Archive | July, 2015

Zooming Out, The Cleaving, and the Never Ending Universe

24 Jul

We start with gratitude.

Many thanks to Red Fez for publishing Better Luck Next Year and to Misfit Magazine for taking my short poem I Don’t Feel Like a Fighter Today

Without small presses I couldn’t share. Unable to share, I would be trapped.

Mute. And probably rather terrified.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

452b_artistconcept_comparisonwithearth

We found a planet yesterday and since then, it’s pretty much all I have been thinking about.

There’s a game that I play, that I’ve played since I was a kid.

I call it Zooming Out.

It’s a simple game. You picture yourself from above.

Here is Ally, sitting on the stone ledge. You zoom out.

Here is the ledge at the library. You zoom out.

Here is the library on Eastern Parkway. Zoom out.

Here is Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn

Brooklyn on the end of that long island

That long island at the end of the state

NY State in the country

The country on the planet

The planet hanging in space in the solar system

The solar system a mote of dust in the wide sweeping arm of the milky way

and then the milky way, just a cluster of stars and hearts and lives; a little speck in the universe.

Here is the never ending universe.

Zooming out.

I am so small and it is so big.

On my walk home yesterday, the setting sun casting the sky in a perfect perfect vanilla and red swirl, I thought about this new planet. About our planet hanging out there in space, filled with all our noise. Everyone who has ever lived or who will ever live, has lived on this speck of a planet (so said Carl Sagan). And out there all those other planets, alone, maybe inhabited, unable to talk or find another planet to reach.

All of us feeling alone together.

This new earth they found is too far for us to ever reach, spectacularly existing.

I have been thinking about the Cleaving lately. About the separation of mind and body that happened with my cancer diagnosis. About the blame. About how I have raced through the litany of questions. Did I eat the wrong things? Did I drink too much? Did I not exercise enough? Do I just have bad luck? Is it a gene they haven’t found? Am I being punished? Could I have worked harder? Been more careful? More honest? More better?

All the time I heave my heavy heart onto the silver cold scales for weighing and judging. Each month when I go to the doctors for treatment, I am again assessed. Have I lost enough weight? Is my estrogen low enough? Is it enough? Am I doing enough?

And these are all questions to avoid the big question:

Will my cancer come back?

This is my mind. This is not my body.

My body is a different thing. A thing that only gets center stage at times. Like when I run. Because then I am only water, blood, sinew, tissue, bone, good hard strong bone, muscle, jelly organs, cells. A pumping functioning complex machine of a thing.

And this is how it has been since last last June.

My mind OR my body.

Never both. This is the Cleaving.

Except the other day, I was outside and after writing in my journal, I laid down on the stone ledge, music in my ears, a woman’s voice, the strum of guitar and it started to rain. Not a lot. Just a little bit, the kind of rain that feels like little tiny kisses everywhere.

And it happened.

I was IN my body. My mind found my body, like a reunion of sorts. I could feel the air, the rain, I could hear the little singing woman in my ears, I was no longer two things.

I was just Ally again. The two halves lined up like they used to – like they were always meant to do.

It was brief but it happened.

It makes me think that it could happen again.

That my mind and my body – like two planets – will find a way to communicate. To bridge all that empty space in between.

10259931_10203697723985843_5187828237787614918_n

This Is Sarah Turns One

13 Jul

Hi kids

So here we are….in the middle of July already.

Crazy.

Back on July 4th, THIS IS SARAH turned 1.

this is sarah

Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.

The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters, and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.

Jesus fucking Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.

It’s weird to me that this book has been around for a year because it feels so much shorter and then oddly enough so much longer. I was reading through my old journal the other day – seeing what I was up to this time last year…as if I forgot.

One month into diagnosis, my cancer still a secret from my parents, my father crazy sick in the hospital and my first (of three) surgeries looming on the horizon – the only thing that was holding me upright (aside from my husband and sisters) was working on Sarah.

I know that writing is never “effortless” but there are those times where a story wants to be told so badly that it really helps you out in the unfolding. That was Sarah. And thank god for it. Because it was the only time during the day, at 5 am squirreled into my little writing closet, that CANCER wasn’t everything. It’s like my brain shut the fuck up for awhile and just let me work. I’m eternally thankful for that.

Art saves.

If you haven’t read it and you’re interested, here’s what people think and here’s where you can get it. Or email me and I can get it to you. Contact is under the About tab.

In other news, I’ve got some poems published here, here and here. So thanks to Eye on Life and Yellow Chair Review for giving them a home.

tumblr_msphu7TT7Z1qz72w7o1_500

Writing on the new book is going surprisingly well. I’m acknowledging that so that when I get to the stage where I’m all “EVERYTHING IS SO AWFUL WHY DO I WRITE I HATE LIFE” I can look back and remember it didn’t always feel that way. I think part of it is that it’s based on semi-true events (During high school I fell off a waterfall, cracked my skull open and simultaneously got my heart broken) and the characters are semi-based on real people. Also I feel like emotionally, a large chunk of me still lives in that time – when I was sixteen and fucked up and everything I couldn’t say but wanted to could be put into a mixtape. Music spoke for me.

Wound up having an interesting conversation when I posted about the art of making a mixtape and how playlists just aren’t the same. As a friend pointed out, you can make a list on spotify but once someone hits shuffle it messes up your continuity. With a mixtape you were THERE, you were IN, from start to finish. There was an art to it. It was a thing that was crafted with love for a specific person. They were the audience. It mattered what song followed which song.

AND it mattered what sort of tape you used. TDK? Maxell? Memorex? A great mix on a good quality tape? That was love. Real love.

First love.

Like, I said, it’s just not the same with a playlist. Something has been lost in the translation.

At the same time I’ve been working on my query letter for Palimpsest with the always incredible Brad Abraham, screenwriter, creator of the comic Mixtape and the soon to be released Magicians Impossible (St. Martin’s Press). You want to know what I’ve learned so far?

It’s much easier to write a 113K word novel combining physics, Nietzsche, chess, time travel and memory over the course of 5 (ahem) years than it is to write a 300 word query explaining it. I should have started this bloody thing when I started the novel. Basically the problem is that a query is full of all the stuff that your writing instinct says “don’t do.” Like asking a question and then answering it. Things like this:

“So WILL Ally ever learn how to write a decent punchy query that agents will actually want to read? Probably when she’s done banging her head against the wall.”

Brad has been unendingly patient as we go through draft after draft after draft after draft after……

And finally, because it’s time, this is going to be my summer.

Toronto-Book-Fair-Ulysses

As the kids say,

StiflerPeace, love and starbursts,

Ally

%d bloggers like this: