@Simonanta’s Ascension

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photo credit Nicolas Emmons

I’ve been writing way more prose than plays of late, and am pleased to announce that I’ve been named:

The Grand Prize Winner in Liberty Island’s 2017 Summer Shock ‘Trigger Warning’ Writing Contest.

You can check out the story here. It’s my absolute favorite thing that I wrote so far in 2017. You can even throw me some virtual coins in the tip jar they have set up.

Venus & Athena

In high school, I got together with some girlfriends and we made a feminist zine. Cut and paste, hand written, photocopied and stapled, we dropped it in the front hall of our school one morning before homeroom. The administration confiscated all the copies by somewhere around second period. Hardly anyone got to see it, and we didn’t do a volume two. I found this copy recently in a box of old letters I’ve saved. We were 16 when we made this. We distributed this anonymously, so I’ve left the names off here, too.

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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