<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
2006: Year of Change

I said at the end of last year that I thought 2006 was going to be a year of change. Which didn't necessarily mean that it would all be easy or fun or even always good, but that things would generally be changing in a positive direction.

And I think that so far I've been right. If only I'd truly comprehended my own caveat of "not easy or fun or even always good."

My job is keeping me busy. I like my job, and I think that someday I'll honestly be able to say that I love my job -- when I feel like I've finally got a handle on things, and am not constantly scrambling to reach a basic level of competency. (I am smart, and though I may not know much about IT, I know how to put together a good compound sentence, dammit. However, I absolutely refuse to like jazz. Can't make me.) This week has been calmer at the office, as we rest in a lull between proposal flurries, and hear good news about proposals that we've won. (Winning is good. As is the income that follows a win.) At any rate, it's clearly far better for me than working for the Career Centre ever was, and generally quite enjoyable.

I'm still trying to figure out how to balance everything, though -- the needs of Karina the IT Consultant with the growing requirements of Stellar Magpie (at least no one ever told me that running a business was easy) and ever-present Writer Karina, not mention just plain me, the one who has to clean the house and do the dishes and has a strange and inexplicable craving for donuts.

I think it's telling that I don't want to lose any of those things -- no, not even the craving for donuts. (... Mmm, donuts ...) I think I'm heading in the right direction, somehow, even if I'm doing so with my usual flair for dekeing and getting ridiculously lost along the way.

And there are health-related things that are going on right now with me, with my family and with certain friends -- and I just wrote a very long entry about it all, which I find I don't have the courage to post. In no small measure, I think, because talking about it takes me away from the only way that I feel I have of dealing with such things right now: avoidance. Let me curl up in this corner with a book and the bad things will go away. Let me make sparkly things until my hands ache and then fall into bed, oblivious. Let me sleep and sleep and sleep until my alarm goes (far too early, always too early), and do it all again.

All of which means if you're not in a position to run into me in person, you probably haven't heard from me much, if at all. I'm sorry. Truly, and I can't say how much. At times when I desperately just need to talk, I somehow still can't face the open email window. Or maybe it's not that I need to talk, but rather just to listen -- which would be why, when a friend called, I kept her on the phone for over five hours, telling me story after story so I wouldn't feel alone.

(Hmm, perhaps I should rename this entry. "Karina is Confused: Please Tell Her a Story" seems a good replacement.)

Ah, well, in the long run I think it's better than being bored, even if I do long for the quiet joy that was the summer of unemployment. And there are many things that have been making me happy. Going to the bead show with Sarah this weekend and buying many wonderful, sparkly things. Going with my dad to the car show, critiquing paint colours and pretending that I could possibly drive lovely things like Minis and convertible hardtop Volvos and the like. Reviews that say my writing doesn't suck. Unexpected surprises in the mail. Donuts.

Anyway, lots of things coming up in the near future including the launch of Mythspring, Ad Astra (including a second launch for Mythspring, plenty of panels, and an appearance for Stellar Magpie in the art show), a reading/signing at Forster's Book Garden in Bolton, a probably-meeting with another possible jewelry seller, and ... the increasingly pressing need to buy a calendar.

Plus, I'm slowly building my new website, filling in content bit by bit, and honestly planning to help Sarah a little more with the Stellar Magpie site (which now has its own domain!). Really. You know, sometime.

2006, year of change. I just wish these years came with crash helmets.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 5:29 PM (0) comments

Sunday, February 26, 2006
Octavia E. Butler

I just read the news that Octavia Butler died yesterday, at the age of 58. This news made me gasp, and cover my mouth with my hands. I never had the privilege of meeting Ms. Butler, but I can say without hesitation that she is my favourite author.

I started reading Octavia Butler's novels when I was perhaps fifteen -- shortly after the time when I read Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, in which he uses the first few paragraphs of Butler's Wild Seed as an example of how to write an intriguing opening to a novel. And he was right, because those few paragraphs absolutely captured me -- and thus began my quest to find this elusive novel, Wild Seed. I had to cross a border to do it, eventually finding the book in a store in Florida. Her other novels were all also there, and I remember thinking, "Perhaps I should buy more." But never having read an Octavia Butler novel, I didn't know if I'd like it or not, never mind if I'd want to own them all.

I fell in love with Wild Seed, and with it the works of Octavia E. Butler as a whole. I regretted not buying every single one of those books when I could, and spent years combing through odd stores trying to find the rest of her novels. (My novel-buying opportunities were sadly few when I was a teenager, Bolton noticeably lacking a bookstore and my trips to The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto limited to once a year.) I shouted with glee when I at last found a copy of the long-searched-for novel Kindred, and laughed when I discovered a hidden copy of her short story collection.

Dawn and its sequels kept me up far too late time after time throughout high school, the hours before dawn becoming fewer as I said to myself, "One more chapter, just one more." Discovery of the publication of a new novel -- Parable of the Talents -- had me watching the calendar for months, with notes written to myself as reminders of its approaching arrival liberally sprinkled about my desk (as if I could forget).

Even my years-long search for her first novel, Survivor, was eventually rewarded. Someone finally posted a copy of a first edition paperback for $2.50 on ABE Books, clearly not knowing what they had (or that other booksellers were parting with their copies for about ten times that amount, at least). It still has an honoured place in my book collection.

I stumbled across her newest novel quite by accident. I was only supposed to buy one book before I was again employed, and that book was The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 18. Yet when I went to pick up my copy, there on the floor in Bakka were hardcovers just being unpacked from their shipping box: a whole beautiful stack of the hardcover Fledgling. I shouted something incoherent, grabbed a copy and hugged it to my chest. (Yes, sadly, there were witnesses.) Parting with $40 has never been so easy.

Finding and reading a new Octavia Butler book was always a joy. I connect with her work the way I do with the work of few other writers; I'm captured by the vivid elegance of her writing style as much as I am by her characters and her plots. Her books are not always comfortable -- in fact, perhaps one of the things I've always liked best about her work is that it forces me to think, to see things from another angle, and never allows me the easy convenience of seeing things in anything but all their varied shades of gray.

And I look at my collection of her books and am so saddened to know that those are all there will ever be. From everything I've read, Ms. Butler was not only an incredible author but an incredible woman as well. I had often hoped that perhaps one day I would have the opportunity to meet her and thank her in person for the joy that her books brought me; but I'll only ever get to know her through her fiction.

Octavia Butler was -- is -- and perhaps always will be my favourite author.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 10:44 PM (0) comments

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
An Open Letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

I just thought that I would mention that though it is true I was, in weeks past, often heard to say, "Well, if I have to get sick, I hope it's during the Olympics," I did not intend for this to mean that the first day of Olympic events should be seen as a signal for illness to strike me down. While the timing was indeed spot-on, I'm afraid that I did not find this quite as amusing as perhaps you might have desired.

Also, I think it important to clarify that by "sick" in this case I meant "just sick enough to make me stay home so that I can watch Olympic coverage," not "sick enough to feel miserable, but functional enough to go to work." Indeed, the point of my earlier statement appears to have been missed entirely.

I do, however, appreciate the Canadian women's hockey team's third decisive win in a row, this time over the more-threatening-than-Italy team Sweden. Even if I was unable to watch it.

Yours sincerely,

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 7:57 AM (0) comments

Friday, February 10, 2006
A Day Off

Things have been crazy at work recently. Good, mostly, but crazy. So, to make up for some of the 13-hour days that I've been working, I took today off. This was perhaps the best idea I've had in a very long time.

I slept in. This alone was a joy.

Then I wrote for a little while, and ended up with a few hundred words that I didn't want to throw away -- almost more progress than the rest of the year to date.

Then I got my hair cut, which is such a joy I can't even tell you. I've been trying to grow out a bad haircut for months, hating my hair all the while, but now it's pretty and shapely again. (Toronto people: my new stylist is Maddie of Red Label Hair Co., which is right by Runnymede station -- great cut, great price, really nice atmosphere in the salon. Lots of natural light. Good stuff.)

And now I'm slowly adding content to my new shiny website as a cake bakes and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies play in the background. There is a half-finished sculpture necklace and Kristine Smith's Rules of Conflict waiting for me on the living room table for when I get tired of typing and baking.

And today is Friday. The weekend stretches out before me, promising relaxation and sparkly things and non-stop Olympic sports coverage. This, my friends, is what I call a good time.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 2:10 PM (0) comments

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