Tuesday, April 16, 2013

25 Random Things About Me

This activity was prompted by posts going around on Facebook. "List 25 random things about yourself." (Couldn’t do only 25. Ended up w/ 30.) Some of the facts are "out of date" as this was written in February of 2009.

.5 I like to do random acts of kindness. Like leaving pennies or loose change in unexpected places for people to find. Used to leave quarters on the floor of the back seat of my car so my Aunt Annie would find them and sneak them into her purse with glee. 

.6 Love baking cookies for people I love.

.7 Will help someone in need on the street as opposed to walking away.

.8 While I will not give money to beggars, I will acknowledge them as I pass by with a “Hi, How ya doin’” or something like that. I respect them as human beings.

.9 Find it easier to say YES to a request for help than to say NO. 

1. I once served a cup of tea to Barbara Streisand and got her autograph. I was working at the time at Schrafft’s on 57th Street in N.Y.C. and she was filming “Owl & the Pussycat” across the street. Nice thing about Schrafft’s was at the end of the night, we got to take home all of the unsold bakery goods at half price!

2. I worked for my uncle at the Carriage House in Chicago. Entertainers and actors who were performing long runs in Chicago would stay there. I delivered cleaning to Eve Arden and she invited me in for a coke. She was on the early T.V. series “Our Miss Brooks.” She was one of those actors who just played herself. I also met Robert Preston, of broadway musical fame, who was staying there. I think he tried to pick me up but I was “not yet aware” of those things at the time.

3. At 30, I went on an adventure to Mexico for two months. It was my “teenage running away from home” late or my “mid-life crisis” early. I spent a month in San Miguel de Allende where I taught Spanish to an English speaking couple in exchange for a room. When he found out I was “a professor from the United States,” the Mayor of the town treated me to a bull fight as his guest. I spent a month in Mexico City.

4. Gregory and I have been in a committed relationship for 33 years. We like to say, “We are slow learners!” We have owned three houses, five cars, and three cats. We are best friends, soul mates, life partners, etc. We even still like each other after all those years.

5. I was held back in school after 6th grade because Mr. Rosengarden thought I was too immature. He had one drawer in his desk devoted to the toys and stuff he confiscated from me. My mother cried when she found out he was going to fail me. That is the only time in my life I thought about suicide. I was going to stick my head in the oven like I once saw Lucille Ball try on T.V.

6. I was a street mime clown and received a grant from the Chicago Council on Fine Arts. I wasn’t the kind of mime who tried to get out of glass boxes. My street performance persona and interaction with people was done without words. Lots of people hate clowns, but I was really a good one and made lots of people laugh. I performed all over Chicago but mainly performed on the steps of the Art Institute, at Lincoln Park Zoo, on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, in front of the Water Tower, and in schools in Uptown. My name was Maybe the Clown. The show was called “Maybe the Clown & his Back Pocket Review.” The joke was that I had so many props that I pulled a trunk around with me, my props could never have fit into my back pocket. Maybe the Clown no longer exists.

7. I received a fellowship from the State of Illinois for my work in Gifted Education while serving as Coordinator for Talented & Gifted Education (TAG) for the seven schools of Glenview Public School District #34. I created the program from the ground up for the district, worked with students, teachers, and parents. I was a founder of the Illinois Association for Gifted Children where I also served as secretary for four years. I presented workshops for the State of Illinois Gifted Education Conferences. I taught a course in “Creative Problem Solving and Divergent Thinking” and “Gifted Education” for National College of Education.

8. I received my BA from the U of I at Champaign/Urbana, my MA from National College of Education in Chicago, my Certificate of Advanced Study from the U of I at C/U, and completed my doctoral studies and 75% of my dissertation at the U of I. Then the State of Illinois offered early retirement to teachers who were 50 years old. I grabbed it and decided that the rest was bullshit and ceased my doctoral work. “There is life after retirement” and I am enjoying it very much thank you.

9. I have been a Supernumerary (acting extra) for the Lyric Opera of Chicago for 10 years (1998//99-2008/09) and have been in 17 operas: Mourning Becomes Electra, Mefistofele, La Gioconda, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, View from the Bridge, Carmen, Attila, Tosca, Faust, Lucia de Lammermoor, Madama Butterfly, Aida, Carmen, Turandot, Dialogue Des Carmelites, Madama Butterfly, & Cavalleria Rusticana. My spirit soars when I am on stage in the middle of all that amazing music. If I sing or humm, they fire me.

10. I am an avid photographer and would like to make something more artistic than hobby out of it. I have a good eye for framing what I see. While I didn’t live my vacation through the lens, I did take over 4,000 pictures while we were in Spain for a month. With that many photographs, some of them had better be pretty spectacular ... and they are.

11. I have worked with opera super stars Cynthia Lawrence, Kim Josephson,  Sam Ramey, Patricia Racette, Denyce Graves, Natalie Desay, Andrea Gruber, Judith Christin, Andrea Rost, Ildebrando D’Archangelo, Felicity Palmer, Lauren McNeese, Scott Ramsey, Lauren Curnow, and renowned director from England, John Copley (I love that man!)

12.  I was instrumental in getting the City of Evanston to change the stop lights along Green Bay Road so that there was a delay between RED to GREEN. Many accidents and also a few deaths had happened at our corner of Livingston and Green Bay  as well as at the other intersections between Emerson Street and the town of Wilmette at Evanston’s border. The east/west streets meet Green Bay under a viaduct and the sight lines are limited. I would hear the squeal of breaks and the crash from my house a block away from Livingston and would call the police to send an ambulance.  My work helped cut down on the accidents.

13. I was instrumental in getting the City of Evanston to create a limited parking zone for our neighborhood since commuters on the Metra would fill the streets, especially Poplar Avenue, leaving little room for residents to park.

14. I have had experience with three fires. a) I had my clothing, books, and property destroyed when my room at the fraternity house caught on fire. b) I carried a bed-ridden man to safety from an apartment building fire. c) I ran down six flights of stairs - through smoke - to escape a fire that started in the basement of my apartment stack and was fed by a broken gas line.

15. I once helped a woman get medical care after she fell down a flight of stairs from her second floor apartment in the two flat where I was living while in Queens, New York. Blood was everywhere. I prevented her from choking on her blood, covered her with a blanket, comforted her until the ambulance arrived, drove her husband to the hospital when he got home from work. She never talked to me again and would cross the street when she saw me coming down the block.

16. I was a singer and dancer in “Little Me” by Cid Ceasar while in school at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. I was also in a comic farce entitled, “She Laughs too Much.” I loved it, was good at it, but never continued my love of the theater until fifty or so years later now that I am a Supernumerary for the Lyric of Chicago.

17. I am really good on the computer. I began with the old Apple II before there even was a Macintosh. I was working with gifted kids at the time and personal computers were just beginning to come into the schools and since gifted kids needed something extra to do with their time they let them write programs for the computers. That was before the days when computers were used for the productive programs we use today like photoshop, word-processors, databases, etc. That was before the days when operating a computer was intuitive. I have used a computer for over 30 years.

18. I used to sing as a soprano, before my voice changed, in my Hebrew school choir.

19.  I have never been good at sports but I can say that when I was nine or ten, I sprained my ankle playing football. I was at the park with a friend and was tossing a football around (badly.) I went to get a drink at the fountain and fell off the piece of concrete on which it was mounted.

20. I am the curator of my own museum of small things, Michael’s Museum. It contains over 100 collections of trinkets, curiosities, oddities, artifacts, miniatures, folk art, etc. The museum is currently in storage in a climate controlled warehouse next door to the likes of collections from the Art Institute or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Michael’s Museum will become part of The Chicago Children’s Museum and is waiting until the CCM on Navy Pier (and then at its new home in Grant Park) can find a home for MM among its exhibits. Check out www.michaelsmusuem.org

21. I am currently creating assemblages in various cigar and other antique wooden boxes. Each box has a different theme or represents a person, place, or thing that is important to me. The boxes are filled with antiques, found objects, things from dime stores or resale shops. The inside of the box is covered with a background and the front of the box is covered with glass. These boxes are in the style of Joseph Cornell, a famous outsider artist who worked out of his garage in the 40’s. I love creating them but not finishing them. So I have approximately 13 boxes ready to go but haven’t glued in the backgrounds and pieces or cut the glass fronts.

22. I make jewelry. Mostly crocheted seed bead rope necklaces. I love the crocheting so much that sometimes I get carried away and the necklace turns into a belt that can be wrapped around your waist two or three times. As a jewelry artist, I was represented by the Pumpernickel Inn Gallery in Union Pier, Michigan for several years where a number of my pieces were sold for one or two hundred dollars each. Then the gallery closed so I have 30 or 40 necklaces in a box my closet. Maybe I will do something with them some day.

23. I am a bookbinder. I make new books and can restore old ones. I have taken a number of classes and had a show at the old Jane Adams Hull House on Broadway in New Town in Chicago. For five or six years I taught my Gifted Education students how to create children’s picture books and to bind them so they looked quite professionally library like.

24. I am currently thinking about compiling a book (non-fiction, memoir type) of the writings I have done and quotations I have collected over the last five or so years. I will call it “The Museum of Michael’s Mind.”

25. Places I have been: Florida, California, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Road Island, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin. (22 out of 50 and counting.) United States of America, Spain, Mexico, Germany, England, Italy, Canada. (7)

February 2009

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