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the side project: first bell

July 30, 2013

Cameron Beaumont

He’d hit the snooze button six times already. Was contemplating doing it again when it dawned on him that he’d hit the snooze button six times. “Shit!”

He threw the covers back, leapt out of bed. Found a pair of jeans off the floor and hopped into them, then picked up a t-shirt and fumbled with the sleeves and the neck as he ran into the bathroom to brush his teeth and slap some water on his face and hair. He patted down the blond spikes at his crown, smoothed the strands near his temple, then bounded down the stairs to the kitchen.

Stood at the refrigerator, the gallon jug of milk to his lips—glug, glug, glug—then replaced the lid, then the container.

He pocketed the ten-dollar bill his mother had left for him on the counter, grabbed an apple and ran out of the house.

If he hurried, he might make it before first bell. Looked down at his bare feet. “Shoes. Shoes would be good here. Shit.”


Tessa Winston

She was still in the water at the start of first period. On the last bit of their routine for the day—a four hundred medley. Sometimes her coach let her substitute breaststroke for butterfly. Sometimes he didn’t. Today he didn’t. So she flopped around in the water like a fish on the shore. Maybe she hung onto the wall a little longer than she ought to on the fly leg. She practically drowned every twenty-five meters.

“Winston! Get off the wall!”

She glared at her coach, but dropped her arms and pushed off. Two more, and then backstroke, where she’d zig and zag all over the lane. Then breaststroke. A reward for having suffered through the other two.

She struggled to lift her arms up then over the water and bring her head up enough to get a breath. Her body sagged back into the water, relieved that it didn’t have to fight against gravity. She kicked, moved her arms down and away, then up and out again. Goddamned butterfly.

She thought about breakfast. Belgian waffles drenched in maple syrup and covered with powdered sugar. Two scrambled eggs generously sprinkled with sea salt. Blackberries. She wouldn’t have to be at school until just after nine a.m. Plenty of time to fill up before she went to hell.

(c) twenty-thirteen. jennifer k. griffin, otherwise known as c.c. this publication is the exclusive property of c.c. and is protected under the united states copyright act of nineteen seventy-six and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. the contents of these posts, and any other c.c.-crafted picky post for that matter, may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without c.c.'s consent. all rights reserved.

in other words, steal this, and i will follow you to the depths of hell and the edge of forever and kick your puny, thieving ass.

ten. things i live for

Life.Love.Lauren

one. my nephew's smiling face. he's got a long, thin face, like his father, with owlish eyes. he watches things. he's always watching things. studying them. and it's so obvious that the wheels are turning, and you want so much to know what he's thinking. but you also want to turn that thoughtfulness into laughter. or at least i do. perhaps because i'm kind of like him in this respect, and i'd rather see him grinning and giggling. 

two. my niece's hugs. she'll hold on to you so tightly. for so long. it's beautiful, really.

three. my bed at the end of a long, long day. like today. and yesterday. and the day before that... the international customers are finishing up their holidays. soon they'll return to mexico. but at the moment, they come en masse (all at the same time, it seems) and destroy our store. it took us ninety minutes to clean up after them today. on a typical monday night, we're out half past closing. a ninety-minute close is normal for the week before christmas on a friday or saturday night. but a monday? not so much. even for the summertime. i am plum tuckered.

four. great stories. i probably like the ones told in songs the best. examples: the airborne toxic event's sometime around midnight; tori amos' precious things, sara bareilles' between the lines; counting crows' round here; a fine frenzy's almost lover; the fray's vienna; hootie and the blowfish's not even the trees; indigo girls' prince of darkness; journey's faithfully; lisa loeb's stay; ingrid michaelson's the chain; anna nalick's breathe; pearl jam's jeremy; switchfoot's on fire; temple of the dog's say hello to heaven; third eye blind's the god of wine.

five. my characters. when they're playing well with each other, when they're playing well with me, it's incredible, really, how good i feel about the world, about my presence in it. i feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when i find just the right words to tell their stories, when the telling is seemingly effortless (because when it comes to me clearly, it IS effortless, really... and quite a rush); 

six. compliments. 

seven. kindness.

eight. aimless drives through the country. sometimes the best way to recharge my battery is to get the car washed, fill the tank up, put in some good tunes and grab a can of dr. pepper and just go. 

nine. hope.

ten. quiet. like right now, i hear little more than the whir of the air conditioning, the clack of my fingers on the keys, the hum of the fan and the constant beat of the night outside. after watching my brother's children (god love'm) for about six hours or so and then going to work to watch other people's children trash my store, the little i hear now is a godsend.

primroses on street corners

July 26, 2013


my day started off okay. i had colorado peaches for breakfast. and oh, they're yummy.

one of my favorite managers has come back to our store to manage it, and i've felt pleased and blessed where work's concerned ever since i learned of her return. or at least, i've tried to focus on this.

i've a job i usually enjoy. i get to help parents dote on their children, which is kind of nice. for instance, a young woman came in this afternoon looking for batman merchandise because they were going to do their son's room in all things batman. and i found a beacon light, an alarm clock, headphones, sheeting... she was quite pleased with her purchases. and i was quite pleased to have helped.

but by the end of my shift, i felt like my coworkers do little more than tolerate me. not because they want to do so, but because they must. i felt so unappreciated.

this is what a tank does. a tank, for those of you newer readers, is what i call a depressive episode. and i've been swimming about in a tank too wide and too deep for too long lately. i can't find my way to the surface for more than a second or two at at time. and then i plunge again to the bottom. and contrary to what some of you might think, it's not by choice, this sinking.

when i'd gotten off work, i found a text from a friend: what's wrong, poppet?

so i told her.

and one of her replies is that i'm the strongest person she knows.

only one other person has said this about me: my mother.

it's just that i don't feel so strong.

and apparently i'm too negative. too pessimistic. and according to another friend, i should consider that there's always someone worse off. this from a woman who's recently married and newly pregnant. and half my age.

so. worse off...

one. i could've been placed in an institution for babies born with cerebral palsy. i'm quite certain i wouldn't've found a reason not to end my life when i'd first considered it at eight had this been so.

two. if it weren't for the braces doctors placed on my hips in infancy, i would've never learned to walk. heck, movement of any kind would've been excruciating. always.

three. my eyes could've remained crossed. or i could've gone blind in one of two surgeries to fix them.

four. maybe i wouldn't've been smart enough to avoid being placed in special education classes. in which case, i'm quite certain i wouldn't've found a reason not to end my life at ten years of age.


five. my eyelids could've remained wonky and droopy. or worse, the muscles could've been so weak that i couldn't've lifted them to see out with no way to correct it.

six. i could have fangs. when my adult canine teeth grew in, i hadn't quite lost my childish ones yet, and the new ones came in over my baby teeth.

seven. my knees could give out on me daily. this happening at work would be awesome. i tended to scream fuck at the top of my lungs whenever this occurred. were it to do so now, all the little kiddies would be curious. or terrified. and all the mommies would be offended. and i probably would no longer be employed after the first incident.

eight. one of those other four surgeries could've had some sort of debilitating outcome.

nine. my parents could turn me out at any time for being a waste and a leech, in which case i'd be living under a bridge somewhere, attempting to beg for change on a street corner every day.


ten. i could've grown up in a family of longhorns... those idiots who chose to attend texas university. ugh. the horror. to have to wear that godawful burnt orange. to praise a damned cow. to idolize a band that dresses like it's in an episode of hee-haw. to sing a fight song that sounds a lot like i've been working on the railroad.... (which is now stuck in my head). worse still, i could've been forced to go to college there. EW.

the point of all this is that i'm aware of how awful things could be. and these are just a few potential outcomes. i can imagine all kinds of possibilities, most of which are too heinous to mention here. yet, instead of some friend calling attention to them, she could offer up instead a hug and a smile and say, it's okay; i like you because... sometimes it helps to be reminded of what makes you good. because sometimes it's hard to see it.

i'm well aware of the ways in which my life has been blessed. i know it. every day.

but there are ways that it lacks. sometimes that lack seems to be quite great. i could use a friend to distract me. maybe doing small things like giving out some flowers or sending a care package is just enough to brighten a bleak mood.

so... to my friend who called me poppet, i love you and thank you for being there.

and to another friend, i sent you something lovely. thank you, too, for being a gracious and welcome recipient. and patient. :]


and to god, for giving me things like primroses on street corners... beauty where there should be none. it's little things like this...

one. lifelong dream

July 23, 2013

Life. Love.Lauren
well, i was gonna talk about how i hoped to become a successful novelist. but i only thought of striving for that since graduation from college.

and that's been only for the last half my life.

when i was a child, i dreamt of becoming a wife and mother. but that one was only for the first half of my life.

and then it occurred to me that both of these dreams stem from one hope, really: to matter.

i miss my puppy

July 22, 2013

his name was nicholas.

and he really belonged to my older brother, but when jon brought nick to live with us, i kind of claimed him as my own. 

nick was a french mastiff. also known as a dog de bordeaux. this particular breed was featured in the film turner and hooch.

hip dysplasia is a common ailment in dogs like nick. it got to be so bad that he he couldn't walk. couldn't get up. and eventually, we had to let him go. and this was more than a decade ago. but even now, sometimes i find myself being a little too cautious at night when opening the patio door, because he used to sleep butted up against it.

yesterday, one of my friends (thank you, minn) emailed me a link for this video:



i miss my nickel.

he was pretty nifty.

he would shred towels. and our backyard? he tore up the gardening. not because he didn't like it, but because he wanted to sleep in a particular spot (and it was rarely the same spot). he'd leave giant shoelaces of slobber over everything. and when he got out, we'd panic because big dogs like him tend to get pretty volatile and threatening around other dogs.

but oh, he was funny. and fun. 

random quarter: the (sort of) thirty-one days in july edition

July 17, 2013

one. ten random facts: a) i've never been stung by a wasp, though i was certain the one flying about my living room moments ago was going to get me; b) i love applesauce; c) i've never been to denmark; d) i wasn't a fan of shakespeare until i was about thirty and a professor at the university of texas at san antonio taught me to love him; e) i'm not a fan of admitting that i ever attended classes at any of t.u.'s campuses, though i must admit that particular branch had some of the finest professors i've ever known; f); the only time i've liked burt reynolds was in smokey and the bandit; g) i've never liked john wayne (but in his defense, i'm not one for westerns); h) at the moment i sound a little bit like the aflac duck; i) i find it incredibly challenging to not use foul language; j) i have trouble sleeping.

two. nine things for which i am grateful: a) family; b) friends; c) employment; d) days off; e) netflix/apple tv; f) microwaves; g) televisions; h) the internet; i) the mute button.

three. three goals i want to achieve by the end of the year: get back down to a size eight (well, really, i'd rather be back in a six, but that kind of sounds unrealistic); finish my novel; find an agent.


four. my biggest inspiration growing up was my older brother. he's the one in the gray cut-off sweatshirt.

five. five of my favorite things: a) eleanor and park; b) star trek; c) pottery barn kids' darth vader backpack (the old one. not the new one they'll soon be stocking in stores; d); carbonated, caffeinated beverages; e) texas a&m university. (and some of these things are up for grabs this month. see picky presents.)

six. if i could meet anyone dead or alive, at the moment, i would probably wanna meet jenny lawson. she seems pretty cool.

seven. a favorite memory from school... i'm assuming school here means kindergarten through twelfth. my junior year, after practice, we'd go to fudrucker's to eat and hang out.

eight. a vlog:

video

nine. i don't know that i would call them favorite, but the apps on my phone that i use most often (aside from four at the bottom of my screen) are for facebook, the internet movie database and cinemark.

ten. my favorite television show growing up was probably the cosby show.

eleven. i wish i were better at controlling my emotions.

twelve. of the travels i hope to take, at the moment, i'd most like to venture up california's coast.

thirteen. my family.

fourteen. three things i can't live without: fiction, film and football.

fifteen. my favorite keepsake: the antique icebox my great uncle restored and my great aunt painted.

sixteen. hobbies: writing, reading, watching movies, watching the aggies win.

seventeen. one of my favorite people.

eighteen. a favorite celebrity: johnny depp.

nineteen. my bag's contents: wallet, keys, cell phone, pen, a scarf from one of my mother's friends who passed away a few years ago.

twenty. why i blog (and then some).

twenty-one. work: my least favorite four letter word.

twenty-two. three things on my bucket list: spend a week in ireland; spend a week in austria; spend a week in greece.


twenty-three. fall. football season.

twenty-four. my best friend is my younger brother, and if you're clicking when i bother to create a link, you will have read about him already. (see number thirteen.)

twenty-five. five favorite films: star wars: episode v--the empire strikes back, the lord of the rings: return of the king (the director's cut), star trek (the one with chris pine, karl urban, simon pegg, john cho and anton yelchin), serenity and steel magnolias. i find it interesting that four of these five are science-fiction.

melissa at two miracles is challenging folks to blog every day in july. join in here.

the thirty-second question

July 16, 2013


this post is one of many for a creative nonfiction project i began several years ago. i call it the griffin inquisition. i've asked my friends and family to pose questions, things they want to know about me that would require more than a yes or no for an answer.

the most recent addition comes from my friend, melissa.

why must you always wear oversized sweatshirts?

well, first of all, i don't always wear them. at the moment, i am clothed in a gray t-shirt with red letters across the breast warning that vader is coming and advising one to look busy.

busy is typing up this here post while watching a really bad chick flick known as the prince and me. for some bizarre reason, i like it.

second, if i had the dedication and determination to have a figure similar to yours, you can bet your ass i'd be walking around in tanks and cut-offs all the time.

at the moment i weigh one hundred sixty-two pounds. for me, that's a whopping figure, the most fat i've ever had on my body. my friends and family keep badgering me about how i should do something about it. i don't even wanna know what my body fat percentage is. the last time i was on a get healthy kick, when it began, i believe i weighed about eight pounds less than i do now, and that percentage was thirty-three, which is pretty unhealthy. 

three decades ago, i was about twenty pounds underweight. easily. and my doctor kept telling me that he'd rather i be twenty pounds overweight. that weighing more was less of a health risk.

and now i'm probably thirty pounds overweight. easily.

but the reason for the sweatshirts, when i do wear them--which is, admittedly, often--hasn't changed too much.

i have never liked my body. ever. not as a whole. and i know that each of us has one thing or another that troubles us about our physiques. i have about thirty of'm. scars, mostly. i don't like looking at them. i don't like knowing that they're there. why they're there. though i have to admit, when i'm not attempting a healthy lifestyle, i don't mind them quite so much. probably because i'm more bothered by the excess pounds.

in addition to the scars, there's the shortage or surplus of weight to consider. nowadays, sweatshirts help to take my mind off the fat tire situated above my hips and the doughnut that is my belly.

when i was in high school, they helped hide the length and thinness of my frame. my peers were less apt to ridicule me for my scrawniness, my seemingly anorexic state, if they couldn't see it. i wasn't anorexic, by the way. i was much less sedentary than a lot of them. if i wasn't swimming--which is a huge if, by the way--i was out walking, making up stories and clearing my head. if i wasn't walking, i was riding my bicycle. i did this for hours every day.

now, i spend quite a bit of my time on the couch, reading or watching a movie. or sitting on a stool at pappadeaux's, writing.

so, i wear them to hide, basically.

but also because they give me comfort. when i'm down, it's like i'm wrapped up in a blanket. so they help me feel better, too, i guess. usually. it almost always works.

a good example of it not doing so is here.

two. places i've traveled

July 15, 2013

london

clive steps/churchill museum and cabinet war rooms


charles dickens' museum

the royal courts of justice

two. germany

dachau

munich. neues rathaus
(new town hall)

hohenschwangau
as seen from the hike to neuschwanstein

Life. Love.Lauren

the side project

July 8, 2013

Tessa

Next year she was signing up for sixth period swimming. She couldn’t understand why she’d not thought to do this sooner. It made sense that she’d want the salvation the pool offered at the end of the day rather than the beginning of it. And since it was too cold to swim at home…

“Tess!”

Her shoulders sagged.

“Tessa!”

“What?”

Cosmo wants you for their cover for next month’s issue.”

She closed her eyes, somehow managed to get a little closer to the wall.

“They’re doing another one of their all about sex issues. They figured you’d be the best person to ask about doggie style.”

Two more hours.

Cameron

He watched her duck into German class. Glanced at the group nearby, at the boy who’d called out to her. But he didn’t say anything.

They didn’t have assigned seats in this class, though most everyone preferred to sit in the same place. When he walked in, she was on the teacher’s stool at the center of the room, eyes closed, arms and legs out but slightly bent, head cocked to one side. Spinning.

He found an empty desk next to hers.

When the teacher closed the door, Tessa hopped off the stool, visibly disappointed that she had to stop, and took her seat. She looked at him like she wondered why he was sitting there and not in his usual spot three rows over and two seats back. But she didn’t say anything. She pulled out her spiral and started writing.

He peered at the paper.

Every now and then, she’d pause to survey the room.

Their teacher was talking about grammar. “Auf Deutsch,” she’d say when she had a question for them. She wanted answers in German.

“Frau Tessa?”

Her head popped up. “Ja?”

“Was schreibst du?”

Cameron had been just about to ask her the same thing—what are you writing?

“Ah.” She blushed. Flipped the spiral shut. “Musik.”

(c) twenty-thirteen. jennifer k. griffin, otherwise known as c.c. this publication is the exclusive property of c.c. and is protected under the united states copyright act of nineteen seventy-six and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. the contents of these posts, and any other c.c.-crafted picky post for that matter, may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without c.c.'s consent. all rights reserved.
 
in other words, steal this, and i will follow you to the depths of hell and the edge of forever and kick your puny, thieving ass.

three. favorite quotes

i think we live our lives so afraid to be seen as weak that we die perhaps without ever having been seen at all.
alan shore—boston legal.
 
any man who judges her as harshly as she judges herself
isn't worth knowing.
courage does not always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘i will try again tomorrow.’

Life. Love.Lauren

five things you shouldn't say to someone with bipolar disorder

July 5, 2013


one. lighten up. sure. as soon as we can remember how to conjure a patronus to banish the dozens of dementors and their blackness. do you think we don't prefer the sun? do you think it's so easy as stepping outside?

two. oh, i'm sick of hearing about how your head hurts. one of the pleasantries of this lovely disorder is that sometimes those who suffer from it are hypersensitive to noise. and the more noises there are, the more unnecessary they seem to be (like the associate who was walking around pressing on the cellophane with which she'd just wrapped a small item. for five minutes. back and forth to the cash registers with snap, crackle and pop for company. pair this with the talking and the shopping and the children and the music and the phones ringing and the sheer volume of it all...) the more it makes the affected person's head hurt. so in addition to the bat shit crazy he or she may be battling silently (or no), he's also suffering from piercing physical brain pain.

three. if you'd exercise... yes, we're well aware of the benefits of exercising. the trouble is, at times we just don't give a shit about anything at all. even ourselves. especially ourselves.

four. maybe you should take vitamins. see number three. but replace exercising with vitamins.

five. maybe you should medicate it. see number three. also... sure if i want to feel like a giant void. my brother died? for weeks i couldn't cry. well, maybe that's because the grief hit you later, you say. sure, except i cry at the drop of a hat, thanks. hell, the thing could still be on your head and i could cry. practically all i've done this week is cry. and i'm not complaining about that. really. i'm not. because i'd rather do that than rage. plus, i always feel better after a jag. anyway. when something like that happens, crying's necessary. and i couldn't. for weeks. also, i don't write. and i am nothing, NOTHING without my craft. also, it can be expensive. even with health insurance.

having said that, i imagine refusing to medicate is kind of like refusing to vote. if you're not going to try to live a physically healthy lifestyle, then i guess it's perceived that you shouldn't really bitch about your brain being fucked.

how about i won't bitch about that, if you won't say this shit to me. thanks.

sometimes i'm not even aware of the time

July 3, 2013

oh... bipolar how i loathe you.

i would count the ways, but i think yall would get tired of reading about them. so i'll just give you one: it's a time suck.

i love how smart i am. really. my brain's got some wicked power, especially when it comes to crafting a sentence (though i do occasionally throw in a typo, just for fun.)

once upon a time i worked for a newspaper. one of my jobs was editing letters to the editor. i was very careful not to change what had been written unless grammatical stupidity was involved.

you know. like when someone writes your when he meant you're. or it's when she meant its.

(to the editor of the conroe courier: i meant its green, not it's green. one's possessive. one's not. but thanks for printing my shit.)

i've never written a letter to the editor, by the way. usually because i can't be bothered. but the greedy bastards demolishing my state's fine forests are really pissing me off. so i wrote one. and my mother helped me reign it in and whittle it down to three hundred words. (it wasn't too much longer than that--maybe a hundred words or so. but i know how precious inches are, and i do tend to get verbose when i'm on a tear.)

i won't give you the whole of it here. just my favorite paragraph:

twice, the people residing west of the city, near the manmade lake, feared the rains that made the waters rise would flood their pricey homes. the san jacinto river authority would wait until the last possible second and open the gates. and the water rushed to the east, and the neighborhoods where the interstate meets magnolia parkway would be underwater for weeks. the only things that have kept our homes from being lost entirely or from not staying underwater longer or from flooding at all are the tree to the west.

yeah. singular tree. because for some reason, i didn't catch that missing s until after i submitted it. and the editor, so careful to tweak my language elsewhere, missed it, too. even though i'd sent him a follow up email immediately after i'd sent the first, calling attention to it. i was gonna correct it here, but then i'd be quoting myself erroneously. and i can't have that.

anyway. it was a good letter. i was pretty proud of it. i went to bed last night in a good mood.

i woke up this morning in a good mood. of course, i had to read about the goings on of the texas legislature. but even after reading about that, i was alright.

and then one of my friends posted something on facebook about how stupid the state of texas is and how it should secede already and attached this article.

and i said something about how i liked it, but then i saw that bit about secession and argued that not all texans are stupid. just perry and his cronies.

and one of her friends had to point out that it's satirical.

so yeah. there's where the wicked brain power jumps to the dark side. so much shit goes over my head. and when my brain flicks the bipolar switch--i'm never prepared for that, by the way, even after all these years--all the sudden i'm beating myself up because i'm slow-witted, and i just proved her point, and it's not just perry and his cronies, it's me, too, and this is why people don't like me, and how can i be so smart and so stupid at the same time? how can my brain be so strong and yet so weak? and eventually i'm crying and rocking and trying to tell myself that this isn't me, it's the madness. and this is why people don't like me, so reign it in.

and fifteen minutes pass before i get control of myself. reading this post's update helped.

i'd been playing a game of hearts when this occurred. i remember looking at the clock: thirty-seven minutes past eleven. and the next time i look--which seems to me to be merely seconds later--it's eight minutes before noon.

and now it's half past. and i need to go get my slow-witted, yet genius self in the shower so i can go tweak a story that may never see the light of day, excepting the snippets i post here.

after i distract myself with this:



. . .

i made my mom laugh. she said something about how i sure do have a way with words.

 one of the servers said i was beautiful, which was really nice. really. i wish i could think of myself as thus.

but that bit about it being a time suck... i didn't accomplish a damned thing today, unless you count getting fatter. or surviving a wretched mental health day.

four. things i learned outside of school

July 2, 2013

Life. Love.Lauren
one: how to operate a personal computer. i was pretty much computer illiterate after graduating from college. i had a mac. the only thing i used it for was to type up what i'd written and print it out. i didn't take it with me to college. i don't remember why. i typed my papers up in my dorm's computer room using wordperfect. and then, when i transferred to sam houston, i had my mac again. my first job after college, ironically, was as a scanning technician at a printing company. i learned to use a lot of programs. quickly. for christmas that year, my parents gave me a new personal computer.

two: apples are better. for about a dozen years or so, i used pc's. and then, i came to my senses.

three: cigarettes have sugar in them. this is why smokers have such bad teeth. and i, being welsh and english, have a mouth that is doubly damned to begin with. good thing i quit then, before i had to have all my teeth crowned or rooted. or yanked out.

it's the curse of the english, i'm afraid. fair skin and bad teeth (kate beckinsale as sara thomas in serendipity).

it's been SIX YEARS, by the way, since i puffed on one of those stupid things. six years, one week and a day.

four: you never really grow out of awkward. but you do learn to appreciate it. sometimes.