Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
"Aww, the waiting game sucks, let's play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!"Checking back in my files, I see that last year Rick called me about the Asimov Award on February 5. Now, even with regular fluctuations in submission volume and things like that, he should be calling the contest winners pretty soon. You should feel what my heart does every time the phone rings long-distance (and with three of my four housemates with out-of-calling-area families, I'm gonna need a heart monitor soon).
Don't get me wrong, I'm confident in this year's stories. I think they're both better than the one that won last year, and I've been reasurred by both a professional in the business and someone who's devoted the last four years of her life to literary analysis (in a good, joy-of-lit way rather than a bitter, cynical, I-wish-I'd-written-this way) that Jory's Song is good.
And yet, they're not judging the competition, so instead I'm sitting here trying not to bite my nails off and hitting my head on the ceiling every time the phone does that "riiiiiiiiiiiiing-----ring--ring". And I don't even expect anything until at least Monday. Next week, I'm gonna be a wreck.
( 11:28 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Better Late than NeverAh, weather.
It's finally snowing. A lot. I'm sitting here, watching it pile up outside my little basement window. This is officially our first big winter storm, which is a little late (we usually get them in November). Our poor confused bees at the museum, who reacted to the 8 degree weather at the beginning of the week by going active, leaving the hive to forage, and kicking the queen into egg-laying mode, don't know what hit them.
I, on the other hand, am walking around grinning like an idiot, thanks to the gift I got last night from my fairy godmother, which is one of the coolest things I've ever received. I'm very, very tired now, because I stayed up until 2am reading it (despite my resolve to only read a chapter a day -- right, I'm now 3/4 done), and I'll say again, a story can be a really really great way to cheer someone up.
So now I'm going out to do something nice for someone else -- I can't say what or who, since I'm pretty sure she reads this blog, but it's going to be neat. I'm a firm believer in passing it on -- when someone does something really nice for me, I go out and do something nice for someone else who needs it. I've acutally gotten some pretty long strings going, and it helps to pass on a really good mood to somebody else.
( 11:00 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
I'm Just Wild About MariMari Penningham is turning out to be more fun than I dreamed. She just keeps revealing things to me. I knew she was a scholarly type (in addition to her tendencies to cast off her good clothing and go play ball with the manor boys), but she surprised me again with her new choice of reading material:
"And so if people are good, they can find their way to Elysium after they die. That's where my mother went."
I glared fixedly at my book, trying valiantly to ignore Cecy's butchering of the tale. It was vastly more complicated than she made it out to be, but I knew if I started correcting her, I'd be all week sorting them out. Mara's daughter Nika, who had somehow turned into Cecy's best friend when I wasn't looking, giggled.
"It must be a wonderful place."
"Oh, it is," said Cecy. "It's sunny all the time and it never rains. There's kittens everywhere, and almond pastries grow on the trees there."
"Almond pastries?" The words slipped out before I could stop them. I looked down at them from my perch on the windowsill. "Cecy, really."
Her chin jutted out defiantly. "Well there are. And the rivers are iced berry juice."
I gave up and returned to Marden's Creature of Darkness. My tutors would have a fit if they caught me reading it, but I'd discovered a fondness for the odd bit of fiction scattered into my reading. I did find Marden's heroine, Brinna, a bit silly for falling in love with Joshen after he all but ate her father, but Marden did a very good job at bringing out the sympathetic side of Joshen's demonic existence. Even if he did get the odd craving for blood.
"When is your father coming back?" I heard Nika ask.
Cecy sighed laboriously. "Soon I hope. I can't wait. Mari moves out as soon as he does."
I tore myself away from Joshen's inner battle to keep from biting Brinna and stuck my tongue out at my sister. "Just you wait. Who'll sing your nightmares away when I'm gone?"
"You're just down the hall," Cecy said, and her face fell. "You'll still sing to me, won't you?"
I tried to keep my expression stern, but her distress was so real that I couldn't. I held out one arm and she ran to my side. "Yes, I'll still sing to you." I hugged her tightly. "Just don't come bothering me too much. I'll be reading a lot more now that I don't have to worry about keeping you up."
Cecy grinned and went back to Nika. "Just wait," she said to her friend in a conspiratory whisper. "I bet you anything Kyel is going to kill my sister."
I grinned into Marden's pages. Cecy was probably right. Kyel had decided to start writing books in addition to selling them, and I'd been riding down to Kittrith almost daily to see if he was done the latest book. Nana was near beside herself making sure I took an escort with me.
I listened with half an ear as Cecy and Nika chattered away. Brinna had just heated a knife with which to open a vein in her wrist to save the dying Joshen when I heard Nika ask, "But I thought your mother didn't believe in God. So how could she go to heaven?"
Cecy's face when I looked up was livid. "She did so believe in God!"
"She believed in a god," I said. "Just not Paran."
Nika turned her wide brown eyes to me. "But Mama says there's only one God."
I sighed. Brinna and Joshen were just going to have to wait. "Brellin and Darvia have one God. The southern countries, where my mother was raised, believe in a divine couple, Ehrellia and Mhoryn. And things get really complicated when you go farther east or south."
"But they can't all be right," said Nika.
I raised a brow at her. "Why not? The southern people call the Dessel River the Kahari after it crosses the Khoray Pass, but it's still the same river."
Cecy and Nika exchanged a glance. "But Param's only one god," said Nika.
I shrugged. "When you're omnipotent, who's to say you can't be as many people as you want?"
"Oh, don't get her started," Cecy said. "She'll make you think red is blue if you let her talk long enough." She paused for a moment. "Besides, none of it matters anyway, because Elysium isn't the same thing as heaven. Right Mari?"
I suppressed a groan and leaned my head against the window. "I'm reading," I said, hoisting the book further up on my knees.
Cecy sighed heavily. "What else is new?"
Copyright 2002 by Sarah Jane Elliott
All Rights Reserved
( 12:44 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 29, 2002
You Know You Know Your Characters When...Yasha Platov is a dog person.
Not sure how I know, it's just one of those things that I do, same as Yasha's got blond hair and blue eyes. She's never had a dog -- she spent half her life in a simulation of an underwater station (no room for walkies there) and the other in space (ditto). Probably because she herself tends to be an emotional shut-in, she needs that kind of unconditional love that a dog gives, rather than the "I shall allow you to adore me" kind of love a cat permits. I can see Yasha romping with a dog, but not curled up with a cat.
Mari Penningham, on the other hand, is a cat person, and this is also weird, because she likes romping. But she's a cat person (she doesn't have pets either, though I'm debating giving her a cat). Maybe its because her mind is more catlike -- she and Yasha are both child prodigies, and both very cautious about who they give their affection to, but Mari's much better at loving and taking love than Yasha is, and her mind wanders much more devious paths that Yasha's. Both things which, I think, make her a cat person.
But again, I'm just guessing. These are character traits that are just part of the character, bits that they're revealing as they go. It's kinda neat.
( 8:43 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 28, 2002
Ummm...January?It was another good day. Elysium just hit 65 pages and I had my museum day. We had some great kids in (including one little girl who insisted the raccoon and beaver were named Stacey and Emma, respectively -- am I the only one who remembers the TVO show Cucumber, staring Moose and Beaver?). Was a little concerned over the bees -- queen is laying eggs, probably because of the weather. It's January and it feels like spring. What's wrong with this picture?
Then I get home and pass out. No warning, just BAM! one moment I'm awake, and the next I'm sleeping. That's the thing about mono -- you think it's gone, but it lingers and it's very patient, and it waits until it can take advantage of you. I've been asleep for the last hour and a half, and I think I'm about to go back to sleep. Sometimes I think my body and I need a better line of communication.
( 8:52 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Why I writeThere's a thread going on at Holly's community (a subject that comes up frequently) about why you write, and I though that my answer is one I should have in the blog, too, since it is actually supposed to be about me and my writing. Yes, I know, I ramble occasionally, but hey, I wouldn't have my stories without my life, right? Right?
So anyway, here's my answer:
I write because I don't know how to stop
I've always been doing it. There's a note on my pre-school report card (I was 4 or 5) talking about how much the teachers and students liked my stories.
I was always a really imaginative kid. There weren't many kids around my house, and I wasn't the most popular kid in school, so I spent a lot of time alone, keeping myself entertained. Half the time, I read. I'd check out stacks of books from the library and cart them home in my wagon (any time the kids section had one of those "reading contests", where they track how many books you read in, say, a month, I was always the winner). When I wasn't reading, I'd act things out. Sometimes I'd write my own character into the books I liked and act out my own storylines in that world. Sometimes I'd make up characters and worlds of my own.
As I got older, I stopped acting them out quite so much (though I still do when I'm alone), but they were constantly unreeling in my head. Even now, walking home, sitting at work, waiting in line, etc., there's always some narrative in my head.
When I was in Grade 10, I had this fantasy unreeling about a girl who is chosen by a griffin to go be a healer for a dying magical land. I picked up a book by Nick O'Donohoe that was SO close to what was in my head that I both loved the book immensely (it's still on my comfort shelf, much battered and worse-for-wear) and was frustrated by it, because it didn't quite capture what I wanted it to do. Which is when I realized that if I wanted a book that said what I wanted it to, I would have to write it myself. So I did.
And that's why I write. Because there are stories I want to read, and nobody knows them but me. I'd keep writing if I never got published, because the stories keep unreeling in my head, and if I don't get them out, I feel like something in me is going to explode. It's an itch that doesn't go away until I scratch it (which is why I have dozens of half-finished first chapters for various books on my hard drive -- I'll probably get back to them eventually, but I had more pressing things to be done that couldn't BE done until I got the scenes in my head onto the screen). The fact that other people really enjoy them is an added bonus. I write because I don't know how to turn off the stories.
Nor do I want to.
( 3:03 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
And the e-mail keeps on comingJust got an e-mail in from Jen that made me laugh so hard I cried. See, I LOATHE AND DESPISE chain mail. Yes, of course, there are exceptions, but they'd better be good. And this one was.
Please help little Billy Evans.
My name is Billy Evans. I am a very sick little boy. My mother is typing this for me, because I can't. She is crying. The reason she is so sad is because I'm so sick. I was born without a body. It doesn't hurt, except when I try to breathe. The doctors gave me an artificial body. It is a burlap bag filled with leaves. The doctors said that was the best they could do on account of us having no money or insurance.
I would like to have a body transplant, but we need more money. Mommy doesn't work because she said nobody hires crying people. I said, "Don't cry, Mommy," and she hugged my burlap bag. Mommy always gives me hugs, even though she's allergic to burlap and it makes her sneeze and chafes her real bad. I hope you will help me. You can help me if you forward this email to everyone you know. Forward it to people you don't know, too. Dr. Johansen said that for every person you forward this email to, Bill Gates will team up with AOL and send a nickel to NASA. With that funding, NASA will collect prayers from school children all over America and have the astronauts take them up into space so that the angels can hear them better. Then they will come back to earth and go to the Pope, and he will take up a collection in church and send all the money to the doctors. The doctors could help me get better then. Maybe one day I will be able to play baseball. Right now I can only be third base. Every time you forward this letter, the astronauts can take more prayers to the angels and my dream will be closer to coming true. Please help me. Mommy is so sad, and I want a body. I don't want my leaves to rot before I turn 10.
If you don't forward this email, that's okay. Mommy says you're a mean and heartless bastard who doesn't care about a poor little boy with only a head. She says that if you don't stew in the raw pit of your own guilt-ridden stomach, she hopes you die a long slow, horrible death and then burn forever in hell. What kind of cruel person are you that
you can't take five freakin' minutes to forward this to all your friends so that they can feel guilt and shame about ignoring a poor, bodiless nine-year-old boy?
Please help me. I try to be happy, but it's hard. I wish I had a kitty. I wish I could hold a kitty. I wish I could hold a kitty that wouldn't chew on me and try to bury its turds in the leaves of my burlap body. I wish that very much.
Billy "Smiles" Evans
( 2:23 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Ask and ye shall receiveAnd no sooner do I fire the blog off than one of my friends e-mails me with a happy resolution to her rotten day, and I don't feel so much like crying and am starting to feel happy about my day. Sympathy bummage. Now brain, was that SOOO hard? Honestly.
( 2:10 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sometimes I wish I understood meI've had a pretty great day. Named all the rivers and mountains on my map today and did the river overlay on the Darvia provincial breakdown map. Wrote three pages of Elysium. Got all my Fushigi Yuugi tapes back. Went to Rob Sawyer's book signing (he's starting to recognize me, he said some great things about Canadian publishing and DAMN, the man is good at readings). Went to dinner with Emily and my sib and then back to sib's place to watch Invader Zim till eleven. Came back home to find an e-mail from one of the Tensors saying he'll give me a new computer, since he just upgraded to mega-computer and isn't using his good computer anymore (he's getting an acknowledgement in the book for that one).
Great day right? Right. So why am I feeling down?
Maybe it's because I'm tired, but I don't think I'm that tired. Maybe it's because I can't make it to Rob's party tomorrow and I really wanted to go, but there'll be others, and I'm on a panel with him in February. Maybe it's that health issue, but I don't think I'm actually that concerned about it. Maybe it's because I miss my friends in Newmarket and Keswick, but I e-mail them all the time. Maybe it's the fact that I just realized that I'm spending my twenty-third Valentine's day unattached, but Valentine's Day is a great excuse to hunker down with ice cream and sappy movies. Maybe it's that three people I know had rotten days today, and I'm feeling sympathy bummage. I just can't figure it out.
It's almost like there's something missing, but I don't know what it is. I did all this great stuff today, but somewhere in this big demented mess I call a brain, my subconscious is saying "yes, that's all very well and good, but you're forgetting about this..." and then refusing to tell me what.
I'm gonna work on Elysium for a bit (maybe it's that I have to introduce the character I really dislike in the next paragraph), watch some of the sappier bits of Fushigi Yuugi (I am an incurably hopeless romantic, and let's face it, Miaka and Tamahome could give you cavities), and see how I am tomorrow. Who knows, maybe I AM just tired, and a good night's sleep will fix the problem.
Sometimes my brain and I would get along much better if it would just tell me what I'm thinking.
( 2:00 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, January 24, 2002
Whither Shall We Wander?Elysium is officially an obsession. What started out as a small notebook in order to figure out which languages Mari knows became a large, sprawling thing. I spent the better part of the day mapping the world of Elysium. 20 major kingdoms, 16 small island kingdoms (5 of which don't really count anymore since becoming beholden to the monarch of Aimrue).
That turned into a list of all the characters from each of the 5 major locations (with hair and eye colour, so I don't lose track), a breakdown of the 6 provinces of the kingdom of Darvia (where Mari and Gavin live), with the province of Andarin further broken down into the 8 major holdings, complete with a list of their ruling lords. Then I have lists of Mari's books, the herbs Mari uses and for what, sketches of important costumes, the Andarin and Penningham seals, the book's soundtrack... Floorplans of all three floors of Windhollow manor, a map of the manor grounds, floorplans of Castle Andarin and the grounds, of the camp layout, of Sabria's Estate and the grounds...
This isn't a book. It's an entity.
( 2:50 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Moments of Pleasure
It can really hurt
And these moments given
Are a gift from time
Just let us try
To give these moments back
To those we love
To those who will survive
--Kate Bush, "Moments of Pleasure"
I've always loved Kate. Mum and Dad used to play "The Kick Inside" when I was still in Mum, and got a real thrill when it made me kick. I think that hardwired her into my brain. But I didn't really connect with this song until my third year, when I spent December going to class, going from there to St. Mikes hospital to sit with Mum, who'd just had a brain aneurysm, going back home to study for exams. That was the year I watched the onset of vasospasm and saw my mother actually forget who I was from one minute to the next. That was the year I watched them tie my mother down to a bed and shove a feeding tube down her nose while she cried for them to stop. That was the year I wrote an exam on my birthday and then went to the hospital to open my presents with Mum, who didn't seem to realize why I was getting them. That was the year I realized that we have to cherish the good things in life.
That changed my relationship with my mother -- I cherish every moment with her now. She fought. She survived. She recovered. Completely. And that revalation changed me. I try very, very hard to be a good person. I've always been good at seeing both sides of an argument, even when I'm on one of them, which also makes me quick to forgive. Unfortunately, since many people don't try to be good people, I also get walked on a lot. I'm naive, I admit that. I always trust people, until they hurt me. And even then I'm willing to trust again. It leaves me open to a lot, but it also lets me look upon my life and be proud of what I have done.
I've been exposed to a lot of ugliness and pettiness lately, until I just want to go out and do something pure, before my soul gets all gunged up and sticky. Volunteering at the museum helped (great kid today, who knew more about the caiman skull than I did, and I got two kids over their fear of bees). Finishing chapter 4 of Elysium helped. Listening to this song helped. I still haven't figured out what I really need to do, but I'm working on that.
Every time I listen to "Moments of Pleasure", I'm reminded of the things, and more, the people, I'm thankful for. There are moments, in all that's gone on this year, that shine like stars in the darkness, that I cling to in times like this. And I think the greatest moments in life are those of connection. When you meet someone, who can be a total stranger, but get this sudden and inexplicable feeling of connection, like you've known this person all your life but haven't realized it until now. People who you always seem to understand, and who seem to understand you, even when you don't agree on things. People who you seem to know everything about while you learn new things about them every day. People whose joy makes you happy and whose sorrow makes you weep. People you trust utterly and completely, and who you would stand by (and who would stand by you) as they march into Hell.
There are four such people in my life. People who know me. People who know exactly what to do and say to get me out of darkness. People for whom I would do just about anything if it would make them smile through their pain. People who I want to do things for or give things to, for no other reason than because I think it will make them happy.
At times like this, I sit back, pull out that song, and remember them. Next to them, the bad things aren't quite so dark anymore. The moments at which I connected with them truly are a gift from time, and I will do everything I can to give those moments back to them.
( 12:02 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, January 20, 2002
Well, DamnJust got my Ad Astra schedule. Turns out I'm not going to be doing a reading after all. There wasn't room for me, or something. Which I can totally understand. They have to think of crowd draws, and who wants to go see an unknown twenty-three year old kid from Toronto when you could be getting a sneak preview of (searches panelist listing), oh, Robert Sawyer's new book. I get that. Really. But I'm still kinda bummed. Moderately bummed. Okay, incredibly bummed.
I'm still on a panel -- "SF and the Mundane". I have no idea what that one's about. I think it's the one where people who don't like SF talk with writers and publishers about why they don't like it, but I can't remember and I've lost my list. I've asked Russell to confirm for me. Which is still cool and all, but it's not what had me all excited.
I guess this just means I'll have to get my ass in gear and get Elysium published, so they'll want me reading next year.
( 11:22 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Yet another reason I don't drinkHad a pretty good day today -- got my Writers' Union grant application into the mail and headed over to my sib's (who did get hit by a chariot in the engineering races, but who is apparently fine) for dinner, and to watch a couple episodes of Invader Zim he just downloaded. Snacked on PC parmesan and garlic baked chips, which were REALLY good, so I headed home fed and happy.
I was nearly to my street when I hit the carnage zone. Somebody was obviously out having a good time, because there were smashed beer bottles all over the street. As I was picking my way through the mess, a taxi came barrelling down the road -- right over the intact, empty bottle lying in the middle of the road. That's when I discovered that when taxi runs over bottle at 50 kph, bottle explodes.
It was another one of those moments when the universe goes, "Okay, take THAT". I'm really surprised I didn't get hurt worse than I did. There's a shallow scrape along my chin, but other than that, my face is fine. My coat is pretty thick, so it deflected most of the rest. The only part of me that didn't get out all right was my leg -- there's a pretty deep 4 inch gash just above my ankle where a big piece of glass went straight through my sock. It's all cleaned out and covered, and I'm pretty sure it doesn't need stitches, but damn, is it annoying. Sometimes, I just don't understand what possesses people.
( 2:48 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, January 18, 2002
I Am Woman, Hear Me PlumbI fixed the bathtub yesterday (nasty drain clog and one of the roommates ripped the drain plug, one of those attached-down-the-drain kinds, out of the tub to see if that helped). All it took was some pliers, a bottle of drano, and a hell of a lot of patience, but the other roommates didn't even know where to begin. I'm inordinately proud of this. It's also the second major bathroom fixture I taught myself to repair (I also do toilets).
I just find it funny, that I'm the girly-girl of the house. I'm not kidding, I have flowers and faeries on the walls, dolphins everywere, love to dress up in pretty things for the heck of it (one of my mottos is "a girl can never have too many tiaras"), cry at the drop of a hat, am a hopless romantic, and I'm good with power tools. The boys break stuff, and I fix it. And yes, I have actually used the power tools while wearing the tiara.
( 11:47 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wacky FishStrange day in the lab today. Karin was really wired, and we spent half an hour taking wacky pictures in the lab to post on the website and to decorate our big blank wall. They're pretty good. Incredibly silly, but good. Which is what happens when you spend more time with fish than you do with people.
Then, I got home to find an e-mail from Tami that scared the crap out of me. Open the link and stare at the picture for about 45 seconds. Preferably in a dark room in an empty house.
( 11:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
Wild Butterfly E-MailFor those of you who've been investigating my links section (which I'm still proud of), Wild Butterfly Designs is run by my immensely talented best friend (yes, she's one of two or three, so this doesn't mean Jenny isn't my best friend anymore) Tami Ward, who pretty much taught herself to design all the web sets listed on the site. There used to be one with me in it, which she's taken down to revamp (for the same reasons I've pulled Kichani off the circulation list for revamping -- 'cause I can do it a lot better now), which should apparently go back up when she does her big upcoming site move. I dont think I tell her enough that I'm proud of her.
She sent me a fun e-mail too, more on the great N-Sync in Star Wars controversy. Personally, I cringed when I heard it, though when I found out they're just doing cameos, I felt a bit better. I think that much of the fuss happened because a vast majority of the Star Wars following is composed of Geeks or Semi-Geeks (not implying any kind of derogatory meaning -- I myself have a lot of Geek in me), and N-Sync epitomize all that are hip and trendy and popular in the world -- in other words, they are the Anti-Geeks. It's kind of like casting Tonya Harding in a Nancy Kerrigan movie. I will say, though, that they're not hurting anything by doing a walk on (it's not like we'll have Jedi doing 5-part harmony and choreographed dance moves -- though there's very little I'd put past George these days), and I felt kinda sorry for them -- they're huge fans and were really jazzed to be in the movie (see, they're secretly Geeks at heart), and are upset by all the negative press. And really, they're the least objectionable of the boy bands. At least they take the trouble to write what they sing, and anyone who makes fun of themselves on the Simpsons isn't all bad.
( 9:41 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
In the Name of ScienceHad to go in for "cryosurgery" again today. Those of you who've had the treatment know what I'm talking about. There's a certain procedure (which shouldn't be embarassing, but is anyway for some inexplicable reason) that is performed by freezing a portion of the epidermis out of existence. Whee. So I go in every week, good girl that I am, to have liquid nitrogen applied directly to my foot. How do they know they've gone far enough? They stop when you start feeling excruciating pain. As I said, whee. "Cryosurgery" used to be performed with silver nitrate (I think, don't quote me on that) and a cotton swab, which looked like something out of a horror movie (nurse comes at you with this smoking stick) but was pretty precise and worked first shot. However, they've discovered it's more cost effective to get these "cryosurgery kits" which are essentially liquid nitrogen in a can, and a big long application stick with a sponge on the end. The cryosurgery kits don't disperse the liquid nitrogen very easily or evenly though, with the end result that they leave a great gaping hole in the foot instead of a little dot, and you usually have to go in for further treatments. Stephen pointed out that it's a lot like saying, "yeah, we could do surgery really well with the nice sharp scalpels, but it's a lot more cost effective to use the dull ones instead." Oy.
At least the writing went well today. Mari and Gavin are a great pair, and all I really have to do with them is sit back and watch the fur fly (sometimes literally). Mari has reached the age of eleven now, and it's fun to paint a kid's picture of the world (even if she is an extremely precocious kid), with all sorts of gaps and missing pieces where the grown-up stuff comes in. Mari's relationship with her Father gets deeper and more complex every day, and I've finally shed some light on the strange relationship Mari and her Father have with Cecy.
( 9:23 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Back in the SwingGot the twisted fantasy up and posted, finally. It's not the best thing I've ever written, but it was fun and relatively painless, unlike Jory's Song, which is probably the best short I've ever written (I still prefer Mirror, Mirror, but I've been overruled), but was also the most agonizing to write.
"Choices" was a break from all that, and I had a good time. I'm not sure if I'm going to take part in the "Bombard GVG" campaign, though, since I'm 99.9% sure he'd reject it, and it takes $4 in return postage alone (and I'm not talking manuscript, I'm talking #10 envelope with an IRC) to submit to the States, now that I've managed to misplace my stockpile of American Postage. I fully intend on shopping this thing around, but it's damned hard to get published in F&SF (Jory's Song is a possibility, but Choices isn't), and I don't know that I can afford to send out submissions that come with a guaranteed rejection.
Ah well. At least my left hand is working better today.
( 6:20 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 14, 2002
Today in Biodiversity...Great day at the ROM today. Had a wonderful pair of kids come in when I was at the touch tables who were genuinely interested in what I was telling them. Apparently their Dad takes them on field trips and asks them Q&A afterward, and I say, way to go Dad. We get so many kids in who can barely spell touch table, and clearly wouldn't be in a museum if their parents weren't making them go. And then I get these kids, who actually kept coming back (the girl to show me the frog life cycle cube and tell me all about the tadpole she watched grow, the boy to ask stuff like "what's the difference between a rabbit and a hare?). Makes it all worthwhile.
We got new bees (thanks to global warming, the old colony didn't go dormant or store food and starved to death), with a queen who's actually MARKED, which makes our job SO much easier. They've already started clearing the dead bees out of the colony. Our moose and wolves are unfortunately leaving us for a while (they've got moths, which they've spread to the howler monkey, so they need to go be frozen for a few weeks), so the centre of the gallery is going to be pretty empty for a while. Amanda just better hurry and get that snake...
So it was, all in all, a good day. Until I decided to stop at Harvey's on the way home and, thanks to an unfortunate gravy accident (it wasn't my fault, and it did involve a collision), I've now got first degree burns on my palm, and what looks (and feels) like second-degree on my little finger. :::sighs::: Hey, what can I say, I'm accident prone. This IS the girl who got hit by a falling squirrel in first year, remember.
And now, since typing hurts like hell, I'm gonna go stick my hand in some frozen peas or something.
( 7:16 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, January 13, 2002
Some Enchanted Eyebrows...I still maintain that plucking the eyebrows is one of the stupidest things women are expected to do in the name of fashion. And I cannot understand all those girls (usually under the age of 18) who feel in necessary to thin their eyebrows to a hair-thin line or remove them entirely and draw them on, thereby making themselves look like china dolls painted by someone with cataracts. Yet I have bought into it in part, and do occasionally feel the need to deforest my eyebrows. However, my eyebrows naturally follow a very strange line, and since I refuse to thin them too much, I end up with this weird arch to them.
I'm fairly sure it's that weird arch that makes people think I look somehow inhuman. Seriously. My Dad was the first one to say it, the year The Three Musketeers with Chris O'Donnell came out. He insisted that Rebecca De Mornay looks like an elf, and he couldn't figure out what I looked like, except that it was something from Middle Earth. He still doesn't know, but since then, I've gotten similar comments from a lot of people, and now I'm pretty sure it's the eyes.
Which is cool. I still maintain that the only cosmetic surgery I would ever consider is having my ears pointed. :o)
( 10:58 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
God, I'm Good!And modest too! ;o)
Actually, I'm just proud I finally managed to figure out enough html coding (on my own, I might add), to change the blog layout and add some links. I couldn't find blogger tags, so I had to code them blind, trial-and-error (and, let me tell you, matching that stupid "archives" colour was NOT fun.).
( 9:41 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
The Times, They Are A Changin'There's a lot going on in my life right now, I have realized. I'm doing a lot more this year than I did at this point last year, and I have some resolutions I plan to uphold. I will be published this year. I will get back into shape this year. I will figure out what I'm doing with my life this year. Strangely enough, it's the last that I'm having trouble with.
Not that I've actually had anything published this year. Yet. But I have a number of things that show a lot of promise, and for the first time, I have the confidence that this time, it's actually going to happen. I'm also really interested in this grant thing. I figure, getting the $5,000 grant I'm applying for would let me drop one of the three jobs I'm working to make ends meet, which would give me a lot more time to finish Elysium. But why stop there? The Canada Council Grants exist specifically to help Canadian talen establish themselves in the field. Only problem is, you have to be "pro" to apply. Hence the determination to get published this year. Money to quit a job and get a computer that actually supports modern office software without crashing would be a definite plus.
The fitness thing is purely personal. Back before OAC, I could never get a job, so I spent my afternoons (or mornings, in the summer), doing step aerobics. I lost a ton of weight (down to a size 5) and gained a ton of energy. Then, in University, there wasn't room, time, or privacy to do them, and I worked full time during the summers, which made it impossible to do step without shoving my family out of the one common room of the house. So that was out. But now, my really weird schedule leaves me time to do it 5 days of the week, and I'm sick of the fatigue and heart palpitations (they tend to go away when I'm in shape), and I realized there was nothing stopping me from picking it up again. I'm using muscles I hadn't remembered I had, which is pissing them off to no end (they're complaining loudly at the moment), but I feel really good about what I'm doing.
As for what I'm doing with my life, I still don't know. I'm not sure that grad school is what I want to do anymore, but I don't know what I do want to do. If I could get hired at the museum full time to do what I volunteer for I'd be singing, but that's not about to happen -- they have more than enough volunteers. Still, Amanda is putting me in charge of feeding the snake we're getting (I have a weakness for snakes -- particulary 4-foot constrictors like pine snakes), so I'm doing something right.
This life thing is harder than I thought it was going to be.
( 4:00 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
AAAAAARGGHHHH!!!!!Now don't get me wrong, my roommates are nice guys, but they're about as sharp as a bag of hammers. I went downstairs to get some of my gift basket fruit, only to find that they had eaten it all out of the bag that was CLEARLY MARKED WITH MY INITIALS!!!!! ::pant, pant:: Pie-eating Boy admitted to taking an orange an an apple, but that still leaves two oranges, two apples, and two pears unaccounted for. I got two apples, a pear, and an orange. They may feel guilty enough to replace them (though he-who-shall-remain-nameless still hasn't shown any regret over the pie), but the fact that this was nice gift fruit I was really looking forward to just makes it worse. This isn't fair. You can't win with common sense, you can't win with explicit labelling. I'd demand my little fridge back from my brother if he didn't need it so badly.
Man, I need chocolate.... Maybe I'll splurge and make chocolate strawberries. And label each one of them "Sarah" in contrasting colours of chocolate...although they'd probably eat them and then say "Oh, sorry, we thought that was just to let us know they were from you." Honestly, if these guys are typical examples of their gender, I don't see any hope for the human race.
( 1:21 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Bank stuffSo, they've completed their investigation and determined that it wasn't me spending the thousands of dollars this week. The wonderful Tara has unfrozen my account for me and nullified the fake deposit dickweed made. Unfortunately, she can't nullify the withdrawals until they get a signed and notarized affadavit from me stating that I didn't make them, which means that until they mail it to me, I get it notarized, and I courier it back (they're nice enough to cover the notary and the courier), I'm several hundred dollars in the red. So Tara bumped up my overdraft by a couple thousand. ::sighs:: At least PC is looking out for me.
And, as I figure some Karmic balance is owed to me after this whole financial fiasco, I'm applying for a $5,000 grant available only to emerging writers in the Toronto area. Makes me think of some sort of nature show. "And here, we see the rare Torontonian Writer emerging from its chrysalis..."
( 1:00 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, January 12, 2002
I have to wait until SEPTEMBER for Eternity Row????Damn, and I thought waiting for Holly's books was going to be bad!
No, patience is not my strong point. :o)
( 12:51 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, January 11, 2002
You're a dull boy, Billy...Living in this house takes a great deal of patience. I've ranted about the constant battle against mind-boggling messes that I have to put up with, but yesterday really drove home something that Emily and I have been observing -- the boys aren't very smart. Oh, yes, they're all very intelligent, but they can be prone to very stupid, self-interested acts. For example, yesterday I went to the grocery store with the money Dad gave me for food and necessities while my account is locked (Tara is hoping to have it cleared up by three today). I had some money left over, so I decided to buy a fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie. Strawberry-rhubarb is one of my favourite taste combinations in the world (tied with ginger pear), and I have a weakness for strawberry-rhubarb pie (though it never comes close to the kind Granny used to make).
I brought it home and thought to myself, "Self, you really don't need an entire pie." So I divided the pie in half and cut one half into four equal pieces, one for each roommate. The uncut half was mine. I left a note on the pie which said: "Hi Guys! Help yourselves to one of the pre-cut pieces of pie. There's one each, so if you don't want a piece, let me know and I'll pass it along. Enjoy!" A little later on, I took a quarter of my remaining half for myself. For those keeping track, there were now 5 "pieces" in the pie plate - 1/8, 1/8, 1/8, 1/8 of the pie for my roommates, and 3/8 of the pie remaining from my half. When I went back to the kitchen later for an apple, I looked at the plate. The 3/8 chunk was missing (the other 4 pieces still neatly in a row). I went upstairs, and as I passed a certain roommate's room, he said, "Thanks for the pie, Sarah." When I pointed out that I did in fact mean that he was to have taken one of the pre-cut pieces, and not my half of the pie, he said, "Oh. But it was all by itself."
Assuming, for the moment, that I was silly enough to make one of the pieces I cut for my roommates THREE TIMES the size of the others, WHO EATS 3/8 OF A PIE IN ONE SITTING????? ::smacking head against wall::
This is only the latest in a string of "WHY???" moments (one of the other memorable ones being when I posted a note yesterday asking whoever drank my milk, which had "SKIM" written on the bag in large red letters, to replace it, another note went up saying "is that the bag labelled skim? Because there weren't initials on it, and if there aren't initials, I assume it's okay to have some -- not that I drank your milk, it's gross!", this despite the fact that we established at the beginning of the year that I'm the only one in the house who drinks skim milk (I can't drink 2%) and that it would always be in my elephant jug.). We need desperately to sit down and have a meeting, before someone ends up seriously hurt over this.
( 10:07 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, January 10, 2002
We meet again, Mr. Bond...I just spent the last hour assembling the chair my Dad brought for me today. I'm probably more proud of myself than the situation warrants, but it's a great chair and I put it together myself, despite the repeated droppings of the Allen key. It's a great chair. One of those big high ones with the tall backs, great for spinning around in, with your fingers steepled and your elbows on the arm rests (or, alternatively, stroking some sort of lizard, or better yet, a platypus), and saying "So, we meet again, Mr. Bond." And then laughing maniacally.
( 6:29 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
But not the PCF peopleI went down to the PCF Kiosk at Loblaws today, and spent a very painless 15 minutes getting a new bank card. I feel obliged to mention that it was a marked contrast to the incredibly painful 30 minutes I spent on the phone with Scotiabank this morning trying to find out where they put my loan payments, only to be told it's my problem, good bye (I then spent another painless 10 minutes on the phone with PCF, who promised to get the problem sorted out in a couple days). Then, when I got home, Tara (the very nice woman in charge of my case) called. They're hard at work tracking down where I was and comparing it to the activity on my account (nice, sensible observations like, "okay, you've never owned a car, so I'm guessing that wasn't you spending $40 at Petro Canada"), which left me very optimistic that I'm going to come out of this all right. She's trying to get my account up and running again by the weekend, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Let me just say again that I love the people at PC Financial.
( 5:01 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, January 09, 2002
People SuckSo, apparently someone somehow got a copy of my bank card, and between Monday night and now, has been making fake deposits (empty envelopes) and withdrawing thousands of dollars (which don't exist -- note to bank-card theives -- recent university students are pretty worthless targets) from my account. The account will be frozen while they investigate, so for the next few days or so, all I have in the way of money is what I have here -- which is about $5 worth of change.
I'm just glad that PC Financial thought to call me and check the activity out. If this'd gone on longer, it would have been impossible to figure out which transactions were mine or not. Thank God I decided not to go shopping yesterday....
...Ooh, and I've just discovered that Scotiabank has misplaced several hundred dollars worth of my loan payments for the SECOND TIME IN THREE MONTHS!
Can't we just go back to the barter system?
( 5:03 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Into the Woods...Well, there's been a change in my metaphor. I'm not standing at that crossroads anymore. A very wonderful person (a forest ranger for the sake of the metaphor) came up to me, snatched the map from my hands, turned it the right way up and folded it properly, and poonted me down the road.
(Poont, for those of you who are not Elliotts, is the technical term for the noise kicking someone in the butt makes)
I'm still not entirely sure how I'm going to get where I'm going, and there will be other forks in the road, but now, at least, I know it's possible to get there.
( 9:45 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 07, 2002
Okay, all I can say is
Thank God for very mad women with very big hearts!
( 10:56 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Am I Standing Still?Took my brother out for dinner tonight, and heard that Jewel song, Standing Still, on the radio. I still can't understand the rest of the words, but damn, that chorus gets to me. That sort of sums up where my life feels right now. I'm stuck between undergrad and grad school, and now that the road I thought I was on shifted and plunked me back at the crossroads, I'm not even sure that grad school is what I want to do anymore. I want to get on with my writing, but I'm not sure how, and it doesn't help that I'm still stuck in the "you should have a real job and keep this hobby where it is" mindset my parents shoved on me when I was twelve (don't get me wrong, I love my parents, but they ended up doing jobs they now hate and are struggling financially, and want me to "make something of" myself). My self confidence was effectively decimated by two Very Bad Men at that same time, and I'm still working on building that up (I'm much better than I was, but I still have moments of paralyzing self-doubt).
Basically, I can't move back, and I don't know which way to move forward, so for the moment, I'm standing still. Trying to figure out where my life is going. And this darn map won't fold properly.
( 10:55 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Ice, Ice BabyNight before last, it snowed. Yesterday, the temperature rose, and all that snow turned to slush. Then, this morning, temperature dropped again, coating the roads and sidewalks with a thin sheet of ice. Then, this afternoon, the sun came out and melted the very top layer, so we were walking/driving on ice covered by a thin sheet of water.
Welcome to Toronto, where walking is an adventure...
( 10:48 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Saturday, January 05, 2002
Damn...My temperature is spiking -- just broke 100 -- and I'm losing my voice. Just when you thought it was safe to consider yourself better... Looks like I'm spending tomorrow morning at the clinic. Again. Man, I bet they're getting sick of me. I miss tylenol...
( 12:15 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Surreal...I've just done a search on yahoo and google for Sarah Jane Elliott. Normally (stop laughing, yes, I do this often), all this gets me are a couple hits on some woman who died in the 1800s. Well, I don't just get that woman anymore. I get me. A lot.
( 12:07 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 01, 2002
Watch For Falling T'sI think the adhesive has come off one of my T's again. I'm doing my semi-monthly, do-I-have-to cleaning of my files, and there are SO many misspellings of my name that I can only conclude the T at the end of my name keeps getting knocked off, and the glue I used to stick it back on isn't holding properly. My bank statement is spelled Elliot, as is my cell phone bill (which, to add insult to injury, has me listed as "Mr. Sara Jane Elliot"), my Lightner Grant notification, half of my Christmas cards (including one for a friend who is well aware that one of the T's is loose and should really know better), and my Asimov subscription (came with the award, also Sara Elliot).
I always thought that Elliott looked the most balanced. Eliot is too short, and Elliot or Eliott look like they're going to tip the page over so all the letters fall off. And yes, there is a difference -- the Elliots and Eliots were the ones who used to own the castles and manors in Scotland -- the Elliotts were the ones who hid in bushes, mugged them, and took their castles and manors. :o)
( 9:14 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Happy New Year!All my new years greetings are away (yes, I do have a thing for Froud paintings). It was fun, spending New Year's in chat, though I do hope that this year I'll find someone to spend next New Year's with. :o)
And after six hours of that stupid song on Monday, it's finally out of my head!
( 7:35 PM ) Sarah Jane ~