Woman of Interest: Realtor and Dancer Extraordinaire Ms. Karina Demurchyan
I hope everyone had a wonderful week-end, and is preparing for an even greater week ahead! Today, it is with much pleasure and anticipation that I’m presenting the Woman of Interest of the week, Ms. Karina Demurchyan. I had the privilege of meeting my dear friend Karina while we both worked in public accounting a few years back. Over “Starbucks” coffee breaks during the excruciatingly long busy season hours, I’d always marvel at how this global woman, originally from Russia and a true Bostonian at heart, just had this insatiable appetite for life and magical aura about her.
Fast forward a few years, Karina quit our mutual coffee addiction (I’m still working on it), and became a talented, renowned realtor, as well as a dancer extraordinaire in the Armenian folk dance company Sayat Nova. Karina also works tirelessly to advocate for helpful causes tied to her native home country. Her life experience both in the old Soviet Union and in America, her bubbling, positive attitude and just her zest for life, are truly representative of a globalista…Read ahead…
1. So Karina, in a few words, who are you and what do you do in this life, all of it?
I like your style – no warm up, straight to existential questions and “in a few words”! Emerson’s quote came to mind: Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing a fool” – I guess there’s only one way to find out if that’s true and I’m not in a rush, so on a less philosophical note – I’m a Bostonian by choice, Muscovite (Russia) by birth and upbringing. I’m of Armenian descent. I was born in Moscow 10 years before the Soviet Union collapsed and I can’t wait to scare/confuse my children with tales of USSR. My heart is torn between Moscow and Boston families, though Boston has long become my hometown. It actually took about 6 months for me to realize that I’m home in Boston like I’ve never felt home for 17 years of my life in Moscow. Perhaps it’s the timing of becoming an adult – I moved to Boston right after high school, just turned 17 and in a few years from now I will have lived half of my life in this charming “little” town. I studied accounting and finance at UMASS Boston and went into the corporate audit for four years with Ernst & Young, followed by a brief year-and-a-half episode of portfolio accounting for a capital investment firm and then the past four and half years of self-issued independence from cubicle desks and “coffee break” anticipation into the figure-it-all-out-yourself entrepreneurial real estate consulting world. I’ve enjoyed my last professional choice enormously and hope it shows every time I work with people. Define “in a few words” again …
2. You are definitely a globalista, not only from your origins, but also through being an active and inspirational part of the Boston Armenian community, as I read you all the time on Facebook. Can you tell a bit more about it?
I’m not sure how much I inspire the Armenian community so far but I’m certainly inspired by it myself. Growing up in Moscow I was quite removed in my daily life from most things Armenian including the language though for some reason I always emphasized that I was in fact “100% Armenian”. Ethnic background was purposefully downplayed in favor of “Sovietism” back then so it was a little unusual for a kid who knew maybe a couple of words of Armenian to be telling everyone left and right starting with fellow first graders that I was “100% Armenian”. Maybe it was my early way of standing out from the crowd, I’m not sure. Now I am actually a part of the Boston Armenian community, though not quite in the same way as people who grew up together here in Boston and whose families may have known each other for several generations back in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey etc. It’s a strange feeling of belonging and yet being sort of “new”, maybe it’s also because there are so few Armenians from Russia here. I find myself not quite having the same palate for food, music or political views, but at the end of the day, transcending all the little differences in mentalities of Armenians coming from so many places around the world, is a sense of having a diverse extended family I never had before. I wasn’t a part of Armenian community as soon as I moved to Boston either – in fact not for the first 8 years of living here. Armenian folk dance with Sayat Nova Dance Company got it all started for me back in 2007 when I was finally able to join after years of waiting for my schedule to stabilize. Now I leave an impression that “I know everybody” in the community though that’s certainly very far from the case, but I definitely stick my nose into many fantastic projects and initiatives Armenian community in US and Boston area in particular takes on related to improvements in different areas of life in Armenia. To give you a perspective, Armenia is the size of Maryland with 5 climate zones and a wide variety of post Soviet-Union-collapse-1988-earthquake-War-with-Azerbaijan-Landlock-by-Turkey-etc issues. There are close to twice as many Armenians living outside of Armenia around the world as there are in Armenia itself and it’s absolutely fascinating how the diaspora members, many of whom have never lived in Armenia, weren’t born in Armenia and possibly do not have a single relative in Armenia are nevertheless emotionally connected to their “homeland” and support re-building of the country. It actually all makes perfect sense the more you understand the history of Armenians – you can literally feel / hear the depth of despair the nation went through throughout its history when you’re hearing the sounds of Duduk (think “Gladiator” soundtrack) and the zest for life during every celebration in the sounds of Zurna. Perhaps it’s the famous legend of Noah, the first “superhero” who saved the world , and his amazingly spacious arc that was conveniently parked on our beautiful Ararat mountain (part of Western Armenia, currently part of Turkey) that’s hardwired in Armenian DNA, and as long there are a couple of Armenians somewhere in the world like William Saroyan said “…see if they don’t create a New Armenia”. It’s a long story and I’m probably not doing it any justice here, but I think it gives you a glimpse of where I’m coming from when you see my “Armenian posts”. I also think I now completely failed on the “in a few words” part
3. You are a professional real estate agent, and a dancer… How do you combine these two in your day-to-day life? How does it enrich your life?
I assure you I feel like I move in slow motion compared to some people who are training for marathons at 5am, taking evening classes, raising children, working full time, writing books and who knows what else – all using one head and one body. I would need a couple of clones to be that active, but yes, I do dance with Sayat Nova Dance Company of Boston (SNDC), a 26 year old independent dance company under the direction of tireless Apo Ashjian. Our rehearsals are usually twice a week about 2-2.5hrs each and every time I walk away emotionally and physically recharged. It’s what got me introduced to being Armenian within the community – it does something to my soul that I couldn’t do any other way. It’s like physical poetry that connects people to each other and our ancestry. Dancing with SNDC works very well with my schedule as a Realtor. My life generally works well with my profession and that was a huge part of the reason I wanted to be self-employed. My schedule constantly changes of course and I don’t have real days off, but it’s a lot more fitting for my personality to be in constant motion anyway, so it works out very well.
4. You seem to be in love with life – it’s contagious – where do you think this zest comes from? Do you cultivate it or does it “just happen?
Do you mean I smile a lot?! I recently paused on my photo from deep childhood (8-9 months old) where I had pretty much same smile I sport nowadays. Before I thought it was more of an “American” habit because in Russia of my childhood people usually sported a grimace a la “you owe me money” and let’s just say you wouldn’t be tempted to start a conversation with them unless you desperately needed to ask something. I guess I was “a smiling American” long before I knew what American was. As far as zest, I think you’re right, I am enamored with life and it’s not necessarily an equivalent of constant content from everything in it, but appreciation for a gazillion things that make every day happen. Everything from my own body knowing how to do everything it does so I physically exist to the crazy complex collective choir of other people, nature etc playing their roles in this entertaining show I get to watch and play my part. Sometimes I literally feel like I’m watching a movie, especially when I’m guessing what’s going to happen in the next scene … and it does I do love the suspense though and that’s what most of life seems to offer. Some people cringe and stress out from the uncertainty and I sometimes feel the same way about certain things I really want to happen, but at the end of the day, I realize how elegant everything is designed in life just so we’d be motivated enough to get up in the morning and explore everything, which you can’t do very well if you don’t have the goodwill to work with suspense and enjoy the process. To keep my response to some sort of reasonable amount, I’ll summarize my philosophy in someone’s smart words: “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.”
5. Is it important for you to think out of the box? In what ways?
I just saw the other day a Facebook post that said: “Think Outside. No Box required.” I completely concur. Often we just need fresh air to think fresh. When we’re in a rush or stressed out, we often just default to existing ways of “how it’s done” instead of giving enough thought to how it can be done better or how you want it to be done. It relates to pretty much every decision we make and think we make it, because so often we respond with template actions / opinions we grew up with or see suggested as “norm”. On a more philosophical note, one of the most fun tools against conforming is probably love, it forces you to really pay attention to a specific person/subject, to your specific feeling for them, to what you want to create as if you were holding a blank canvas and could paint anything … this should be a separate conversation, so I’ll stop here.
6. What words of advice/inspiration do you have for globalistas like you?
I’m not that old yet to give advice, am I? Well, here’s a good one for anyone: “There will be many things that will catch your eye, but few that will catch your heart, pursue those…” . I think no matter where life takes you geographically or circumstantially, this motto should help ground you in that “zest-full” attitude to enjoy life.
Thank you, Karina!
Any questions/comments for Karina?