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Thursday, January 24, 2008

8 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Me

When tapped to share “8 things you probably didn’t know about” James Farrar he noted that blogging is quite the “exhibitionist” activity. Much of my blogging experience these past years has been more in audience capacity; a vicarious blog explorer, rather than an active onstage character. Vicarious means I observe certain events by “imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experiences of another”.

Others’ blogs expose me to great examples of: storytelling, journalism, innovation and when done expertly well, art. While exploring, I’m often wondering what it would be like to write as prolifically or as creatively or as knowledgeably as the bloggers whose contents I follow. Fair, although hardly shy, I do feel a bit the wallflower while the nimble waltz me by with dizzyingly and dazzlingly clever insights, observations, perceptions and opinions.

I’ve imagined what I would write on the off-chance that someone might tag me for the “8 things you probably don’t know about me” meme. But I was caught off guard (gobsmacked as the brits would say) when I happened upon my name in James’ blog: the Wisdom of Clouds. It’s like someone asked the ungainly girl at the school party to dance to be nice. Thanks James.

Eight is a lot. I’ll start chronologically.

1. When I was 4, my sister was born on my birthday. For years afterwards I assumed that all families had that same arrangement, meaning siblings who were not twins also shared a common birthday. The realization that my belief system was faulty was very traumatic.

2. When I was about 8 years old, I separated from my parents while on board the Sternwheeler (steamboat) called the "The American". We were visiting an ill-fated and short-lived amusement park in the Bronx (New York) called: Freedomland U.S.A. There is a certain irony to all this. The year was 1960 and the civil rights movement was coming into its own with the Greensboro Four staging a peaceful sit-in at Woolworth’s in North Carolina, breaking down the segregation walls in the south. Back on the steamboat, my parents found me quickly. I was staging my own sit-in of sorts, in the steamship’s bandstand. There they found me sitting entranced on a trumpet player’s lap. His name: Louie Armstrong. I’ve always loved his voice and music.

3. When I was 10 I decided to have a “penny fair” and created an amusement park in my yard. I gathered $5.57 cents from all of our neighborhood children (a great many pennies). Although rather pleased with my entrepreneurial success, I wound up donating the money to a school for mentally handicapped children. The principal sent me and the neighborhood children a very nice thank you letter.

4. When I was 16 I discovered that although my sister and I shared the same birth date, it wasn’t the one recorded in our birth certificates. My mom had changed them both by a few days to give us the opportunity of starting kindergarten early. I think it was a shocking revelation that documents could be misleading or doctored.

5. At 20 I took a road trip across the US. It was the summer of ’74 and in California, after a day of many driving mishaps; I got pulled over by the police. I had gotten a ticket earlier that day for speeding on the freeway. While paying my speeding ticket, I parked in a no-parking zone. I then proceeded to run a stop sign. It was a bad-hair driving day.When I saw the flashing lights in the rear-view mirror I was baffled. Couldn’t think of a single additional infraction I might have committed other than the fact that our car was a real jalopy with only one workable door, totally dust-covered and we (my future husband and I) looked a bit like ’70’s hippies after our 6 weeks on the road. I roll down my window (I’m the driver) and ask: “yes officer?”, failing to notice the growing number of squad cars accumulating behind us. The policeman looks oddly tense. “Did you hear about the bank robbery?”, says he. “Oh sure”, says I., “I’m Bonnie and this” (pointing to my future husband) “is Clyde”. The policemen weren’t particularly amused as they pulled me out of the car thinking I was the fugitive kidnapped newspaper heiress turned militant, Patty Hearst .

6. I studied theater directing in the Tel Aviv University drama department. In 1979 I turned down an invitation by the national theater to assistant direct and work with theater luminary Joseph Chaiken on “The Dybbuk”. What we do for love. I was expecting my first child.

7. In the early eighties, before “Glastnost” and the subsequent transparency policies of Gorbachev, I went on a small mission to meet with prisoners of conscience and human rights activists in a number of cities in the Ukraine and found myself and travel partner “interviewed” by the KGB concerning our activities in each city. I think I’m a “persona non grata” in the former Soviet Union.

8. In the middle nineties started a grassroots movement of citizens concerned about environmental hazards and the rights of local residents and was invited to speak in the Israeli Parliament, together with my Bedouin neighbors.

Now, grannimari is quietly and sedately working as an online community evangelist for the Business Process Expert Community. And looking to the community members who inspire and challenge her thinking. In that spirit of letting no good deed go unpunished, I’ll tag: Jim Spath , Eddy De Clercq , Jen Robinson, Thomas Ritter, Dick Hirsch and Ram Tiwari


  1. Here are a number of items of which even your own daughter was not cognizant!

  2. Marilyn - glad to know these things about you! You are leading a very interesting life full of unique experiences!

    Did I tell you that Ariana and her grandmother were born on the same day 60 years apart?! When Ariana turned 21 her grandmother turned 61.

    Pretty unique as well!

    Dan Chapman