Rewriting God

Rewriting God

Reimagining God as a lover, a friend, a kind hand to hold. Reimagining God as one who does not punish, but only forgives. That’s what I’m thinking. Up til now, the God of punishment, quick to anger, quick to banish. And the priests have been saying, and the Pope, “you’re going to heaven, stop imagining hell, God forgives, God loves.”

That’s what I’m thinking as I walk down from 59th st bc I have time to kill before the show.

Take 57th across town. I like to walk down 5th. I like to see the gowns in the windows.

Attention drawn by Piaget, by Versace.

Fast fashion abounds elsewhere, where high price tags do not result in quality manufacture, fabric.

Listening, this whole time. Buds in my ears. This podcast I found. This new idea factory, futurism.

Fascinating. Taking charge of our own future. What do we want it to be? How do we define we? Is there a we who is in it together?

Are we we or am I just me, singular, watching the assholes– fine, maybe they’re not assholes– snapping selfies of themselves w Trump Tower in the background. That’s not we, man, that’s no we I can get with.

I walk fast past. I don’t want to walk slow with these people, with their crying children, with their shopping bags, consuming 5th Avenue, consuming the spectacle.

Good God get me past. Cross over.

More slow pokes. Remember an old friend who would scream at the slowies, who would shudder and move aside and let us all pass. And we’d laugh and laugh.

Who am I now? Would I laugh? Would I scream? Would I push past?

I don’t.

Who I am now is hiding out.

I’m not answering calls. I am immersed in my own consciousness, and prospecting ideas of what we could be. If you want to meet up tell me where to be. I can only deal in a physical space.

Snapping pictures, more people, even slower, up a set of stone steps to get around them. What is this place where people congregate?

I looks up. It’s St Patrick’s. That grand cathedral in midtown. So spectacular w pomp and glory. So beautiful and glorious and under construction. 

I head on in.

I know what to do. I bless myself with holy water. I genuflect to the altar. I make my way around to the Stations of the Cross. Glory be.

I’ve never been here, it turns out, it is not in my memory. I can’t find relics of it there, old bones of worship buried under decades of books, experiences, good looking men.

The stations of the cross. How he fell, oh how he fell. How his mother watched. That wretched woman. I remember my experience at the Vatican. The memory of the Pieta brings tears to that place behind my eyes. But I damn them, they are dammed, the won’t fall without permission, and I won’t give it.

Mass is starting, and I know all the responses.

I genuflect, I take a seat, I hear the opening pitch: give generously to the two collection baskets, give generously to pay for the ongoing construction of the glorious church. 

But I’m saving my cash for the pass-the-hat at the show. And I don’t want to hear the gospels explained in the context of these touring parishioners in midtown. And I already feel the guilt at missing mass at my church this morning, because instead I made waffles and listened to my son reading aloud to me– under duress, but still, he read.

I step out into the glaring gray day, the window of Sacks Fifth Avenue bright and inviting.

I think this: the sons of Abraham. The big three: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. I think of these three altars: Trump Tower, St Pats, Sacks. The three pillars of power that leave all us plebes clambering for access, for approval, for shit to fill our colons with. 

All this mess.

I walk south.

I succumb, at Sephora, at the alter of appearances, and get some spritzer for my hair.

I drink at the bar, spritzer for my head.

I’m disconnecting.

I’m seeking out by looking inward, toward the universe.

Sorry if I’ve been out of touch.


Stockbridge to Boston

That James Taylor song he wrote for his baby nephew, I sang it to my son the other night at bedtime. I’d heard the song on line at the grocery store, and had tried not to get choked up as I laid my items on the conveyor belt. At bedtime I looked up the lyrics and sang it to C. I thought, I managed not to cry at the check-out, perhaps I will not cry now. But I did. My voice wavered, my eyes stung, I couldn’t go on for a minute.

“Why are you crying Mommy?” C asked, tears starting in his eyes. I make him sad, and I don’t mean to. I wonder at the sadness that wells up in him, just under the surface of the expressive, effervescent joy. When it bubbles up to the surface, I recognize it as the thick, sticky tar sadness that bubbles up in me. I talk to him about acknowledging when he is sad, expressing it, understanding it, and finally controlling it, so that he can rule his emotions instead of be ruled by them.

“This part always makes me cry,” I said. Now the first of December was covered with snow, So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston, the Berkshires looked dreamlike on account of that frostin’, with 10 miles behind me, and ten thousand more to go.

In my head like a film with this song as the soundtrack is me in my father’s car driving south down the highway to New Haven, CT. We pull into the parking lot of a McDonald’s, and through the window in the cold evening I can see me, about the same age as C, eating a Happy Meal with my father and mother. I don’t know if it happened like that, if we sat together in the booth, the cold kept at bay by big glass windows, condensation in long drips down the inside. I don’t know if I smiled or laughed or wished for anything. The film cuts, the film skips the goodbyes, and I am out again in the car, my mother’s car this time, and we are heading out of New England to New York, in her car, rented or borrowed, and my father turns north to go home. The switch-off, the bounce from one parent to another, the dream of the northeast corridor, its bluster, its flurries.

I tell C this memory, and that it is this memory that is summoned by the lyric, the atmosphere of those New England highways in the cold, the feel of the car barely gripping the frost-burned asphalt. He identifies the players in my story– Grandma, and Grandpa, and me. I don’t know why my parents’ split seems to get harder for me to deal with as I get older. It makes no sense. It is a long, established split, other than those early Happy Meals and the odd couple of times over the years, I do not remember seeing them together, I certainly have no memory of their being married. When I was in primary school a guidance counselor asked me how I was dealing with my parents divorce and I gave some serious side-eye when I replied “ummm they’ve been divorced my whole life, there’s nothing to deal with.”

It must have something to do with watching my son grow. So many things do. After I tell him this memory, I sing him the song again. But there are no tears this time. It’s tamping down the sadness that gives it power, and telling, with tears, that sets it free.

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Us in the snowy backyard of our Bk apartment

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How to sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *for Parts at Frigid Fest

How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby**for Parts

directed by Michele Travis

starring Ali Ayala & Libby Emmons

dramaturg Brad Rothbart

because in the new America, everything is up for grabs

Join us at Frigid Festival, 02/13/16-03/04/16

Tickets: $20

SHOWTIMES: Saturday 02/18 6:40 pm; Monday 02/20 7:10 pm; Saturday 02/25 8:20 pm; Monday 02/27 10:30 pm; Saturday 03/04 3:20 pm

The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery, NYC

press release

Winner of the Festival of the Offensive’s “Most Offensive” award in 2013, the ladies of puss&puss are back with a revamped, retooled, reTrumped, How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *for Parts.

A one of a kind dark comedy about a Trump-loving, life-affirming intern who gets knocked up the hard way, and the HR reps who are determined to get her out of it. In How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *for Parts, Libby and Ali are HR reps determined to save the world, one unwanted baby at a time.

Get in touch with our research via this handy bibliography.

Thanks to Christopher Guerrero for our graphic.

Why Immigration

Why Immigration

Immigration is essential for the success of the American experiment. The whole point of American democracy, and the documents that enumerate it, is that this form of governance, this outlining of rights, holds primacy over all other factors.

Can America be America if everyone speaks Spanish, has brown skin, recognizes multiple genders, and worships according to the tenets of myriad religions? Yes, so long as the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights are upheld, the people hold free elections, and the system of checks and balances are still in place.

America is not a country held together by the uniformity of its inhabitants, it is a country based on rights and equality, whether or not we always live up to our highest expectations or meet our goals. That’s what makes America stand out among democracies worldwide. We are our principles, we are our rights, or we are nothing.

That’s what I went to Washington, with all these other people, to say.

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short list of things I want

In the spirit of cleaning house of those objects that do not produce joy, I am endeavoring to clean heart and mind of those things that I want. I don’t want to want these things. I don’t want to want any things at all. I want to not want but to pursue.

Alex Arcadia made a painting some years ago that is a portrait of Andy Warhol in homage to Andy’s own style. He’s there popping out on a background of the Empire State Building on a background of an abstract color field, which Alex had found on the street.

It’s called He Could Crush It If He Wanted. I’ve thought about that title almost as much as I’ve looked at the piece, and since it hangs in my house and has done since… well for a good long time, that’s alot. At first glance, it reads more like “he could crush it if he wanted to,” but as time has gone by, it’s read more like “he could crush it if he had any want.” Does he want? Does he yearn? If not things, is there a want, perhaps to crush it?

It’s the last day of the Obama presidency, the last day, for at least four years, that I will be able to have respect and admiration for America’s Commander in Chief. Remembering back to when Bush the Younger was president, I didn’t think much of his efforts, but I did believe that he beleived he was working in the best interests of the country, even though I thought he was doing it all wrong. This guy, this new guy, I don’t think it’s ever occured to him to act in the best interests of anyone other than his own self. I mean, do you?

The other thing is that the things, the objects, that I want, when I go look at them to consider if I might like to purchase them, I just start to think about how they will end up in some giant pile of garbage someplace. Do I really want the end result of my endless wants to be the tip of a trash heap to be sorted through by orphans and elderly alike in a far off coastal continent? Or to whirl and twist in the grip of the north Pacific garbage gyre? What does fulfillment of want of things produce other than a quick gasp of pleasure and then waste?

In an effort to clear my heart of wants so that I, too, can crush it, here is a short list of things I want:

iphone 7

those wireless airpod earbud deals

new boots

a new northface windbreaker/shell, the one I have now I got in Aspen when I was 13, and it’s still great, but y’know, I could do w a new one

a 3 family house in brooklyn so we can live in the parlor level and rent out two apts

more time to read novels

forks– they always seem to go missing

cereal bowls

trees

a kitchen aid stand mixer in a bright yellow w a bread paddle attachment

a new ipad, bc everyone needs one, yeah? mine’s from 2010

more bookshelves

a bigger bathroom

a little black dress and a slimmer body to fit into it

less age, more bone density

a ski trip

cash

more of my favorite pens

a lovely hike

a magic spa vacation

time

a Ph.D, so I can have the full set

a nap

new jeans

leggings

a new sweater, bc the two suitcases full of sweaters in my closet that I don’t wear aren’t enough

cheese

to not generate quite so much household trash

a mega terabyte external hard drive (okay, I bought that)

curtain rods that fit my bedroom curtains

for one of my bedroom windows, that is stuck, to open

ice cream

cocktails

a big party in my honor

a better president

universal access to better education

for education to not be all about child management

clean water

peace

kindness

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He Could Crush It If He Wanted, by Andy Warhol

 

OMG homework you guys

Omg homework you guys.

My son is 6 years old. That’s first grade. And he gets a shit ton of homework. By a shit ton I mean a wicked lot. He’s only got 11 years before he has to apply for college, so I know he’s got to bone up, but spelling social studies math and ongoing projects plus cramming for tests every night? Like rlly?

We did the park a little bit ago, w another mom and her kids, pre k and k, respectively. Her kids go to a Catholic school (my kid used to go there but we were asked to not come back), and she said the homework came home in mountains of little indecipherable worksheets. Another mom overheard, her kids at the local PS (that’s primary school for all you not-Yorkers), and she said the same was true. The kids all have these backpacks stuffed with worksheets and workbooks and test prep and ongoing projects.

Will the educational administrators not be happy until the children’s little minds are all made out of ticky-tacky and all look just the same?

So let’s riff–

Child labor, right? That used to be a big deal in the Gilded Age, in the late 1800’s early 1900’s, and as the water in the harbor rose (ala JFK’s speech about the boats) the people spoke out. They said, and I paraphrase: let’s stop treating children like small underpaid poorly performing easily disposable adults, and let them have this wacky thing called childhood! Educate them, play w them, let them chill, God they’re just kids.

Good plan. They had those hoop things they could wack w a stick so they rolled down streets, there were jacks and hopscotch and mud pies. If my kid had time for mud pies I would eat them w a spoon. Now everyone is so obsessed w achievement that kindergarten is the new first grade, pre k is the new kindergarten, and the womb is the new nursery school. Women w wombs full of babies get together to play classical music and read great Russian novels to their womb ensconced babies en masse.

I will not hold my own childhood up as a paragon of play based learning perfection, but I will say that it wasn’t until junior high (Hanover Jr High represent) that I started thinking about my grades. My kid gets 4/8 on his spelling test and I get notes home about increasing Dept of Ed services. Dude, I want to tell his teacher and the school admin minions, are we testing the kid’s knowledge? Ability to study? Ability to learn? Ability to focus on what you want him to focus on right this second wo letting his mind wander? Ability to take a test? Ability to be managed?

What are we testing? Looks to me like we’re testing how sleep deprived the child can be and still walk to school without falling into slush puddles from exhaustion. Last night? Up until 9 trying to write a report on Jimmy Carter, due tomorrow. On Friday he’s got a report due about what he would do if he didn’t have a television. Dude, please. The answer is: the same shit I’m doing even though I do have a tv: homework.

What I am attempting to make clear is that we did not abolish child labor and embrace those fleeting imaginative years of childhood only so that we could manufacture children to be managed by educational managerial systems designed to enhance classroom efficiency, ensure merit based raises, and rank schools according to test scores. No worksheet encourages a child to explore his own mind, no workbook releases the wily dragons of the imagination. I had a mom tell me the other day that if she could do it over again she would have worked less when her kids were coming up. She didn’t realize that big kids need their moms on hand as much as babies do. I’m doing my damndest to be on hand, available, on the floor playing legos, giving room for autonomous play, and instead were up half the night doing homework.

Is the homework itself difficult concept wise? Not particularly. Is he being asked to do shit he isn’t capable of doing academic wise? Not so much. The hardest part of homework is sitting down, forcing the mind to force the hand to hold the pencil, forcing the mind to force itself to think about the logic of the worksheet, the spelling, the Jimmy Carter, the hypothetical. The hard part is bending one’s will to make it happen.

Why oh why is the goal of homework to force the child to bend their will to the not super hard but not super interesting task at hand? It is so that from educational mills emerge children who believe it is their duty to lend their mind, skills, and bodies to the meaningless tasks of commerce. Isn’t being subjected to #cubelife while #adulting enough? Do we really have to prepare for that shit?

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we rode the subway

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we played w baby toys and built the baby a small house out of giant foam floor tiles

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we snapchatted

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we selfied

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we had movie night and watched Back to the Future which was super fun actually and I don’t know why I didn’t smile

We scored on you, Mommy!

New Year’s Day in South Brooklyn–
Out in the park I recline on a bench and read my iBook while my kid rides around on his balance bike. By all account he should be on to the big kid bike by now, but between not being able to find the tire pump and C worrying that Arcee* will feel sad to be abandoned, he’s still on the little red bike. He pushes off w his feet and coasts around the rubber paved race track.

He’s trying to get into a game w two other boys, but the boys are brothers, and no one, not kid not grown person, is as outgoing as my son. He feels a little shut out when I recognize the boys’ mom. We used to do the bus together down 3rd Ave, she taking hers to their school, me taking mine to his. She’s friendly. Turned up nose. The whole family is there, the kids are running around w their dad. 

Chatting moms make kid inclusion mandatory and soon all three boys are playing together, sharing some remote control cars the boys got for Christmas. All C has is a Hot Wheels car. This was an unplanned park trip. At the last minute Sunday morning I realized it was Sunday morning and hauled us off to church, which is only a block from the big park, and C demanded we go. Tit for tat, but unprepared. Good thing he’d rode Arcee.

The dad pulls out a ball and they get a soccer game up on the basketball court. We’re a few goals in before I realize these parents are actually playing. C decides I should be the goalie for the grown up team. I stand beneath the net and take selfies, when a kid comes toward me, driving the lane, I think they call it, and suddenly I fear for my dignity. The kid is 7, and he’s totally going for it.

I put my phone in my pocket and prepare to react. I block the shot! I’m pleased w myself, but he gets it back quick and takes another. I am not able to defend the goal. The mom looks at me all disappointed. I can’t face the husband. It’s clear he’s not ready for the thing that happens bw fathers and sons where for the first time ever the son beats the father at something and the primacy of masculinity changes hands.

“We scored on you, Mommy!” My son says gleefully, astride his balance bike. I laugh big. Yeah, that’s my kid, the one who plays soccer while riding a bike. 

My son’s dad is all into sports, and C is not so much. I think if you’d asked Dave, before Mr Child was born, how he’d feel if his son was not all into sports, he may have said he’d be disappointed. But as it turns out, he’s got so much love and respect for his son that the only thing that matters to him is that C is kind, considerate, and making use of his own gifts. It’s a whole thing to adjust to your kid. There is no Platonic ideal against which we ought measure our son. He is no table. Instead there is giving the room and support so that when he jumps, he knows he will always come down on solid ground.

*his balance bike, named for the only motorcycle Transformer character, also the only girl character