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Get to Know Our Board: Jennifer Drinka

My name is Jennifer Drinka and I am a Library Director who has worked in public libraries since high school. I am passionate about the power of stories, theatre, music, and art to bring people together, and am excited about Mosaic Players giving me the opportunity to dive deeper into topics I've always been interested in. From clapping along to social justice songs at Peter, Paul & Mary concerts with my Dad as a little girl to serving as a member of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association, I believe in the importance of sharing our personal stories and listening to the experiences of others, and that we all have a whole lot more in common than we think. I'm excited to bring theatre to people of all backgrounds in surprising and inspiring places and ways that make people feel greater connection and understanding. Getting to Know Jennifer If you could meet any living person for dinner, who would you pick and why?

My Auntie Moe, my personal hero. She is my Mom's best friend and my Dad's sister. She is funny, kind, an amazing storyteller, and generous of spirit to everyone she meets. What’s your best scary story?

Oh boy... This is a hard question for me. Scary stories are my passion in life. At Barrington Library, I was officially the "Scary Story Specialist". My best scary story happened when I was 16 years old. It was Christmastime and I had just laid down to go to sleep. My bed was under a huge mirror that was mounted on the wall. Just as I lay down, I became frozen in place, couldn't speak or move. I could see above me that something small and dark was perched on the top of my mirror. I tried to speak and soundlessly tried to mouth, "help... me.... help... me...." but no words came out. After what felt like minutes but was most likely a matter of seconds, I could move again and the thing on the mirror was gone. I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs crying. My Mom was on the phone with my Auntie Moe and had to get off the call because I was totally beside myself. She let me sleep on the couch that night with the Christmas tree lights on. What skill do you think everyone should have?

Storytelling. What are your three favorite foods?

Oh boy.... I'd say tomatoes, mushrooms, and cookies. If you could be in any movie, what would it be and what character would you play?

"Dirty Dancing", Frances "Baby" Houseman. I went on a "Dirty Dancing" weekend to where the movie was filmed, where my husband and I attended dance classes, trivia, movie-viewing and tours. What is your favorite play?

Anything and everything! I love live theatre. Probably "Les Miserables" made the biggest impact on me when I saw it in Chicago in middle school from the first row, but more recently I enjoyed "The Bad Seed". I like kind of dark stories with interesting characters. Also really enjoy "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind", an awesome performance art piece in the city.

What are you reading right now?

Between books. Just finished "My Dark Vanessa" by Kate Elizabeth Russell and just started "Still Life" (A Chief Inspector Gamache novel) by Louise Penny.

Which song can you listen to all day long?

The sound of my Timneh African Grey, Gracie, singing and whistling her own tune :) Also, anything by Dolly Parton or John Denver.

If you had to teach a class on one thing, what would you teach?


How would your friends describe you?

Different. Nice. Funny. Sincere. Busy.

Do you collect anything?

Porcelain dolls, fairies, jigsaw puzzles, family mementos.

If you could live anywhere on this planet, where would you choose to live?

Honestly, Antioch, Illinois. I've tried living elsewhere, but this place is magnetic for me. In another lifetime, I'd say New England, perhaps Salem, Massachusetts.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer. Interestingly, as a teenager, I wanted to be a funeral director...

What’s your favorite family tradition?

Christmas Eve with my family. We have snacks all day, followed by pizza and cookies. There is a tremendous number of us (I'd say at least 50....). My Auntie Moe gets presents for everyone and it is just so over-the-top spectacular. My cousin Tim and his wife, Jane, host it now in their beautiful home in Algonquin and our family fills every corner with warmth and love and laughter.

What was the worst job you ever had?

I don't know... I've pretty much always worked in libraries, which I love. Other than that, I worked as a bank teller, which I really enjoyed and as a Direct Support Person at Lamb's Farm, which was a ton of fun.

If you could choose any historical figure to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?

Perhaps my great-grandmother, my Mom's grandmother, Mary (Thibedeau) McCluskey. She lived in a little stone cottage on Rice Lake in Wisconsin. She loved animals and nursed an injured red-winged blackbird back to health one winter, who returned to visit her every year and landed on her finger. I'd also really love to have Mary Stanley and Betty Lu Williams be my imaginary friends -- the Antioch Library's first two Librarians. I am super interested in them, to the point where I've even visited their graves to do grave rubbings. Neither married or had children, so I feel compelled to know and tell their stories. To quote Michael Moore, "I really didn't realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group. They are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man."

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