Friday, September 9, 2011

Snipets from my Composition Books

I write in composition books all the time. My house hides them in many a nook and cranny. Today I picked up an old one. It's binding is coming loose. It's cracked and weathered on the edges. I look at it and I remember the entire week I spent with my writing group. We spent a whole week and talked only of writing. It was heaven...and most writing tends to be.

I wonder what will come of these old things. Bits of stories started and never finished; freewrites; little snippets of my life. Will my children throw out the boxes of composition books when I am dead? Will they read them? Am I okay with that? You could almost call them journals but the writings are in no linear order. They're fractured, disjointed, sometimes incoherent...perfect.

Many of the things are too raw to even share with my husband and so I share them with the lines on the 100% recyled paper. Here are just a few sharable, yet still personal bits that mean nothing really. They never went anywhere, but some of them are gems, at least to me.

"And when I held his newborn baby in my arms, I knew that we had done it. We had overcome what was impossible for most. And our lives now? They're whatever we will make them. Here's to the road ahead."

A thought on overcoming our childhood that I wrote down after the birth of my brother's oldest child.

"There's a picture in the tupperware bin. It's buried in the 1983 pile most probably turning into a strange yellow-orange color. It's a picture of an hours old baby, my brother, being smiled at by a brown haired little 42 month old little girl, me. That little girl smiles as if to say, "Welcome to the I'm not alone."

Thoughts on the birth of my brother, Robert.

"I was ten years old when I realized he was never coming back. I had the calendar, the one where we'd sat down together and marked off its dates. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six. Six weeks was no time at all. The calendar was old now. Two years old. Six weeks had come and gone sixty-seven times. He visited me that day. Every time he visited I hoped that maybe this time he'd stay, maybe this time I'd be enough. But I wasn't enough. I never would be. I watched him go. I ran to the window and waved, willing him to look up from the window of his Budget Rental Car, to see me. But he didn't. I was ten years old and I realized he was never coming back."

On my dad's departure.

"Your apron is hanging off your shoulder, your head through the arm hole. And you...the younger one? You are covered in flour and have crunchy milk remnants on your upper lip, your pigtails askew. You are both perfect. I love dancing in the kitchen with my daughters."

On a moment with my daughters about 2009

"Do you remember our canyon drives? Sliding through the canyon like a bobsled on its run, the sunroof open, we listened to Tom Petty. We were young, untouched, In love. Naivitee, what a beautiful gift."

Remembering drives in the Civic with Doug before we were married.

"Here I am, back from one of my trips down dreary lane. It's nice to be back."

A scribbled random thought

"Stop looking at the ways we differ and start looking at the ways we are the same."

A tidbit

Here's an epitaph I found on a very old gravestone while wandering through a Cemetary in Park City. I hoped to use it in my writing sometime. Maybe I still will.

"We cannot tell who next may fall beneath thy chastening rod. One must be first but let us all prepare to meet our God."

"Have you ever seen a strawberry field? Leafy vines interconnecting for miles. There's nothing like a strawberry patch in summer. It draws you into its web with a smell that calls your name. If you lie flat on your back, you can disappear in strawberry vines. Did you know that?"

A memory of visiting my step-mother's family farm in Cavan, Ontario, Canada.

"Baby skin. New. Fresh. Elephant skin. Babies have it, but only the newborns. It slips and slides and wrinkles before the mother's milk fills it out into fatty rolls. We come into this life wrinkled, skinny. We leave it the same way."

Observation on the circle of life.

Hailey and I wrote these two poems as we drove through Provo Canyon in 2009

A Poem by Hailey, Age 6.

I like these mountains

they're so beautiful

I love the deer creek

I love the hills

I love the bushes

and I looooooooove my family

A Funny Poem to make Doug laugh by Christie

A creek the color of dark blue eyes

reflecting the happiness of summer skies

They seem to speak from their lofty abode

As we travel down the road.

They say that God is telling me

something about who he wants me to be

but I don't know what he's saying

to figure it out, I ought to be praying

"Technically I didn't see you first, rather I felt you. And that can't count because I was in pain and afraid. "Touch her head," they said, and I did, my shaking hand echoing my fear. It wasn't what I had expected. It wasn't hard. It was squishy and wet and it felt like brains. It scared me more. And then, you were there. I reached down as was my plan, pulled you up and placed you on my chest. You didn't cry. You looked up and smiled, which I know is impossible, the first of many impossibilities you'd shatter I guess. It was the first time we met, at least the first that we met like this. On Earth. Mother, Daughter. I waited for that rush of love to come. The one that everyone talks about. It would come later, when we were alone. In this moment, all I felt was awe."

On meeting my daughter, Hailey.

"One girl. One backpack. One passport. One Summer. Each day I wake up with a vague idea of where I will go, but I allow my feet to take me and may not end up where I'd planned. I drink and eat and kiss exotic men with names like Armondo and Pierre. I walk topless on the beaches, my feet sinking in the warm sand. On the beach I have time to feel each grain of sand between my toes and the waves lapping at my ankles.

It's what I dream about while washing the dishes in the life I actually chose."

An ironic look at my life in an apparently disillusioned moment.

Monday, July 25, 2011

H Love

Loving you
is having a hole
in the middle left side of my chest.
Yes, a perfectly drilled hole;
with the nerves and sinews exposed.
And there sits that great beating organ
Raw with loving you.
And every time you cry it is poked.
Even the good things
(Like your small hand on my cheek)
squeeze so hard it hurts.
And I'm thinking of writing this feeling down.
And I'm putting away your dirty pink tennies.
And out falls a penny.
Lucky copper.
It tinkles when it hits the floor.
It's heads. It's you.
And I feel it...right there,
my open heart.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

7 Random Facts about my writing.

I've never gotten a blogging award. I don't really understand them, but I'm not going to lie, I felt a little honored to be the recipient of one from my friend, novelist Jeana Watters. I have been awarded "The Versatile Blogger" award. This award also comes with a rule that you have to write seven random facts. Since it's all about writing here, my seven facts are about my writing.

1. I once won a short story competition and was published in an anthology. The story was called "The Tattered Sandals" and was about domestic violence. I was 15 years old.

2. I have recently taken up poetry. I'm a lover of poetry but I would not consider myself a poet. I'm too maudlin. However, my little poems have brought me great joy over the past few weeks and I have no intention of stopping.

3. I am in the middle of two novels. One is a work of historical fiction and the other a mid-grade novel. I have been writing these books for two years.

4. Ever since I started writing seriously and studying the craft I can't read in the same way and I have lost a little bit of my ability to get lost in the story.

5. What I really want to be is an essayist, but feel terribly unequipped.

6. I have been paid to be a copy writer and a sports writer.

7. I listen to music when I write. It weaves itself silently into the subtext of my work. In fact, when I read my work I can hear the echoes of whatever I was listening to while writing. Is this some unique form of plagiarism? Can one plagiarise emotion?

P.S. I have to award someone else this. Like horrible chain mail that never ends (and yet again, oddly flattering). So I bestow that honor upon poet extrordinaire, Cami. Here's to you!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Exercise from Julianna Baggott's Writer's Boot Camp day 2

A great writer that I once workshopped with is Julianna Baggott. She is running a summer writer's boot camp at if anyone is interested.

I've been working on it daily and when I write something delicious, I'll post it here. I found one exercise on day two to be amazing. I thought I'd post it here if anyone wants to try it.

She had you go to the table of contents of a poetry anthology you've never read (her example used Sharon Olds) and pick a poem. Then write a poem with the same title (without reading it of course). She says that tables of contents can be great prompts.

I agree.

I love the poem I wrote. I chose the title "The Unborn." It was great that I didn't read the poem before because the actual poem is BRILLIANT. I still like mine, but I love hers. Here are the two...

The Unborn- Christie Gardiner
In a way
they've ruined my life-
or at least what I thought it was.
I hear them at night when I'm falling asleep
sitting up with that sick mother feeling...
little empty whispers
slip and slither through my ears.
I've given them years
and blood.

The Unborn- Sharon Olds
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.

Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.

Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office

And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.

The process.

Writing is a process! I'm still here. Still loving words. Still writing!