Michael Winetsky lives in the city of Los Angeles, and teaches at the New Roads School in Santa Monica. He is married to W. Leigh Bowman, also a teacher; they have a daughter.
I may have a slight New York accent, but I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. These cities define me. When I was 36, I had lived 18 years in each.
My parents -- each a second generation American from the New York area -- grew up in homes that had strong Jewish-American identities. My parents took every care to give me a happy childhood and to bring me up with every social advantage, and to instill in me a deep gratitude for all this and a sense of its fragility; the lessons of the Great Depression and the uprooting power of anti-semitism were never far away. We were city people: we walked to local stores. I rode the SF Muni bus to school in ninth grade. My favorite part of life in New York City was the subway, a public space where everyone rides together. I love public spaces -- especially parks.
I love people, and have always enjoyed good friendships. Conviviality is why I like teaching and theatre. The intimacy of human relationships, structured as it is in concentric circles of boundaries, is my most steady motivator. Primarily, I have spent most of my adult life coupled up in heterosexual monogamy. Old acquaintances, friendships deep and now unhurried, cousins, those I have taught and those who taught me, I love the scattered community I know. The intimacy and collapsed distance of our interconnected planet shocks me, but it defines my sense of myself.
I fluster the serious sometimes, because I see the humor in everything. I knew early on I would try to get a living with my wit and by my tongue. I wanted to be a comedian or an actor when I was a kid. By the time I was in college, I found myself deeply engaged with books and ideas. At first I was mainly interested in aesthetics, how art broadly and literature specifically worked on its audience or reader. Then, I grew increasingly fascinated by the liberal traditions of our political and cultural life. I studied and traced the lineage of popular values that are labeled "liberal" -- sexual freedom, ethnic diversity, peace, resistance to the degradations of unfettered capitalism -- in the ideas of Rousseau, the Federalists, Thoreau, Emerson, and Dewey. Want a brief history of political and artistic movements in Greenwich Village? How much time do you have? Need a primer on the Harlem Renaissance? on post-colonial or gender theory? a quick course in Caribbean Literature? an economic history of the book as object? I've learned the behavior of scholarly exactitude but I try not to let it control me. I am as content to listen to any one as to hear my own learned discourse. I do not practice meditation, but I have a meditative disposition that I have taken great care to cultivate. The scholar's life was very rewarding. I earned my doctorate after nearly ten years of study at the CUNY Graduate Center. I loved traveling to present papers, and I bring a sense of fun as I read an essay. My published papers are among my most proud accomplishments. I am equally proud of some of the plays I've written.
People tend to recognize me as male, and I have enjoyed male privilege, while always feeling more gender queer. If it's more comprehensible to you, you can say I am a man with a well developed feminine side. I try to subvert patriarchy as much as I can in my daily in life.
In 2009, I met W. Leigh Bowman on OKCupid. We were living a mile away from one another in Brooklyn, and it was like bobos in paradise.
In 2011, Leigh moved to Poughkeepsie to direct the Drama program at Oakwood Friends School, a Quaker boarding school, where I also spent a couple of years on the faculty while teaching at CUNY. Our daughter, Gloria, was born in Poughkeepsie in September of 2014. After Gloria's birth, it became apparent to us that we wanted to live in closer proximity to any of her grandparents. We moved to Los Angeles in 2015, and I began teaching at New Roads School in Santa Monica.
I love being a parent; it's a sublime devotion.
Southern California is a new adventure. I love the open spaces, the culture of creativity. I ride my bike to work. I am fascinated by the built environment of this megalopolis. I love the optimistic, improbable and experimental quality of Southern California civilization. I try to be a part of a way of life here that adapts to our best understandings of how to use natural resources, though without stridence or severity.