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
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Facebook @JanissConnelly
Discus @justjaniss

janissanimatedsignature2017whiteborder

No Betas Allowed — Vampire Verisimilitude

Consider this “Myth of the Immortal Court, Part II: By the Numbers.”

I’ve mentioned before the ridiculous Mathematical Impossibility of Vampires, or what I call the Daybreakers Fallacy. In short, humans postulate Vampires cannot exist because everyone in the world would have become a bloodsucker already.

As if Vampires would let such a thing happen. We’re not zombies, we’re not stupid, and one bite does not equal Vampire.

But this brings me to a key point: supposed “immortal courts” make no sense because all Vampires are alphas and see one another as mutual enemies. So what’s the big deal with dark princes and princesses and all that? Here’s my best guess.

We all know Dracula was a Count, but that doesn’t mean all Vampires are royalty or have to be. Werewolves draw strength from packs while witches have their covens — neither of which actually exist the way you think. I’m talking about social games — role-playing, LARPs, and MMOs — where human players get to become the “monster” of their choice. Some of these attribute packs and covens to Vampires, nests and the like, implying groups of Vampires huddled together…

Except they’d destroy one another. More often than not, they do.

Anne Rice had it right — only the lonely — but White Wolf Games needed to enable everyone to play Vampires, so there had to be plenty of bloodsuckers around and reasons why they would be. I think the ones organized like mafia make the most sense; they’re at least somewhat believable.

There are about ten thousand Vampires that exist on Planet Earth with a population of 7.5 billion humans.

That’s one Vampire for every 750,000 people.

430 Vampires in the United States of America out of 323 million people.

There are perhaps eleven operating in and around New York City.

I can count the number of Vampires in West Virginia on one hand, including myself.

If such a court exists, it would be populated by ghouls: helpful empowered humans trying to avoid becoming the next meal. It would in no way be staffed with other Vampires making plans to attack or be attacked… constantly.

If you’re a Vampire, you’re an Alpha. There are no Betas and certainly no Omegas. Call it Vampire paranoia; you’re always suspicious and you’re not wrong to be. Two can tolerate one another for short periods of time — very short periods of time.

If it weren’t for social media, we’d never talk to each other safely at all.

I know what I’m talking about. Trust me — I’m a Vampire.

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

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Facebook @JanissConnelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com
Google+ JanissConnelly
Discus @justjaniss

janissanimatedsignature2017whiteborder

A Holiday Connection – Vampire Verisimilitude

vampirethanksgivingI posted a picture of my holiday meal on Thanksgiving: a warm turkey-themed mug filled to the brim with my favorite nutritional supplement. Some people thought it was animal blood or some other creature.

Nope: pure grade-A human.

Several, actually; it takes five willing donors to measure up to 500 milliliters, so feel free to call the American Red Cross and accuse them of being “the real Vampires” since they don’t stop at a mere fifth of a pint. My requirements are negligible in comparison, even at three times a night.

But this post isn’t about that.

The holidays are upon us!

Following Turkey Week (because Deer Season is this whole thing here in West Virginia), there’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and every other holiday… whew! And during this time, we expect calls from relatives, friends, people you’re reconnecting with, new people you’ve just met, and more.

Or… not.

Warning: this might sound a little down for a moment, but stick with me.
Continue reading “A Holiday Connection – Vampire Verisimilitude”

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
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Facebook @JanissConnelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com
Google+ JanissConnelly
Discus @justjaniss

JanissStakeSignature2016
BloodDrop

A World of Secrets – Vampire Verisimilitude

Middle West Virginia isn’t exactly spook central or populace-palooza… which makes it perfect for the discreet Vampire. As such, there isn’t much in the way of trouble-making strangers (for the most part). Sure, we get a new crop of students over at GSC every Fall as well as those returning, but the college campus is essentially self-contained. Think about it: in spite of the influx of students from all over the East Coast, Gilmer County is still one of the five poorest counties in one of the poorest states in the country.

halloweenscarecrowThis brings me to today’s meandering thought: what other supernatural or paranormal creatures or things are also out there?

I found out about Vampires when I awoke as one, but my first real lesson was that secrets are currency. Money and people are easy to manipulate; everything else falls into place with a little patience and creativity. That said, whenever you try to pry a secret from another immortal, you either have to prove it will benefit them to share it or have a one of equal value to trade.

So, here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Vampires – We’re real. Not an alien race or even a perpetuating one (unless you count turning others). Vampires were made, not born, and our makers apparently did so in an attempt to consolidate their power. This brings is to…
  • Witches – Okay, but not really. The term I’ve heard is Bloodworkers: those with an innate ability to rend so-called magic from living blood. Like Vampires, they know there are essential properties contained within blood that yet escapes the detection of science. But if a Bloodworker made the first of us, what else could they make?
  • Werewolves (or were-anything/shapechangers) – Never met one or even heard of there being one. If they exist, they keep a lower profile than we do. The best story I’ve heard is that Vampires created the legend of Werewolves to explain away a Vampire’s nocturnal activities to foolish locals. “We killed the wolf! It was Old Bob, and now we don’t have to move away!” Cruel and sneaky.
  • Ghosts – This one’s still a mystery to me. I know people spotting an immortal can be mistaken for ghosts, and the daydreams of Vampires are haunted by our victims, but are ghosts real? As before, I’ve never met one… so why do stories about them persist?
  • Zombies – Really? Does anyone still actually think zombies are plausible sci-fi? Totally fantasy… and totally made up. Trust me.
  • Angels and Demons – We can throw God and the Devil under this one, too — do these folks really exist? I was raised in the Church of Christ; I believe what I was taught, but I also strongly question it. Never mind that science can’t yet detect the supernatural component of blood or the existence of a soul — I have proof that these energies are real and can be manipulated, so I can’t rule this one out (and neither should you).
  • Fae, Trolls, Goblins, and Such – I have no idea. Any misdeed a fairy creature has ever been accused of could easily be attributed to a Vampire, from stealing babies to seducing men. I have my doubts there are or ever were such things… except trolls on the Internet.

So, with this little pre-Halloween shared, what have you seen or heard? I’m ready to believe you.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Facebook @JanissConnelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com
Google+ JanissConnelly
Discus @justjaniss

JanissStakeSignature2016
BloodDrop

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
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Facebook @JanissConnelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com
Google+ JanissConnelly
Discus @justjaniss

JanissStakeSignature2016
BloodDrop

No One Can Do Everything Alone – Vampire Verisimilitude

I’ve talked about being powerful while still feeling helpless before.

I can flip over a parked vehicle with relative ease — even those jacked-up sorry-you’re-sensitive-about-it little monster trucks. Bullets don’t phase me, and I can carve someone open from their belly button to the top of their throat with a single talon (were I so inclined).

You know what I can’t do? I can’t stop a bridge from being washed out. I can’t keep a child from being swept away. I can’t prevent creeks filling from storms miles away from accumulating into flash floods.

The Greenbrier tweeted this photo after the recent storms:
WVGreenbriarFlooding2016

Parts of West Virginia have been hit with historic flooding, enough for President Obama to declare it a disaster area. At last count, over a hundred homes have been damaged or destroyed, as many as twenty-four people are dead, and over thirty thousand people are without power. Part of the issue here is isolation; FEMA is working as best they can, but every little bit helps.

Check on your neighbor. Make sure they’re provided for. Donate if you can. Keep your thoughts and prayers open for those still in trouble that no one has gotten to yet.

Local churches are taking donations in many areas.

Keep each other safe, West Virginia.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com
Discus @justjaniss

JanissStakeSignature2016
BloodDrop

Small Town Mentality – Vampire Verisimilitude

We here at Cedarcrest Sanctum enjoy the benefits of a small community. Between residents and staff, we’re a hundred strong, and we all work together. It’s home to many of us, but at its heart, Cedarcrest still has to run like a business, the same as any household. When things aren’t working, it stands out; you can’t really hide issues like that in a crowd when there isn’t one.

GlenvilleStreetsideOur town of Glenville, West Virginia, is small — a little over 1,500 people — but unlike much of The Mountain State, the population is increasing. Glenville State College has expanded, like the Waco Center that opened a few years back providing a field house for the college and the county — so named for the significant donations made by Waco Oil & Gas founders Ike and Sue Morris (names that are hard to avoid in these parts). My grandparents enjoyed the weekly publications of The Glenville Democrat, a local newspaper that’s still here with one foot firmly planted in our digital world. And for those who remember, you no longer have to drive thirty or more miles into Weston or out to Flatwoods to get a McDonald’s cheeseburger anymore.

There are bad things, too, of course. Whispers of corruption for personal gain, crimes going unpunished, and the reputation that too much of West Virginia has become a safe haven for drug traffickers and a new source of addicts. With substance abuse also comes related crimes, some against the elderly to squeeze whatever money can be found for that next fix. With a local police force you can count on one hand and budget shortfalls toward law enforcement and investigation, I can only imagine how pointless it must feel at times. “It’s just Glenville,” all the larger and more important cities say.

What many of you have asked is why Cedarcrest isn’t doing something about it.

Here’s the truth: we can’t.

We just can’t.

What we do here requires maintaining a low profile. While I hesitate to use the word “outsider,” too many wouldn’t understand what we do here at Cedarcrest; even I questioned it when I was told what was really happening here. Vampires? Really? Keeping aging retirees alive in return for feeding their host? Never mind using special abilities or even donations to influence the community. We get to vote…like everyone else. The townsfolk can meet and talk and influence. What Cedarcrest can and is able to do is assess and combat threats that the local police (with noted exceptions) aren’t able to handle, the consequences of being here and taking responsibility for our presence.

I want those outside forces focused on me, not those around us.

So it’s as simple as that; Cedarcrest must leave Glenville to its own devices. Not because we hate it or we’re cruel but because wounds have to heal from the inside out. If I go to a council member or a constable and make them change their policies or direct resources in a particular direction, we’ll have to keep doing it, and I have no desire to run a small town like an immortal dictator. What’s next? Building a castle on the hilltop overlooking the cemetery? Brigades of peasants armed with torches and pitchforks to root out evildoers and drag them out to funeral pyres?

Okay, that last idea has merit, but we all have to follow the rules!

I understand the idea; all this power and money should be able to do more…but it can’t. It takes people willing to take back what’s theirs, campaign for the common good, and willing to listen as well as talk. It takes integrity to refuse controlled substances, ensure our friends and family refuse them as well, and eliminate the market.

I see more here than just sixty retirees. I see years of experience and strong wills, ties to the community and hopes for the future. It’s easy to point fingers and shake our heads about the way things used to be, but the phones work and you can call someone. You can send a text or post online. You can reach out and encourage others to help one another. We need to get the conversation going and make it okay for those who need help to keep their pride when they ask for it.

Decide what you want and make sure everyone knows it.

Glenville is your town, too.

Keep each other safe.

~ Janiss

Email janiss.connelly@cedarcrestsanctum.com
Twitter @JanissConnelly
Instagram @janiss.connelly
Tumblr janissconnelly.tumblr.com

JanissStakeSignature2016
BloodDrop

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

BloodDrop