Grls I Know - Maia

Describe yourself without mentioning work.

I can't watch a movie without knowing how it ends.

Where did you grow up?

We bounced around the Tri-state until I was 8 when we moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey. It's kind of like Park Slope: Young affluent families who drive luxury cars and wear performance fleece. Ridgewood had the best public schools around, and was still close enough for my parents to commute to their jobs in Manhattan, so even though it was way out of their price range, they made it work. They've always sacrificed a lot for me.

How long have you lived in New York City?

A year and a half.

Tell me what it's like living in New York.

Honestly, I hate it. It's filthy. A Dunkin Donuts bag blew into my boyfriend's face last weekend. It's also just too big and too busy for me. My dad used to say he loved living in the city because he could be anonymous. I don't feel anonymous here -- I just feel like a nobody. Also, this winter I fell in a pile of shit. Yes, really. A real pile of real shit. I've always hated living in the city, but something like falling in a pile of shit happens to you and you start to think maybe the feeling is mutual.

Did you have any strong female influences growing up?

Yes, two. The first was my grandmother. She was the smartest, kindest, most loving person I've ever known. She was a professor at the community college in Syracuse (Head of the English Department) and as my mom describes it, she taught Women's Studies before it even had a name. The second female influence I had growing up was Reggie Rocket from "Rocket Power". She was a tomboy like I was, but she owned it in a way that I couldn't. She was so confident, she always looked good, and she was just so sure of who she was. And then there was me. I always felt uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in my skin, uncomfortable around other girls. All I wanted was to wear the clothes I wanted, and hang out with the people I wanted and to not feel shy and awkward all the time. Reggie did it every weekday from 3:30pm-4:30pm and I just couldn't figure it out.

What’s your experience with female friendships? I HAVE SOME GIRLFRIENDS WHO COME FROM BIG GIRL GANGS AND OTHERS WHO HAVE SINGLE CLOSE FRIENDS ALL OVER THE PLACE.

I have a few female friendships that span most of my life. We can go any amount of time not speaking and the minute we reconnect we pick back up where we left off. These are some of the most important friendships to me, probably because I'm an only child and these are the only sisters I've ever known.

Does it feel easier or harder to make female friendships as you get older?

Easier. Way, way easier. Middle school and high school girls are pretty terrible for the most part. Boys were way easier to be friends with in those years. Less drama, no real social hierarchy, just sports and laughing (which happen to be my two favorite things.) I found a couple of girls in high school who became my best friends, but they were some of the only girls I actually liked at that age, and they made up like, 1% of all of the girls I actually knew. So statistically speaking.... yikes. Once I got out of my adolescence though, it got a lot easier. I made a ton of she-friends in college, and a ton more post-college. Now I have a big ass girl posse and it rocks.

Is there anything you wish women would talk about more with each other?

Yes. Silly stuff. Dumb stuff. Irrational stuff. Guys talk about fantasies and funny what-if scenarios all the time, because duh, it's fun. The women I know don't do that as much. I think that maybe women feel this need to be more serious because it's so easy to not be taken seriously as a woman. But it's important to get silly and whimsical. It helps you think of all of the possibilities in any given situation and not just the rational ones. Of course it's important to think about what makes sense, but don't deny yourself from your feelings because they aren't supposedly rational. Why can't we weigh both? Silliness evokes laughter, and fun. It promotes creativity and open mindedness. Be more silly. Silly for President. 

In light of the recent election, how does it feel to be a woman in the United States right now?

Disappointing, scary, isolating. Honestly, too much for words right now. But. Still proud to be here, and very aware of the importance of letting my presence be known and my voice be heard.

 

Does ‘being a woman’ feel like an active always-present part of your life, or is it not necessarily something that influences your day to day? 

I think there are two parts to me answering this question. Number one, sometimes I feel like the only time that being a woman is active and present in my life is when I'm witnessing or experiencing an injustice to all women (which is becoming way more of a regular occurrence lately, see:Trump Administration). For example, being told that the wage gap doesn't exist or being told what I can and can't do with my own body. Or being told that the government is trying to restrict access to my family planning. Or reading about a rapist serving a three month sentence because a longer prison sentence would have had “a severe impact” on his life. These are the moments when I feel most female, and these are the times that I feel most powerless and weak, and that's a really big problem. If I'm pairing weakness and women together in my mind, then what does that say about my own self worth, and what stops men from thinking the same and marginalizing me further? It's a vicious cycle, and it's scary as hell.

I think that's where a lot of people misunderstand the feminist movement, and believe feminists to be these angry rage machines that want all men to burn in a fiery hell ring while being mauled by a trillion demon hell hounds. Of course feminists are going to come off as angry. WE ARE ANGRY. We. Do. Not. Feel. Safe. We feel vulnerable, and men are the ones who have made us feel like this. Not being equal is not just unfair, it's terrifying. It's a source of perpetual fear and requires constant vigilance. This thought process often brings on a full-fledged downward spiral. To combat this, and get this feeling of "weak equals woman" out of my mind, I look no further than my strong female friends. Many of the women I know really identify with being a woman. They feel that that's the main source of their strength. I think about how strong these women are and how much they've persevered, I think about how smart they are and the incredibly fascinating political and socioeconomic debates I've had with them. I think about how many men have fallen so very weak to their brains, their charm, and their charisma. And when I think about all of the women I know who have all of these powers, I realize that I really don't know any weak women, myself included. Then I think about some of the wonderful men I know, and how they have never marginalized me, and how they have always considered me their equal, and how they would never dream of laying an unwanted hand on an unwilling woman. And then I think about the very small percentage of remaining people that didn't fall into either of these categories. These seemingly tiny people, with tiny minds that remain shut, and tiny eyes that lack vision, and tiny hands that lack any metaphor, but are nonetheless tiny. They are the misogynists, the racists, and the vehicles of inequality, and they are the weak ones.

The second way I can answer this question comes from how my brain works. Unlike many of my femme friends, I tend to attribute my moments of strength and triumph to feeling like a kick ass person, not necessarily a kick ass woman. And that's not a bad thing. I think it just comes down to this: My strengths are pretty non-gender identifying, for example: being a good friend, being patient, having a good sense of humor. Those are my favorite things about myself. So. Do I love being a woman? Thanks to my wonderful community of friends and family who help me understand who I am, and how incredible women truly are, I can honestly say, yes, I love being a woman for many reasons. It's just not the only thing I love being.

Tell me about your first job.

I was freshly 16 and I got a job as a camp counselor. It was easily the best job I have ever had. If I could be a camp counselor for the rest of my life I would be so content. I love kids, and I really believe that a positive role model is the most important thing in a young person's life. Teachers, camp counselors, those are the most important jobs because they form the future. I don't think I'll ever find a job I love more, except probably the day I become a mom. I can't wait to be a mom.

What is your job now?

I do data analytics for The New York Times, particularly for digital advertising and ad operations. It's an incredible place to be, especially right now. I'm extraordinarily lucky.

What motivates you to work hard?

My parents. They are two of the most hard working, big hearted, smartest humans on the planet. They have always supported me, no matter what. When I was 8 and they fought the school board to get me extra help with my learning disabilities. When I was 10 and I wanted to play ice hockey with the boys, when I was 16 and bed ridden with a crippling illness. When I was 22 and they took on all of my student loans to ensure that I would graduate from college debt-free. I just want to make them proud, and be successful so I can give my kids all of the opportunities that they gave me.

What advice would you give to young women starting out in your field (or any field) - or maybe even to your younger self?

Keep learning. There's always more to know. Stay humble. There's always someone who knows more than you. And whatever you do, ask good questions.

Who (or what) is your spirit animal?

Pizza.

What song have you been playing on loop latelY?

Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.

If you could have dinner with any celebrity (living or dead) who would it be?

Probably Michelle Obama. I think I just need to hear her tell me it's gonna be ok.

What was your first concert?

My parents took me to Tanglewood, Massachusetts a bunch of summers when I was growing up to hear the Boston Symphony. We'd go with my Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins. We would usually fall asleep on the lawn during the first act, but it was one of our best traditions.

What was your most recent concert?

Taking Back Sunday.

Guiltiest pleasure?

Taking Back Sunday.

I like to think of all my girlfriends as being part of a magical coven of strong, independent witches. As a witch, what would you say is your biggest power?

I'm good at knowing where I am: Perspective, (having it, keeping it, etc.), a solid moral compass, and a great sense of direction. (However, I still have a hard time with my lefts and rights.)

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