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Swimming with ShArtist

Posted on: March 4, 2010

In the past two days I have participated in a ritual that we all must endure to get higher in our careers, the dance of schmooze, booze and prostrate.  Every week I attend gatherings for a prestigious theatre company who opens its doors to allow a pool of talent to overflow.  Actors and writers swim about the stage chatting hoping to be plucked out of obscurity into shallow waters where there is better lighting. I suddenly feel like the sharks begin to circle and I become kelp, inconsequential.  The following day I go to a wonderful gathering of those who brave to get wet.  Fellow friends and artists boldly navigating the waves of webisodics launched the second season of Live in 5.  In these friendlier waters I could stay afloat because I knew people, people knew me, I was referred to as a writer.

When I mention to people back home, “back home” being a place often called “cow-town”, that I now live in New York City pursuing a career in the arts, I receive many different reactions.  Some punch me in the arm, some scream “You’re so lucky, I hate you,” but most simply say, “Good for you.”  At times it feels like a verbal pat on the head for almost getting a soccer goal and other times it feels more celebratory in a life choice well pursued, yet statistically unfavorable to obtain.  We are given so many labels and comments.  When it comes to our career, some of us still search for what to lay under our name on a business card used more often to get dates or a free lunch.   Occupation: Professional Hustler doesn’t work in too many situations.  We become sensitive to the labels, to the words, searching for definitions in casual conversations.

At times words from whom English was a second language became a huge comfort.  As my grandmother’s years grew, her English dwindled.  Communicating with my grandparents came with a translator, my mother.  Often times I would wonder if Mom simply lied when they asked if I was married or had kids, but then my grandfather would respond in his bit of English, “You’re getting old.”  I guess my mother didn’t lie.  My sage grandmother who was pregnant 18 times, all to full term but only 14 survived to adulthood, would giggle, cough, look at me, “Good.  Don’t yet. Have fun.”

I don’t know what my grandmother thought my “fun” should entail, but I hope my parents never discover the liberties I take with her words.  When my Grandmother started bouncing from hospital to hospital, I would visit on my trips home.  As her hearing, sight, breath slowly became more and more difficult my mother had to translate more than words.  She would assist my Grandmother up, help clear the building bile in her lungs and yell, “Nanay (mother), it’s Marisa, from New York.”  She knew my name, my face blurry, but still sharp she says something to my mother.  My mother responds to the question, “Artista”.  Grandma would repeat, “Artista, Artista, Artista.”

8 Responses to "Swimming with ShArtist"

Awww… Stories about family always pull at my heartstrings. I know that your family is so very proud of you. And so are we, your friends & chosen family. Even though we miss seeing your face here on the West coast, you are where you should be. Keep it up Marisa ~ XOXO!!

Thanks Cristal for the kind words! I can’t wait to read your stuff. I’m so very lucking to have an expansive extended family. I miss my West Coast sisters!

The waters are pretty infested out there, but as you said, I feel like sometimes I only manage to stay afloat cause I recognize someone else doing the same doggy paddle. Good people, like you who make launch events, like last night, feel really special, and not seem indulgent. Thank you again for your support, your incredible gift (currently resting on my bed) and as always your words.

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN! The show is so much fun to watch and the climb is easier with wonderful company. Plus I’m great at fighting off fluffy creatures.

Marisa! I’m loving the blog….it’s oh so relatable. I loved seeing you at the party!!

Okay, this is such a sweet post, I almost hate to ruin it BUT: DOOD, be careful of your title!

Sharks are usually docile creatures unless provoked…or hungry.

It’s okay, Marisa and Marc B. I didn’t see the movie and my first thought was an artist among sharks. Then the artist himself is the shark. So we have a word with many levels of meaning. Cool.

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