselves or fend off their remaining relatives looking for easy money. Heroin use has replaced Hillbilly Hash as the recreational drug of choice, and violent drug-related crimes have increased. Fracking and other industrial pollutants threaten an ecosystem that has survived unscathed for centuries is hurting the vital state tourism trade.

But like all Americans, Hill Folk will only take so much pushing around. We see more than we say, and we think more than you know. West “By God” Virginia is home, and we’re willing to share if outsiders are willing to take care of it and one another. Make no mistake; we see everything.

All the drug dealers, the industrial polluters, and anyone else trying exploit the Mountain State?

They won’t get away with it.

I promise — and I’m not alone.

Montani Semper Liberi.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly

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