<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Post-Christmas Daze

I had a lovely Christmas, even if I was sick throughout it. (And kind enough to spread my illness to some other select family members.) Sadly, I never did get to do the baking I was planning, but that's probably a good thing as we're still working our way through two cakes and a good few plates of gift-cookies. I'll just use that bulk sack of bananas, pounds of butter and extra bags of flour and sugar to make festive New Year's treats, is all.

Sorcery and Cecelia was finished all too quickly, mainly during Boxing Day. Much fun. And I love the description of the Letter Game as the authors describe it at the back of the book; certainly something to think about for my post-student life. Just one more writing project to add to the list...

Unfortunately, my school-related reading, which has occupied my time since Boxing Day, is not nearly so entertaining. My reading project has become The Brothers Karamazov, which started a good few weeks ago and then ignored as hard as I could for as long as I could. But the days are flying by me and the book is rather tedious, and so I've made myself a quota: 100 pages a day, minimum. (Big pages. Small font. Much weariness.) It has become normal for people to speak to me mid-afternoon only to have me reply, "In a bit! I'm behind on my quota!" To encourage myself along I've started to use Ranma 1/2 episodes as rewards. I'm almost through season 1. (Also, cheater that I am, I've read a book on mediation and am working my way through a second, picked almost randomly off my shelf so I'd have something to read before going to sleep. It's not reading time nor reading speed that are exactly my problem, merely the reading material.)

I also went to see Return of the King a second time. Almost as much fun as watching the film a second time was to watch the family and friends that I'd gone with, none of whom had watched it before. (The cries of "Oh no!" and small shrieks and burying of faces in jackets was highly entertaining, believe me.) I warned them to bring kleenex. Three and a half hours later, they thanked me for the warning.

Also entertaining was that before the film started, I and the woman sitting next to me had an entire container of popcorn poured over our heads. Unintentionally, of course. The man seated behind us in the theatre rested his bag of popcorn on his lap while he struggled to get out of his jacket, and tipped the popcorn over in the process. His knee-level was about eye-level for me, and so it was with a sudden shock that I felt popcorn hitting me in the head and shoulder and rolling down my back. Popcorn tickles.

I turned to see his shocked face, and the very interested faces of a good number of others in the theatre. He was very apologetic, but it took me a good while to be able to reply because the whole situation struck me as being so silly that I doubled over in laughter and couldn't get up for a good half a minute. And my laughing made it okay for everyone else to laugh, too. As the woman beside me said, "Hey, at least it was the popcorn, not the pop."

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:37 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Emma, Tia and I in front of the Sumner-Smith/Schnepf family Christmas tree. The relatives are here now--I hear them at the door--so Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to everyone!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:56 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, December 23, 2003
With Apologies

'Twas the night before the night before the night before Christmas and in the Sumner-Smith house,
not a person was sleeping, not even a mouse.

Backsplash tiles had been stuck to the wall with care
but no mere silicon caulking could convince them to stay there.
They dropped and they fell and they made such a clatter;
All dispaired when they saw the cause of the matter.

The wall, once pure and clean like new winter snow,
Now had gaping holes where small tiles should go.
The silicon that should hold them was doing no such thing
And the plastic backing pulled tiles off in huge long strings.

"Oh heavens," they said, "oh woe, this terrible day!
How can this be grouted with the tiles looking this way?"
So with their dinners barely settled and the night getting long
They settled into the kitchen to glue the tiles back on.

Armed with Liquid Nails and a scraper and plenty of patience,
The bold group of do-it-yourself-ers went to work for their relations.
The loose tiles were removed, their gooey backs stripped,
'Til from all fingers (and hair) silicon goop dripped.

For hours the family worked in that almost-completed kitchen,
Determined not to leave until the backsplash looked bitchin'.
They were hot and bored, they were headachy, they were tired,
Until at last in frustration the lot of them cried:

"Now on the wall, on the wall, stay on the bloody wall!
Stay on the wall, stay on the wall, STAY ON THE WALL!
To the bottom of the cupboards, to the top of the sink,
The lot of you tiles are damn well going to stick!"

At last the tiles were glued down to the very last one;
The backsplash looked beautiful and perfectly-done.
The daughter finally said, "That was fun, truly a delight,
But I think anything else must wait 'til first light."

With a silicon-caked hand she waved in farewell,
And turned to descend the basement stairwell.
"Those tiles look good, we did all right,
Now to one and all, a most heartfelt goodnight."

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:26 AM (0) comments

Saturday, December 20, 2003
Am I the only one who didn't see this coming?

Well, perhaps it was inevitable. After all, I went on not one but two shopping marathons at the Eaton's Centre, and had a night out at the movies. And I never did get my flu shot, though I did debate with more than one person whether or not they're still free. And Christmas is coming, with all the gift wrapping and baking and generally being sociable that that entails. Of course I was going to get sick.

It hit me yesterday like a steamroller. When I woke up I was perfectly fine. A few hours later I thought, "What's this ... my throat feels ... funny." And a few hours after that I'd gained all the usual head cold symptoms: stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, etc. Blech, that's what I say. Blech.

And, of course, this means that I'll be missing this evening's Christmas party/high school reunion deal, which I surprised myself by really looking forward to. I was going to make cupcakes. There was going to be skating at Nathan Philip's Square--and I suppose there still will be, just not with me. Sigh. I got new skates and everything.

So now I must simultaneously be full of good holiday cheer and do all the pre-Christmas preparations without getting everyone around me sick. Am I up to the task? Lord, I hope so, because the last thing I want is to make everyone sick just in time for the holiday.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:48 PM (0) comments

Friday, December 19, 2003

So yesterday (no, wait, look at the time--officially two days ago, then) was Sarah's birthday celebration. I met up with Sarah and Nathaniel and Simon and Alice for dinner, and then we added Amanda and Peter and Nancy to the crowd to go out to see Return of the King. It was quite simply one of the best evenings I've had in a long time. Sarah seemed to like both her birthday and Christmas presents, which made me happy, and I love my present: Sorcery and Cecelia. (It has officially become my Christmas reward book. So long as I keep reading The Brothers Karamazov while I'm here, as soon as I go home for Christmas I get to read Sorcery and Cecelia. Whatever it takes to get through yet more Russian literature, right?) There were many obscure SF references made, both during dinner and while lining up for the movie, and talk about badgers (mushroom, mushroom!) and cool books and LotR and Star Trek, and I had such a great time.

The movie itself was simply fantastic. Watching it, I could hardly believe how amazing it was; I enjoyed it more than either of the first two, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I did not notice how long the movie was. The only thing that told me how long I'd been in the theatre was my need to pee upon leaving. And sometime during the movie Sarah and Nathaniel switched seats so that Sarah could see, and I was totally oblivious. When the movie was over I turned to Sarah and asked, "So when did you get here?"

And I'd been warned to bring kleenex, as I noted before, and I needed the kleenex. Sometimes I found myself fighting tears not because anything was sad or frightening but simply because it was too much for me to handle. Everything was so big, so overwhelming. There were so many emotional highs and lows that by the time it was over I felt totally drained. In fact, by the final tear-jerking scenes, I felt like I had no tears left. "Hell," I thought, "I've been crying for an hour. What more do they expect of me?" But it was worth it, and I can't wait to see it again.

I really can't speak to its faithfulness to the original text, simply because the last time I read Return of the King was about ten years ago, and while everything I remembered was in the movie, I didn't remember a heck of a lot. When the movies started coming out I decided to re-read the books, then abandoned that plan after reading Fellowship. I admire Tolkien far more for his amazing worldbuilding than for the books themselves. The films bring the details and human emotion of the story to life for me far more clearly than the books ever have; that, really, is just a matter of taste. I totally understand how much this work has given to the fantasy genre--hell, it practically created it--and yet I don't subscribe to the theory that every fantasy author must love Tolkien. Sorry, no.

But, anyway, enough rambling. A day spent wandering through shopping malls seems to have warped my brain in strange and unusual ways. So here's to Sarah's Birthday, my new favourite holiday, and here's to getting some sleep.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:52 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Using this computer is becoming progressively more ... interesting. I had to fiddle around with it for about a half an hour today before I could get anything to work properly--opening programs, closing programs, forcing programs to close, dealing with countless error messages and restarting, all while listening to churning-clickity-click-CLACK! Even if this computer lasts forever, I'm soon going to have to stop using it to avoid hearing damage.

But, that's okay, since I doubt there will be too much computer time for me over the next week. I still have some more shopping to do, and shopping to do for others (because I am a good and loving daughter, and am the only one in the family who has the time and low enough stress levels at the moment to be able to handle malls), so I know what I'm doing Thursday and Friday. Tonight--Return of the King! Bought my ticket Friday, having learned from experience that if you want to get your tickets the day of the show you're crazy and will be disappointed. Sarah, who won tickets for the Toronto Premier and so has already seen ROTK, warned me to bring kleenex. Lots and lots of kleenex. I just can't wait to have my bag searched (yeah, video cameras my ass--they're really checking to make sure you're not smuggling in a bag of microwave popcorn) only to reveal piles upon piles of kleenex.

My writing-brain, however, is pretty irritated that I'll be spending all my time for the next while shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping, unwrapping and generally being sociable with my relatives. Seems that all the writing to deadlines that I did over the last little while has kicked my writing-brain into overdrive. It's been pestering me for a while: "Ooh, look, Karina. Look at all these good stories we can write together. Go sit at the computer, yes, yessss, very goooood."

Problem is, now that I have all these lovely-good story ideas clamouring for my attention, classwork (yes, that stuff I'm currently avoiding) is looking less and less attractive. A whole semester still to go? Even though the idea of graduating and no longer being a student--at least for a time--is still somewhat unnerving, another part of me is already saying, "Aren't I done with this yet?"

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:05 PM (0) comments

Oh, Of Course...

After putting up all the Christmas lights outside and surveying my handiwork, I realize that I do not have a Christmas title, but rather a Christmas nickname: Karina "Trip Hazard" Sumner-Smith.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:45 PM (0) comments

Monday, December 15, 2003
How to Decorate for Christmas, Volume 1

Okay, so M'ris is the Christmas Carol Queen, and Sarah is the Christmas Nazi (though really, Sarah, that one's not so cheerful), but I do not have a proper Christmas title. I am solely responsible for my family's Christmas decorations, inside and outside, as well as all Christmas cookies and other festive baked treats. But still, no title.

Part of my problem, I think, is that I'm not terribly good at any of these things. (Well, the cookies always turn out nicely, but the actual making/baking is something of a production.) In fact, my decorating is so off-beat that people have begun to get wary when I decorate. Not that they complain about the results--I don't let them!--but I think my cackling seems to be somewhat unnerving. (I can't help it--I'm amused by placing sparkly pinecones inside my mother's vases and setting the Polyresin Snowman next to the soapstone carving.)

New House is posing a few more complications than I'm used to, but I'm always up to the challenge. If I were ever to write a book on how to decorate for this festive season, it could now include chapters such as How to Decorate Every Single Houseplant You Can Find, 41 Inventive Uses for Leftover Mardi Gras Beads--Christmas Style!, and How to Use Exposed Wiring for Festive Fun. And I haven't even started putting up lights or the tree ...

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:39 PM (0) comments

Saturday, December 13, 2003
I Want to Play!
Or, The Giant Survey

From Marissa's journal. Things that M'ris said that I agreed with are bold, everything else is my response.

01. I discovered e-mail in grade school, and I've never played in a MUD or a MUSH. In fact, I don't really understand what either of them are.
02. I never watched TV much, but these days I watch The Daily Show, and Friends, and (cough, mutter) The O.C. I occasionally watch things like Sex and the City, or SNL, or shows that play on TLC, and I some days when I don't have class in the morning I watch mindless shows.
03. My favorite shows had better not get canceled for a few more seasons yet.
04. I enjoy drawing and painting. I'm rather good at both when drawing/painting from a picture; if relying on my brain alone, I am dreadful. I once sold one of my paintings.
05. I like music. But sometimes silence is just as good.
06. I'm actually pretty sure somebody understands.
07. I hate when people type in all caps online. Boo, hiss!
08. I also hate people who TypE LyKe D1s.
09. I don't mind people who cannot speak/write in proper English.
10. I live in (and around) the same city that I was born in.
11. I'm still in training. For everything.
12. I wish I had a job that paid me something. No, even better--I wish I had a job that I enjoyed, and that paid me well, and that gave me lots of time and mental flexibility to write.
13. I tend not to lose contact with people on my own, though I often go through periods of silence. I also very rarely answer email on the day that I receive it, unless it's really short. I need time to think things through.
14. For some things in my life, forgetfulness is a blessing. Though, for the most part, I am possessive about my memories; this is my life, and it has made me who I am. I'd like to remember it for as long as I can.
15. I do not have a fitness goal, beyond becoming more fit than I currently am. ... Unless, of course, aiming to one day be in an adventure race counts as a goal.
16. My butt gets too cold if I am indecently dressed in the winter, even inside. This is Canada! And not only my butt gets cold, but my hands and feet and legs and entire self. I am easily chilled.
17. I complain about never having enough time to get things done, but mostly this is a problem of me expecting too much of myself, and avoiding doing things that I dislike for as long as I can get away with it.
18. I have a lot to learn.
19. I enjoy talking to friends and having interesting conversations. The mere thought of small talk is enough to make me feel anxious.
20. I check my email every day. Compulsively.
21. I am a writer, and at this point in my career, I have the confidence to write and even to send stories out. I even sell things, sometimes.
22. I hate when people yell. Especially if the person yelling is close to me, or (worse) is me.
23. I want to travel the globe and hang out in other countries someday. I've been thinking a whole lot about visiting Britain, especially. I simply worry that I'll allow myself to get too stuck in my everyday life to actually go anywhere rather than just think about it.
24. I collect things, books especially. As I child I had a soap collection and a sticker collection.
25. I am start-and-go on nearly every project I work on. I always want to finish what I start, but sometimes I'd rather abandon it for a time than finish something that will only have to be discarded when I'm done. It's that perfectionist streak.
26. I never drink coffee.
27. I enjoy going to new places and doing new things, though I am comforted by routine and familiar surroundings.
28. I'm a weird person. Without a doubt.
29. I believe that human beings can understand each other, with time, effort, patience and love, no matter what their backgrounds are; however, I sometimes believe that the effort is more than some of them are going to want to put into the situation. Nicely put, M'ris.
30. I love the sound of cats purring, but I shouldn't hear it too close up, since they make me snozzly.
31. I played the clarinet in high school, and have a Native American flute that I experimented with for a few years.
32. I think that animals are part of the cycle of propagation and predation, and that excesses to one side or the other in the animal rights issue are dangerous.
33. I procrastinate.
34. Bratty kids make me sad.
35. I enjoy movies quite discriminately: I like to pick them apart when we're done watching them. Or sometimes while we're watching them, depending on the setting. Just so long as I've had time to ponder. I hate talking about a movie right after I've watched it--unless, of course, I'm totally blown away or hate it with a passion.
36. I don't mind some flavors of cleaning. But I still wish things magically stayed clean on their own.
37. I'm not really interested in pornography/erotica; a good love scene in the context of a work of fiction that isn't focused entirely on that can be all right.
38. Crowds unnerve me.
39. I am not married. I am not dating anyone. My standards are high, and past experience has made me raise the bar.
40. I don't have a friends list, really, but I'd be interested in seeing how people answer these, so e-mail me or post in your journal and e-mail me the link if you want to do these.
There appear to be numbers missing here. Hmmm.

43. I have a heart-shaped birthmark on my thigh, and freckles, and even a mole or two.
44. I live in a brand-new house and a basement apartment. I enjoy both, though rarely does a week go by where I don't wake up at least once wondering where I am.
41. I really enjoy thoughtful gifts, even if they cost nothing.
42. I like people who are a bit out of the ordinary, and I like people who are a lot out of the ordinary even more.
More missing numbers....

45. I love interesting clothes/costumes, but I would never say that I love fashion. I have described my everyday look as "Gap sweater," which is code for plain, warm things. I wear jeans and shirts and don't think about things much more than that. But I love my renaissance dress, and lust after odd, too-expensive clothes, too.
46. I could not be normal if I TRIED.
47. I don't have children, and don't know if I ever will. Probably, but who can tell?
48. I have ridden a horse more times than I have fingers ... and toes ... but wouldn't say that I'm a good rider. And I'm allergic to horses, which complicates the matter.
49. I have never role-played, and really don't understand how it works. When people tell stories about their role-playing games in their journals, I am confused.
50. I am always pleasantly surprised when I hear from someone new in my e-mail and sometimes I give them recipes.
51. I like silence at times. Sometimes I think silence follows me.
52. I lived in New Haven, Connecticut until I was three.
53. I got glasses sometime during high school, and now wear them most of the time in public. I want contacts. I had braces, and now I have lovely teeth.
54. I hate leader/follower dynamics. Can't we just work together without someone taking control?
55. I like being alone sometimes.
56. I would rather bake than cook, and I'd really rather avoid dishes altogether.
57. I am not a messy person, but neither am I particularly organized. I organize my stuff to fit the surroundings I have, and then watch in bewilderment as it all falls into disarray.
58. I need to exercise.
59. I like when my friends write me letters and emails, it makes me feel special. And noticed, and important, and cared for.
60. I'm cynical sometimes, though I'm also an optimist. "Cynical optimist," that's me.
61. I keep in touch with Carly, obviously, as she's my roommate and best friend and all. As for other people from high school, it seems that I wasn't much liked. Though I am invited to a high school reunion type party that will take place next Saturday, so we shall see...
62. Commericals sometimes make me feel a bit weepy, especially anything with wide, sweeping vistas.
63. I overreact about things sometimes.
64. I cry at music sometimes.
65. I have odd dreams. (Please see post-apocalyptic dinosaur dream mentioned below.)
66. I wish I could travel more often.
67. I like living, growing things. My plants even have names.
68. Heights are fine, so long as no one is expecting me to jump. The glass floor at the CN Tower is fun.
69. I believe in something greater than humanity, something more than I or anyone else can properly comprehend.
70. I am a pacifist...sort of. I believe that there are things worth dying for, which is a perfectly fine pacifist position; I also believe there are things worth killing for, which is a bit more problematic from a pacifist point of view. My list of things worth killing for is fairly short and doesn't involve most of the things politicians have been attempting to put on it. Again, nicely put, M'ris.
71. I love summer. I love warm breezes and hot summer rain and walking around barefoot. I am only truly warm for those few months of the year. I could avoid winter for years without regret.
72. I would love to seek the nearest corner in a crowded room and find a book, preferably a good one. And if there's someone interesting there who'd like to talk to me about that book, that'd be okay, too.
73. I broke my right arm when I was two and a half by falling down a flight of stairs (which I vividly remember), and my right wrist when I was 13 and was hit by a truck (which I don't remember so much, due to the concussion).
74. I don't like artificial scents. I have a bad sense of smell, and most perfumes smell like chemicals to me.
75. I don't follow any celebrities' gossip or love lives in particular. Because SF writers don't really count as celebrities; they don't get mobbed in the supermarket, etc.
76. I wish I had more true, good friends. Or, that more of my friends lived somewhere remotely close to me.
77. I love to read, period and full stop.
78. I re-read a lot; some books are like friends, and I love to visit.
79. I have issues. It'll take a whole lot of time and trust until I'll feel comfortable enough to talk about them. Colds or headaches, etc., are another matter entirely.
80. I am told I write very well.
81. I can be hard to deal with sometimes.
82. I don't understand the appeal of horror movies.

83. I don't really have an income these days. It makes things ... interesting.
84. I love my family. They just drive me up the wall on a semi-regular basis.
85. On some issues, I'm very firm in my beliefs.
86. I am female.

87. I support gay marriage, period and full stop.
88. I think parents are becoming overprotective these days in strange and ridiculous ways. And are far too willing to sue anyone within throwing distance any time their child scrapes a knee.
89. I did not vote for anyone in the last presidential election, being Canadian and all. Last major election around here, I voted Liberal, though I am NDP at heart.
90. I do not think about dying very often. I am more afraid of dying horribly or painfully or alone than I am of death itself.
91. I do not smoke, and I rarely drink.
92. I come from a very economically mixed family.
93. I HATE when computers freeze.
94. I like talking on the phone to friends. I hate talking on the phone to strangers. (So why do I always end up on reception or the switchboard, hmm?)
95. I don't particularly mind going to the doctors' office.
96. Social anxiety. Yep. That's me. Though in some cases I shut down and become silent, and in others (especially con situations) I feel like I'm running in fast-forward.
97. I have no pager, nor do I see the point of owning one.
98. I can't understand for the life of me why people would get some of the piercings they have, but hey, it's their handbasket. AND their hepatitis risk. I do love my pierced ears, though, all four holes worth. I love, love, love my earrings.
99. I've never had a tattoo. I do not plan on getting one. Though I wouldn't rule the idea out entirely. It'd take something fantastic to make me want to have it on my body forever, though, especially considering the way that I scar....
100. I am done with this survey now. Whew.

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

Friday, December 12, 2003

So. A good day and a frustrating day. On the frustrating side of things, I discovered that because of a teller error the bank tried to withdraw my rent cheque from my account twice. I had enough money for one, but not two, and so the cheque bounced. Lovely. So I spent a good hour at the bank trying to A) transfer the rent money ASAP and B) talking to a "financial advisor" to try and get the whole mess sorted out.

I brought him the documentation and said, "Hey, this one cheque was withdrawn from my account twice, which is why it bounced." He argued with me. He went over my story numerous times. He rebooted his computer. He left for a while. He looked up information in others' accounts. He looked at the documentation again.

"The problem," he said at last, "is that this cheque was withdrawn from your account twice."

Oh. Really. You don't say. Glad it took you so very, very long to figure that out.

Unfortunately, though, there are a few more complications to this story, a few more things to be sorted out, and so it looks like I'm going to be on the phone with a bank in Ottawa bright and early tomorrow morning. Long distance charges--hooray!

And my computer has frozen up to dump physical memory and shut itself down twice. Which was entertaining, to be sure.

On the good side of things, I've managed to write my exam, so except for a little proof-reading that bit is done, done, done. I'll take a trip to York to drop it off sometime this weekend, and that's one more thing that I don't need to think about for another three weeks. And I have cupcakes! They are the best cupcakes I have ever tasted--the best cupcakes I've ever made, without a doubt.

"They have so many layers of flavour," I said to Carly with my mouth overflowing with cupcake. "There's the sweet layer, and the sugary layer, and the cakey layer ..."

And I'm listening to Christmas music. Or, really, I'm listening to the Mediaeval Baebes, which sounds like Christmas to me. Thinking about it, that's likely because I first found out about this group in December, and listened to their songs obsessively while wrapping presents. Now they sound like Christmas to me.

Tomorrow: shopping! I'm off to the Eaton's Centre, I think, to get presents for Aunts and Uncles and cousins, and then probably to the World's Biggest Bookstore to get the books I couldn't find anywhere else. It makes me sad that the World's Biggest has become a Chapters. I love the World's Biggest. Chapters is an incarnation of evil. What's a girl to do? Ah, these are the moral dilemmas that I must face. At least I have cupcakes to help see me through.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 11:18 PM (0) comments

A Trend

After noticing this very long-running trend, as shown to me by my Sitemeter, let me just say:

If you are searching the internet for "spontaneous things to do," you're not being spontaneous.

That is all.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:40 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Sans Willpower

Okay, so of course I've already watched the first episode of Eco-Challenge Australia. I mean, it's me. It's the Eco-Challenge. And what else do I have to do other than read a stack of books and write a final exam? Come on.

But wow, it's fantastic. It's the first real Eco-Challenge -- they've reduced the number of people per team to four, and it's more of an international event. But there's so much craziness, too. Eco-Internet's there, and when they were taken from five team members to four, it was Ian Adamson who got kicked off. This is the guy who's leading Eco-Internet now. So Ian went and joined the Australian team with Jane Hall (of "Come on, you fucker!" fame). And John Howard is on Eco-Internet. Unbelievable.

Does anyone here know what I'm talking about? No? Thought not.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:55 PM (0) comments

Eco-Challenge News

Oh. No. For a while now, I've been worried about the Eco-Challenge. I'd heard nothing, absolutely nothing, about where the race was being held this year, and by now the race should have been finished with the footage in post-production so I (and everyone else) can watch it on TV in April. As usual. But when I went to the Eco-Challenge website there was no news; it was still displaying info on Fiji. And when I went to the USA Network, ditto. Nothing. But a google search finally turned up this.

Eco-Challenge 2003 has been cancelled.

Those of you who know me (or who have read my journal/blog for long enough) can imagine my reaction. And, to some extent, I understand the reasoning. I mean, I don't want racers to die--of course not! But whether that would actually be an issue ... whether or not this action is justified ... well, I don't really have enough info to speculate. Let's just leave it at that.

But it is not all dismay and sorrow on the Eco-Challenge front. At least not for me. I just recently got home from a walk with Carly to our local branch of the TPL. She was getting a library card, finally. I was wandering. I looked through the books for sale (nothing I had to have, not even for a quarter), and scanned the SF section, and wandered over to the video rack and what was the first thing I saw? The three-volume set of Eco-Challenge Australia. Let me say that again. Eco-Challenge AUSTRALIA. This was from back in the days when it was the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge (oh, beloved Discovery channel...). I HAVE NEVER SEEN ECO-CHALLENGE AUSTRALIA. Never!

Then I started wondering ... have I seen it? I've seen a lot of Eco-Challenges. I started to count on my fingers ... British Columbia, Morocco, Argentina ... New Zealand ... what else? hmm ... Fiji, of course, and--wasn't there one more? Oh, right! Borneo. No Australia. So I grabbed the lot of them, and they're mine, mine, MINE! HAHAHAHAHA!

... Except that the library wants me to give them back on the 17th. Bugger.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:36 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Well, any speculation about "Earth Bride" being fantastic can safely be put to rest. Pity. Course, I know that I've overloaded on this story; I don't want to read it, I don't want to edit it, I don't even want to think about it. But now that it's in the mail and away, trying not to think about it is awfully difficult. Ah, well. I'm glad that I was able to write something, even if that something is not particularly good. And there's always "I Breathe." You never know, right?

I almost gave up on entering the contest this year. Part of me said that I should just quit, or maybe save up stuff to enter next year--what's the point, anway. But I really, really want to go to the ICFA this year, and the only way that's going to happen is if I win my way there. So I had to at least try.

But, I think I've proved very nicely over the past two months that it's better if I'm writing with some sort of deadline. Otherwise it's too easy for me to say, "This isn't working very well, perhaps I'll go read instead." Or update my blog. Or watch pointless TV. Or eat a cookie.

(Hey, funny side-note about cookies. As far as I can remember, the singular form of the word is "cookie". And yet there's an old-ish cookbook at my house that constantly says "cooky". As in "Chocolate Chip Cookies -- a classic cooky!" And it makes me wonder, is this book some sort of cookie/cooky oddity, or has the "ie" only taken over in recent years. Yes, I think about these things.)

So right now I need to get myself ready to actually leave the house. Think I'll put in my cool hair thing, and then I'm off to the library and then to Bakka to buy some Christmas presents. And lust after hardcovers. A nice afternoon.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:08 PM (0) comments

Monday, December 08, 2003

6,124 words. Rain and green and the future.

I added another scene in the middle and wrote the ending. Deep breath. I wrote this one under the title "My Years Are Yours," but since I've deleted that line I'm taking it back to its original title: "Earth Bride." This is actually a story that I wrote at Clarion--or, rather, I wrote a story based on the same general idea. Seaching through my old journal entries I realized that it was here, the second story that I mention writing. It's true--I never did hand it in, and rightfully so. Here's hoping that this new version is not quite as terrible.

Well, if it took me a year and a half to write "I Breathe," and it is messy and flawed, and a week to write "A Prayer of Salt and Sand" and it's good, so perhaps "Earth Bride" is fantastic. (Yeah, right.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:46 PM (0) comments

(Not) The End

I wrote another 300 words, which I have deleted. I need to think more about this ending scene and make it right, rather than just make it finished. So, going against my earlier judgement, I'm leaving the last scene unwritten until later, and going to bed. Still, not bad for a night's work. (At least, I hope so. Haven't read it; I could have 5000 words of utter dreck.)

Now all that's left to do is finish it, edit, revise, format and get it and "I Breathe" in the mail. Simple.

(And hey, good morning. See what you miss when you don't check people's blogs at ungodly hours of the morning?)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:50 AM (0) comments

Ever Onward

5,250 words. The twist has arrived. A shock amidst all that lovely green.

Sleep, somehow, no longer seems to be an issue. It seems nearly impossible that it could be 4:30 AM. It's likely that exhaustion is going to slam me in the face sometime soon, though, so I'd better keep going while I have some sort of momentum. I also ate a clemintine. Yum.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 4:32 AM (0) comments

Middle Ground

4,387 words. I think I found a middle ground. A conversation and the absense of words.

I've reached a point where it'd be ridiculous to give up and go to sleep now. After all, it's only 3:30 in the morning and there are but two scenes left to write. (But I'm just tired enough that it seems like a good idea to say something like "Onward!" right about now. But still awake enough to censor myself.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:28 AM (0) comments

3,951 words. So I've written myself to the middle of the story, and have two scenes that are mid-to-end scenes that I wrote yesterday. Now I'm supposed to be writing the scene that goes in the middle. Frustrating thing is that I know that this section could actually be many, many interesting scenes all about these characters and their similarities and differences and the crazy conflicts that arise, but I simply do no have the time to figure these things out, never mind write them. To do that section justice I'd be looking at a novella, I think, or at least a very long short story. Which is not what I'm writing now. But now I need to find a way to say "And they traveled a lot and got very bored and eventually they arrived" without it being boring. Damn.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:00 AM (0) comments

Second Wind

3,846 words. A small room and a husband-to-be and not a lot of hope. Very cheerful.

My knees and ankles have really started to ache. I wonder if this means snow is coming; I'd much prefer it to be the warning signs of a heat wave. (Hey, there's always a first.) I was struggling for a bit there, but now it seems like I've found my second wind. Type, fingers, type!

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:37 AM (0) comments

The Halfway Point?

2,923 words. Freed from gravity, crushed by guilt. Tears float, don't they?

Four scenes down, four to go. Too bad the tea I drank was decaffinated.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 1:41 AM (0) comments

Blog as Door

If this is going to be a Clarion-style evening, then I'd better do this right. While writing a story, I'd keep a tally and post cryptic (though relevant) plot points on my dorm room door for the entertainment of other sleepless Clarionites roaming the halls--a tradition started, it seems, by Hilary. In liu of my dorm room door, I'll have to use my blog. So:

2,192 words. A pregnant woman for a husband.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:18 AM (0) comments

Sunday, December 07, 2003
I Must Be Crazy

(But then we already knew that, didn't we?)

I don't want to say that "Ohntai" has crashed and burned, because it hasn't. It will still be a great story when I am able to write it. But for all intents and purposes it's now out of the running, because the damn thing refuses to go beyond the first scene. Even after removing a character and majorly rewriting/streamlining the first scene, it is stuck, stuck, stuck.

And so I'm writing something else. Started last night. Went out all day today. (Ooh, I got this fantastic hair-thing. Long-haired people, wait 'til I get a picture of this! Um, anyway...) Still have stuff to do tonight before I can seriously get writing. It looks like I'm going to be up until about 4 in the morning writing, if I'm to have any chance of finishing this, getting the two stories printed off and in the mail tomorrow morning, which is the mailing deadline for the super-fast mail. To go any faster to Florida I'd have to use a courier, and even I'm not that crazy.

So what does that mean? I'm officially in Clarion Mode. (The only difference being that I'm attempting to end up with a story that doesn't suck.) Now where's my Dr. Pepper?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:00 PM (0) comments

Friday, December 05, 2003
I was supposed to go to a party this evening, but as is clearly evident by my typing this, I didn't go. Can't say exactly why, other than I just really didn't feel like it. Lots of little things have built up, including a headache, an infection that has made me feel like I've been poked in the eye with a stick for the last two days, and a general anti-social vibe. Doesn't help that I was kept awake for hours last night, had a thoroughly rotten sleep and woke up irritable. "Irritiable" should probably be written in all caps and italicized to be a little closer to the truth.

Managed to write about 500 words yesterday, but they are clearly the wrong words and so they're gone. Should write more--must write more if I'm to have any chance in hell at getting this done in time--but I sort of feel like moping instead. Very productive.

(Oh, look, are those worms? I think I'll eat some.)

On a better note, though, I have spent a lot of time reading recently, and so can now cross three books off the list of eight books that I absolutely have to read during the next couple of weeks. I also went out on a tiny shopping trip, and though I didn't buy any gifts I did buy the potential for a gift, which is almost as good (if somewhat more cryptic).

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:15 PM (0) comments

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Apocalypse, With Dinosaurs

About a week ago, I had a shockingly detailed series of dreams about a post-apocalyptic world that had been taken over by dinosaurs. It sounds ridiculous, I realize, and I have been wondering about the subtext of the whole thing for a while.

One of the clearest sequences took place in what had obviously been a city. It was dusk, and everything was dimmed to shades of black and grey. There were a group of us in an abandoned apartment building; it had been gutted, and little remained but bare concrete and a few odd things like torn curtains. We were a few stories up on what had been a balcony, armed and very afraid. Before we could get inside the building a dinosaur arrived, sneaking up on us from behind the cover of another building. "Rex!" someone shouted and then it was there, that massive head snaking towards us from around the corner of the building. I tried to shoot out its eyes, and failed.

The dinosaurs (and in this scene there was only the one, but in others there were more) were shockingly intellegent. They knew what we were going to do. They didn't speak english, but they didn't need to because you knew exactly what they meant as if they'd drilled the concepts directly into your brain.

And what was worse was knowing that though we were some sort of post-apocalyptic dinosaur resistance team, armed with our bizarre collection of weaponry and knowledge, there were collaborators among us. At one point, a man tried to stop me from delivering my bucket of homemade explosive liquid, but I managed to splash it across his face and escape.

I have some strange dreams, and for some reason this time I felt compelled to share. (However, despite the dream's clarity, my enjoyment of the apocalypse, and the rather odd genre obsession with dinosaurs, I doubt I'll ever make this a story.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:53 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
The first major scene of "Ohntai" is finished, at the story stands at a total of just over 1,700 words. Go me. Not sure whether I'll plow forward a bit more or wait until tomorrow to continue. The kitchen scene is a short scene, so maybe tonight, if I get back to it before The Daily Show starts.

Tonight was supposed to be my movie night. I was planning on walking down to Blockbuster and finding myself some movies--after all, there are far too many movies that I want to see and have never found the time to rent. But it seems a bit late for that now. Ah, well. Yesterday was a good movie day, anyway. Sarah and I went to see Love Actually, which I really enjoyed. Funny and sweet and everything that I'm looking for in a romantic comedy. (I'm just glad that I couldn't hear the whispering girls who sat beside Sarah in the theatre, because the few moments of listening to them talk in the bathroom was enough to make me grind my teeth together.) And then there was Inuyasha, which is always excellent, and the occasional sarcastic commentary by Sarah, Nathaniel or myself was always welcome. After all, we're funny people ... in many senses of the word.

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

I Sigh

I just re-read "I Breathe" to get the rhythm into my head again so I can tear off the ending and write one that doesn't sound like it was scrawled in crayon. Wow. What a total mess. This story has given me so much trouble for so long, and I thought I had it nailed down but really ... ack. Nothing much I can do about it either, because this is what this story is as a short work. It shouldn't be short, at least not this short. Not really. This is sort of the highlight version of events, the sort of "Last time on E.R." collection of scenes and snippets of dialog. (It occurs to me that it's sort of the Kikyo's death scene of stories, and this thought makes me giggle to myself.)

I think I've also absorbed some of Sarah's energy because though I know she'd hate this story, espeically as-is, I can still hear her voice: "It can't end like that!" And I agree. And so do the characters. But I just have to tell them to calm down and get in line. Others are most definitely ahead of them in the queue.

It's also occured to me that I have about 5 days to write a version of "Ohntai" if I'm to have any chance in hell of getting it in to the Asimov Award before the deadline this year. On the positive side of things, the beginning of the current draft version of the story actually seems decent. I have hope and determination, if not a lot of time. Wish me luck.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:56 PM (0) comments

Denial Catches Up

So Julie needs a bio from me ASAP. I think everyone hates writing bios. But I suddenly realized, almost all of the things that I usually put into my bio will either no longer be true by the time the book comes out or have become great unknowns, even to me. In a few months, I will no longer be a student. I do not know if I will be living in Toronto, or Palgrave, or Point Clark or even Canada. Not for sure.

Insert sounds of choking, panicking and small, muffled whimpers here.

Doesn't anyone realize how hard I've been trying not to think about these things?

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 3:35 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Here again, here again

Returned home yesterday late in the evening after taking my car in to the Nissan dealership for servicing. It seems that the former owner had neglected servicing for a while before selling the car, meaning that there were quite a few things on the "must replace" list. Oh, I said. So now Siro has new drive belts and new transmission fluid and all sorts of other good and lovely things that make her drive ever so much better, and I am feeling faint at the very sight of the bill. But rather deal with the cost of upkeep than the cost of replacing the engine because a drive belt went and caused serious damage, so...

There was no snow in Toronto when I returned, either. This is strange, because in Palgrave there is snow, snow and more snow. Drifts up to my knees in some places. Drive for 45 minutes to the city and everything is green lawn and wet pavement. But I think the snow is following me because at my cottage, where there is also no snow, it started snowing shortly after I arrived, and I woke up this morning to see flakes twirling down.

I also found that, of course, my email was bouncing. I either need to be ruthless in deleting old emails (sentimental me? Ruthless? Ha!) or buy myself a bigger inbox. Something. Course the real problem was that I received one attachment that was far, far too big for my 91% full inbox to handle at once, and while I could give someone (M'ris) a hard time about it, I won't, because it was actually something I was happy to receive, namely a copy of the long anticipated Why I Hate Aliens anthology. Woohoo! It's up on the publisher's site too, so go see!

In other news, my carpy arms are feeling much, much better thanks to three days of total rest, and I just had a shower in cold water. Not by choice, let me tell you. Oh, and I left my gloves at New House--in the van, to be specific. This is bad, because my hands are cold at the best of times, and "best" right now means -5. Happy December. Snow, cold, mutter, mutter.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:26 PM (0) comments

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