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37 Questions with Anna Marwin

Originally published in June 2022

Block Club brand coordinator Anna Marwin is used to wearing many hats. Whether it’s helping roll out a rebranding campaign or advocating for social justice causes, she always puts her best foot forward. In this installment of 37 Questions, a humble nod to Vogue’s 73, the former gymnast shares her thoughts on Dolly Parton, hidden talents, and the importance of challenging expectations.

  1. How do you like to start your day?

    I tend to be an early riser. At least two days a week, I try to get to the gym in the mornings. Other days, I really take my time with my morning coffee, my pets, and either some stretching or a walk.

  2. How do you take your coffee?

    Hand ground that morning, with cream and maple syrup

  3. Tell us a bit about your pets. How did you get involved with rescues?

    My husband and I have true rescue pets—not from the SPCA or an animal shelter but true off-the-side-of-the-road animals. Both Lola (the Weimaraner mix) and Val were disarmingly sweet strays that we picked up.

  4. Besides dogs and cats, are there any other animals you have a particular affinity for?

    It would be hard to pick just one; I’m an animal lover through and through. I always thought it would be cool to work with exotic animals like primates, big cats, and elephants.

  5. Do you have any party tricks or hidden talents that might surprise people?

    I’ve held a static handstand for over a minute and walked about 100 feet on my hands without stopping. I’m that person taking handstand pictures at monuments and tourist spots. I was a gymnast for 12 years, and it’s one of the few skills I retained.

  6. What’s the coolest monument/tourist spot you’ve taken a handstand pic at?

    In front of the painted steps in Guatapé, Colombia

  7. What’s something memorable you’ve done recently?

    I officiated the marriage of close friends of mine! They’re wonderful people, and I was so happy and honored to play a role in something that was so special but also very unique. Their wedding was non-traditional: tacos and cake first, then marriage, then a silent disco! It was a really beautiful and collaborative event, and so many friends contributed to it in really meaningful ways.

  8. Speaking of silent discos, what’s currently on your playlist?

    I always have at least five podcasts in rotation. Currently: Criminal, Reply All, American Scandal, Scamfluencers, and Run, Bambi, Run. I’ve also been listening to Stromae and Stan Taylor a lot lately.

  9. Do you have an anthem, or is there a certain song that speaks to you?

    Anything by Fleetwood Mac

  10. What’s something memorable you’d like to do before the year is out?

    I’m in the process of renewing my passport, so I can take my husband to Costa Rica. He’s never been, and it’s been too long since I visited. My dad is from Costa Rica; it’s where my parents met, and I have a lot of family there. I wasn’t able to embrace it the way I wanted to while growing up, so it’s really important for me to take advantage of my ability and freedom to travel now.

  11. Is there a particular place or attraction you’d recommend to a visitor that truly captures what Costa Rica has to offer?

    I would suggest stepping off resort property and seeing the real Costa Rica–not the tourist attractions, but the really authentic places. The people there are so kind and welcoming. You can’t go wrong.

  12. What’s your favorite stamp on your passport?

    Probably Colombia. That was the first trip I took without family as an adult, and I got a very authentic Colombian experience. No resorts–I slept in a guest room and in a hostel common room. My friend was living there at the time and just pulled me right into daily life in his town of Armenia.

  13. What was the most unique job experience you’ve had?

    In the summer of 2013, I was working at Yale, supervising a subdivision of their historic Vanderbilt building on Old Campus. Pretty soon after moving in, we had two roommates request that an exorcism be performed in their room. So, I had to contact a priest and schedule the exorcism. A few years later, I was working at a different institution when my supervisor said, “Would you believe a student emailed me requesting an exorcism?” And I said, “I got this.” I still can’t believe that’s a situation I found myself in TWICE.

  14. Aside from exorcism arrangement, what professional skill have you worked hardest to develop?

    Learning when to just listen.

  15. Your role at Block Club focuses a lot on coordination and administration. What’s your best administration lifehack?

    Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to complete a task.

  16. What’s a personal goal you’d like to achieve within the next year?

    This summer I’m going to try my hand at restoring an old dresser. I like the idea of upcycling and doing something with my own two hands.

  17. What’s your best habit?

    I’ve learned how to take my time reacting to anything that might initially make me upset. I take a step back and consider how a situation looks from someone else’s perspective, how the circumstances might create friction, and how I bring my own context to every situation. I take time to be alone and process, and I encourage others to do the same. I think being able to say, “I need some time to gather my thoughts about this before I speak on it,” is a really important practice.

  18. Where do you do your best thinking or find that your thoughts flow most easily?

    On a walk

  19. How do you express yourself creatively?

    Definitely physically, through movement

  20. You have a background in fitness. Which fitness trend is overrated in your opinion?

    Burpees

  21. What fitness trend would you like to try next?

    It’s not a trend per se, but I want to hike more.

  22. If you could be a guest on any podcast, which would you choose and why?

    Wow, Sophie’s choice! I’m torn between Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell and 99% Invisible with Roman Mars. Gladwell reports on social sciences in a really interesting way, but I will say he can sometimes be intimidatingly academic. Mars reports on architecture and design aspects we take for granted and has a very easy way about his conversation, so if I have to pick, probably 99% Invisible.

  23. What was the last piece of architecture that wowed you?

    The Payne Whitney in New Haven, Connecticut. Driving by it, you might think you’re passing a historic cathedral, but inside, it’s actually an incredible gym and fitness center.

  24. Speaking of Malcolm Gladwell, he has a quote that goes something like, “you can learn more from a glance at a private space than from hours of exposure to a public face.” What objects in your space say the most about you as a person?

    My made bed, a soft blanket, my pets, and windows for natural light

  25. If you didn’t have to work, how would you spend your time?

    I would study bees and open an apiary. I would travel and volunteer more.

  26. In your spare time, you do a lot of social justice work. What cause do you wish people would show more support for?

    I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one, so I’ll give you my short list: disability access, proactive mental health services, immigration processes, and sex work.

  27. There are a lot of misconceptions about what social justice means. What’s your definition of the term?

    The thing about social justice is that we all interact with it so differently. Our relationships with social justice are just as unique as our backgrounds, heritages, socioeconomic statuses, etc. Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” That’s probably the best way I could sum up the pursuit of social justice.

  28. Who is your hero?

    Dolly Parton. Her contributions to society go so far beyond music. She is incredibly generous and also hilarious. I love how she challenged everyone’s expectations of a buxom blonde and leaned into that outward appearance regardless of folks that tried to belittle her or criticize her. She started Dolly’s Imagination Library, supports endangered species conservation, and donates to hospitals and medical research. A lot of people don’t know about her work beyond country music, I think because she is so humble.

  29. What Dolly Parton song would you sing at karaoke?

    “9 To 5”

  30. How do you challenge expectations in your everyday life?

    I openly and enthusiastically support sex workers–that’s probably the cause most people associate me with and have heard me speak on. It seems to especially surprise other women that I wholeheartedly advocate in favor of something that’s widely considered taboo.

  31. What’s your go-to comfort food?

    This is so boring, but egg noodles with butter.

  32. What’s one food you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the chance to?

    There’s a $150 Philly cheesesteak at Barclay Prime, haha. It’s gotta be good.

  33. How did your parents pick your name?

    I’m named after my maternal grandmother. My mom’s family is from Italy, and my dad is from Costa Rica, so Anna worked well for both sides of the family.

  34. How do you try and embrace each of those rich cultures?

    Does eating a lot of pasta count?

  35. What’s one moment from your childhood you’d like to recreate as an adult?

    Eating ice cream on the back of my dad’s pickup truck

  36. What lesson do you wish you’d learned sooner in life?

    Don’t pass up opportunities to try new things out of fear of looking stupid. You’ll miss out on a lot.

  37. Lastly, if your life was made into a movie, who would play you?

    Aubrey Plaza. We share a similar dark, dry sense of humor. I think we’d be friends in real life.

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