Killing it at Life part 3: Mariah MacCarthy

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There are some people who I admire from afar through the veil of social media. I watch these lives unfold in status updates, photos, events, one-liners, songs posted. There are project references, hard decisions referenced, dance parties, loves, likes, encounters. I eagerly await these updates, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I’ve worked with these people on projects, I know these people in person, but mostly I see them and their exploits online, and from here, it looks like they are Killing it at Life. So I reached out, to find out how they do it. I asked some questions, then some follow-ups. Here’s interview number three:

Mariah MacCarthy, you are killing it at life. Let’s talk about it.

Li88y
What’s your favorite thing about being alive?

Mariah
Changes daily. Sleeping late, perfectly ripe avocados, cuddling, and opening nights are a few answers.

Li88y
What’s your favorite way to eat an avocado? Sweet or salty? I like mine on toast.

Mariah
Spread on bread. Or with a spoon, with some shredded cheddar or crumbled blue cheese and balsamic vinegar in the little hole.

Li88y
What’s your favorite record right now?

Mariah
Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville.

Li88y
That’s a pretty old record. I think I even remember when it came out. Does your musical taste tend toward the 90’s generally or is this an aberration?

Mariah
I’ve been listening to lots of 90s music lately in preparation for Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion, and this album passed me by the first time. I listen to a LOT of Songza. That’s generally where I’ll generally be listening to anything that came out after 2010. But this morning I was listening to the “Where My Girls At?” station, which is all ladies’ nineties rap, so you never know.

Li88y
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Mariah
Go back to sleep.

Li88y
The last thing you do before going to bed?

Mariah
Get off Facebook, generally.

Li88y
I’ve occasionally thought of having a separate FB just for family, but I know you don’t do that. Do you see any downsides with sharing your personal and professional fb across traditional relationship boundaries?

Mariah
Sure. I’ve had family members ask me to stop using the F word, so I apologized for saying “feminist.”

I’ll friend any family member and any theater colleague (even if I haven’t met them), but I don’t friend clients from my day job. They don’t need to see me talking about vaginas. My family can deal with it though.

Li88y
Do you pray?

Mariah
I do. Not in any traditional kind of way. And I do think someone hears it. I think that that someone is not male, but I’m not sure they’re female either.

Li88y
I think prayer can take all forms, from a real gratefulness for a sunny day, an iPod shuffle song at exactly the right moment, someone holding the subway door for you, to that which is considered more traditional. Do you visualize a being when you pray? If they can hear you, do you think they can intervene in a physical way? In an emotional way?

Mariah
I don’t know about intervening, though I do believe in miracles. I generally don’t ask for miracles. I imagine a consciousness, but I don’t think of this consciousness as being a “person.” People are defined (to a degree) by their specificity, which is by definition limited. So if love could be disembodied but conscious, that’s the being I imagine listening to me.

Li88y
How do you like to get intoxicated?

Mariah
With friends.

Li88y
Do you think you could live someplace other than NYC? Where or why not?

Mariah
I’d consider Portland, or Austin, or somewhere in California, my home state. But NYC is doing right by me for now.

Li88y
You don’t seem to care about any rules, getting permission, or doing things in an established way. I really appreciate that aspect of your artistic work, and like how you do it online. Do you feel like you’re killing it? ‘Cause it’s looking great from the outside.

Mariah
I just got a really awesome new haircut and I open a show on Friday, so right now I feel like I’m totally killing it. But killing it is exhausting. I long sometimes to just be able to do yoga and cook at home and have the kind of schedule where I could own a dog.

Li88y
There’s been a lot of talk lately (and since the 1980’s when my mom’s generation started demanding real professional access) about the concept of ‘having it all.’ Do you think having it all is attainable goal?

Mariah
Attainable, yes. Attainable for everyone, no. The “having it all” conversation is very related, for me, to the adoption conversation–why I placed my son for adoption instead of raising him. I don’t know one woman in New York City who’s a single mom and self-producing playwright. I just don’t know of any. That was a situation where I felt I could not have it all. I could not pay all the bills and raise a kid and continue my creative life. Had I been with a partner with whom I saw myself long-term, it might be a different story. Then again, I just read an article this morning about how “modern fatherhood” is a myth and the majority of fathers still aren’t pulling their weight when it comes to childcare and housework, so maybe I’m romanticizing married parenthood, but at the very least it’d be another pair of hands. Basically I didn’t see any way that I could feed everyone, keep doing what I’m doing, AND still be able to spend time with my kid.

Li88y
I’ve got this opinion that you’re killing it through what I know of you from social media and a little bit in life and from projects you do. How connected does the offline you feel to the you who is online?

Mariah
I think a lot of people feel very connected to me because of social media. Sometimes that translates to real life, sometimes not. There are people with whom I have a near-constant online banter, but we see each other in person and have no idea WHAT to say to each other. With other people, that banter does carry over into flesh-and-blood interactions. I also get very personal online: I’ve talked openly about, for instance, my experience placing my son for adoption, or about being a rape survivor. 99% of the time, the response to that openness is very positive. I think it’s important to share yourself, because I guarantee that there’s someone else out there who can relate to what you’re going through, and it’s important that both of you know you’re not alone.

That said, sometimes people are disrespectful in ways that are often very well-intentioned. I’ve been asked insanely personal, painful questions. As a birth mother, I’ve been made into a symbol of things that have nothing to do with me. These things suck, but not enough to counteract the good I find from connecting with people online, some of whom I’ve met in person and some of whom I haven’t.

Li88y
When I first met you in person I wanted to give you a hug. I felt that connected to you from watching your online life unfold. It’s kind of like the sensation of reading a novelist’s work for years, meeting them in person, and knowing how connected you feel to their words makes you feel like they’re that connected to you as well.

Mariah
The desire to hug was mutual! It felt silly that we hadn’t met in person yet. Long-overdue.

I also am very political in my online presence: almost daily, I’ll post some news or some essay that’s queer or feminist in nature. I strive to do this in a dialogue-friendly way, because I absolutely do not wish to be strident, or one-note, or closed off to interpretation and nuance. But sometimes people tell me that’s how I come across. Sometimes people are surprised to meet me and discover that I’m quite warm and giggly. Sometimes people are surprised to find that I don’t intimidate them or want to crush their testicles.

Li88y
Have you always considered yourself a feminist? I hear from professors that many young woman eschew the term these days. Do you embrace it? Does a feminist perspective inform your playwrighting? Your production model?

Mariah
It makes me sad that “feminist” is a dirty word (which I think is nothing new–young women certainly aren’t the only women who eschew the term). Of course there is hypocrisy and closed-mindedness in feminism sometimes, just as there is in any ideological movement, but sometimes that leads women to disassociate with it, even though it accurately describes their beliefs. Sometimes I call myself a “gender activist” because that’s not really a thing so there are no negative associations with the term.

Li88y
Projects and/or links and/or follows?

Mariah
This Friday, my play Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion opens, which incidentally is a play that likely wouldn’t exist without Facebook. There’s one part where this guy is telling the hostess of the party what a good person she is and how much he admires her, but he literally hasn’t seen her in twenty years. It also deals with bullying, in unexpected ways–some of the characters that you would have expected to be bullied as kids were actually the bullies, sometimes the guy who sticks up for the little guy is a bully to someone else, etc. And it deals with death, how we react to death as kids, how we lose our innocence. But it’s also a totally ridiculous immersive party play experience, where you literally come to an Astoria apartment as a fellow guest at this party and watch the action unfold basically in your lap. Sex, drugs, chili, nostalgia. Tickets here: http://mrsmayfield.brownpapertickets.com/

You can also follow me on twitter at @MariahMacCarthy, sign up for my theater company’s updates at http://capslocktheatre.com, or find me on Facebook!

Li88y
I just went to my 20th high school reunion. And yeah, we all knew a lot about each other from fb. It wasn’t like in the movies at all.

Mariah
My high school might not get a reunion because there’s no money for it. I think they’re just choosing a date and having a barbecue.

Li88y
Ours was a burgers and dogs affair, followed by drinks. Lots and lots of drinks.

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One thought on “Killing it at Life part 3: Mariah MacCarthy

  1. Pingback: Mrs. Mayfield’s and my weekend in Queens | Libby Emmons

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