<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Thomas "Dude" Seay asked me five questions, and though it took me a few days, I answered:

1. If you could be a staff writer for any television show ever produced, which show would you choose?

The show that leaps to mind is Dead Like Me. Perhaps this is only because I've just discovered this show and have been watching it on DVD the past few weeks. And yet it occurred to me a few episodes ago that of all the shows I've seen, Dead Like Me comes closest to something that I'd naturally write myself. (Course, it'd be more productive if I chose a show that didn't get itself cancelled after two seasons, but since when did I ever choose the smartest course of action?)

In general, though, I doubt I'd make a very good writer for television, mainly because dialog doesn't come very naturally to me. And it's hard to make a TV show fly with bad dialog ... unless, of course, you're writing a soap opera.

2. What's one way in which you think Canada is a superior country to America, and what's one way in which you think America is superior to Canada?

Do you have any idea what a rough time I had with this question? Man, oh man. Because there are so often negative aspects of the things I might have chosen -- for both countries.

To go with the answers I can write here without staying up typing for the rest of the evening, I'll say that Canada has a civilized health care system (though it's currently under noticeable strain), while America and Americans have a sense of national identity that's not dependant on external validation or comparison to all the things that they're not (though it does lead to rampant blind patriotism).

3. What do you think happens after we die?

I don't know. I don't even really have one theory that I stick to.

And yet ... for some reason, over the last five years or so, I've been pondering reincarnation a lot. I'm usually joking when I mention something about a past life or what it is that a particular soul is trying to learn this time around, and yet ... Perhaps it's only that the thought that we have all lived other lives as other people and animals and beings gives me an interesting lens to view the world and understand the thoughts and actions of those around me.

4. If you were to research and write a nonfiction book, what would it be about?

My family -- especially my grandparents -- during the Second World War. Okay, so it wouldn’t have a huge audience ...

But I've found it fascinating to listen to their various stories, and the shocking contrast between the two sides of my family during those years. My Oma and Opa were raised in Nazi Germany; one of my great-grandfathers was put in a concentration camp, the other was shot and killed by American soldiers four days before the end of the war. My great-grandmother was murdered for having skin cancer -- a flaw in the "master race". My Oma had her house bombed down repeatedly, and survived by hiding in a bin of potatoes.

While, not so very far away, my Gran and Gramp were growing up in small-town England. My Gran tells me about living with air raids and the raid sirens, and as she got older trying to decide what branch of the military she might join based on the colours of the uniforms. In my Gramp's family, the family factory -- they made knitting machines, I believe -- was changed for production of war goods and was ultimately lost. Everything was rationed. Their stories are those of normalcy interspersed with almost shocking changes brought on by the war.

At my parents wedding, there were some interesting conversations between the two sides of the family. My Oma and one of my Dad's male relatives were talking and realized that he might have been the one to load the bomb on the plane that eventually blew up her house. And they laughed, and smiled, and somehow it was okay.

5. Imagine that you were to wake up tomorrow morning and find yourself suddenly five years old again, forced to relive your entire life but unable to change anything that happens (a concept that bears a remarkable resemblance to the idea behind Kurt Vonnegut's book Timequake... hmm...). Which day would you most look forward to reliving, and which day would you most dread?

If I start at five, then I get to miss falling down the stairs and breaking my arm! Whew.

Hmm. I'm not good at picking out single days.

I would hate to be 14 again, the winter when a very close family friend died of cancer. I'd dread those times in Grade 4 when all my friends abandoned me, or pretended that they didn't like me so long as we were at school -- only to try to be my best friends again when the bell went. I don't ever want to re-live my OAC year of high school, and the strike at York during my first year there could be skipped entirely. There are also some illnesses that I could really, really do without living again.

But good things: I'd look forward to this summer again. I'd look forward to Christmas Eve on the year I was about eight or so, when everyone came over to our house (and yes, we accidentally pickled our pet fish, but that was just a bad moment in an otherwise great Christmas). I'd look forward to Clarion. I'd look forward to those few hours on the road with Susan, Amy and Beth as we drove towards the ICFA in March of 2002.

Oh, here's a day for you. There was one winter day when I was about nine that felt perfect: there had been an ice storm, so we were home from school, and I went outside with my friends (who my mother babysat) and we built a snow cave and slid down the neighbours' steep driveway in our snow pants until we were dripping wet and then went inside and my mother made us hot chocolate with little marshmallows. I'd look forward to that one, too.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:43 PM


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