<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, May 29, 2003
A new season of The Amazing Race starts tonight. I am excited. Yes, maybe the last race got a little dull, and yes, maybe I did want to scratch out more than one racer's eyes at more than one time during the race, but I am willing to let that all go. Every race is different. And I, loving races, am very free with second chances.

Been a productive day so far. Lots of errands have been dealt with, lots of things that have been hanging over my head are finished (or started, as the case may be), and this has all been made easier by the fact that I'm on the mend again. No more sicknesses for a while, I think. Thanks, but that's enough of that.

And I am shocked to say that I'm writing--or maybe what shocks me is how easy it is to write if I just sit my ass down and do it. I broke the block months ago. I just forgot what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:44 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Still feeling yucky. More so than yesterday, in fact. Yesterday I braved the construction on the roads and ran some errands. Today I have left the house only once, and that was to get mail. Which makes about half of my "to do" list impossible to complete. Ah, well. Have been getting some other good things done, if somewhat slowly and sporadically. And I think I might try my hand at a little non-fiction (or something that might pass as non-fiction) today. Hmm...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 6:16 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
In Which I Do Not Buy a Singing Car

My news: I have a new car!!

That was how I spent my day yesterday, car hunting. What was supposed to be a one hour trip to look at a local dealership somehow turned into a somewhat more intense trip lasting over five hours.

Spent a lot of time looking at various kinds of Toyotas. One dealership had three Tercels, two of which were very pretty colours but manual (no thanks) and one that was automatic and black (no thanks). They had a good lineup of Corollas, all but one of which were noticeably outside my price range. The one within my price range was red, and noticeably used. Not thrashed, but used: chips, a few dents, general wear and tear. The thing that really got me was the noise it made when it started backing up. You know those horribly annoying cell phone rings that people put on their phones? Yeah, imagine something like that, and then make it at least ten times louder. I heard this song and thought, "What the hell is that?!" And then realized, in shock and great amusement, "Oh my god, it's coming from the car."

I also looked at some Tercels at another dealership, one of which was a gorgeous blue on the outside with the classic Tercel blue/grey interior. It was so comfortable inside, so very familiar. Which is when I realized, it would be so easy for me just to get another Tercel. I know what it's like to drive a Tercel, and I like it. I love the small car feeling, and the terrific gas mileage, and I know where all the controls are. And yet ... it's too easy. I sometimes make comfortable, easy choices just because they are comfortable and easy, not because they're the best choices that I could make.

The other Tercel was a gorgeous green with a tan interior. "Hey," I said, "I didn't know that they made Tercels with tan interiors!" It was comfortable, it was nice, and it wasn't so very familiar that it was just like having Wren again ... No, I told myself. No, no, no, and walked away.

It was easier to walk away knowing that I had already seen and driven my car earlier in the day. I was just very irritated by the fact that I wasn't going to have a pretty coloured car.

I found my car at a Toyota dealership, beside the red, singing Corolla. It's a Nissan Sentra. The colour is ... well, in the sunlight it's very silver. The rest of the time it's sort of gray, and sort of tan.

"Great," I said. "I have a salt-coloured car."

But what could I do? It's my car. Tangled up in my usual indecision (especially when related to purchases with large price tags), I went back to look at it one more time. No quibbling about it: my car. It's one of those cars that I was immediately comfortable driving. It feels bigger than Wren did, but that's because it is bigger. There's more car to this one, but not so much that I feel like I'm driving a boat (or the--shudder--van).

Have to drop off my license plates tomorrow, probably, and go have a chat with some people at the bank. I should have my car by Monday. Woo!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:48 PM (0) comments


Yes, apparently one illness is not enough for me. No sooner to I feel recovered after the weird fever/neck thing, but I end up with some yucky intestinal flu sort of thing. Blech.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:47 PM (0) comments

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Happy my birthday, everyone! And happy my brother's birthday, too.

Been having a lovely birthday so far. It's mostly sunny right now, and rather warm; we've had some clouds and some rain, just to keep things interesting. I was taken out to have "lunch"--really it was all just dessert, and marvelous dessert at that. And I have gifts, lovely gifts! I have a cordless drill now, which is charging, and many other excellent tools. I have a hammer, and a wrench, and pliers! Woo! And pretty earrings! And gift certificates to buy books! I am a happy girl.

I'm feeling much better, too, so that's most excellent. Thursday was the day where I was feeling the worst; I basically spent most of the day in a semi-prone position, unable to turn my head, making small whimpers of pain whenever I tried to move. Not too fun, but I did find the time to watch X-Men. The first one. I'd never really watched the whole thing, and now I have.

Friday I started to look for a car. I've test driven an Echo, a Corolla and a Focus so far. I really liked the Echo--Toyota's Tercel replacement, how appropriate--but since the oldest used Echo you can find was made in 2000 ... well, they're a couple of thousand dollars too expensive. The Focuses (Foci) were interesting, and though I rather like the hatchback version, somehow they just don't grab me. Who knows, maybe I'll find my Focus and everything will be wonderful but at this point ... no, don't think so. The Corolla was good, if not terribly exciting. Bit bigger than a Tercel, but drives nicely, got a bit more kick to it. The one I drove was definitely not my car, but I like the idea of a Corolla as a concept. I'll have to see who I meet out in the used car lots. Only problem with Corollas really is that about 90% of them seem to be that terrible nothing colour of beige or tan or sand or whatever it is they want to call it. I call it ugly.

Also went on Friday to Woodbine Racetrack for the first time in my life, and was betting on the ponies! I had a lot of fun, actually, and had a rather lucky streak for a while there. I stuck with $2 bets, and think I broke even for the night, if not gained a few dollars. It's hard to tell. I have a lot of change.

When I first arrived, I opened the book up randomly and looked at the horses running in race seven, I believe it was. My eyes hit upon a horse whose name was one letter away from being the name of the protagonist for one of my concepts-in-progress. "That horse," I said, "is going to win." And I bet that he would win, and he totally did. Is this a sign? Unlikely. Can I pretend it is? You'd better believe it!

Today, I plan on doing a bit more lounging, a bit more story planning ... a bit of whatever I feel like. It is, after all, my birthday.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:40 PM (0) comments

Thursday, May 22, 2003
You Guessed It...

I'm sick. Surprise, surprise. Well, it could be worse. I'm just sick, not totally incapacitated. I'm mostly irritated by the fact that I cannot turn my neck. (Actually, that's not quite true. I can turn my neck, if I really try, but I regret it for a very long time afterward.)

I was going to go looking at cars tomorrow, but now I can't turn my head and it's supposed to rain all day. Not that convenient, I must say, but I'm sure I'll muddle my way through somehow.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:36 PM (0) comments

I am apparently running a low grade fever. That would explain why I've been feeling so odd all evening... Definitely time to go to bed.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:24 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
These Nike Shoes Are Made For Walking

I went on a walking tour of town, today. Running errands takes a few hours longer when one doesn't have a car. I actually had a good time walking, though it was not so fun to miss my lunch.

One of the things I wanted to do was go to the library. It was only when I got there, however, that I discovered that the library is "closed until further notice." Nooooo! Don't they know that I was planning on taking out lots and lots of books? Don't they know that I've been looking up books on their online search engine for days? Now what am I going to do? (Now would be a good time to stumble across a bag of money. Then I could just buy all the books I want. Are you listening, Universe?)

Still, a productive trip. Managed to get contracts in the mail, send out stories ("Sweetness" is on its way!), and get some sea salt for my neti pot. I am content.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:34 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Well, there are positives and negatives to this journalling format. The upside is that I can post things spontaneously, speak about what's on my mind right in the moment instead of storing up thoughts until I have enough to write a full entry. The downside is that I can post things spontaneously, etc., etc.

Had a frustrating time this afternoon, though I'm feeling better now. Sometimes it just seems that there always has to be someone saying that what I'm doing won't work out, that I can't make it work, that I'm just not that kind of person or what have you. People who love me and are genuinely trying to help me. And most of the time I can deal with these things. Other times I just hear one comment too many that I can interpret as criticism and that's just it.

Doesn't help that it was pouring with rain all day.

We have leaves now, though. Leaves! Seeing leaves in Florida is a totally different thing from having leaves here. I don't know if it's merely the contrast of bare to growing, but damn, it sure is green here all of a sudden.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:28 PM (0) comments

This is a very difficult environment in which to maintain inspiration or enthusiasm. How I despise well-meaning words that do little but grind me into the ground.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:42 PM (0) comments

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Asimov Award!

I just googled my name (something I have no shame admitting to), mainly because someone else keeps googling my name and I wanted to see what sorts of things they have been finding. And in doing so I discovered that the Asimov's writeup of this year's Asimov Award is now online. Cool! No picture of me this time, of course, but it still mentions me. I am content.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:51 PM (0) comments


Went running again for the first time in about a week. I'd planned on running every day in Florida, but ended up going only once. This was not for lack of opportunity or desire, but rather due to my knees.

It seems that all the kneeling that I did while tiling a while ago aggravated my knees--especially the left knee. Silly as this sounds from a young whippersnapper like myself, what I really just did was irritate an old injury. (I did in my knees almost ten years ago. That counts as old, right?)

(Hang on, I'm reeling from the realization that I just referred to myself as a whippersnapper...)

When I ran in Florida that once, the pain started out fairly mild but got progressively worse. Still, I managed to run for ten minutes, which made me very happy, and I totally loved running in the warm, humid air. Sure, I ended up sweating more, but it was still lovely. But after that experience I decided it was best just to let my knees rest and feel better.

So, today I went out running, and increased my distance just a little bit more, resulting in another 10 minute run. But my knees ... ow. Ow, ow, ow. My left knee is not happy with me at all right now. I've taken an Aspirin and soaked it, but am not sure what else to do. And what does this mean for my running? Because I don't want to stop--no! I keep getting better each time, running longer, easier, enjoying it more. And yet I don't want to be a total moron and end up damaging my knee. Irritating. Well. We'll see how it goes.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:38 PM (0) comments

Friday, May 16, 2003
Too Much to Say

I'm home. Have been for over 24 hours, but it's only now that I feel coherent enough to say anything. Not that I can really even begin to talk about this trip, but...

I had a wonderful time in Florida. I love my friends, I love the Florida weather, I love the ocean--many, many good things about this visit. I could stay there for much longer than I have, and perhaps after graduation I will. Now don't get me wrong--I'm a Canadian gal through and through. But I could masquerade as a Floridian gal for a good few months, at the very least.

Despite my current sleepiness (due mainly to the 3-and-a-bit hours of sleep that was my night's rest yesterday), I have come home feeling inspired, energized, ready to start new projects and finish old ones, and generally make things happen. I did a whole lot of work on "A Last Taste of Sweetness" and Susan told me exactly what I needed to know to make this one work, so a bit more editing and revising and this one should be ready to head out the door. I'm pondering a fun new collab with Marissa, which should be my first real collaboration, ever. Very cool. And I have a few new story ideas that are quietly poking for some attention, and larger ideas that keep bubbling away, and the clarity now to realize that I should stop bogging myself down in negativity and anxiety and just get going, already.

Found a rejection from Absolute Magnitude in the mailbox when I got home, but it was next to my contract and cheque from Strange Horizons. Things are most definitely looking up.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:03 PM (0) comments

Monday, May 12, 2003
In Which I Have the Coolest Website Ever

Yes, my website has been totally redesigned. The journal archives and such have maintained their old formatting, and this journal is obviously the same, but everything else has been overhauled by none other than the Iron Goddess herself, web design guru, Ms. Beth Adele Long. I totally love what she did, and am amazed at the speed and skill in which she did it. (I've never watched someone design a website before--at least not while literally looking over their shoulder, which is what Beth dealt with doing my site.) Isn't it great?

I'm linking right now to her author's page. (She recently sold some stories, too; two of which, "A Secret Lexicon for the Not-Beautiful" and "The Rose Thief," I know very well and love.) She tells me that the page for Iron Goddess Designs will be up soon. When it is, I'll link to that, too.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:51 PM (0) comments

Hello from Florida!

I'm still in Florida and will be for a few more days. It's absolutely gorgeous here, sunny and hot every single day, and I'm having a wonderful time just hanging out with friends. This is the first real rest and relaxation that I've had in a long time. (Sitting around at home, apparently, even when I don't have the pressure of school to deal with, is apparently not very relaxing.) I feel ... myself again. It's amazing.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:42 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Leaving on a Jet Plane

I meant to say many interesting and witty things these past few days, but simply have not had time. This house is now on the market, and potential buyers are showing up at random times throughout the day. Everything here must look perfect, all day, every day. Plus there's the little matter of finishing our renovations…

But I am about to leave all this for a little over a week. I'm heading to the airport in about an hour and a half, in fact, Florida bound! Lovely, lovely.

I've tried to catch up on my email, but there are still about three or four people who I wasn't able to reach. I'm sorry!

I'm unlikely to have a reliable internet connection over the next week or so, so I'll be posting sporadically at best. And if you don't hear from me at all, well, I'll see you when I get back!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:13 PM (0) comments

Monday, May 05, 2003
Oh, sweet lord I'm tired. It's almost a good sort of tired, though. My muscles all ache, but I earned those aches. Plus, I got to say "I'll vacuum the roof!" for the first time in my life. (And yes, I do actually mean the roof of the house, and yes, I did vacuum it. It was covered with paint flakes from all the window-ledge scraping I'd done earlier in the day.)

Went running, too. I ran so slowly that I'm sure a grown man could have walked faster. Still. Running. Lengthened my course again, too. I actually timed my run yesterday and found it more like 6 minutes, not 7. Still, with the longer course and the incredibly slow run, I've definitely hit 7 minutes now, if not more. Progress! (Ow, my legs.)

Just a few more things to clean and sort and put away, and then I can go to bed.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:34 AM (0) comments

Karina's Home Renovation Tip of the Day

Don't wear your good, dark blue jeans when installing tile. If you do wear your good, dark blue jeans when installing tile, despite the obvious stupidity of this choice, try your best not to sit on the open can of tile adhesive. It proves somewhat difficult to wash out.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:58 AM (0) comments

Sunday, May 04, 2003
Sweetness x 2

Are you listening? Woah...

Have pecked away at "A Last Taste of Sweetness" off and on today. I wonder if I'm improving words, or merely changing them. Sometimes you know that what you're writing is good. Other times, it feels impossible to tell. It could go either way, and you won't know which way it's falling until you see the expression on your first reader's face.

Stumble 'til you crawl, woah...

Still, I find it interesting that this is what I'm writing. The thing that characterized my last two stories before my unplanned break from writing was avoidance, silence, things that remain unspoken. I was trying to imply more than I said, and the earth-shattering events were in the past, only echoes and reverberations entering into the story.

I wondered if this was progress, or avoidance.

Tell me what do I need (woah, woah) when words lose their meaning...

Now, I wonder if it matters. I'm trying to find new words, not ones I've written before. And yet, sometimes when things are hard it seems better to analyze why, to poke and prod and worry about the cause and the catalyst rather than trying to change things.

Echoes and reverberations. Avoidance. How it all falls into place.

I'm still running away, woah...

And this is what I've been avoiding saying, avoiding even admitting to myself. Why haven't I been writing? Because I've been afraid. No, more than that. Terrified.

Facing that fear is the most frightening thing of all.

If you're listening, are you listening?

Can I say that things are suddenly different with "Sweetness" now written? No. I'd merely be lying to myself. But I can feel the potential there, hidden and shrouded, but there. Something to be earned.

Sweetness. How shockingly appropriate.

(With thanks to Jimmy Eat World.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:41 AM (0) comments

Friday, May 02, 2003

Yesterday, while I was in Ottawa, my brother borrowed my car. He did not have permission to do this; in fact, I'd expressly told him that he was not to drive my car, even just up the road. But he wanted to do a favour for a friend, and drove it anyway. Sometime when I was wandering through the National Art Gallery, my brother was in an accident. He was T-boned by a Purolator truck, of all things. Marc is fine, except for a few cuts, bruises and some whiplash. My car was totaled.

All afternoon, all evening, I was oblivious. It was only when I came home and realized that my car was not in the garage, as he should have been, nor in the driveway, was I told what had happened.

I have been trying to think of a way to explain my relationship with my car--and, to some degree, with all cars--but I can't. Not in a way that would make sense, not here, not now. The simplest explanation would be that cars, to me, have always had names and personalities; some cars I never get to know, nor do I try. Some cars I like and can drive; we get along fine. And some cars I love with all my heart. Wren was one of these.

Wren was my first car, a white, 1998 Toyota Tercel. He was small, maneuverable, and very much an economy car. I found him after a very long day going to various used car lots and dealerships, examining, asking questions, test driving. Wren I found outside of a Toyota dealership in Woodbridge. I don't know what it was about him that make him stand out from the other cars I'd seen that day--I'd even looked at different Tercels. But I kept coming back to that little white car. And taking him out for a test drive, I knew within moments, this was my car.

Today I had to go look at my car in a body shop lot. He was behind a locked fence, just one ruined car amongst others. Wren didn't look so bad as some of his neighbours; there was a car that had clearly rolled and been crushed (grass was stuck in the roof and along the top of the windshield), and another was so badly impacted that it no longer appeared to have a trunk, or most of a side. Wren, from some directions, seemed almost whole, but it was clear within moments that there was no way that this could be fixed.

The entire driver's side was caved in. The driver's side window was blown out; glass was strewn throughout the interior. The roof was buckled. The windshield was cracked. And the entire rest of the car was out of alignment. I could barely open the passenger side door at the back, and could barely close the trunk. Everything was twisted.

I took pictures. I wondered if there was something wrong with that, and then decided that I didn't give a damn.

Then I took out everything that was mine: the floor mats, the maps, the CD in the glove compartment, the ownership papers, the license plates. While I was doing this, the insurance guy arrived. He climbed in through the broken window and started the car. Wren started first try, no stuttering, no trouble turning over. The insurance guy looked everything over, and said that Wren was only good for parts.

He left mud all over the seats. Somehow, even though the interior was already wet from rain, this made me so angry. I had kept my car so clean. I fixed all the little stone chips, made sure that the tires were inflated to the proper pressure. Suddenly my car was just a thing that you could climb on and through and make muddy, and no one would care.

Then all I could do was cry.

It could have been so much worse. Marc could have been hurt, or the Purolator woman, or the friend that he was driving home. Someone could have been killed. But it's bad enough as it is. I don't blame Marc, even though he is officially at fault, even though this goes on my driving record, not his. I'm not insanely angry. Right now I just have to deal with the fact that my brother stole my car and crashed it. That my car, my Wren, is now spare parts. That's enough.


Me and Wren

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:45 PM (0) comments


I'm home. I had a fun trip, despite the fact that it rained in Ottawa pretty much the entire time I was there. I hope to say more on that soon, but no promises. I came home to terrible news. Everyone in my family is all right, which I am hugely thankful for, but … well, I'm upset. Pictures forthcoming.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:21 PM (0) comments

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