<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, March 17, 2005

A New Mode of Transportation

I said to Carly this afternoon, "We have so many squirrels around here. If we captured them all we could put them in tiny harnesses and have them pull us in a sled."

Carly knows me; this comment did not surprise her. In fact, she seemed rather taken with the idea.

"The only problem," she said, "would be making them all go in the same direction." She made hand gestures to illustrate the frantic and unpredictable nature of squirrels that rather reminded me of a store bought firework going terribly wrong.

"True," I said, "but I bet the net direction would still be forward."

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:19 PM (0) comments

Pondering Awards

It occurred to me recently that Summoned to Destiny is a pro publication with a print run of over 10,000 and so that distracting ticking sound that I heard in the background these past months must have been my Campbell clock running. Who knew? Well, I should have. Lazy writer. Foolish writer.

Course, no sooner do I go to investigate what to do with this lovely eligibility than I read about the new Campbell rules that have made online publications eligible. Which means that publication in Strange Horizons now makes an author eligible for the Campbell. "Drowned Men Can't Have Kids" was published in 2003. Which, according to these new rules, means that as of a week or so ago my Campbell eligibility is officially over.

"Ack!" I said. "Alas! Alack!" (Or words to that effect.) But, further reading led me to discover this line: "Interaction's Hugo Award Administrators are trying hard to ensure that writers are not disadvantaged by the change. Because these revised rule interpretations are being publicized with relatively short notice, we will accept nominations under both the old and new eligibility criteria."

Whew! Of course, if I'm going by old rules then that means that "Drowned Men" won't be listed as an eligible story at all, but since that was what I was assuming until very, very recently, it's not much of a disappointment.

I've also been filling out my Aurora Award nomination form the past couple of days. This should be quite easy, but I discovered that I've read very few of the eligible short stories and am not entirely sure which of the short stories that I have read should be nominated. I have one more short fiction slot open, so if you know a good eligible short story, please do let me know. (And no, I'm not nominating myself. It's not even temping. Just seems too ... tacky. But if you'd like to nominate me, well, I wouldn't have a problem with that at all.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:52 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
On Saturday, we put Tia to sleep. (I thought I was okay with this, but somehow just typing it makes me want to close my eyes and just sit here for a moment in the quiet.) My family waited until I was able to be there.

There's never a question when the time comes; you just know. And seeing her sitting there in the dark on the bathroom floor, her head held perfectly still because the slightest movements made her choke and unable to breathe, I knew. We all did.

After, I was going to be the one to carry her body to the vet for cremation. There was something circular in that, for I had been the one to carry her home almost four years before. She was so small, just a little ball of pale fluff that I held against my chest with the palm of one hand. She'd just had a bath, her fur only towel-dried, and I could feel the warm dampness of her little puppy body as she pressed against my shirt. And as I watched her body slowly rolled in a blue towel, warm but lifeless, I realized it was that first memory I needed to keep. That memory, and all the ones like it.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:04 PM (0) comments

Friday, March 11, 2005
One Year, Drawing to a Close

Okay, I suppose it's time to tell this story. Though official announcements are still permeating throughout not only my office but others as well, as my boss said to me earlier this week, I need to look out for myself. That, more than any real desire to make this public knowledge, is what's driving me.

(Of course, it occurs to me that my boss might not have realized how integral blogging is to my ability to look out for myself--both this blog, in its moved and somewhat mangled form, and my work blog, which I'm currently unable to touch. At the Career Centre we talk about the power of networking nearly daily, and yet I think that it has not truly entered into the "career services" mindset how much networking has changed because of and with online communication technologies.)

Last Friday, one week ago today, I was notified by my boss that my project, officially named Pro-File: ePortfolio @ York, has been cancelled. This was due to two rather different but powerful reasons: one, budget restrictions; and two, disbelief that any ePortfolio program would be used by or useful to York students. As a consequence, all the work that I have done on this project--ten months of research, writing, discussion and planning--have come to a dead end.

I know that this decision was not a personal one; it's not about me. I know that there is little, if anything, I could have done to change the situation before the decision became final had I known that such a decision was pending. I know that projects with far more work, time and emotion invested in them have failed, and that I shouldn't truly consider this a failure. Yet this intellectual knowledge did little to alleviate the purely gut-level reaction that I had to this news.

The next issue to deal with, however, was obviously: what's to become of me? I was hired to research ePortfolios. I was re-hired--or, rather, had my position become unionized--primarily so that I could continue my work with ePortfolios. Though there were a great many other things that I did each day at the Career Centre, from developing marketing materials and writing content for our newsletter to taking pictures at events and copyediting, the ePortfolio project accounted for the bulk of my day and my work. Without it ... was I still needed? Am I still needed?

To be brief, I have been told that my contract will be honoured to the end of April, but that it would be in my best interests to be looking for other employment opportunities at this time.

So I am.

Do you know someone who would like to hire a writer? An award-winning writer with extensive knowledge of blogging and electronic portfolio technology, with passions for science fiction, fantasy, quirky literature and adventure racing, a marketing-related devotion to The Cluetrain Manifesto and a sarcastic sense of humour, no less. If so, please do let me know.

In the meantime I'm scouring job listings and starting to contact some individuals in my network. It's interesting, though: I realized that this job will bring me in a full circle. My first day of work was May 2nd; my last day will be April 28th. Strange and unexpected things happened to get me into this job, and strange and unexpected things have happened to make me leave. But best of all, my news that the project was cancelled was March 4th--one year to the day from when I met Rob Paterson, a consultant for the University, who happened to know of an office that needed someone to do some writing and research.

As I said in the somewhat cryptic entry that referred to that meeting, the Universe works in interesting ways. I was looking for a sign, and I was given one--then, and now again. So, despite everything, I give my thanks.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:41 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
So here I am.

My website, previously hosted by Rogers, is now down permanently, and this is the new home of my Blogger blog--for the time being. It works! ... Which should be obvious if you're reading this.

Karina, Queen of the Obvious

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 9:30 PM (0) comments

Yesterday I thought that February was having its last revenge. (February, a terrible month in general, went pretty terribly for me. Hence the lack of updates. I had little inclination to do much of anything, including document my own wild and unpredictable mood swings. Damn lack of light.) There was snow on the horizon, and as I drove home from work in the gathering storm, I was rear-ended. Not badly--more of an irritating thump on the back bumper than anything to worry about--but still enough to make me think, yes, I am glad this month is ending.

March is making an interesting entrance. That storm made good on its threats, and I woke to more than 10 cm of snow. Phoned in late for work before I'd even gone out the door, then spent the next two hours trying to dig my car out and get away from the apartment. Never did manage to make it up the crazy lane to the road. There was much slipping, sliding, and one fun quarter of an hour in which I got stuck on an ice patch and was unable to move. Good times were then had by all when I discovered that my car seemed to be leaking a bright yellow-green fluid--antifreeze, it was decided, as my windshield washer fluid is purple at the moment. (Antifreeze being one of the vehicular fluids that I deemed a "death fluid" when learning to drive--a fluid that can lead to the death of the car if leaking or absent while driving.)

Needless to say, this combination of factors--crazy snow, my inability to reach the road and the leaking antifreeze--not to mention the fact that it'd be at least another two hours before I would arrive at work if I took the TTC, meant that I stayed home today. Did some work from home, too; I'm ever so productive. And my brother came by to discover the source of the leaking antifreeze so that I can get to work bright and early tomorrow morning. My brother's a good guy. I may be hard on him sometimes, and perhaps tease him more than he deserves, but that's just because he's my brother. Some things are expected.

Despite all that, today's been a good day. As I've said to a few people in the past couple of days, I'm starting to feel human again. I've been sitting in front of windows whenever I can, absorbing light for all I'm worth. (Reading Robin McKinley's Sunshine, I thought, yes, yes, that's exactly it! I need my sunlight.)

Also, Tia, my ailing puppy, has been doing better recently--especially for a dog with terminal lymphoma. Having missed being put to sleep only by grace of an ice storm, she has now gone into a partial remission, it is theorized, and this (as well as the grooming that has removed the huge and heavy piles of fur from her tiny, bloated body) has made her significantly happier. As long as she's happy.

And I keep pushing forward on the *%&@ bagpipe story. Add a little, delete a lot, add some more, rewrite and delete most of it ... and so it goes. But there is progress! I now have one full scene of over 2000 words that I do not hate and do not plan on deleting. At this rate I may just have a readable story by the time I hit the May deadline. And, like winter, I think I'll be happiest when it's finally finished.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 6:54 PM (0) comments

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