Archive | March, 2015

Hodgepodge (with gifs)

26 Mar

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Hi.

Let’s just jump right in shall we?

First off, I’m very thankful to have three poems up at Drunk in a Midnight Choir. They’re new to me and it’s always exciting to find such a cool new poetry blog.

In other amazing science news, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are probably going to find a parallel world.

Mir Faizal, one of the three-strong team of physicists behind the experiment, said: “Just as many parallel sheets of paper, which are two-dimensional objects [breadth and length] can exist in a third dimension [height], parallel universes can also exist in higher dimensions.

“We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes can be produced at the LHC.

“Normally, when people think of the multiverse, they think of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, where every possibility is actualised.

“This cannot be tested and so it is philosophy and not science.

“This is not what we mean by parallel universes. What we mean is real universes in extra dimensions.

This is amazing to me because the multiverse and the many-words interpretation of quantam mechanics is a huge part of my sci-fi book, Palimpsest. Basically I now assume that my bad guy is…..you know what…..nevermind.

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Speaking (or not) of Palimpsest….you know the scifi book that has tortured me for years and years and years and so many words and plot issues and WHAT’S HAPPENING WHAT IS LIFE ANYWAY…..well, I finished. Like really truly finished. 114,714 written and re-written and re-written words later the book is finished.

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And after I pulled my face up off the floor I put a call out on facebook to see if anyone would be interested in being a beta reader. And the response was wonderful and right now 8 real live people are reading or planning to read this book.

So that’s totally exciting. And not at all making me anxious.

Not even a little bit.

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And while I calmly and not at all nervously wait on their responses, I’ve been putting together the How To Be An American manuscript. I have no idea what I’m doing in terms of order so I thought that if I listed them by subject it might help.

Subjects include: sexism, racism, police, Ugly Americans traveling, holidays, family, death, American exceptionalism, suburbia, homophobia and xenophobia.

Guess I’ll never be running for president.

After that’s done…I don’t know what’s next. Probably the Waterfall book. Though I have been toying with the idea of expanding Vital – the short story set in space that I wrote for my friends Eirik and Monica –  into a full story. Really stark. Isolating. Sparse kind of thing.

But before all of that, I get to go spend two weeks in Germany and Prague. I can’t freaking wait. I think one of the worst parts of this cancer diagnosis is that I haven’t traveled anywhere in over a year. Not counting trips to family upstate, I’ve been stuck in new york city for a lot longer than I like. And the thing is, traveling is what I DO. The way other people parent or teach or knit or whatever. I travel. I need to travel as much as I need to write. So this trip, will finally feel like a return to the life I used to have before it was ransacked.

That will be nice. New normal.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

Mid-Month Round Up

13 Mar

How is it already the middle of March? What just happened? Where am I?

Okay so mid-month round-up, here we go:

1. Many thanks to Camel Saloon for publishing Humiliation Heap as a part of the International Women’s Day issue. There are tons and tons of good writers in here so please, take a minute to have your mind blown. Unlike some other poems this one is VERBATIM from a conversation I had during radiation. #FuckCancer

2. And many many many thanks to Clockwise Cat for putting together this MASSIVE incredible FemmeWise. Femmewise is the feminist rag to end all feminist rags. The fine kittens at Clockwise not only took a few How To Be An American poems, but they also accepted a little ranty thing I wrote about why Beat Women are largely cut out of modern day interpretations. I thought we were past the lobotomizing, kids (I’m looking at you, Hollywood).

I never get non-fiction published so I’m especially psyched about that.

3. Finally many, many, many, many thanks to Red Fez for accepting Purple Socks and Sonogram. You guys rock.

In other news, my sad little book, This Is Sarah got a shout-out from The Honest Book Club:

That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout

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Natalie: Not sure if this is indie, but more people should read it, and that’s ‘Lies We Tell Ourselves‘ by Robin Talley. I recommend that you try this book, it’s wonderfully written and has such a gripping story and heartbreaking moments that really happened in history.

Lexie: So, this isn’t strictly speaking an indie author, because the book was published through a traditional (albeit quite indie) publisher – BookFish Books – but it is nevertheless one that hasn’t gotten enough attention and deserves a shout-out. It is This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko.

Thanks so much guys! Working with BookFish has been incredible, but man, with so many great books out there it’s hard to get a reader’s attention sometimes. Especially with Sarah being a quiet sad book and not a part of a trilogy or a massive sci-fi space opera/dystopic fantasy series. You know, the stuff they make all the movies out of.

Whenever I talk about it I try to be all casual like oh I’ve got this book and….

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But it FEELS like I’m all:

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So when people give shout-outs like that, well it just melts me wee little writer heart.

That’s about it.

Other than the novel revision that hasn’t finished yet.

I wonder how many times I’ve written that sentence.

Never mind, I don’t want to know.

Peace, Love, and Starbursts,

Ally

“Do you know what the problem with living in a fishbowl is? Everyone can see you.”

10 Mar
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“Nothing in life will call upon us to be more courageous than facing the fact that it ends. But on the other side of heartbreak is wisdom.”

I watched Wish I Was Here this weekend, the movie that Zach Braff kickstarted (to much kerfuffle). Much like Garden State it’s overly sentimental with far too many slow-mo montages and a very precious indie rock soundtrack. It’s also funny, charming, unbelievable well cast and heartbreakingly sad.

And it’s very much about cancer.

I can already hear the “Ally, so are lots of things.” Yes, this is true. Cancer is pretty damn pervasive. Since I was diagnosed I’ve read about 4 different novels all of which at some point deal with cancer. And this was certainly not something I was seeking out. It just happened. It’s just there. I get that. Basically if you live long enough, you’re either going to be directly affected or someone you love will.

So this makes cancer a bit different from most other disease. Because if it’s something we can easily connect to on a personal experience level then we are bound to have strong feelings about it.

Let me back up a bit – so I was watching Wish I Was Here this weekend and I had a small panic attack. There was the proverbial death scene and while I wasn’t completely emotional saturated, I felt the walls unhinge and sort of creep up on me. I felt my chest get tight. I felt the panic setting in.

My husband noticed and offered to shut it off, but that felt silly. I can’t censor myself from every cancer/death scene in the world. I’ll never read or watch anything again, right?

This isn’t the first time this happened. The first time was during an episode of Orphan Black. My favorite character Cosima got sick. (No spoilers!)

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I was watching this during a time that my parents were staying with me for my mother’s chemotherapy. The big issue was that they didn’t know about my cancer. I kept it a secret for six months because my mother was scheduled to have a stem cell procedure and I was afraid if she knew about me, she wouldn’t go through with it. (I was right.) So aside from dealing with my own diagnosis and my mother’s illness I was also carrying around this boulder-sized secret. Needless to say when the character Cosima was sick, it was bad for me.

I’ve made an effort to figure out how to keep these things at a distance. How not to feel immediately dismantled by a character’s death in a book or a movie or a television show.

But it’s hard.

And part of why it’s hard is because people have a really significant connection to cancer. Significant connections lead to strong feelings.

Strong feelings, unfortunately can lead to judgement.

This article was published by the New York Times yesterday. It’s about a treatment called cold capping. Cold capping is essentially an option for chemotherapy patients that prevents hair loss by slowing down the metabolic rate in hair follicles reducing the effects of chemotherapy on the scalp. Basically, chemo kills quickly dividing cells, like cancer cells, (good) but also hair follicles and nails (bad).

This treatment is expensive, not covered by insurance, and completely optional. What it does is provide some people with a degree of privacy should they want it. And also a degree of normalcy. You would think that something like this would only be met with appreciation. It’s there for people who want to use it.

That is not the case.

I’m going to post here some of the facebook comments that accompanied the article. To preserve people’s privacy I removed everything but the text which is unchanged.

“My hair was the last thing I was concerned about.”

“Main concern was saving my life!! I’ve met other patients whose value system was as superficial. Could not relate at all.”

“This is like us soldiers liberating internment camps and giving the women in rags makeup.”

Honestly, saving hair should be the last things on your mind. So what if your bald for a little while? You’re beautiful no matter what!”

“I passed on this. My health was more important than my hair.”

“It’s just hair, and thankfully should you become a survivor, it will grow back.”

“It’s just HAIR already! I survived and now have tons of hair, more importantly – lots more LIFE ahead of me!”

“Be a free spirit and don’t give a f#%k”

“Vanity in the face of death. Only in America.”

“I was more concerned with living.”

“Having cancer doesn’t excuse vanity.”

“Vanity knows no bounds”

If you’re surprised by the judgement then you haven’t spent much time in Cancerland.

Angelina Jolie had a preventative mastectomy when she was diagnosed with the BRAC gene. Those who have it (approximately 10% of the population) have an 80% chance of getting breast cancer. Preemptively removing healthy breasts is a terrifying and difficult decision.

These people are collectively referred to as previvors because they are survivors of predispositional cancer.

This too, even in the cancer community, was met with a snort of disgust. On a forum I came across the following quote: “having a predisposition and getting the disease should not be compared.”

Really? Because they both sound pretty damn scary to me. Cancer sucks. Mastectomy sucks. Fearing cancer sucks. Family history sucks. Let ’em in the pink tent. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of room.

Which brings me back to Wish I Was Here. There’s a great line in that movie about being brave. Zach Braff’s character is admonishing his brother for being cowardly in the face of his father’s impending death and he says:

“Do you know what the problem with living in a fishbowl is? Everyone can see you.”

The internet is a fishbowl. Cancer is a fishbowl. Privacy, control, and vanity are not the same thing. You don’t get a special reward for being “only” Stage 1. Trust me. And on the flip-side invasive cancer is not a platform from which you can stand on high and look down on people who don’t want to become a statistic.

Be nice to each other. Life is short. For some, it’s even shorter.

Peace, Love and Starbursts,

Ally

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