Archive for July, 2009

betrayed by my body

i have a whole series of new posts lined up in my head, as i have now had the experience of donating to a sang vampire. however, all the thoughts and ideas of these recent experiences are all still in a muddle. look forward to posts appearing by and by over the next couple of weeks as i order my posts, re-examine old things i’ve written, and possibly come up with fresh inspiration.

but this first one is quite simple, so i’ll write about it now. in one of the feeding sessions the vamp wanted to use the kind of bloodletting kit used for actual medical blood-donations, i.e. a needle with a plastic tube on the end, leading to a plastic bag to contain the blood (except without the plastic bag at the recepient, that end of the tube goes directly into the vampire’s mouth). they was also hoping to make some blood ice-cubes for storing.

i readily agreed, the advantages are after all quite obvious. lots of blood, no scars, and possibly leaving some behind for the vamp for when i couldn’t be there (because, hey, i care about my vamps, otherwise i wouldn’t do this).

and then it kind of goes crooked. first sign, i think, was that my veins wouldn’t show up properly even with a tourniquet and all. then when we did find a vein, we didn’t get the needle properly into it at first. it was quite weird, because i could actually feel when the tip of the needle slipped off from the vein. on the second try it went in, and blood flowed (i would like to say “rushed”, but that would be an exaggeration) into the tube, and the vamp started drinking.

again it was quite awesome, in the other sang donations i’ve not been able to see the vampire’s face well while they were feeding. it was like all the muscles in their face went into a calm happy relaxed state, while they concentrated on the blood. but then, much too soon, something went wrong. something felt wrong with the needle, something looked wrong on the vampire’s face… i had essentially just stopped bleeding.

a few more drops seeped out (which the vampire of course licked up), and even that was crazyly little considering how huge those needles are. and that was it. my body refused to bleed. my body wouldn’t let me help the vampire i cared for. they said that it was not the first time that had happened, and that it was okay. but i was (and am still, to a degree) quite distraught.

of all the things i had considered which might go wrong during donating, this is the one i had never examined. that my body might just not be able too. i’ve not always had the best of relationships with my body. but never before had it felt quite as much like an active betrayal.

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something to keep you amused

okay, i’m experimenting here, not at all sure if i actually can embed a youtube video on a wordpress blog. but if it works, here’s my proposed new donor anthem:

anyway, sorry for not updating regularly and stuff, i’ve got a post or three planned, but life has been incredibly busy and it’ll be a few more days before i have time actually write a proper post.

p.s. i want to add that i do not usually listen to my chemical romance.

VVC public chat

last friday the VVC (Voices of the Vampire Community) invited everybody for a public chat. it was announced quite late – i got the first invitation barely 24 hours before – but as i’m actually quite interested in what goes on there and usually don’t have anything better to do at 3am (that’s when it was scheduled, for us continental europeans) i decided to attend.

i arrived a bit (a couple of hours) early, which turned out to be good; there was time for social chatting before getting down to business. the list of attendees was quite impressive, a good third of the vvc members were there for at least some of the time, and there were some well-known people amongst the non-members too.*

a nice point was a small exchange of personal messages with Isealdor.** i finally got to thank him for pointing me at blackswanhaven when i was just starting out in the community, and learned that he reads this and recommends my blog to others. now that left me feeling quite chuffed.

the actual thematic discussion was unsurprising; the chat was moving very rapidly, and it’s obviously not really the environment for deep discussions. but it was cordial enough, those who wanted to got to say their thing (i said my thing about giving donors more voice). it was overall quite interesting. after a while it morphed again into a more casual social chat. overall a pleasant evening, and i would happily attend another such chat.

for those of you who are interested in such things the log of the chat will supposedly be posted, somewhat sanitised, though i’m unsure if that was implied to be publicly or internally in the VVC. now i have few to no issues with sanitising a chat transcript, in their raw form they tend to be about as well structured as your average oral discussion (in other words, incredibly badly). but it does raise another issue.

in a global sense, i approve of the concept behind the VVC. we have a very diverse collection of vampire communities. we have more or less traditional houses, we have a few religious groups, we have the people at suscitatio doing research, we have the more free-style and undogmatic online communities, not to mention free agents (like me); and there’s bound to be other groups i haven’t thought of. getting people of good faith from all these communities to talk together is an obvious “good thing”.

what i don’t like is the secrecy associated with it. once you’ve got an organisation like that which keeps secrets, i lose trust in them. at that point it hardly matters that they describe themselves as:

“The VVC is not a governing body and will never attempt to act as such within the vampire community. […] We will not police informational content or the behaviors of individuals within the vampire community.” (on the VVC’s website, the page linked above)

i still can’t help getting slightly suspicious. the meeting transcripts they publish regularly only do little to calm that suspicion, they seem to me a bit like set pieces, while what’s actually happing remains invisible in the background. i don’t know that it works like that, but it’s how my mind works. i still think that the VVC is a good idea, i just remain cautious (or should i say paranoid?).

*am i starting to be known? at least three members of the vvc have been on this blog, others know me… yes, i’m incredibly vain.

**Isealdor runs the Vampire Realm of Darkness, the first real vampire site i found.

Laycock interviews

for those who haven’t realised yet, Laycock is the guy who wrote Vampires Today: The Truth about Modern Vampirism. i still haven’t read it, due to not having acces to a credit-card or other means of ordering it online, and also because of being quite broke. but he’s given two more interviews recently, and each time i read those i want to read the book even more.

the first of the two is at the New Orleans Vampire Film Festival. note the following paragraph, i think it is essential to understanding the difference between “vampire-as-an-identity” and “vampire-as-a-condition”:

Neither real or lifestyle vampires claim to be undead or immortals.  The idea that a vampire could be a living person actually goes back to the 19th century and an occult group called the Theosophical Society.  The Theosophical Society traveled to India where they re-imagined European vampire legends by drawing on Indian ideas of vital energy and holistic medicine.  I have met Hindus and students of Chinese medicine who acknowledge that some people need to borrow or take energy from others to be healthy––they just don’t think of this as vampirism.

i am convinced that vampires-as-a-condition, both those who feed on energy and blood, have been around for as long as the human species has existed (several hundreds of thousands of years) and quite possibly could be found in our ancestor species. however, like Laycock says, even today the condition isn’t necessarily equated with vampires-as-an-identity. it is only in our post-modern society that we can construct an identity around the condition. i think it is also this difference between the condition and identity of vampires which fuels the discussion which sometimes rises in the communities around names.

he makes a similar argument in the bostonist, in an interview titled “We All Become Non-Vampires”. here he makes an analogy to how gay became an identity:

There used to be no concept of homosexuality. If you’re a man, you’re supposed to have sex with women; if you have sex with a man, then you’ve sinned. And if you have sex with lots and lots of men, then you’re a sinner. But you’re not “gay.” You’re not different from other people, you’re just bad.

Now we have this category of “gay,” and all of us start thinking of ourselves as “straight,” whereas before there was no concept of “straight.”

you see how this argument works; i personally really like it, because it allows us to talk about “vampire-as-an-identity” – and by consequence about vampire communities or subcultures – without having to answer the tricky question of what “vampire-as-a-condition” actually ontologically is. furthermore this construction of new identities is a subject which i find intensely interesting, both academically and personally (as donor, otherkin, and queer transperson).

on the other hand, i want to remark on his response (in the first interview) when asked whether he interviewed donors. it’s becoming more and more obvious that he didn’t have more than casual contact with donors, and clearly didn’t include us in his research. we end up with the same issue i remarked upon earlier (scroll down to where i mention the “true true blood” article), that we have people talking about donors but not actually letting donors speak for themselves.

this is even more astounding as the basic concept of his book is to go out and talk to the communities, instead of relying on second-hand accounts. it’s even more astounding as overlooking a part of the community is one of the basic errors in ethnography. one of the classic examples is a researcher noting in his logbook that “everybody left to go hunting, and we were left alone in the village. only the women and children remained” (i forget who exactly it was, and the quote is paraphrased, sorry). it also makes me a bit angry, because those people which are excluded in that “everybody” (the women and children, the donors, the queer people, the trans-folk) become non-people, become people who don’t have an identity. and that is frankly something i’ve dealt with long enough.

perhaps i’m being hasty in my opinion on how he treats donors; as i said, i haven’t yet been able to read Vampires Today. maybe the bookstore could order it for me, i think i’ll have to go check it out. but so far i unfortunately haven’t seen anything which contradicts my opinion.

i originally wanted to write something about the recent public chat held by the VVC, but as this has already grown much longer than i intended i’m going to leave that for a future post.

been a while

these “been a while” posts, also “i need to update more often” and similar, are often bad signs on blogs, indicating that the blogger has kind of lost interest in the subject and wandered off to do something else, like getting a life. actually, something like that has happened to me (getting a life, of sorts), which has kept me quite preoccupied, but i have no intention of abandoning this blog.

another reason why i haven’t updated in ten days is that the whole donoring thing has been going kind of bumpy. one of my vampires has pretty much disappeared, for reasons i understand but which don’t really need to be mentioned here. another hasn’t disappeared, but is spending much time in offline-land (also for reasons i understand). i miss both of them. at the same time i’ve decided that i really don’t want to donate randomly anymore, because it really made me feel cheap and was mostly just not worthwhile. thankfully i found another vampire whom i donate to more or less regularly; but i’m really not getting to donate as much as would be good for me.

it is rather stressful for me, obviously. but beyond that it’s led me to wonder about the whole remote-feeding and feeding people one meets online thing. even the ones i donate to regularly were chosen more because they were available, and less because of having an established relationship with them. in an act of irony, the energy vampire i’ve built a longer, more serious relationship with doesn’t want to feed from me. but what i’m wondering is, how do other people who feed or donate mainly to people they know online handle the inherent looseness of many relationships which are built online?

in sociology, we speak of weak ties when we refer to the kind of casual relationships which are built in facebook and other social networking sites. they’re not inherently bad, but they can be very casual and can be cut quite easily. from some vamps i get the impression that they go trawling the net, manipulating people who are barely aware of what is happening into opening links to them, and feeding from them. and i know that this would be a feasible method, there are enough places where vampires hang out, and it’s stupidly easy to make them desire you. but it is not what i want.

now i know that long-term relationships can be built online, but they are rare and take time. i look forward to the time i have a vampire to donate to who is local to me, who i have strong ties to, who won’t just disappear on me. i guess i have to be patient.

spotting vampires

two days ago i was in town, waiting for people who didn’t show up, and watching everybody else. when all of a sudden my senses screamed “vampire”. i found the person easily, a woman, straight black hair just below her shoulders, about 5’8 or so, looked about 30 but honestly could also have been 50, metallic blue dress, two or three people almost visibly tethered to her. they went to get drinks, and then i lost sight of them.

i have two thoughts about the incident. the first is that this would be the second vampire i’ve spotted. it shouldn’t really be surprising; as much as there are vampires and donors who don’t know any others, there are people who know two or three vampires in their offline life. these are not people living in a scene or particular setting either, some of them are just kids going to school, where your choice of people to meet and hang around with is limited by outside constraints.

you could make an argument that many teens are just wannabes or posers, just as similar arguments are made by grown-up people (trans or cis) about all the trans-kids which are popping up these days. but whether that is true or not (personally i believe there are some wannabes, but that there’s many more trans-people and vamps than the older generations imagine) there ought to be a minimum number of vamps around town, enough that one ought to encounter them every so often.

the other thought is more tricky: how the heck do i know that she’s a vampire? the first one i spotted was fairly obvious, because i sensed her feeding on me. this one, it was really just my senses poking me saying look there, look there, she’s a vamp, seriously, LOOK! there is no real foundation of knowledge permitting me to identify a vampire, there is no vampire look or style, nothing really allowing me to “know”. yet instinctively i know it.

i do not trust that kind of knowledge. i do not trust things which i “know” without having a reason for them. it makes me distinctly uneasy. yet when i talk about and explore my draconicity it is this kind of knowledge which brings me further, it is stuff i just know, without rhyme or reason. my best writing about being a dragon is that which just comes out, without any thought. even more pertinent, because deeply rooted in what we almost all agree on as reality, is my being a girl. there is absolutely no way to “know” that it is what i am, and from time to time i still get powerful thoughts of “what the heck are you doing?!” yet with all the steps i have already taken towards becoming and being a girl, and with all the good this has already brought to me, i cannot but accept that this instinctive knowledge i’ve had all my life is true.

so i’m in a bit of a bind. do i trust my instinctive knowledge? do i go with the flow, with the risk of losing touch with reality? do i remain critical, with the risk of missing really important stuff? i guess that with the vampires, time will tell. i’m going to meet more of them with time, and i’ll learn if my instinctual recognition works or not. and with all the rest, i think i don’t have any answers right now.