With just a few days left of 2013, I'm jumping on the reflections bandwagon to discuss some my favorite happenings of this year.
If 2013 was my personal Chinese New Year and I got to pick the representing animal, I'd say that 2013 was undoubtedly the year of the cat.
It started in April. I was watching dogs in Astoria, when a friend of mine asked me if I also did cats. I wish I could tell you I offered up a witty comeback that made light of bestiality, but I gave her a lame, "sure." Then, I was telling another friend about my cat sitting gig when, all of a sudden, she realized that she was leaving town in two weeks, and also needed a cat-sitter. And then that friend knew a friend, and the cycle continued throughout the year. I'd stay a week in, say, the East Village, and then go straight to, I don't know, Inwood. It got to the point where I'd spend weeks--even months--at a time staying at friends' apartments and looking after their cat. And, suddenly the question people asked me the most shuffled from "Why are you still single?" to "Mark, where are you living tonight?"
This drove my Dad crazy, by the way. The constant shuffling around, I mean. He doesn't care if I'm single or not. "I'd just like to know you have more of a...stable...living situation," he'd tell me. But, he's also lived in the same house for the last 40 years, so he's not a fan of change. And, I'll admit that shuffling my crap around could be a pain in the ass sometimes, but it was worth it to get to spend more time in the city, and explore new neighborhoods without having to spend a shit ton of money in rent--which is why I moved out of the city in the first place. Okay, so let's break it down. In 2013, I cared for a total of 12 cats in Astoria, DUMBO, East Village, Inwood, Kips Bay and Long Island City. Plus, two dogs in Brooklyn and Queens. So, I got around, for sure.
While hanging with these kitties, lots of great stuff happened, such as:
Winning my second award for writing plays--the 2013 Planet Connections Award for Outstanding Playwriting for Straight Faced Lies, a new play I premiered this year. You can read more about that here. The show was a big hit, too. We sold out a few times, and I got a review that compared me to Tennessee Williams, my favorite playwright! I confess: that one made my eyes swell with joy.
Finding out that I was being hired (by the law firm) full-time. So, I now have health insurance and other benefits, which makes me feel like a real person again. And, I still get to be an artist in my real life, just not a starving one.
And, while technically this happened in between cat gigs, I was thrilled that my play, Recovery, made big waves at the Capital Fringe Festival in D.C. I was super nervous to stage the play outside of my New York City comfort zone, but the show took off like crazy--also selling out and earning great reviews, including this one. And, we were even given an encore performance! I had so much fun that I'm hoping to go back in 2014. Also on the theater front, I also remounted Smiles to Saturn for special performances at the historic Loews Theatre in Jersey City, and revived The Other Day for a special birthday reading and for performances at the Fresh Fruit Festival in the East Village.
And, while I didn't get to do as much traveling as I would have liked (other than the back and forths to D.C.) I did get back to the west coast this year, where I got to catch up with friends L.A. and San Francisco, and some wine encouraged this awesome photo shoot--further proof that this was indeed the year of the cat!
Happy 2014 everyone! I hope that you, too, will live like animals.
Mark Jason Williams
I find trouble wherever I go