Mia’s Words

In Interview on August 7, 2013 at 3:27 am


Mia D’Avanza is hilarious, very clever, kind, shows potential at anything she picks up, and is the person you most want to ask advice from. I used to work alongside her at the concession stand at Tampa Theatre. At the time that I met her, she was working on her master’s degree and today she’s living in New York as a librarian and still kicking butt.

What’s your favorite way to express what you’re feeling and thinking (and one example)?

By talking – I usually say something like “I love it!” when I am into something (I’m pretty enthusiastic). I’m very verbal, so I like to engage other people by asking questions and listening and having a conversation.

What do you find yourself thinking about the most lately?

How I wish summer was longer, and how happy I am right now.

What do you tell yourself when things get difficult?

Hm. I guess it depends on how difficult the situation is. Usually my inner dialogue has to do with trying to keep things in perspective, and that tends to work for me.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face in regards to your career?

Well, when I finished grad school in fall of 2008, there were a lot of hiring freezes on and few jobs available. I was extremely lucky to find a fellowship that provided great experience and opportunities to develop professionally after 6 months of waitressing and working concessions at Tampa Theatre post-graduation (thank you, Tampa Theatre!). When I finished that fellowship a year later, jobs were still hard to come by, so I returned to Tampa and cobbled together 4 part-time jobs to make ends meet until I saw the listing for my current job 8 months later.

In the 8 months that I was back in Tampa and was really hustling, I spent a lot of time asking myself what my future would hold and if it was ok to just subsist for a while. I had to drop the narrative I’d held for a long time – one that had defined what it meant to be successful and to achieve. I think of it this way – I’d thought there was sort of this achievement escalator that you got on, where each step naturally sort of led to the next, culminating in a full-time job in my field of study (with ups and down along the way, but none so distinct as I was experiencing). And about 3 months into my job-cobbling thing, after being asked by my concerned parents and friends if I was still applying for jobs, and what my plans were and seeing very little to apply for, I cut myself a break and stepped off the achievement escalator and reassessed what I was doing. I decided that making ends meet was an achievement, and staring at the Hillsborough River and watching the mullet jump was an achievement, and being grateful for my amazing friends and support system was an achievement. So I guess my biggest obstacle was my own way of thinking and my expectations – not that I expected that I deserved a job in my field of study as any kind of right – I mean, I was so lucky that I was even able to pay my rent – but I lived simply and had no car and handled my business and was humbled. Do you call yourself a librarian if you aren’t working in a library? Do you call yourself an artist if you aren’t making art?

When conversational theatre-goers pressed me for details at the concessions stand, asking if I was in school, and then when I said no, asking what I had studied and was I was up to, I came to terms with just saying, “I’m serving your popcorn.” I was just a person who was living in the present, and culturally we are so used to defining ourselves by our jobs and asking, “What do you do?” that it was an adjustment for me, but it was a good one. One that I needed.

What are you most proud of?

That my family is doing so well after the completely random death of my younger brother in 2009. That we are still sweet and optimistic and didn’t succumb to bitterness.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

Sometimes you have to fight for happiness and peace of mind and once you find it, you should not let small things or small people &@$! that up. Protect that as best you can and be gentle to yourself.

Five of your favorite New York moments?

1. The Mermaid Parade, every year!

2. Randomly meeting lovely people in the most unexpected places and circumstances.

3. Riding the vintage subway train at Xmas-time with a live band (The Hot Sardines – who include a tap dancer) that played as we all sang along to Xmas carols and seeing the looks on people’s unsuspecting faces when we pulled into each station. It was like “SURPRISE! Your day just got better!” (Click here for a Facebook video.)
[“Collecting tips for the wonderful Hot Sardines at the vintage train ride.”]

4. Thinking that I heard one of my favorite songs, then following the sound and stumbling upon The Roots, who WERE playing that song in Rockefeller Center late at night for the NYE special taping session (essentially a free concert for me as I stood unobtrusively near the Security guards).

5. Hearing Mexican balladry wafting through my apartment window and looking outside to see a girl in a huge turquoise quince dress cross the street with 7 tux-clad men next to her and 5 musicians playing behind them. So perfect.

What’s something you’d like to learn how to do?

Fine tailoring.

Where do you see yourself in 3 years?

Here in New York, but hopefully with better dance skills, better sewing skills, and having made better paintings.

Can you sum up your 2013 Japan trip in one sentence?

Life-changing, mind-blowing; a dream realized.

Kinkaku-ji from across the pond_9005453027_l
[“Kinkaku-ji from across the pond.” (Kyoto)]

petting the koi and the atago shrine
[“Petting the Koi at the Atago Shrine.” (Tokyo; Built in 1603.)]

Where can you be seen on a Tuesday afternoon?

At the reference desk of the botanical and horticultural library where I work.

Friday evening?

Probably cooking dinner at home with my fellow and my cat, jamming out with some music on.

Sunday morning?

Sleeping in, I hope! Dreaming of breakfast…

Finish these sentences:

I love: humanity, mostly. I don’t always love their actions.
I hate when: people are small-minded and judgmental.
I’m always looking for: beauty in my surroundings.
Someday I’ll: make a Nudie suit for myself and wear it with pride.

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