SCREEN TIME: Michael Ivan Schwartz and Gracie


“I watched a ton of TV series. Of course, the big ones like Tiger King and Squid Games...though I never got into Schitt’s Creek like so many of my friends. The one show that stuck out for me was HBO’s Succession. I loved the drama of the family dynamics. Although their lives are wrapped around wealth in an obscene and unrelatable way, the sibling tensions and interactions with their parents hit home. I love when a show keeps me guessing on what is a game the characters are playing with one another and what seems like their true feelings. I think we all wrestle with how we present ourselves in different spaces...with our friends, work colleagues, family, etc. l have a continuous inner-dialogue about who my true self is versus the character I play within my different contexts.

Another way the show struck a chord is in my recent thoughts about my remaining years. My dad died in 2019 a couple of months before I turned 50...and just a few months later the pandemic hit. I broke up with my girlfriend and have spent much of the pandemic alone. My work slowed down significantly and I began thinking about what’s next. Should I use this time to pivot my career? How do I want to spend my remaining years. For the first time I began seriously considering what retirement might look like to me. Much like the siblings in Succession, the idea of wealth and how much is enough became a theme for me. My current perspective is retirement might be for me to take on work that I love and be less concerned about the income I’m earning.” - Michael Ivan Schwartz

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Michael Ivan is seen here in his living room wearing his winter PJs relaxing with his sweet dog Gracie who is passed out beside him. Shoes off and resting on his favorite “butter” couch - the first piece of “expensive” furniture he bought in 2004. In front of him is a coffee table he made as part of a goal to do 50 new things in the 50 weeks leading up to his 50th birthday in 2019. Behind him is an exposed brick wall he paid to have de-plastered when he bought his first home in 2010. The artwork above include a photo of Michael Ivan with his previous dog, Sandy, who passed away after only 6 months from her adoption (image on the blue wall). The painting of the fisherman standing in his boat was purchased from his friend and artist, Kristin Wiebe who owns the Baltimore Art Gallery on the avenue in Hampden (Michael Ivan’s neighborhood). The large oil painting of women carrying pots on their heads came from a video production project Michael Ivan created in Liberia about human trafficking in West Africa for an organization that Kristin Wiebe worked for in 2004. And that lamp...a gift from friends Bert and Amanda when they were decluttering their apartment before moving to Wisconsin. Ironically, they also swap Hulu (Michael Ivan’s account) for HBO (Bert’s account).